PRESENT, December 20, 2008
Ngingiti ba siya? Tama ba na ngumiti siya?
Tumayo si Evan mula sa pagkakaupo at hinintay na makalapit si Celine. She was wearing something formal that night, a very simple black dress, which was paired with black high-heels. He just looked at her as she comes closer.
“Hi, it’s been a long time.”
“Yeah,” sagot ni Celine. Too long, in fact. Naupo siya at hinintay lang ang susunod na sasabihin ng binata. Iba-iba ang nararamdaman ni Celine nang mga oras na iyon – excitement, fear, apprehension, disappointment. Yes, she’s feeling a whole lot of feelings at that certain moment. It has been two years. Two goddamn years! It was like she’s waiting for a death sentence.
“How have you been?”
“Good.” What else should she say? Na halos gabi-gabi siyang hindi makatulog, na bawat minuto niya itong iniisip at walang araw na hindi niya pinalangin na sana ay hindi na lang niya sinabi ang mga nasabi niya sa e-mail sa binata.
“You look great.”
“Thank you.” Nakangiti si Evan nang sabihin iyon, na sana ay hindi na lang. At titig na titig rin ito sa kanya, na sana ay hindi na lang. He looked great too, pero hindi na iyon isinatinig ni Celine. Dahil hindi na naman kailangan. He has been gorgeous eversince anyway.
He just sat there in front of her and if only she could read his mind, she won’t be too nervous. “Celine about the-“
“Forget it, it was just-“ Umiling-iling si Celine at pilit na ngumiti. Anim na buwan na rin naman ang nakakaraan at para sa kanya, ilang daang taon na ang lumipas. At matagal na niya iyong kinalimutan. Siguro, isa iyon sa mga pinagsisihan niyang nagawa niya sa buong buhay n’ya.
“No, Celine. I can’t forget about it. And I won’t forget it.”
What does he mean by that? Does he feel the same?
“Honestly, I don’t know what to say. I’m flattered, really...and happy that you see me the way you do and I thank you for that.”
Unti-unting namula ang mukha ni Celine. Mabuti na lang at medyo madilim sa parte’ng iyon ng restaurant kaya hindi iyon masyadong nahala.
“Celine, we’ve been good friends for a very long time. You are one of the kindest, the smartest, most beautiful women I’ve known. And I would be lying if I say that I don’t like you. Truth is, I like you. A lot. I really do.”
And she waited. For him to say he loves her. She could already feel it, taste it...almost there...almost.
“But the thing is, we’re two different people and –“
Evan finds it hard to express what he exactly feels, seeing Celine sitting in front of him, looking so stunning. In the passed couple of years, she has become more beautiful, and he thinks that she’s now turned into a really gorgeous woman. If only it was that easy, if only their situation was not that complicated. But sadly, it is. And they both knew it.
However, for Celine, it doesn’t really matter. She doesn’t care if they came from different planets. All she cared about was her feelings for him, and nothing else.
Nakita ni Celine na nagbuntung-hininga ang binata. “Let’s give us three years. If by then, we’re both still free, I’ll come back to you.”
Hi, Celine. I’m back in Manila. I really wanted to see you but I guess that’s no longer possible. Anyway, I saw your photos with your boyfriend. I’m happy for you, Celine. Take care.
Iyon ang bumungad kay Celine nang buksan niya ang kanyang Facebook at kin-lick ang inbox, nang gabing iyon. It was from Evan. Pagkatapos niya iyong basahin ay agad niyang isinara ang FB tab sa kanyang browser.
Evan said, three years. Tatlong taon na mula nang huli silang magkausap at mangako ang binata na babalikan siya. Napatingin si Celine sa picture frame na nakalagay sa kanyang work table, sa tabi ng kanyang laptop. Naroon ang litrato niya, kasama si Emil.
After a few months of courtship, Celine said yes to Emil and they have been together for almost a year. Their relationship was not a perfect one - Celine being the adventurous type and Emil being a serious ‘nerd’. But they are happy.
At ngayon, hindi alam ni Celine kung bakit gano’n ang nararamdaman niya. Hindi niya inaasahan na ang simple’ng pangako na iyon ay tutuparin ng dating boss, at kaibigan. Ni hindi niya naisip na may posibilidad na darating ang panahon na magiging pareho sila ng nararamdaman kaya hindi na siya umasa pa.
Pero ito, ngayon, makakatanggap siya ng mensahe mula kay Evan pagkaraan ng tatlong taon. It shouldn’t bother her, especially now that she’s got her own life to deal with. She’s getting married, for Christ’s sake.
Kung bakit ba naman kasi kailangan pang muling magparamdam ni Evan, sa panahong tahimik na ang buhay niya, kung kailan kuntento na siya sa kung ano ang meron s’ya ngayon. Wala namang sinabing anupaman ang binata bukod sa gusto siya nitong muling makita. Hindi nito sinabi na bumalik ito para sa kanya, para ituloy ang naudlot nilang pagsintang-pururot, na mahal nga siya nito. Kaya hindi dapat siya nagkakaganito ngayon.
Huminga ng malalim si Celine at muling hinarap ang laptop. Sasagutin niya ang mensahe’ng iyon dahil kung hindi niya iyon gagawin ay habang-buhay siyang hindi matatahimik.
Hi, Evan. Nice to hear from you again after a long time. Take care.
There. It wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be. Muli, tinapunan niya ng tingin ang larawan nila ni Emil. Hindi niya kayang sayangin ang pag-ibig nila ni Emil dahil lamang sa isang lumang damdamin na walang kasiguraduhan.
Get a grip, Celine. Emil is a great guy, he’s the one for you. If you don’t want any complications or whatsoever, better stick with Emil.
At iyon na ang katapusan ng ilang taon niyang kahibangan. Kinailangang harapin ni Celine ang reyalidad ng buhay, at hindi kasama do’n si Evan. He’s probably happy now, no – he’s definitely happy now, she’s sure about that. Because just a couple of weeks after receiving his e-mail, she saw his FB status changed – from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’.
The girl was beautiful, model-type. And she seems nice. Celine just hopes she treats Evan well because he deserves it.
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