Chapter 40 : To turn one's back

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Mabilis na pumanhik si Grey sa hotel room na tinutuluyan ng ina. Sunod-sunod ang katok niya hanggang pagbuksan siya ni Pearl na may hawak pang kopita. Napaurong ang ginang sa intensidad ng mga mata niya nang tumuloy sa pinto.

"Is it true?" Mabigat ang hugot niya ng hininga. "Is it true, Ma? You talked to Noreen before to refuse my marriage proposal? You meddled between us?"

Panay ang urong ng ginang habang panay ang hakbang niya palapit dito. Nahihintakutang nakatingin si Tita Marian sa kanila. Nakadantay ito sa dibdib.

"Stop scaring me, Grey!" galit na sita ni Pearl. Tumigil ito sa pag-urong at nagtaas ng noo.

"Is it true?! I'm asking you!" galit na sigaw niya.

"Yes!" anito at ibinato ang wineglass na hawak sa sahig. "It's true! And it's for your own good! I asked her to refuse and give you time. To wait for your career to fly before marrying you. Or else you would lose sight of your priorities and never reach your status today! She understood—"

Mahigpit niyang hinawakan sa braso ang ina. Nanginginig siya sa iba't ibang damdaming sumasalakay sa kanya.

"How could you! I never asked you to do that! I never asked you to meddle—"

"I am your mother!" sabi nito na binawi ang braso. "You don't have to ask me to do it for you! I did it because that's what's best for you! To help you fulfill all your dreams. To help you realize your potential without distractions! You love her so much! She would distract you if you marry her! I know!"

Nanlalaki ang mata ng ina sa pagsasalita. Ang kakaunting takot at pangamba na mayroon ito ay madaling nasapawan ng pinaniniwalaang tama. Napaurong siya at napatungo sa disposisyon nito. Sapo niya ang ulo.

Hindi nga siya kilala ng sariling ina. Noreen is never a distraction to him. She had been his strength. She had been his inspiration to make it through his parent's separation and his resolve in raising Portia. Her love and support for him made things easier. She always makes it easy for him to do what needs to be done.

Madilim ang matang tumingin siya sa ina. He could not believe what little faith her mother has for him. How and when did she morph into this kind of shallow woman?

"What now? You're telling me now because you're guilty with what you have done? Because you wanted us to stay together?" aniya. "Is that it?!"

"Yes, I am guilty! It's my fault so I want to make it right! And what's right is for you and Noreen to be together! That's what! You are made for each other! Kaya hindi ako nahiya noon sa kanya nang humingi ako ng pabor. Kaya rin hindi ako nahihiya ngayon na paglapitin kayo at ibalik ka sa kanya!" giit nito. "Because from back then until now, I'm certain that she's the right person for you. I only want you to be happy. She will make you happy! Kaya tigilan mo ang kalokohan mo kay Tonica!"

"Shut up!" sigaw niya. "It's not my happiness you care about! You're concerned about your peace of mind! You're guilty because you messed things up. Kung itinatama mo man ngayon ang sinasabi mong pagkakamali, dahil lang 'yon sa nakokonsensiya ka. Hindi dahil gusto mo akong maging masaya. I was sure back then that marrying Noreen would make me happy! If you didn't meddle, then I would have been a happy family man a long time ago! Pa'no mo 'yong hindi nakita, Ma? Now I'm sure I'd be happy and a little less crazy, if you are not messing with my brain!"

Nagsukatan sila ng tingin ng ina. Namumutla ito. Nahuhukot mula sa dati ay makumpiyansa at eleganteng pagkakatayo. She was trembling but her eyes were fierce. Hindi nito isusuko ang pinaniniwalaan kahit na magpaliwanag siya. It has always been like that with his mother.

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