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Chapter 17

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Saturday, April 29, 2017

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After hours of rest, I finally woke up and when I checked the time, it was already 9 PM. Agad naman akong nagpunta sa CR para magpalit at pagkatapos no’n ay dumiretso ulit ako sa kama. Nakita ko mga gamot sa bedside table ko at naalala ko ang bilin ni Dr. Reyes kanina.

“Dito ka lang.”


Crap. Why did I remember that? Ugh. I must be delirious a while ago to say those words. Kinikilabutan ako! At sa lahat ng pwedeng sabihan, bakit ang lalaki pang ‘yon?

“Mahiga ka na para makapagpahinga ka. Mukhang ikaw ang ibe-babysit ko ngayon.”

That sly grin of his! Ngayong nasa tamang pag-iisip na ako ay hindi ko alam kung bakit ko ginawa ‘yon. Gusto ko na lang kalimutan ang nangyari kanina pero hindi ko magawa. God, Chloe, don’t ever get sick again.

Bumaba naman ako para kumain at mainom ko na ang mga gamot ko pero mukhang wala nang tao rito. I went straight to the kitchen and I yelped when I saw Jazer eating alone in the dark. He was also surprised and almost choked on his food. Luckily, there was a glass of water beside him.

“What the heck are you doing?” pasigaw kong tanong. “Why are you eating in the dark?”

Huminga ako nang malalim dahil akala ko talaga ay kung sino na ang nandoon sa kitchen. Akala ko may multo na or something. Binuksan ko ang ilaw at mukhang nakarecover na rin siya.

“Sorry. Akala ko tulog na kayong lahat. Kakain ka ba?” tanong naman niya at bigla siyang lumapit sa akin kaya napaatras ako.

“Anong gagawin mo?”

He placed his hand on my forehead and that made me step backward because I suddenly remembered what happened a while ago.

“May lagnat ka pa,” he said.

“Tss. I’m fine now,” sabay lakad ko para kumuha ng pagkain.

“Are you sure? Baka bigla ka na namang himatayin. Bubuhatin na naman kita tapos—”

“Shut up!” I yelled while pointing the ladle at him. He was just grinning at me, his dimple getting deeper, and I knew that he was teasing me.

“Mukhang ayos ka na nga,” pang-aasar niya pa.

“Tigil-tigilan mo ako, ha? I wasn’t in my right mind earlier so forget about that.”

Padabog kong dinala ang pagkain sa table at umupo ako sa upuan ko na katapat ng sa kanya. Nagsimula akong kumain at siya naman ay patapos na. Dahil wala akong masyadong gana ay kaunti lang ang kinuha ko and after a few minutes, naubos ko rin agad.

“Gustong pumunta kanina ni Czanelle sa kwarto mo. She must be worried,” he suddenly said.

Pagkatapos naming iligpit ang pinagkainan namin ay dumiretso ako sa sala. Sumunod naman siya sa akin kaya tinignan ko siya.

“What?”

“Gamot mo?”

Ang kulit ng isang ‘to.

Dahil ayoko namang lalo pa niya akong asarin ay umakyat na ako sa kwarto ko at sinabi kong iinumin ko ang mga gamot ko. Pagpasok ko ay dumiretso ako sa bedside table at ininom ang nakasulat sa papel saka ako umupo sa kama.

Nakapagpahinga naman ako nang maayos kanina kaya medyo gumaan na ang pakiramdam ko. Dahil kagigising ko lang din ay nag-browse na lang ako sa social media ng ilang oras. I actually wanted to watch some movies but Jazer might still be in the living room. When it was already 11 PM, I went out of my room and checked if he was still there. Luckily, he wasn’t.

Bumalik ulit ako sa room para kunin ang phone ko at ang comforter saka ako naglakad papunta sa sala pero agad akong napatigil nang nasa tapat na ako ng room nila.

“She must be worried.”

Hah. As if.

I was about to walk away but I suddenly heard a series of whimper. Dahan-dahan akong pumasok sa kwarto nina Czanelle at Clark at umiiyak si Clark kaya naman nilapitan ko siya. He was still asleep and he might be dreaming something bad so I tried to touch him but I momentarily stopped when I realized I don’t know what to do.

Should I wake him up? Should I carry him?

My mind was filled with doubts but when he started to cry, I ran out of options. My hands made their way to his tiny body and I remembered Jazer’s word when he let me carry Clark before. I carefully put my hand on his back, the other one supporting his neck, and held him in my arms.

He continued to sob and mumble so I decided to bring him out of the room since he might wake up Czanelle and that would bring me trouble. Pagkalabas namin ay dinala ko siya sa sala at nang makaupo ako sa couch ay nagpakawala ako ng buntong-hininga. When I looked at Clark, his now peaceful face came into view. It seemed like his nightmare ended.

“Seriously, kid? Pagkatapos mo akong pahirapan?” sabi ko at sinandal ko ang ulo ko sa couch habang nasa lap ko ang bubwit na ‘to.

Tahimik lang kami pareho at mukhang nakatulog na ulit siya nang maayos kaya hindi ako masyadong gumalaw. Bigla naman akong napaisip kung bakit ko ‘to ginagawa. I swore not to get swayed again by this kind of feeling, didn’t I?

Hindi ko alam kung bakit naalala ko na naman ang parents ko. I remembered how Dad would always play with me while Mom would watch us happily. Memories resurfaced and I felt sad when I could only recall several of them. That was expected since I had only spent my first three years with them. After that, everything had changed. They weren’t the parents I knew anymore, and I wasn’t the child they left here alone either.

I tried hard to push these memories in the back of my mind because I did not want to ruin this night. Napatingin ulit ako kay Clark at bigla akong naawa sa kanya. Isang taon pa lang siya ay nalayo na kaagad siya sa mga magulang namin. He might not be able to recognize or remember them after some time.

Before I could drown in these upsetting thoughts, I decided to bring him to his room do that we could both rest. Dahan-dahan akong pumasok at nilagay ko siya sa higaan niya at kinuha ko naman ang phone at comforter ko sa kwarto nila na naiwan ko kanina. Dumiretso ako sa kwarto ko at humiga na dahil parang napagod ako kahit ‘yon lang ang ginawa ko.

Maybe I need more hours of rest.


***


Alam n’yo kung ano ang nakakainis? Kung kailan weekend, saka naman ako nagigising nang maaga. Peste.

I woke up at 6 AM and I forced myself to sleep again but my mind was already on its active state. Wala na rin akong nagawa kundi bumangon at balak ko sanang mag-breakfast nang maaga pero pagbaba ko ay naabutan ko na ang dalawang bubwit at isang bwisit sa sala. Great.

“Ate!” sigaw ni Czanelle nang makita niya ako. “Ate’s awake na!” sabay takbo niya papunta sa hagdan.

Bumaba naman ako at sinalubong niya ako sa dulo. Even Clark ran toward me and that made me reminisce what happened last night. Both of them encircled me as we walked to the living room. Parang napapagod na agad ako habang tinitignan ko sila na sobrang active kahit ang aga-aga pa.

Uupo na sana ako sa couch pero napatigil ako nang makita kong nakatingin sa akin si Jazer. After that incident, it felt like he would tease me every time we see each other. When he suddenly approached me, I was tempted to run but was petrified instead because his hand landed on my forehead.

“Mukhang wala ka na ngang lagnat,” sabi niya at agad kong tinapik ang kamay niya.

“Makahawak ka ah,” sagot ko habang nakatingin nang masama sa kanya pero nginitian lang ako ng bwisit.

“I just checked your temperature,” he said and once again, he extended his arms and reached for my forehead, “at magkasalubong na naman ‘yang kilay mo,” sabay lagay niya ng index finger niya sa pagitan ng kilay ko.

“Tss. Pake mo ba?”

Umupo ako sa couch at tinabihan naman ako ni Czanelle at hinilig niya ang ulo niya na para bang sinisilip ang mukha ko.

“What do you want?”

“Kuya said you’re sick,” she pouted. “I’ll give you my candy, Ate, so please don’t be sick anymore.”

She handed me a piece of candy and I just stared at her, dumbfounded. It was just a candy from a three-year old kid but it brought a lump in my throat and almost moved me to tears. I calmed myself down, thinking that this might be because of my hormones.

Bigla naman silang tinawag ni Nanay Meling at agad silang tumakbo papunta sa kanya para kumain ng breakfast. Naiwan ako ro’n at pinagmasdan ko lang ang candy sa kamay ko.

“I told you she’s worried,” mahinang sabi ni Jazer at umupo naman siya sa tabi ko. Bakit nandito pa siya?

“Why did you tell her I was sick?”

“Nagtanong siya. Ayaw ko namang magsinungaling sa bata.”

“But still . . .”

“Hindi naman masamang mag-alala ang mga kapatid mo sa’yo,” sabay tingin niya sa akin. “Don’t act tough when you’re so close to breaking.”

Nagulat naman ako sa sinabi niya. Saan naman niya nakuha ‘yon at bakit biglang naging ganito ang usapan namin?

“What are you saying? You’re making no sense.”

“Talaga? Hindi mo ba naaalala ang nangyari kahapon?”

“Shut up. You don’t understand.”

“Alam ko,” sabi niya kaya napatingin ako sa kanya. “Alam ko pero bakit mo pinipigilan ang sarili mong maging malapit sa kanila? Ikaw lang din ang nahihirapan.”

It’s not that easy, I wanted to tell him. It was hard to explain my feelings because I wasn’t sure if he could understand. Even if I wanted to get close to them, the fear of being an older sister would stop me. They would see me as someone they could depend on, someone who would take care of them and I fear that responsibility. My parents, whom I thought would do that to me, failed and I kept on seeing myself ending up like them. I might sound overreacting but those were my real feelings.

“Ano naman sa’yo kung nahihirapan ako? It’s my decision and besides, people always favor the kids when it comes to situations like this.”

Pagkasabi ko no’n ay dumiretso ako sa dining area para kumain at tinignan ko sina Czanelle at Clark. Maybe this would be better. Other than our age gap, the two of them would understand each other more.

Pagkatapos kong kumain ng breakfast ay dumiretso ako sa kwarto ko at bigla kong nakita ang mga damit na binili ko sa isang shop noong nakaraan. Hindi ko alam kung paano ‘to ibibigay sa kanila dahil nahihiya at natatakot ako. Siguro ay ipabibigay ko na lang ‘to kay Nanay Meling at sasabihing galing kina Mom and Dad.

Just like before, I spent my weekends inside my room.


***


“Are you finished?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Okay, Ms. Esguerra, you may now leave.”

Nakahinga naman ako nang maluwag pagkatapos kong i-take ang special exam dahil sa pag-absent ko noong Friday. May maganda rin naman palang naidulot ang sakit ko dahil nakapag-aral pa ako nang mas matagal. Mukhang mataas naman ang makukuha ko ro’n kaya okay na ako.

Dumiretso ako sa bench area at as usual, nandoon na naman siya. He was on his usual place, his face covered with a notebook. I sat beside him and he woke up, as if he sensed that somebody was here.

“Kumusta?” tanong niya habang naniningkit pa ang mata.

“Mukhang makakapasa naman ako,” sabi ko naman.

Sobrang weird. We had an argument last weekend but after that, it seemed like nothing happened. Gano’n pa rin ang pakikitungo niya at gano’n din ako. Hindi ko alam kung dahil nasanay na lang kami sa mga sagutan namin o baka naman pinaplastik niya lang ako. Tss.

Balak na sana naming kumain pero napatigil ako nang makita ko si Katrina na naglalakad papunta sa library. Kinuha ko ang phone ko at tinawagan siya. Nakita ko namang sinagot niya ‘yon kaya nagsalita agad ako.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Whoa. Totoo ba ‘to? You initiated the call?”

“Tss. Then bye—”

“Wait, wait! Uhm, papunta ako sa library. Are you there?”

“Look behind you. Nandito ako sa bench area.”

Lumingon naman siya at nakita kong hinahanap niya kung nasaan ako nang bigla namang lumapit si Jazer. Crap. Nakalimutan kong nandito siya.

“Sinong kausap mo?” tanong niya pero hindi ko na siya nasagot dahil kumaway sa direksyon ko si Katrina. I was about to raise my hand but her expression suddenly changed, as if she saw a ghost.

“What’s wrong?” tanong ko sa phone pero binaba na niya ang tawag at nakatulala lang siya sa akin.

“Katrina?” Jazer murmured and that made me look at him. His expression was the same as Katrina’s.

“You know her?” I asked but he remained silent.

Nagpabalik-balik ang tingin ko sa kanilang dalawa. I realized they know each other and somehow, that made me feel troubled.



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