Ang mga Pagluha ni College Girl, Part 3 (based on true story)
Dad made an appointment with us so he could meet Christine. Dad managed to get my mobile phone number and sent me a message to set the date, time, and place we could meet. I suggested for the place; McDonalds somewhere in Quezon City. Christine liked the place too. We left it to dad to set the date and time. Dad agreed with the place and he set the date, Monday at 3:00 in the afternoon the usual day and time he brought out to the fastfood to eat and play when we were kids.
I have reason for selecting the place, its memorable to us. It was here where we had fun with dad when we were still kids. His usual phrase, may date tayo (we have a date); and we already knew he meant this place. But in my case it’s far beyond child’s fun memories, it was here where I celebrated my 18th birthday with Christine. There were only two of us as aunt Wilma went to Isabela. It’s here where I bitterly cried for simply missing dad and mom on my supposed to be debut. Christine was crying too while taking big bites with her hamburger.
Like any other debutants I dream also of having my first dance with dad, and it’s in a hotel ballroom. It was beyond my dreams to celebrate this passage to womanhood dancing with a mascot who gave me a cup of ice cream for the fun. Yuck, it’s a nightmare and a disgrace to my dreams.
My reminiscing of the past was interrupted when an old Toyota car parked near the side door to where we had found our table. From the glass panels I could see a man and two children alighting from the car.
Dad quickly entered the fastfood with two children on his sides holding hands with him. Again, the usual scene it used to be with us. I don’t know if dad is fixated on his style and practices or simply teasing us. He was all smile when he approached us; pulled out a hankie and wiped out a few sweat rolling down his neck.
“Matagal na ba kayo (have you been here long)?” his usual opening statement.
“Hindi po naman dad, magkasunod lang tayo (not so, we’re only a few minutes ahead).
I looked at Christine; she was so silent and catching up his breath. I know she’s so excited. Dad on the other hand gently pulled his daughters and brought them to our side. He looked at them and us as introduced his them.
“Belle and Jo, these are your sisters. This is your ate Mer, (dad looked at me), and your ate Christine (and he looked at her).”
“Nice meeting you ate Mer and ate Christine,” they said
I took the two girls with me, kissed and embraced them. Dad went to Christine and embraced her. Christine could not control herself and cried. She cried like a toddler who has just lost a cone of ice cream on the floor. What a scene, probably everybody was looking at us. But who cares, we are here to bring back our dad to us and unite a broken family.
“Oh, huwag ka nang umatungal pa, nandito na ang daddy. Lalong lumalaki ang butas ng ilong mo sa kaiiyak mong iyan. (Don’t cry I’m here already. Stop crying or your nostrils will grow larger)”
That’s his usual line everytime he pacified Christine from crying when she was small. Christine knows it so she pinched dad and said, “you said that before, you say it again.”
Nothing has changed; he’s still our same old dad. His ways are the same as what he used to be when we were still kids. The same structure of affection he had with us, before he left, remained intact over the years. It is as sturdy as the structure of this place where he used to feed and amuse us being our father and a mother at the same time. What has changed is the number of people he now cares and love; in the same manner the number of crew manning this fastfood has also grown in number. We now have two beautiful sisters to love as dad loves us too.
“You are so beautiful, ang cu-cute ninyo. Mabuti na lang hindi kayo nagmana sa daddy natin (it’s good you don’t look like our dad),” Christine jested to our sisters.
“Kayo din ate Mer and ate Christine, ang gaganda rin ninyo. Para kayong artista. (you too are beautiful like a movie star.”
“Magkakapatid nga kayo, kayo kayo mismo ay nagbubulahan (you are really sisters for you know how to complement each other),” dad said laughing.
We have nothing against our sisters; they are innocent of dad’s actions in the past. If we have learned to forgive and accept dad, the more we have reasons to accept these two beautiful creatures as our sisters. I know that dad was happier than us for being able to unite his children into one happy family, if we may call it that way. But dad has a lot of things to explain.
“I have been dreaming ang longing for this a long time,” dad said it remorsefully.
Dad took a deep breath, looked at the two girls and said:
“I have told them everything about you and at their young age they’re so mature enough to understand. Perhaps it’s because their mom left them too and worked in New Zealand as a medical secretary. They want to fill up that void in their hearts by meeting you and to be accepted as part of your own blood.”
“Is she not coming home to see them?” I asked dad.
Dad did not answer me right away. He weighed in first what he was supposed to say.
“The girls know their mom has another family already in New Zealand. She married a New Zealander to get a permanent visa and a citizenship later. She is supporting these girls with her monthly remittances but that’s all she could do. I don’t know for how long, she does not have a plan to petition them.”
Christine sensing that the two girls were about to cry butted in.
“ Dito na lang kayo at magsama-sama tayo; mas masaya pa di ba (let us stay together, it’s happier)?,” Christine said it with much conviction as if trying to please everybody..
Dad suddenly became silent apparently thinking on what Christine had said. He wanted to say something from his heart but before he could say anything, his eyes were already sated with tears.
“If I have my way I want to correct things. I can no longer change where destiny has brought to us but I know we can still do something to change its course. What is important you are with me, we are together, and we are here now to love each other.”
“Dad you don’t have to be sad, things will gonna be okay. Don’t you see our sisters Mer and Christine love you very much; and perhaps, similarly they love us too?,” Belle said.
The more that dad cried, perhaps out of guilt. “Pinagsisisihan ko ang lahat (I do repent for everything.)”
I noticed dad could hardly breathe. Immediately I massaged his back and asked for a glass of water. Dad drank half of the glass but had not been relieved. Belle, who was released from the hospital barely a month, started to worry about dad. Just to relieve her, I told her that dad would be fine and I could take care of him. Because the crew and some people were already looking at us, I brought dad outside to calm him down.
Christine knew what to do, she took the two girls and went to the counter to make an order. After a few minutes outside dad regained his composure, he smiled at me.
“Mabuti na lang may nurse dito (I’m glad there’s a nurse here),” he said laughing.
But on my part, I reached heaven for the joy of doing something good to my father.
The crew delivered the food items Christine and the girls ordered to our table. I asked dad to go inside and join the girls already feasting with their hamburgers and French fries. Dad was hesitant to go inside, maybe he felt so embarrassed because of our drama. But Christine came and called dad.
“Dad come in, huwag ka nang mahiya ang laki laki mo kasing iyakin (don’t be embarrassed, you are too big to cry).
Dad went in and followed Christine as I stayed by his side clinging on to his arm. Jo also rushed to dad and cling on the other arm.
(To be concluded)