CHAPTER 4

"You're filing resignation?" nakataas ang kilay ni Mommy.

Nandito kami sa loob ng opisina. Kasama ko si Mommy and Dad. Habang tahimik lang na nasa likod ko si Sergio, nakaupo kami sa visitors chair.

Saglit kong nilingon si Sergio na seryosong nakikinig sa pinag-uusapan namin bago binalik ang atensiyon kay Mommy. She was sitting in her big swivel chair while Daddy was standing next to her, silently listening.

"Yes, ma— "

"Mas mabuti na 'yan. Just be a full time wife so that you can be useful to your husband."

Ilang beses akong napalunok. Sumikip ang d****b ko sa sinabi niya. It's not like i'm useless...

"Lucia," suway ni Dad.

"What?" nag maang maangan siya. "Oh, naalala ko nga pala. You don't even know how to cook. Baka masunog mo ang kusina, nakakahiya naman sa asawa mo."

I feel anxious about what she’s saying. This isn't what I expected. Sana pala ay hindi ko nalang sinama sa akin si Sergio.

"I can cook for us, mama..." sumabat si Sergio.

Naagaw niya ang atensiyon naming tatlo. Pinanlakihan ko siya ng mata bilang babala na huwag na siyang sumagot. Ngunit hindi siya natinag. Inilingan niya lang ako at diretso ang tingin kay Mommy.

"She doesn't have to do such things. All she has to do is to stay by my side and everything will be fine." he held my trembling hand. "I didn't marry her to serve me. I married her because I love her."

"Sergio..."

"At hindi siya pabigat sa akin. As her husband, I can provide for our needs so you have nothing to worry about kung iyan ang inaalala niyo." he said emphatically while sincerely looking straight into my parents' eyes.

Oo nga pala... We need to convince them that we love each other. He’s just doing his role as a husband.

Muntik na akong mag assume na totoo ang lahat ng sinabi niya. if only we hadn’t reached an agreement I might have really believed what he was saying.

"I want to take all your responsibilities to her. I know.. I can treat her better."

"Anong gusto mong sabihin? that we don't treat her well?" tumalim ang tinig ni Mommy.

Tumayo siya hawak ang kamay ko kaya napatayo rin ako. Kinakabahan sa tensiyon na nagaganap. Gusto ko silang awatin ngunit may parte sa akin na may gusto pang marinig... Kahit palabas lang ang lahat.

"By no means, mama..." he still tried to be polite. "We are leaving. Thanks for your time."

They exchanged words for a while before Sergio pulled me out. Gusto kong magsalita o magtanong ngunit seryoso ang mukha niya. Nanahimik nalang ako. Mamaya ko nalang siya kakausapin kapag nasa maayos na mood na siya.

"Hindi ka papasok?" nagtataka kong tanong.

Hindi kasi papuntang opisina ang daan na dinadaanan namin. Gradually his face softened before he turned to look at me for a moment.

"We plan to go grocery shopping together yesterday."

Ang kulit talaga niya. Sabi kong kaya ko na mag grocery mag isa. Hindi naman niya kailangan lumiban pa sa trabaho para lang samahan ako. Pero imbes na magreklamo ay nanahimik nalang ako.

As we entered at the market. Sergio pushed the cart while I was like a lost child. Para akong robot na sumusunod kay Sergio nang dumaan kami sa mga glassware... Takot na may matabig ako at may mabasag.

"You okay?" tumigil si Sergio sa paglalakad at nilingon ako.

I mentally dread. Anong isasagot ko?

"Ha? Oo." sagot ko kaagad.

He didn't seem convinced by my answer but he never asked again. Instead, he reached for my hand and placed it on the handle of the cart. Pareho naming tinutulak ang cart habang siya ay nililibot ang tingin sa paligid.

Sergio looked like he knew his way around. Like a grocery expert. Nakahinga lang ako ng maluwag nang makalayo kami sa mga babasaging gamit. Tinulak namin pareho ang cart patungo sa canned foods.

"Paborito mo ang fresca tuna, 'di ba? Bili tayo ng marami." napatulala ako kay Sergio habang pinapanood siyang kumuha ng sampong delata ng tuna.

Kapagkuwan ay tinulak niya pausog ang cart at tumingin pa sa ibang canned foods.

"Paborito mo rin ang maanghang na sardines... Bili rin tayo nito."

Hindi kaagad ako nakapag react sa mga sinasabi niya. Does he know what he is saying? Natatandaan niya pa ang mga paborito ko... pitong taon na ang nakalipas naalala niya pa rin.

He is the reason why those became my favorite. He was poor then. While I was indulging in my parent’s wealth. Tinuruan at pinatikim niya sa akin ang mga pagkain na kinakain niya na hindi ko pa nasusubukan. Street foods, canned foods katulad ng mga sardinas.

Hindi katulad ng mga canned foods sa mansyon noon halos lahat ay spam at kung ano ano pang delata na mahal. Maarte kasi ang magulang ko, masiyadong nasanay sa yaman.

Pero tignan mo nga naman ang tadhana, sadyang mapaglaro. Our world has turned upside down. He is no longer poor. He can buy whatever he wants while I have almost sold my dignity in this marriage just for money... to save our lives that are falling into poverty.

"Lovinia?"

Nabalik sa reyalidad ang pag-iisip ko nang hawakan ako sa balikat ni Sergio. Gulat akong nag angat ng tingin sa kaniya.

"You don't look okay. Gusto mo bang umuwi nalang muna tayo?" nag aalala niyang tanong.

Napapikit ako saglit dahil sa kahihiyan. Lumilipad na naman ang isip ko. Focus, Lovinia! Stop overthinking!

"Hindi na, ayos lang ako. Tara na para makauwi kaagad tayo." tinulak ko na ang cart at linagpasan siya.

Maramdaman ko naman na nakasunod na siya sa likod ko. After the canned goods aisle, we went to breakfast aisle.

And as usual, Sergio will glanced at me before picking up something.

"What do you prefer, pancakes or waffles? Or should we just buy both?"

Pinasadahan ko ng tingin ang hawak niya. Mas gusto ko ang waffles pero gusto kong maging fair sa kaniya. Alam ko naman na paborito niya ang pancakes lalo na kapag may chocolate syrup.

"Bilhin nalang natin pareho." sagot ko.

He smiled. "Okay..."

He put boxes of waffles and pancakes in the cart. He also took different flavors of syrup para daw matikman namin ang bawat flavor.

Nang matapos doon ay sunod na pinuntahan namin ang meat and chicken section.

The odd silence is killing me as i watched him inspect the meat. He seriously inspected the meat as if he were an expert.

Nakarinig ako ng ilang bungis-ngisan at bulungan sa paligid. Nang lingunin ko ay ilang grupo ng mga babae ang pinapanood si Sergio. Halos nawala na ang atensiyon nila sa pamimili at pinagpapantasyahan nalang ang asawa ko.

He's married man! Gusto kong isigaw.

"Ito, Sergio... Mukhang okay naman." tinuro ko ang direksiyon ng meat na tinutukoy ko.

He turned his attention on me before to the one i was pointing. He handed over the meat and he expertly touched it.

"Too sticky and brownish flesh. Hindi na fresh," he said after checking, he looked like a professional. "Beef should be bright red." I just stared at him as he explained to me how to check out fresh beef. I was distracted by the tenderness of his voice.

He looks so ravishing as he explained to me everything smoothly that made me blinked repeatedly.

He sighed heavily and returned the meat to its place. "That doesn't look good. Let's just look for another one, it should be fresh."

I must really learn how to cook! It’s embarrassing as a woman and a wife that I don’t know how to cook that even buying meat still makes me applaud.

Tama nga si Mommy... Paano ako magiging mabuting asawa kung hindi ko kayang alagaan si Sergio? I don't mean that I take our marriage seriously. I mean, all i have to do is do my job not only as his wife but as a part of the agreement. He's doing his job as my husband, he provided what was stated in our agreement... Kaya dapat gawin ko rin ang parte ko.

I suddenly feel conscious... Stop overreacting, Lovinia! I hate that I always being pessimistic. Hindi naman nakakatulong sa sarili ko pero hindi ko mapigilan.

"I think we really need to go home. You don't look okay, Lovinia." he stated softly.

My eyes snapped back to his stare. Hindi ko namalayan na huminto na pala siya para lang harapin ako.

"Tell me... " he gently reached for my elbow. He touched it gently. "Anong problema?"

I am becoming indenial. I don't want to look stupid in front of him.

"Ayos nga lang ako. Baka ikaw ang may problema." iyon ang nasabi ko. Marahas kong binawi ang siko ko sa kaniya.

His brows furrowed in confusion.

"What?"

Tumayo ako ng tuwid at matapang na tiningala siya.

"Bilisan mo nalang mamili para makauwi na tayo. Mas mukhang ikaw pa ang excited umuwi, e." mataray kong saad at linagpasan siya.

What kind of behavior is that, Lovinia? You are becoming immature again. Napabuntong hininga ako at pinilit maging mukhang normal.

Naramdaman ko ang muli niyang pagsunod sa akin. Hindi na siya nagsalita kaya hanggang sa matapos kaming mag grocery ay wala kaming imikan. Mukhang nagalit ko yata siya. Kahit sa pagmamaneho niya ay seryoso siya at mahigpit ang hawak sa manibela.

Pagkauwi sa bahay ay dumeretso kaagad ako sa loob at iniwan siya. Siya na ang bahala sa mga pinamili namin since iyon naman ang dahila kung bakit siya sumama... para magbuhat.

Pagagalitan ko muna ang sarili ko. Hinubad ko lahat ng suot ko at walang tinira pagkapasok ko sa banyo. I tied my hair up with a high bun hairstyle. I soaked in the bathtub with lukewarm water and the fragrant smell of liquid soap.

The reason I’m like this is because of the effect he has on me. I don’t like him being thoughtful. Whenever he becomes sweet and caring— I hate it, really.

It's not that I don't appreciate his effort but it's because he doesn't have to do that. Wala namang nakakakita sa amin kaya hindi niya kailangan magpanggap. I know he hates me. He didn't have to pretend.

Kalahating oras din ang itinagal ko sa pagbabad sa loob ng bathtub. I wrapped my naked body in a towel and let my long life down.

Pagkalabas ko ng banyo ay muntik na akong madulas dahil sa gulat. Sergio is lazily sitting on the end of the bed while the three buttons on his longsleeves are wide open which is why I can see his damn massive chest.

Our eyes met ... his eyes were full of admiration and unnamed emotion. I immediately felt conscious in the way he was staring at me so I immediately ran to the closet room.

Pagkatapos kong magbihis at nililigpit ko nalang ang mga gamit ko ay pumasok siya sa loob. He is already wearing a v-neck white t-shirt and gray sweatpants that give comfort to his body.

"Bakit?" tanong ko.

"Handa na ang pagkain natin. Bumaba na tayo baka lumamig pa 'yon." seryoso niyang saad.

Tumango nalang ako at nilagay sa lagayan ang mga gamit ko. Naabutan ko siyang pinapanood ako habang hinihintay.

"Mauna ka na.. "

Saglit niya akong tinitigan bago soya marahang tumango.

"Okay... Sumunod ka kaagad." then he left.

What the hell is his problem? Why did he always have to act like that. As if he cares but the truth is... not really.

To be continued...

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