.

.

Chapter 37

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Monday, April 9, 2018

***

“Huy, may gwapo akong classmate.”

“Gwapo lang? Ay, sa isang subject ko ang daming gwapo. Papables.”

“Landi n’yo, mag-aral nga kayo.”

“Tss. KJ mo.”

Napairap na lang ako dahil sa ingay sa kabilang table kaya tumayo ako at lumipat ng pwesto. I ended up sitting on my favorite spot—the table at the hidden corner of the library.

Padabog kong binaba ang bag ko at saka ko inilapag ang books sa mesa. Kailangan ko nang mag-aral nang mabuti sa Advanced Calculus dahil paniguradong ‘yon ang crucial sa pagiging Laude standing ko.

Two weeks na simula nang magsimula ang sem pero pagod na agad ako. Pakiramdam ko hell month na kaagad. Totoo nga ang narinig ko sa batchmates ko. Third year second sem ang pinakamahirap sa course namin.

“Iiyak mo lang. Hindi malalaman ng mundo.”

Ugh! Stop pestering me! I cursed as I hit my head with my pen. Bwisit. Simula noong araw na ‘yon, lagi ko na lang naiisip ang mga pinaggagawa niya.

I already admitted to myself that I like him but that was it. In fact, I wanted to stop this madness but it was hard, especially when I see him everyday. That bitch said I should confess and mind the consequences later but I’d rather hold it in. I have no intention to tell him my feelings.

Was it cowardice? Maybe. I already got hurt before and it was devastating enough that I had to close my heart to any feelings and commitment. Unti-unti ko nang tinatanggap ‘yon at kahit papaano ay napatawad ko na ang parents ko pero hindi pa rin ‘yon sapat.

“Hey, witch.” Napatingin na lang ako kay Queenie na nakaupo na sa tapat ko. “You look ugly today. What’s up?”

“Piss off, bitch,” I retorted.

“Don’t want to. Too many tards out there,” she muttered as she snarled at those girls’ direction.

“So? Sila ang bwisitin mo, huwag ako.”

“So how’s your prince?” pag-iiba niya sa topic kaya hindi ko na lang siya pinansin. “Did you confess? Ni-reject ka ba niya? How d—”

“Oh, for freak’s sake, shut the hell up!”

“Nah. Not scared.”

“Look, it’s Iñigo,” sabay turo ko sa likuran niya.

“Ha-ha. I know that’s a bluff, witch.”

I stared at her and after a few seconds, smiled smugly. Her brows furrowed and her smirk turned into an alarmed expression. She finally realized what was going on but it was too late.

“Not this time, bitch,” I retorted as Iñigo sat beside her.

“Queenie,” he called and her shoulder tensed.

“Enjoy your time,” sabi ko saka ako tumayo. “Bye.”

“Bye, Chloe,” sabay ngiti ni Iñigo. “Thanks.”

Agad akong naglakad palayo sa kanila at tiningnan ko nang masama ang mga chismosang nakatingin sa direksyon na ‘yon. Paglabas ko ng library ay dumiretso ako sa bench area pero napatigil ako nang makita kong magkatabing nakaupo sina Jazer at Katrina. They looked at my direction so I quickly turned around. I couldn’t understand why my heart was pounding loudly. Was it because I felt like I was caught? Or was it jealousy?

Huminga na lang ako nang malalim at saka naglakad palayo. Papasok na lang ako nang maaga sa klase.


***

“Ate, you want chocolate?” Czanelle asked while offering the bar on her hand. I stared at her face which was covered with chocolate. Napangiti naman ako dahil ‘yon din ang una niyang tinanong noong dinala siya rito pati na rin si Clark nina Mom at Dad.

“Ah,” I said, opening my mouth. She smiled and shoved a piece of the chocolate she was eating. Nalagyan ang mukha ko dahil sa kamay niya. She giggled while looking at me and I jokingly glared at her. Tumakbo siya palayo sa akin kaya napailing na lang ako. Si Clark naman ang humabol sa kanya dahil gusto niya rin ng chocolate.

Pinanood ko lang sila habang pinupunasan ko ang mukha ko. I suddenly felt envious. Ang sarap sigurong maging bata ulit. I wanted to play with them as a kid. Maybe if our ages were close, my childhood wouldn’t be that lonely.

Narinig ko naman ang sasakyan sa labas kaya bigla akong nag-panic. Ayokong makita ang bwisit na ‘yon—

“Kuya! Kuya!”

Czanelle and Clark both ran at the doorway and I heard his laughter. Hinayaan ko na lang sila ro’n at nag-focus ako sa pinapanood kong cartoon na hindi ko man lang alam ang title. I remained seated on the couch but I tensed when I saw him on my peripheral vision.

“Nauna ka palang umuwi,” he said but I ignored him. Kaso ang bwisit, umupo sa tabi ko. “May sakit ka ba?”

“Wala,” I dryly answered.

“Galit ka ba?” tanong niya.

“Hindi,” sagot ko pero hindi pa rin ako tumitingin sa kanya.

“Bakit parang—”

“Hindi nga!”

Tumayo ako at sinamaan siya ng tingin. He looked confused and I realized I was overreacting so I breathed deeply and tried to calm myself. Umupo ulit ako pero nagpantig ang tenga ko sa narinig ko.

“Ah, oo nga pala, sabi ni Katrina—” Hindi na niya natapos ang sasabihin niya dahil binato ko sa kanya ang cushion na hawak ko. “Teka nga, inaano ba kita? Anong problema?”

“Ikaw!” I yelled as I marched away from him.

Nagmadali akong umakyat sa kwarto at binalot ko ang sarili ko sa comforter. Bwisit na ‘yan. Sa lahat ng pwedeng banggitin, si Katrina pa.

Alam ko namang mali ‘tong ginagawa ko. Wala akong karapatang magalit dahil hindi naman niya alam at ako rin naman ang may kasalanan pero may karapatan naman siguro akong masaktan. This is why I shouldn’t let myself fall for him any longer. I don’t want to cross that line. I don’t want this confusing feeling to drag me beyond my comfort zone.

I stopped moving when I heard someone knocking. Naalala kong hindi ko na-lock ang pinto at akmang lalabas na ako mula sa comforter nang marinig ko ang pagbukas no’n. I heard the footsteps approaching my bed and for a second, I felt nervous thinking it might be him.

“Chloe?” I flinched when I heard Mom’s voice. Naramdaman ko naman ang pag-upo niya sa gilid ng kama ko. “Are you okay?” she asked but I didn’t answer.

I remained still. Hindi ko alam ang dapat gawin o sabihin. It still felt uncomfortable. Yes, we shared some profound moments but getting close to each other wouldn’t be that easy, especially after what we had gone through.

“Dahil ba kay Jazer?” tanong niya kaya nagulat ako. How did she know that?

“No,” sagot ko naman.

“So, it’s really because of him.”

Hindi naman agad ako nakasagot. Ilang segundo pa ang lumipas bago ako magsalita ulit.

“How did you know?” I muttered, still under my comforter.

I heard her chuckle. “I just know. A mother’s instinct is better than any girls’.”

I almost sneered at her words. Mother, huh?

“Do you like him?” she suddenly asked.

“No!” I squirmed away from her. Naramdaman ko ang pag-init ng mukha ko.

“Why are you angry, then?”

“Because you’re saying nonsense.”

“Am I?”

Bakit ba kasi nandito siya sa kwarto ko? Pinapalala niya lang ang pakiramdam ko, eh. I wanted to be alone yet she was here.

“Jazer is a good guy. I kind of understand why you like him,” she said and I couldn’t bear it anymore.

“I don’t like him—!” Tinanggal ko ang comforter na nakabalot sa akin at tumingin kay Mom pero napatigil ako dahil sa expression niya. She was looking straight at me with a warm smile. I felt a lump in my throat and I had to avert her gaze because I knew I’d cry if I didn’t.

“Acknowledging your feelings isn’t a crime, Chloe.”

Hindi ko alam kung bakit pero bigla na lang tumulo ang luha ko sa sinabi niya. It felt like she just knew what to say. Those were the words I wanted and hated to hear.

I envied those daughters who could tell their mother about their problems, just like what I always see in TV series and movies. Sa loob ng mahabang panahon, wala akong mapagsabihan ng mga problema ko hanggang sa dumating si Jazer. He became my crying shoulder but this time, he was the cause of my tears. This time, my mother became my shield.

“I’m scared to get hurt,” I said as tears streamed down my face.

Lumapit naman siya sa akin at saka niya ako niyakap. She stroked my hair and gently tapped my shoulder. I bit my lower lip to stop myself from crying but these tears had no plans to come to an end.

“Hindi ka pa ba nasasaktan ngayon?” she asked. “It’s okay to get scared but don’t let it stop you from what you want to do.” Her voice suddenly cracked. “I know it’s our fault for making you feel this way. Sorry, anak. We, too, were scared to face you back then.”

Naramdaman ko naman ang paghigpit ng yakap niya at mas lalo lang sumakit ang lalamunan ko sa pagpipigil umiyak.

“Love fearlessly, anak,” she said. “Don’t let your feelings become your what ifs. You have nothing to be afraid, brave girl. And if you get hurt in the process, run to me. Kahit anong mangyari, kakampi mo ako.”

I silently cried in her arms as her words sank deep in my heart. Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala na galing sa kanya ang lahat ng ‘yon.

Hindi ko alam kung ilang minuto kaming nanatiling gano’n. Basta ang alam ko, hindi niya ako binitiwan hangga’t hindi pa ako tumatahan. Nang medyo kumalma na ako ay saka siya umalis at bumalik na may dalang baso ng tubig. She said I should rest and I agreed.

Nakatulog ako ng ilang oras at paggising ko ay nakaramdam ako ng gutom. Hindi na naman ako nakapag-dinner nang nasa oras.

Bumaba ako at nanalangin na sana ay wala nang tao sa baba pero para naman akong sinampal ng tadhana dahil nasa dining area si Jazer at kumakain.

“Uy, gising ka na,” bati niya habang nakangiti.

Huminga ako nang malalim at dumiretso para maghain ng pagkain ko. Umupo ako sa tabi niya dahil doon ang upuan ko. Nagsimula akong kumain pero napatigil ako.

“Sorry kanina,” mahina kong sabi.

“Okay lang,” sagot niya at pagtingin ko ay nakangiti siya sa akin. “Ayos ka na ba?”

Huminga naman ako nang malalim at saka ako tumingin nang diretso sa kanya.

“Stop doing that,” I said and he looked baffled.

“Ha?”

“Stop being concerned about me. Stop being nice to me. Or else, I’m going to misunderstand your actions again. So please, stop confusing me.”

After that, we ate in awkward silence. Sorry Mom, I couldn’t do it. In the end, I wasn’t brave enough to love.



***