HOMEBOUND: Before Ever After

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Chapter Two

January 9, 2018

Morning

Philippines



“Nakahanda na ba lahat ng kailangan natin para mamaya?” tanong ko kay Mrs.Reymundo. Isa siya sa mga namamahala nitong foundation. Abala ang lahat sa paghahanda para sa birthday ni Lola Amy. She’s ninety years old, and has been in the foundation for thirty years, so masasabi ko na isa siya sa mga taong nasaksihan at nasubaybayan ang paglaki ko.

“Ok na po maam, hinihintay na lang po namin yung caterer para maihanda na po yung mga mesa.” Tumango ako kay Mrs. Reymundo at nagpaalam na para puntahan si Pavel sa play house. Ilang metro lang ang layo ng play house mula sa event center kung saan idadaos ang kaarawan ni Lola Amy.

Isang linggo na ang nakakalipas mula nung makita ko yung news ng engagement, iyon din yung araw na gumuho yung pagasa ko na magkakabalikan pa kami. Nung mismong araw din na iyon ay pinatawag ko agad si Attorney Santiago para mag file ng annulment, mangiyak ngiyak pa akong tumawag sa kanya nun, huli ko na rin nga na-realize na hawak hawak ko pa pala yung isang boteng orange juice. Ginawa naman ni Attorney lahat ng makakaya niya para mapadali yung proseso ng mga papeles.

Naistorbo ko pa nga ang bakasyon niya kasama ang kanyang pamilya dahil doon. Pero dahil kaibigan siya ng mga magulang ko, eh ginawan naman niya ng paraan para mapadali lahat at agad na maipadala kay Mikhail ang mga kinakailangang dokumento.

Ano kaya ang naging reaksyon ni Mikhail? Nakaramdam ba siya ng kahit konting lungkot? Nanghihinayang kaya siya? Naalala na kaya niya ako? Pero sa tingin ko magkahalong galit at saya yung naramdaman nun. Galit kasi matagal akong hindi nagpakita sa kanya at saya kasi sa wakas malaya na siya, magiging masaya na siya sa piling ni Jennah.

Kahit ano mang lungkot at sakit yung pagdaanan ko, okay lang kasi marami namang tao ang nagmamahal sakin, katulad ngayon. Habang naglalakad ay marami akong nakakasalubong na mga batang naglalaro, mga elderly na nagpapaaraw at mga nurses na nagaalaga sa kanila. Isa isa nila akong binati na sinuklian ko naman ng matamis na ngiti.

Hindi naglaon ay narating ko din ang playhouse. Namataan kong naglalaro si Pavel ng building blocks kasama si Andrea. Siya ay isa sa mga batang tinutulungan ng foundation, kasing edad lang ni Pavel si Andrea kaya siguro nagkasundo agad silang dalawa. Seven month old lang si Andrea nang matagpuan namin siya sa gate sa labas ng estate. Masayahing bata siya kaya halos lahat ng tao dito sa SPIN ay natutuwa sa kanya.

“Maam Ava!” Vernice called out while waving at me. Isa si Vernice sa mga nursing students na naka enroll sa internship program ng foundation.

“Vernice, akala ko off mo ngayon?”

“She’s here because she missed me ate.” Sabi ni Noe na may nakakalokong ngiti sa mga labi. Nakita ko namang pinamulahan ng mukha si Vernice.

“Talaga lang ha? Ikaw kaya tong sunod ng sunod sakin sa university, engineering student ka pero doon ka palaging nakatambay sa College of Nursing.” Sagot ni Vernice.

“So ibig sabihin binabantayan mo yung mga kilos ko? Kasi hindi mo naman malalaman na palagi ako dun sa college of nursing kung hindi mo ko hinahanap.”

Napailing na lang ako sa sagutan ng dalawa. Nilapitan ko na lang sina Pavel at Andrea na busy pa rin sa paglalaro.

“Pavel…”

“Nanay!” he said and kissed me.

“It's time to go, home baby…”

“But Nana, Wea, and I are still playing…” he said with pleading eyes. Even Andrea did the same.

“Ok, how about you continue playing at home…and Andrea can come with us.”

“Yehey!” they both cheered and started cleaning their table. Nung matapos na sila sa pagliligpit ay nagpaalam na kami kina Noe at Vernice na nagbabangayan pa rin. I swear, I can smell something sweet going on between those two.

***

January 9, 2018

On the Clouds

New York is a busy place where people are going back and forth at any time of the day. Being a doctor and a businessman is a tough job, it either I am in the office signing documents and having business meetings or in the operating room, trying to lengthen one’s life, but nothing is difficult if you love what you’re doing and you get to help a lot of people in the process.

But today is a different one, because instead of going to the hospital or the office…I’m boarding on a private plane to the Philippines. This is all because of what was inside the manila envelope this morning. Receiving annulment papers from someone you don’t know or couldn’t remember is so hard to take in, how much more after reading a box full of love letters from a woman you never knew existed and became a part of your life?

***

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIARY REGION

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT

BRANCH 53

CITY OF MANILA

Civil Case No. 4124

For: Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Art. 36 of Family Code

Ivana Perez Alexeev,

Petitioner,

-versus-​​​​​​

Mikhail Orel Alexeev,

​Respondent,

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

PETITION

​COMES NOW petitioner, through the undersigned counsel and to this Honourable Court, respectfully alleges:

1.​That petitioner Ivana Perez Alexeev is of legal age, married, Filipino, and resident of Manila City:

2.​That respondent Mikhail Orel Alexeev is likewise of legal age, married; Filipino, and presently residing in New York City.

3.​That petitioner and respondent celebrated their marriage on January 8, 2011, before the Parish Church of Manila, certified true copy of their Marriage Certificate is attached and made an integral part hereof as Annex “A”;

4.​That petitioner and respondent have one child. They have no written agreement executed before the marriage to govern their property relations nor have any community property acquired during their marriage. They have no debts:

5.​That petitioner met the respondent sometime in 2010 in the city of Manila. Their romance culminated in the marriage before the priest of Manila Cathedral:

***

That was only the first part of the Petition for the Nullity of Marriage but it made a really big difference on me. I have a wife and a kid for God’s sake! I know I should be mad because she never showed herself to me for the past five years, but now, I am happy because, after so many years of wondering who I am, there’s this one person who knows me and was… I mean is a part of my life after all.

“We’re here.” Methyl said through the intercom. He is my pilot and is also a good friend. I’m always fond of calling him by his real name Methyl, although he hates it. Our parents used to be colleagues in PMC until they transferred to Brooklyn years ago. He was named after a pH indicator, methyl red, Methyl Brooke Kingston is his real name but he wants people to call him Brooke because Methyl sounds gay.

“Thanks, Methyl.”

“You know how I hate being called by my first name Mikhail.” He said with some curses.

I just laughed as I got up from the seat and took my luggage. But before I could get off the plane he said something that I badly needed right now.

“Good luck bro.”

I just smiled and went off. Aside from karma, luck should also be one’s best friend because right now, I need it on my side.

I walked to the black Mercedes a few meters away from the plane. A man approached me with a wide smile.

“Good morning Sir Mikhail.” He greeted me.

“Magandang umaga po.” I said returning a smile. “Huwag niyo na po akong tawaging sir, Mikhail na lang po. Parang masyado naman po kasing pormal yung “sir”.” Marahan naman siyang tumango bilang pag sang-ayon.

Mom always said, “Kung nasa Pilipinas ka. Magtagalog ka”. Dito rin kasi ako pinanganak kaya Filipino Citizen na rin ako.

“Hindi ka pa rin nagbabago Hijo.” He said while opening the car door for me. I stopped in my tracks and looked at him.

“Po?” nagtataka kong tanong. Hindi pa rin nagbabago? Anong ibig niyang sabihin? Magkakilala ba kami noon?

“Ay naku, wala yun hijo. Huwag mo na akong intindihin.” Sabi niya tsaka mahina akong itinulak papasok. Sumakay na siya sa drivers seat at pinaandar na ang sasakyan.

“Ano nga po palang pangalan ninyo?” parang namumukaan ko siya pero hindi ko mawari kung saan ko siya nakita.

“Ako si Noel hijo, pero mas gusto ko na tinatawag akong Tatay Noel.” Sabi niya habang panaka nakang tumitingin sakin mula sa rearview mirror. “Sigurado akong magiging masaya ang party ni Lola Amy ngayong pauwi ka na. Maraming nag aabang sa pagdating mo sa estate.”

When I was on the plane, Sabrina called and informed me that instead of taking a cab and going to my condo unit as planned, I will be picked up by “my wife’s” family driver and I will be staying at her estate. Hindi ako pumayag nung una pero napag isip isip ko, the sooner I face the problem the sooner things will be settled and solved. So instead of arguing any further, I just agreed, and here I am now, a few hours away from her property.

“Sino po si Lola Amy?” tanong ko makalipas ang ilang minutong katahimikan.

“Si Lola Amy yung pinakamatandang naninirahan sa foundation, 90 years old na siya at kaarawan niya ngayon.”

I slightly nodded and looked out of the window. Green grasses are swaying, the leaves are flowing everywhere. Seems like the whole scene is carefully choreographed by the wind and accompanied by the music made by the chipping birds and honking cars. The sky is a combination of different shades of blue complimented by the yellow rays of the sun. The view will be worth millions if turned into a canvas.

Napukaw ang atensyon ko ng magsalita si Tatay Noel. “Nandito na tayo hijo.” Sabi niya bago may pinindot na button. Bumukas ang gate at sinalubong kami ng isang guardia. Binaba ni Tatay Noel ang bintana ng drivers seat at dumungaw doon ang isang lalaki na nakasuot ng itim na uniform.

“Magandang tanghali po Tatay Noel.” Nakangiting bati nito.

“Magandang tanghali din naman sayo Patrick. Kamusta yung estate? Dumating na ba ang delivery ng mga supplies para sa foundation?”

“Okay naman po yung estate Tay, nagsidatingan na po yung ibang mga bisita ni Lola Amy tsaka dumating na po kaninang umaga yung mga hygiene supplies at stationary, pero yung mga gulay at prutas bukas ng umaga pa daw po.” Marahang tumango si Tatay Noel bago tumingin sa gawi ko. Napabaling naman sakin si Patrick at saka ngumiti.

“Sige Patrick tutuloy na kami.”

“Sige po Tay, welcome home Kuya Mikhail.” Nakangiting saad nito bago isara ni Tatay yung bintana at nagsimula ng magmaneho.

Home... am I finally home?

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