Zia's Story: CHAPTER THREE
Updated: Apr 29
Leah, have you ever experienced that feeling of emptiness na talagang literal? ‘Yun bang wala kang maramdaman and it is way more frustrating and devastating because in the first place, how can you process a certain feeling kung wala kang maramdaman? Ano ‘yung ipro-process mo?
It would have been better if there was feeling of pain. Regardless of how severe and extreme it would have been, at least I would have felt something … something that would have made me feel that I exist… that I am still breathing.
But, there was nothing. Just pure emptiness. And so I ran Leah. I know this is so coward but can you blame me Leah? I was not feeling anything that could hold me back and make me stay.
That’s why after Louis dropped me off, I stayed wide awake on my bed. I was lying straight on my back while staring at the ceiling, probably waiting for some lizards to appear and entertain me.
The exhausting events that happened to me that day would have been more than enough to knock me down and submit me to a deep slumber, but it did the opposite. It fueled my mind and eyes to stay wide awake.
I didn’t know what I was thinking or was I even still thinking in the first palce? Because the next thing Leah, I packed whatever my hands could take and just went to airport without even knowing where to go.
I didn’t know either kung it was fate because that day, I just simply took the first local flight and it brought me to the island where my fiancé and I were first introduced to each other.
Yes, it’s really fate but that time, I didn’t even realize it was.
Arriving at the island, I checked in sa isang cottage. Upon entering the room, pasalampak akong nahiga sa kama na para bang ‘yung pagod ay unti unti ng nagca-catch up sa akin. I was still basically wearing my shoes at nasa ulo ko pa yata ‘yung sunglasses ko but I was too exhausted to care.
I was already in and out of sleep at konti na lang talaga, I would be subjected to a deep slumber. But just when I can finally get the sleep my body was screaming for, I felt my nearly forgotten phone vibrated mula sa shoulder bag ko na noon ay nasa bed din.
I could have easily ignored it kung hindi lamang siya nakapatong sa kama because can you just imagine Leah? ‘Yung parang pakiramdam mo lumilindol and it took me everything not to throw the phone against the wall.
Well, siguro what kept me from doing it was when after I blindly fished it out from my bag, ay ‘yung number of messages and missed calls na tumambad sa akin and majority of them was from my fiancé.
Alam mo ‘yung parang nagising ng tuluyan ‘yung diwa ko, though my tired system was cursing that phone for interrupting my supposed to be sleep.
I read the messages and they were screaming of worry. Naiimagine ko na kung ano ang itsura ni Louis and it would have made me instantly calling him back, had I not been feeling incredibly empty.
However Leah, before I finally turned my phone off, I sent him a message that I was safe and okay. Yes, that’s the least thing I could do for him for putting him into such situation.
After my phone was turned off, dapat sana makakatulog na ako dahil wala ng istorbo subalit kabaliktaran naman ang nangyari, just like the previous night, I spent hours just staring at the ceiling while what I have been trying to run away from inch by inch caught up with me.
It was around 3PM already when I finally decided to just go out from the cottage instead. Sa totoo lang ang gusto ko lamang sana gawin noon ay magkulong lang at ‘wag umalis sa bed. Yes, I was thinking the way a worst travel companion does, ‘yung you spent all these money to go to a certain place tapos ‘yung kasama mo ang gusto lamang ay mag-stay sa tinutuluyan niyo at matulog buong araw.
Though my case would have been an exception dahil in the first place, I was not on a vacation. I was running away. There I said it.
I was running away because it was the only thing that would keep me from doing greater damage because I was not acting like myself and if I would keep on doing that, I will be losing what I wanted to keep right from the beginning. Not that my action would guarantee this … but at least, I have to keep my sanity first dahil I was already losing it.
So after changing into a simple shirt and shorts, I decided to go out. Just the moment I stepped out of the door, ‘yung preskong hangin ang mabilis na nag-welcome sa akin na talagang mapapapikit ka and would take a brief moment to just feel it.
The picturesque surrounding instantly made me relax lalong lalo na nang tumapak ako sa sand and walked towards the water.
It’s been a while since I feel this kind of serenity and the kind of peace I have been craving for ay finally muli kong natagpuan. But though, I was not quite sure if this is a good sign or not because what if I will get used to this kind of feeling and trade it to the life waiting for me in the city and that life include Louis … the man I am about to marry.
I walked along the shore for I do not know how long, basta nung palubog na ‘yung araw I stopped. Medyo malayo na ako nun sa banda kung saan nagkumpulan ang mga tao to watch the sunset.
I cannot say I was alone at the spot where I stopped, rather, there was this old woman standing just 3 meters away from me. Her hair was also silver though she’s still so poise and elegant. Alam mo ‘yung kapag nakita mo matatakot kang magsalita kasi alam mong madaming alam at baka nga unang bigkas mo pa lang ay baka sitahin ka na… basta ‘yung matandang mayaman who underwent a different disciplinary training kaya ganito ka-demure yet sophisticated.
Just try to visualize ‘yung poise and galaw ng isang queen? Ganon ‘yung datingan niya.
The woman was wearing a dress and she has these pieces of jewelry sa ear, neck, and sa ring finger niya. Oo, ganun ako ka-amaze at na-notice ko itong maliliit na bagay. There was also this piece of cloth draped over her shoulders, obviously para hindi siya lamigin.
She was a sight, you know. ‘Yung nakatayo lang siya at tahimik na pinapanood ang paglubog ng araw with that… I don’t know if I would describe it as loving gaze from her eyes kasi at same time, I feel some sadness in them.
I was intrigued Leah. Who is this woman? And why was she there, alone and just simply watches the sunset.
Hindi ko namalayan na imbis na ‘yung araw ang panoorin ko ay sa matandang babae pala nakatuon ang attention ko. That’s why I was really caught off guard and embarrassment instantly took over me when she spoke.
Her voice was soft and well-articulated. At kung kinakabahan ka na sa physical appearance niya, mas doble kapag narinig mo na siya.
“You can come closer dear,” she said.
Hindi ko alam kung magso-sorry ba ako and would interpret it as her way of chastising me for watching her, but when she turned to look at me… there was this warm and inviting energy radiating from her.
And so as if they have a life of their own, my feet made their move to close the 3-meter distance from the woman.
When I was already close enough for a hug, I didn’t speak nor did she. I didn’t know but there was something about this stranger that captivated me and tried to understand what’s with the sunset that made her stare at it with loving gaze yet her eyes speak of sadness at the same time.
And so, in my attempt, I watched the sunset with her. But then, unlike her what I only felt was peace and amazement. Gusto ko siyang tanungin pero I had to bite my tongue because the last thing I want to know is to creep out a rich elderly woman.
She seemed to notice my stare filled with curiosity and questions dahil ngumiti siya nang muli ay balingan niya ako ng tingin. Nahiya ako but then before I could try to come up with a silly excuse to leave, she invited me for a walk and I didn’t know but I just couldn’t bring myself to say no.
We walked in silence for like a few more meters hanggang sa dinala niya ako sa isang restaurant. Coffee shop ‘yon and to my surprise, pagka pasok namin sa loob ay mabilis na ngumiti ang owner tapos ay tumango ang matanda.
She seemed well acquainted with the place, of course apart from siguro taga doon siya talaga but then I just feel like lagi siyang pumupunta doon after watching the sunset.
Sumunod lang ako sa kanya hanggang sa pumunta nga kami sa gilid na table and I didn’t have to ask, I knew that’s her spot. ‘Yung restaurant talagang open siya kaya naman ‘yung natural at preskong hangin ang nalalanghap mo maging sa loob.
And again, I was surprised dahil ‘yung spot na ‘yon, kitang kita ‘yung napakagandang view ng dagat na talagang you are going to pay whatever there is to pay just to sit on that certain spot because it’s a piece of heaven.
Tama ako Leah, palagi ngang pumupunta roon ang matanda dahil I didn’t remember us ordering yet pero meron ng dumating na order. It was 2 mugs of cocoa drink and a waffle.
And to tell you, ibang iba rin talaga ang taste niya dahil just when I sip from the chocolate drink, gusto ko ng i-give up ang coffee which is ang everyday drink ko. The waffle was so great as well.
Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit pakiramdam ko there is something with this stranger. Sa bawat galaw niya ay talagang mapapaisip ka … but just wait ‘till she speaks because when the moment she did, I was attacked by various emotions and I didn’t know how to respond.
We drank our chocolate and ate our waffle in silence. Leah dapat sana ang awkward, dapat sana maiilang ka dahil you were basically sitting and dining with a stranger and take note, in silence.
But as if there was a spell, because I sat there comfortably. It’s weird, I know.
Though the silence between us didn’t last dahil she finally started a conversation and introduced herself, siya si Esperanza and I was right because she was 78. Pero she still looks so dashingly beautiful on her age.
I introduced myself as well and we exchanged smile. However, ‘yung ngiti ko mabilis na bumagsak nang tanungin niya if I was lost. Nakuha ko agad ang ibig niyang sabihin dahil ‘yung mata niya, they spoke as if they were reading my soul.
Napainom na lang ako sa mug ko at pagkatapos ay malungkot na napangiti. Siguro the idea na I was comfortable and that she seemed to read me, I didn’t make an effort to hide my ordeal.
Akala ko Leah, we would just simply end there, na after kaming mag-stay doon ay babalik ako sa cottage at hindi ko na siya mas makikilala pa. Hindi, dahil she invited me to come over her house the next morning.
And with this Leah, I didn’t know that the turning point of my life would begin the moment I stepped in her house … hindi ko alam na labis akong maaapektuhan sa kung anong kwentong nakapalibot dito sa estrangherong ilang oras ko lamang nakilala.
Yes, she changed me. She changed me by simply narrating her story.