HOMEBOUND: Before Ever After

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Chapter Eight

January 11, 2018

Evening

Let’s go home.

Muli akong napangiti nang maalala ko ang mga katagang iyon ni Mikhail. Kakaibang saya ang naramdaman ko nang marinig ko ’yon kanina. It sounded special. It almost felt like he really wanted to stay with us…forever.

“Hey.” I was interrupted from my daydream when Mikhail took the space beside me.

“Hello.” Nakangiti kong bati sa kanya.

“It’s late, aren’t you tired?” may pag aalalang tanong niya.

Marahan akong umiling bilang sagot sa kanya. Kasing kalmado ng tubig sa lawa ang nararamdaman ko ngayon.

I feel at peace na unti unti ko nang nasasabi sa kanya ang mga nangyari six years ago.

“Hindi ka ba nahirapan sa pagpapatulog kay Pavel?” he said after sipping his green tea.

“Hindi naman ako nahirapan, siguro masyado siyang napagod sa paglalaro kasama si Andrea kanina kaya nakatulog agad siya.” Nakangiting sagot ko sa kanya.Bahagyang katahimikan ang namutawi sa pagitan naming dalawa. Diretso lamang ang tingin ko sa lawa. Kitang kita ang liwanag ng buwan at mga bituin ngayong gabi. Animo’y nakikiisa sa aking nararamdaman.

Ilang sandali pa ay napatingin ako kay Mikhail ng may kung ano siyang kinuha mula sa kanyang bulsa. Nakasunod ang tingin ko sa bagay na iyon.

I remember that piece of paper. The color, the smell, every fold of it. It’s a piece of his prescription paper that I stole back then. I smiled remembering that day. Hanggang ngayon ay nakatago pa sa mini library ang isang bundle ng mga ’yon. He looked at me and smiled before reading the words.

Proverbs 30:18-19

“There are three things that amaze me- no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.”
When I met you, I know so little about romantic relationships, but you made me realize that love is not scary, and I should not be afraid of the things that can make me happy.
I used to wonder why you chose me…why you love me, but now, I will stop wondering and questioning your feelings, because I know that this marriage is solid proof of your love for me.
Just remember, that no matter what happens I will always stand by you, support you and help you. Always find a reason to smile and be happy.
I LOVE YOU.

Tears started flowing when I heard those words. That’s my vow…my promise to him when we got married. A promise that I intend to keep even though I know that our marriage will end sooner or later. I will continue to support and help him whenever he needs me.

“Ivana?” Marahang pukaw niya sa akin.

I heaved a sigh before wiping my tears and smiled at him. “Saan mo nakuha yan?” pagtukoy ko sa papel.

“It’s in the box of letters which my household caretaker in New York gave me. Nakita niya ang kahon sa dating kwarto ko.”

Marahan akong tumango. Ngayon naiintindihan ko na. “Kaya pala hindi ko mahanap hanap ang box na pinaglagyan ko niyan. You must’ve brought it with you when you left for New York.”

“Yeah…” mahinang sambit niya.

“Come on, I want to show you something.” Sabi ko sabay tayo.

Nauna akong naglakad papasok ng bahay. Tahimik lamang siyang nakasunod sa akin. Ilang hakbang pa ay narating na namin ang mini library.

***

Seeing Ivana’s tears broke my heart. Kahit na nakangiti siya ay ramdam ko ang lungkot na pilit niyang tinatago. Pilit kong pinipigilan ang sakit na nararamdaman ko. Gusto kong maging matatag para sa kanya. I don’t want to fuel her sadness any further.

Tahimik lamang akong nakasunod sa kanya. I am contemplating what I should do if she tells me the truth in every step that I make.

“Here.” Agad na sabi niya pagtapat namin sa pinto ng mini library.

Pagbukas niya ay bumungad agad sa akin ang malaking portrait naming dalawa. Malamang ay kuha ito noong araw ng kasal namin.

A sudden memory flashed before me. She’s the woman in a red dress. The woman I was dreaming about for the past six years. It’s my wife. Pagpasok ko ay agad kong nilapitan ang portrait. Nakangiti akong nakahawak sa bewang ni Ivana. Siya naman ay nakahilig sa balikat ko. Hawak hawak din niya ang isang bugkos ng bulaklak.

Rainbow roses, different colors just like her smile. We both look so happy… and in love.

“Like what you see?” she asked.

“We look so happy,” I said making my way to the couch.

“We were…” mahinang sabi niya. Were, past tense. Does that mean she doesn’t want to be with me anymore?

That thought hit a mark. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to lose Pavel. I don’t want to lose my wife, my family. Kahit na anong mangyari. Kahit gaano pa kasakit ang katotohanan. Tatanggapin ko lahat ng mga iyon huwag lang silang mawala sa akin.

I looked at Ivana. She smiled after taking out a blue box from the drawer below the bookshelf. It was larger compared to the pink one which contains her letters. She walked towards me dragging the swivel chair with her. She placed it across from where I am and sat. Smiling, she handed me the box. I stared at her, confused.

“Take it. It’s yours.”

Tinanggap ko naman iyon at binuksan. It contains a bunch of papers bounded by a red ponytail. There’s also a sealed envelope and a bundle of blank prescription paper.

“The ones tied with the red ponytail are your letters for me. Nagsimula kang magsulat niyan noong araw pagkatapos ng kasal natin. Nakalakip din diyan yung vow mo.”Marahan kong hinila ang tali.

I scanned each paper and she’s right. Everything was addressed to her and it was all from me. Eight sheets.

Tanda ko pa ang sinabi ni Ivana noong isang araw. Isang lingo lamang kaming nagkasama bilang mag-asawa. I was only able to write seven letters to her. Kakaibang kirot ang hatid ’nun sa puso ko.“Mikhail?” mahinang pukaw sa akin ni Ivana.Babawi ako. Babawi ako sa mga pagkukulang ko sa kanila.Nakakuha ng atensyon ko ang pinaka unang papel. It’s my vow.Tahimik kong binasa ang nakasulat.

Romans 5:8

"God demonstrates His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Ivana, you captured my interest the very first time that I saw you. You are a bundle of joy, a kind of woman admired by a lot of people. Someone so gentle and yet so strong in facing life’s struggles. You made me feel complete. I’ve never met someone as kind as you are. I love everything about you, especially your bravery. Thank you for taking on the challenge of marrying me. I know we are a newbie in this, but I assure you that I will be mature enough to tackle any problems that may come our way. Please bear with me.

Always remember, I will protect you as God protected us, His children. I will die for you, Ivana.

I LOVE YOU.


Napatingin ako kay Ivana matapos kong basahin ang nakasulat. Nakangiti siya habang nakatitig sa akin.

“Do you still have the pink box?”

“Oo, nasa kwarto.”

“Can I have it?” may pag aalinlangang tanong niya.

“Of course. Sandali at kukunin ko.” sabi ko sabay lapag ng kahong hinahawakan ko sa couch.

Tumayo ako at lumabas ng library.Habang naglalakad ako patungo sa kwarto ay pilit kong iniisip ang nakaraan.

I am now able to recall certain events. Flashes of memories are slowly coming back. I am truly happy that I’m making progress. Nakangiti kong binukan ang kwarto at tinungo ang bedside table. Kinuha ko ang kahon at naglakad na pabalik sa library.Malapit na ako sa library nang may marinig akong mahinang pagkanta. Dahan dahan akong pumasok. I saw Ivana sitting on the couch singing along with the music. The couch was turned to the wall facing a widescreen television which I did not notice awhile ago.“Anong pinapanood mo?” Oh!” she said looking back at me. “Come.” Sabi niya while tapping the space beside her.Tinungo ko ang couch at umupo sa tabi ni Ivana.

She took the TV remote from her side and pressed the play button. A soothing music started to play. Napatingin ako sa kanya nang sinimulan niyang sabayan ang kanta. Maganda ang boses ni Ivana, hindi nga lang iyong tipong pang singing contest pero hindi din naman sintunado, yung sakto lang.

I smiled. Ivana is such a talented woman. She’s caring and good with people too. Maybe those are the main points that made me love her and decided to marry her even though we only knew each other for a very short time.

I faced the television and watched. Pictures of me flashed on the screen one after the other. Photos are taken from my childhood till my college years. I was a carefree child. I always do what I want but I never reached the point of rebellion. Yes, I am carefree but I also have limitations. If I know that my attitude starts to anger my parents or the people around me, I always try to change and be a better person. That’s how life is. If you want to be a better person you must learn how to change. It’s for everyone that surrounds you, especially yourself.

And this is something that I want to change. The way Ivana treats me. She’s good to me, but it’s something that I want to level up. I want her to treat me as her husband, not just Pavel’s father. I want her. I want everything. I sighed. I want to be selfish for once.

“This is the video presentation that our parents made for our wedding,” she said, still focused on the screen.

I nodded and smiled. I bet Ivana’s parents did the editing. My parents were never fond of these things.

After a few more shots of me. Ivana’s photos came next. She was such a pretty child. If we have a girl, surely she will take after her mother.

“We had a girl”.

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