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Epilogue

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Sunday, January 17, 2016


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[ NAOMI'S POV ]

“Bye Ma!”

Tumakbo si Rainie palabas sa bahay habang kagat-kagat ang sandwich na ginawa ko sa kanya. Mukhang malelate na naman siya. Napailing na lang ako habang tinitignan ko siyang tumatakbo palayo sa akin.

Bumalik ako sa sala at napahinto ako nung nakita ko ang kalendaryo.

August 31.

Ang tagal na rin palang panahon ang lumipas. I can’t believe that tomorrow will be the 17th anniversary of Rielle and Vince’s inclusion in the Atama family. Those two changed my life and because of them, I am where I am. And even now, I still can’t accept the fact that they’re gone. The memories from fifteen years ago is still haunting me every time I sleep.

***

‘I’m sorry...Nathan...Nathalie...’

Seeing him with a pained expression while trying to smile broke my heart into pieces. He’s drowning with his own blood but he kept fighting until his last breath. And it’s all for me and Nathan.

His body fell to the ground and I almost ran to where he is. I want to stay by his side but several Shinigamis are chasing me because of Rainie. And I know that her safety should be the priority. After all, her existence is one of the reasons why this war started and I’m sure the Shinigamis want her back. I feel bad for her because I’ve heard that the Council of Elders forbade her from entering this place. Just because of her origin, her fate was sealed by other people and what’s worse is her parents can’t do anything about it.

“Huwag n’yo silang hayaang makatakas!”

“Kill her!”

Several Shinigamis appeared in front of me but my body moved on its own. I swiftly slashed my fan in front of them and I used my sixth sense to prevent the others to get out of the Black Dimension. Kinuha ko rin ang nalaglag na sword at kahit hindi ko alam kung paano gumamit nun ay nagawa kong mapabagsak ang natitira pa.

Countless bodies lie in front of me but I can’t feel anything. It felt like my soul isn’t there. It felt like a dream. Seeing and hearing everything around me, their voices inside my head, but the voice I want to hear the most isn’t there. Tumingin ulit ako sa direksyon niya at tuluyan nang bumuhos ang luha ko nung nakita ko na hindi na siya gumagalaw at kahit anong tawag ko sa isip niya ay hindi na siya sumasagot.

Y-You’re finally here.’
‘Yeah. I’m here. Thank you for waiting for me.’

Napalingon naman ako sa direksyon ni Akemi at nakita kong kasama na niya si Hideo pati na rin si Nathan. And seeing my son safe in his arms made me sob harder.

“Give that child to me!”

Nagulat naman ako nung marinig ko ‘yun. Pagtingin ko sa harapan ko ay lumabas ang isang babae na kamukha ni Rielle pero mas malamig ang expression niya. Her eyes have different shades of green and I can see small stitches on her face. Nagdudugo rin ang kaliwang pisngi at braso niya at hindi siya makatayo nang maayos. I think this girl is Rin. Haruka told me about her and how she hates her sister.

Hinawakan ko naman nang mahigpit si Rainie at lalo siyang umiyak. Pakiramdam ko, alam niya ang nangyayari kay Rielle at halos lumubog din ang puso ko habang naririnig ko siya.

“I won’t. This child does not belong to your disgusting tribe.”

“And you think she belongs to your tribe?”

“She belongs with her family.”

But this war stole his home and Nathan’s father.

“Naomi, leave her to us.”

Nagulat naman ako nung biglang may naglanding malapit sa akin at magkahalong saya at lungkot ang naramdaman ko nung nakita ko sina Akira at Michiko. Kitang-kita ko ang panunubig ng mga mata nila. I’m sure they’re also devastated because of what happened to Vince and Akemi. Ni hindi ko na rin marinig ang inner voice ni Akemi gaya ni Vince pero nagulat ako nung narinig ko si Hideo.

‘I’m sorry, Naomi. I’m sure you want to stay by his side but I have a favor to ask,’ sabi niya habang nakayakap sa katawan ni Akemi at hawak-hawak si Nathan. Nakatingin lang siya sa langit at ngayon ko lang siya nakitang ganito ang expression. Nasasaktan ako para sa kanya at ramdam na ramdam ko ang sakit na dinadala niya dahil pareho kami ng kinahinatnan.

‘Rainie is not safe here. I know this is hard for you but can you leave this place with her? You’re the only one I can depend with this right now.’ Kinagat ko na lang ang labi ko para pigilan ang pag-iyak pero nagtuluy-tuloy pa rin ang luha ko nung makita ko ang ngiti sa mukha ni Akemi at alam kong mas masakit ‘yun para kay Hideo dahil kung kailan sila nagkita ulit, ito pa ang kinahinatnan nila.

Kinalma ko naman ang sarili ko at tinignan ko si Rainie. Tinignan ko rin sina Michiko at Akira na ngayon ay nakikipaglaban kay Rin at sa iba pang Shinigami.

‘I will,’ sabi ko. ‘But Hideo, please take care of Nathan. Vince...he died to protect him...so...’

‘I understand. And I’m sorry making you do this.’

As I watched him, I realized how strong he was. He didn’t break down and he just quietly cried as rain pours down on them. And for once, we can read each other’s mind without any hindrances. Both of us are the most cautious when it comes to mind reading but my our minds right now are a mess. Still, I admire his strong mentality even though he lost them.

We both lost our other half and our closest friend. And now, we’re going to be separated with our child.

“Naomi! Now!”

Nabaling ulit ang atensyon ko kina Michiko at ginamit ko ang ilang segundo na ‘yun para makatakas. Tumakbo ako palayo sa kanila at narinig ko ang boses ni Akira.

‘Don’t look back. Go forward and leave this place, Naomi.’ I heard her voice cracked and I know she’s also worried about her family.

‘Please be safe,’ I said to all of them.

Tumakbo ako sa gubat at papunta sa border ng lugar malapit sa mga humdrum pero hindi ko alam kung kaya pa ba ng lakas ko ang distansya na ‘yun.

‘I’ll take you there.’ Nung nakita ko si Mayu na nakasakay kay Miyu ay saglit akong natuwa. Agad akong lumapit sa kanya at pumasok ako sa loob ng sasakyan pero halos lumubog ang puso ko nung nakita kong halos sira-sira na ito.

‘Miyu...’

‘Don’t worry. Miyu won’t give up that easily. After all, this is made by me and my father,’ sabi ni Mayu at agad niyang pinatakbo si Miyu.

Habang nasa loob ako ay doon lang nagsink-in lahat ng nangyari. Doon ko lang naramdaman ang patung-patong na sakit. Watching Vince’s downfall, Akemi and Hideo’s tragic reunion, being away with Nathan and leaving my friends behind...my tears keep falling and my heart keeps breaking into pieces.

Maybe this is the right thing to do. Hindi ko alam kung kaya ko pang mabuhay sa lugar na ‘yun kung puro ganung mga alaala ang nasa isip ko.

“How about we celebrate the New Year here?”

“Sure. I think Nathan will like it. We should go to the plaza during the New Year’s eve. But...I’m still worried about he war. Bakit ba kasi kailangan pang mangyari ang ganito?”

“Don’t worry. We just have to survive it. And we’re going to.”

“You talk big.”

“Well, I’m an expert when it comes to killing and war.”

“Just promise you won’t die.”

“I promise.”

Napahagulgol ako nung maalala ko ang pagpaplano namin at wala na akong pakialam kung marinig man ako ni Mayu. Remembering his words and promise pierced my heart and now I know that we will never be able to do that.

Bigla namang napahinto si Miyu at nakita ko sa labas ang ilang Shinigami. Pareho kaming lumabas ni Mayu at hinarangan niya kami ni Rainie.

‘I’ll take care of them. Kaunti na lang at makakarating ka na sa main road.’ Ngumiti sa akin si Mayu habang nireready niya ang sarili niya sa pag-atake. ‘Live, Naomi. Stay strong. I know you can do it.’

‘Mayu...’

‘Now, go!’

I closed my eyes and started to run. Gaya ng sinabi ni Akira kanina, hindi ako lumingon at patuloy lang ako sa pagtakbo. Nakarinig ako ng pagsabog pero pinili kong unahin ang kaligtasan ni Rainie. Halos wala na akong nararamdaman kundi ang bigat ng katawan ko dahil sa patuloy na pagbuhos ng ulan. Wala na akong marinig.

Hanggang sa makarating ako sa isang madilim na kalsada. Tahimik. Walang tao. Madilim. Malamig. But suddenly, several fireworks lit up the sky. Then I realized what’s happening.

New Year’s Eve.

Nakatayo lang ako habang nakatingala sa langit at hawak-hawak si Rainie. Tahimik akong umiiyak habang tinitignan ang iba’t ibang kulay na bumabalot sa buong kalangitan. How ironic. These humdrums are enjoying their night with these fireworks and their families while the Senshins and Shinigamis are fighting for their lives and trying hard to protect their loved ones and to survive. Sometimes, I wish I could just be a humdrum and live a normal life. Maybe that would be easier.

Tinignan ko si Rainie and for the first time ay nakita ko siyang ngumiti.

Siguro mas makakabuti rin para sa kanya na lumayo muna sa mundong iyon. She’s just a day old but she’s already carrying a lot of burden and responsibilities on her shoulders because of her existence. Maybe that’s why Hideo wants her to be away from that place. And maybe that’s also the reason why he chose me to do it. He knows that I’ll only remember Vince’s death if I stayed there. That guy, even if he’s devastated and broke, he still first takes care of the people around him. I’m sure he’s going to be a great leader.

Tinignan ko ulit si Rainie at ngumiti ako sa kanya.

“Let’s start a new life, Rainie. You and I.” Pagkasabi ko nun ay muli siyang ngumiti kaya napangiti rin ako. Bigla naman siyang tumingin sa itaas at lalo lang akong naiyak.

The rain has finally stopped.

***

“Mama!”

Bumalik ang isip ko sa kasalukuyan nung marinig ko ang boses ni Rainie mula sa labas. Tumakbo ako papunta sa pintuan at nagulat ako nung nakita ko siya doon.

“Rainie! Bakit ka umuwi? May nangyari ba? Anong—” Napatigil ako nung pinakita niya sa akin ang isang certificate at napaupo na lang ako nung nakita ko kung ano ang nakasulat doon.

“Mama? Okay ka lang?” Pinilit kong ngumiti kahit na kung anu-ano na ang pumapasok sa isip ko.

“Oo, Rainie. Nagulat lang ako. Tumawag kasi ‘yung principal. Akala ko naexpel ka,” sabi ko na lang kahit na hindi naman talaga. Alam ko namang Senshin ang Principal ng school na ‘yun dahil nung sinamahan ko si Rainie doon ay agad niya akong nakilala. Simula nun ay hindi na ako mapakali dahil nagsisimula nang magparamdam ang mundong dati kong ginagalawan.

“Ma, naexpel nga ako. Pero kasi sabi nila magtatransfer daw ako sa Tantei High. Alam mo ba ang school na ‘yun? Weird lang talaga! Pero basta ayun nga.”

Tantei High.
It’s been a long time since I last heard that name.

Sabi na nga ba. Nagsimula nang gumalaw sina Reina. Naalala ko tuloy ang una naming pagkikita. Third year na si Rainie nun at pumunta ako sa school niya para bantayan siya mula sa malayo. May kakaiba kasi akong nararamdaman dito. Sa tingin ko ay may ilang Shinigami na nagtatago sa lugar na ‘to at natatakot ako na baka malaman nilang hindi humdrum si Rainie.

Naghintay ako sa taas ng puno at nakatingin lang ako sa classroom ni Rainie. Medyo kakaiba rin ang nararamdaman ko sa katabi niya. Just like her, he doesn’t associate himself with his classmates. Though I am not sure if he’s an Erityian or just a humdrum with a different vibe.

Just when I’m about to change my position, I felt the tip of a sword at my neck. 

“Don’t move or else I’ll cut your head off your body,” rinig kong sabi ng isang babae na nasa likuran ko. Ni hindi ko siya naramdaman at hindi ko akalaing masesense niya ako rito sa taas ng puno.

Pero napangiti ako. It’s been years since I felt this kind of thrill. With a swift move, I locked her sword with my fan and we both fell to the ground. I managed to unarmed her and I pointed my fan to her neck while pinning her to the ground. We both saw each other but after seeing my face, she seemed surprised.

“A-ate N-naomi?” Nagulat din ako nung narinig ko ‘yun. Matagal ko nang itinapon ang pangalang ‘yun at Rina Lazaro ang naging pangalan ko sa nagdaang labinlimang taon.

“Who are you?” tanong ko sa kanya at lalo akong nagulat nung biglang tumulo ang luha sa mga mata niya.

“Exactly 9:37 AM, I found out that one of the Great Seven that’s reported to be dead is still alive.”

Nung narinig ko ‘yun ay agad kong naalala ang mukha niya at nanubig din ang mga mata ko dahil hindi ko akalain na makikita ko ulit siya. She’s still a little child when I last saw her, and now, she grew up into a beautiful lady.

“Reina?”

“Ate Naomi!” Bigla niya akong niyakap at umiyak siya nang umiyak.

Pagkatapos nun ay sinabi ko sa kanya ang naging sitwasyon namin. Alam kong mapagkakatiwalaan ko siya kaya naman iniwan ko ang kaligtasan ni Rainie sa mga kamay niya. Nalaman ko rin mula sa kanya ang nangyari kay Akira at hindi ko akalaing pati siya ay mawawala sa akin. At nalaman ko rin na kaya hindi na ulit nakadalaw si Mayu sa amin mula noong four or five years old si Rainie ay dahil maging siya ay wala na. Hindi ako makapaniwala. Umiyak ako ng ilang oras sa harapan ni Reina dahil sa pagkawala nilang dalawa.

Ilang oras pa ang lumipas bago ako tuluyang kumalma. Tumingin ako kay Reina at pinaalala ko sa kanya ang sitwasyon namin ni Rainie ngayon.

“Please don’t tell this to anybody inside Tantei High,” sabi ko sa kanya.

“Yeah.”

“B-by the way,” sabi ko sabay hinga ko nang malalim. “How’s Nathan?”

“You mean Hiro? Tss. That kid has a dead face. He’s so self-centered.”

Hindi ko naman maiwasang mapangiti kahit na kita ko sa mukha ni Reina ang pagkainis. So Hiro is his alternative name. And based on her description, he looks and acts like just his father.

Simula nung araw na ‘yun ay alam kong malapit na ang panahon para sa pagharap ni Rainie sa totoong mundong ginagalawan niya.

August 31.

Ngayong araw nakuha ni Rainie ang letter niya mula sa Tantei High. Her journey will be a rough one but I know that she can do it. After all, she’s the daughter of Rielle, the woman who endured all hardships just to save her.

I removed my contact lenses and I looked at my green eyes in the mirror. Enough hiding. Enough running. I think it’s time to accept all that happened in the past. I’m going to fight again, but this time, I’ll make sure I’m going to protect all the people I love.

September 1.

Naglalakad kami ngayon ni Rainie sa park na nasa bungad ng gubat. Lumakad ako papasok doon at hinawi ko ang iba’t ibang halaman na nakaharang para makadaan kami nang maayos. Ilang minuto pa ang lumipas at naririnig ko na ang paghingal ni Rainie pero nung nakita niya ang lake at ang school sa gitna ng gubat ay narinig ko ang pagkamangha niya.

Nakita ko ang ilang Senshins na mukhang susundo sa transferees kaya naman bago pa nila ako makilala ay nagpaalam na ako sa kanya.

“Bye Rainie.”
“Bye Ma,” sabi niya at kita kong naiiyak na siya.

Tumalikod ako at naglakad palayo pero nagsimula nang bumagsak ang mga luha ko. Being with her for the last fifteen years made me happy but sending her off felt like I’ve lost another child of mine.

Nung nakarating na sila sa gate ay bumalik ako malapit sa lake at pumikit. I reached for their minds and in an instant, I connected with Hideo and Michiko. I can suddenly see everything around me and I felt like I can use all kinds of weapon. I never thought that we can still execute the seventh sense even though we’ve been separated for ages. I guess our our connection and trust for each other are still on the same level.

‘I’m back,’ I said and I heard Michiko wailed.

‘Welcome home,’ they both replied and for the first time in fifteen years, I cried because of happiness.

God. I missed their voices. I missed them so much.

Using Hideo’s sixth sense, I saw the both of them. Michiko is standing at the roof of Midori Building while looking and waving at my direction while Hideo’s at the grassland and I saw a grave in front of him.

If only Mayu, Akira, Mitsuo and Akemi are here, we would be complete. We may have different personalities, origins and background but the seven of us are a family. And a family should be complete. But I know that’s impossible. I know that will never happen. It’s the right time to accept our fate. And right now, I’m acknowledging it.

Our era has finally ended.

Now it’s time for the new generation.


***