• Leah's Real Life Stories

Zia's Story: CHAPTER FOUR


Before we parted ways, she gave me her address at pagkatapos ay merong dumating na isang lalaki, probably in his 20s upang sunduin siya. When they were out of my sight, I stayed for a little while sa coffee shop na ‘yon.


Noon ay hindi ko na alam kung ano na nga ba ang gagawin. Deep inside, I was so thankful to Esperanza for distracting me for about 2 hours but then when she already went home at muli na naman akong napag-isa, ‘yung isip ko muli na namang nag-travel back sa city.


It just sucks Leah! Alam mo ‘yon? We leave a place because we wanted to cool down and we wanted to forget. Di ba? Ito naman ang rason kung bakit in the first place kapag tayo ay nasasaktan o kaya nababalot tayo ng pait at pighati, we tend to leave a certain place because the pain, bitters, grief and others are too much to bear and that we just want them to leave behind.


Pero you know, it has been so ironic kasi hindi naman ganito ‘yung nangyayari kasi kahit napakalayo mo na, kahit pa siguro nasa kabilang planeta ka pa, you would always think of the thing you were running away from.


Kaya kapag umalis pa tayo, ibig bang sabihin makakalimot tayo? Well,we may be distracted, yes, pwede pa. Pero ‘yung iwanan kung ano ‘yung dinadamdam mo sa place kung saan ito unang nag-ugat, I don’t think it will ever happen.


Because kahit saan ka man magpunta, dala dala mo siya kasi wala ang mga ito sa lugar na pinangyarihan bagkus ay nasa kaloob looban mo.


This is why when I was left alone, nandoon pa rin ‘yung emptiness and if only I could just simply run away from it, pero that’s not how life works … and so, I cannot do anything, like a prisoner, I just sat there and just stared at nothingness with my heart and mind screaming to be understood.


Hindi ko alam kung anong oras na Leah nung sa wakas ay nagpabigay na ‘yung utak ko sa katawan ko and it allowed me to finally get the sleep my body badly needed.


I woke up mga siguro around 6 na. I went directly to the bathroom to take a bath and get dressed. Muli ay nag t-shirt lang ako at shorts. Ang sabi ni Esperanza sa akin ay anytime daw, I could just come sa bahay niya.


So after kong magbihis, I went to a resto for a morning coffee. Oo ganon talaga Leah, I always need coffee in order to function better. After I got a cup of coffee and there’s nothing left to do, nag-decide na akong puntahan si Esperanza. I think maga-alas otso na nun nang tahakin ko na nga ang daan papunta sa address na sinabi niya.


Hindi naman kalayuan ‘yung bahay niya, ilang metro lang din ang layo doon sa cottage na tinutuluyan ko.


When I was already standing just in front of the address she gave me, I saw this huge 2-storey house. ‘Yung structure niya sa tingin ko matagal na siyang nakatayo at nirenovate na lang at nilagyan ng mga glass lalong lalo na sa itaas.


Punong puno rin ng halaman especially mga flowers na kapag siguro mahilig ako sa halaman gaya ng karamihan, I would have taken them all. ‘Yung ambiance talagang very probinsiya and it is way more relaxing than I thought.


I didn’t stay long sa labas dahil ‘yung lalaking kasama ni Esperanza kahapon ay nakita ako. Binuksan niya ‘yung gate at magalang niya akong binati and guided me towards the house. Pagkapasok ko sa loob, napakaganda at napakaayos. Apart from the guy, meron pang dalawang dalaga ang bumati sa akin.


While the guy went to call Esperanza ay may isang malaking portrait ang nakakuha sa attention ko. It was a wedding photo and ‘yung babae ay si Esperanza nung kabataan niya and the man beside her, ay napaka-gwapo rin, ‘yun nga lang at kitang kita na darker ‘yung complexion niya.


It’s like 2 different worlds merged in a single portrait, however, they shared a single smile … and I could feel happiness and love in there.


Hindi nagtagal at Esperanza emerged from one of the rooms sa first floor. Probably because of her age kaya dun na siya sa baba. She was again being elegant in a dark blue dress, I don’t even get where this elegance is coming from especially that she’s just wearing a simple dress.


Maybe we could just go back to the fact that she is well-poised at talagang that’s her nature.


Nang makita niya ako ay malaki ang ngiti niya. She first introduced me sa mga kasama niya sa bahay, ‘yung lalaki pala at ‘yung dalawang dalaga ay mga apo niya. There were also two more other individuals, male and female and they were in their 40s, mga helpers nila.


To be honest, I was waiting for another person to maybe get inside or emerge from one of the corners of the house pero wala. I was really curious kung nasaan ‘yung kasama ni Esperanza sa portrait.


Siguro ay hindi subtle ‘yung action ko o sadyang observant lang siya, dahil she smiled at me … pero ‘yung ngiting may kasamang kirot sa puso and I didn’t have to ask. I understood. Though, I would be lying if I say I had let go of the idea of wanting to know more.


Nagpa-ready si Esperanza ng meryenda doon sa babaeng helper nila at pagkatapos ay ni-lead ako patungo sa isang kwarto and once inside that room, para akong nasa museum dahil andaming naka-display na mga bagay.


And when I looked at Esperanza, napagtanto kong she just brought me to a room where a lot of memories was kept … these things, photographs and others, were not just displays; rather they once existed with her in this place where now they are but memories.


Hindi ko alam kung paano ako magre-react but Esperanza saved me by asking me to sit on the couch.


‘Yung room na ‘yon, malawak siya at napaka-ayos. ‘Yung set-up living room ang itsura, may couch at may table tapos there are book shelves but instead of a TV and computer, ang makikita mo don ay ‘yung napakaraming framed photos at mga bagay sa wall.


There were also lots of photo albums piled in bookshelves. If only I could be as organized as her.


Slowly ay inililibot ko ang aking paningin sa mga bagay na nasa loob and if there was something I was certain about, ay ‘yung lalaking kasa-kasama ni Esperanza sa mga framed photos ay ‘yun din ‘yung lalaking kasama niyang nakangiti doon sa portrait sa living room.


Hindi ko maintindihan nun Leah kung bakit ako na stranger at kahapon niya lamang nakilala ay iimbitahin niya sa bahay niya and take note, of all the corners in the house na pwede niyang pagdalhan sa akin, ay doon pa mismo.


And just by merely being in that room, I could feel her vulnerability and I didn’t understand why she had to do that … of all people, why me?


But before I could voice out my confusion, not that my features are not showing a sign of it, she started telling what’s in each of the items in that room and I didn’t know what to feel, should I feel kilig dahil sa nag-uumapaw na pagmamahalan o should I feel miserable for the way it has ended.


Esperanza first pointed to a frame kung saan merong preserved na bulaklak. Kung titignan mo ay parang napaka-simple lang at kung hindi ka nagi-interpret ng mga bagay bagay ay iisipin mong wala lang ‘yon o que-questionin kung bakit siya naka-hang sa wall in the first place.


That rose she said was given to her when she was 18, just 2 days after her birthday. According to her, that was not the first rose she received, actually ay isa ito sa maraming pinapadala sa kanya but what made it extra special ay ‘yung taong nagbigay.


The rose was given to her by a 23-year-old man na si Dominador, ang lalaking nasa majority of the portrait, oo Leah, ang taong pinakasalan niya.


Si Esperanza Leah, galing siya sa mayamang pamilya habang si Dominador ay hindi. Alam mo ‘yung typical langit ka, lupa ako story. Si Dominador naglalako lang daw ng kung ano ano nun at kung ano anong trabaho ang pinapasok niya gaya ng pagkakarpentero o pangingisda. Basta kung ano ang meron diyan.


They were secretly seeing each other daw nun dahil nga sa katayuan nilang dalawa sa buhay. So going back to the rose, it was given to her through one of the servants na pinagkakatiwalaan ni Esperanza.


Sure she received various of gifts on her 18th birthday, but then, what made her heart flutter was the simple red rose and a letter given by Dominador na noon ay nagpapasensiya pa kasi ‘yun lang daw ang kaya niyang ibigay.


But then, despite the simplicity, Esperanza appreciated it more because she just knew it came from his heart and that the love and care were radiating from the words he had written on that piece of paper she knows he had to work hard to buy.


And watching Esperanza narrate that part of her story, nakangiti siya ng napakatamis na para bang kinikilig.


The next frame she pointed to me ay isang sintas ng sapatos. I would have said it’s weird to even frame a shoe lace kung wala lamang kwentong nakapaloob dito.


That shoe lace she said, was what left of doon sa suot niyang sapatos noong magtanan sila. She was 19 and Dominador was 24. Dahil nga sa magkabilang mundo sila ay ayaw ng magulang ni Esperanza sa taong mahal niya.


Kaya naman just like the movies, nagtanan sila at saka umuwi doon sa island kung saan naroon ang pamilya ni Dominador na pangingisda ang ikinabubuhay. Halos daw pagpapaluin na sa ulo si Dominador para lang matauhan dahil sa ginawa niya.


But despite of this, their love got them through. Oo, hindi sanay sa hirap si Esperanza but because of that love … yes, the love, ay hindi niya naisipan na bumalik na lang sa marangyang buhay na kinagisnan niya bagkus ay talagang nag-stay siya at tinulungan si Dominador.


Sa totoo lang, para akong nakikinig sa drama sa radio o nanunuod sa TV kasi the ones na napapakinggan at napapanuod natin hindi lang pala product ng malikot na kaisipan kundi meron pala talagang pinanggagalingan.


Esperanza told me she was the happiest that time. Oo mahirap daw, sobra. Pero ‘yun nga just the thought that she was with the person she loved despite the difficulty of life, ay kontentong kontento raw siya.


Alam mo ‘yon Leah, ‘yung through thick and thin talaga at talagang isinabuhay nila ‘yung love is the key.


Ang sumunod na frame na tinuro ni Esperanza ay another version ng portrait nila na nakalagay sa living room. Yes, it was taken during their wedding pero ‘yung picture na nandoon sa room na ‘yon ay kuha sa simbahan.


Ang kwento naman behind that ay after daw magtanan nila Esperanza ay talagang pinahanap siya ng magulang niya na noon ay galit na galit nang matagpuan siya after 2 weeks doon sa bahay nila Dominador.


Talaga daw gusto silang paghiwalayin and Esperanza had to lie para lamang hindi mailayo kay Dominador. Yes, she lied about being pregnant. Maging daw si Dominador noon ay nagulat sa sinabi niya pero mabilis ding nag-catch up nang magtama ang kanilang mga mata.


Noon kasi hindi pwedeng disgrasiyada ka lalong lalo na kung galing ka sa kilalang pamilya that’s why they had no choice but to fast track the wedding. Sobrang tuwa daw nilang dalawa nun pero hindi rin naging madali kasi nga, ang condition ng father ni Esperanza ay magtrabaho sa kanila si Dominador.


Hindi iyon gusto ni Esperanza dahil alam niyang gagawin siyang puppet ng tatay niya, but this was included in the least thing to worry for Dominador.


At iyon nga, ikinasal sila and after that talagang nag-work nga si Dominador sa tatay ni Esperanza and this was not easy. Actually, alam niya na nananadya ang tatay niya at talagang pinahihirapan lamang ang asawa niya.


Pero kahit ganito, hindi sila sumuko bagkus ay the more na humihirap ‘yung sitwasyon nila, the more naman silang kumakapit sa isa’t isa. It’s like, each other was their haven and their strength. They stood strong against adversaries because they have each other.


Leah, listening to her … I made the biggest decision of my life.


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