Maya stood looking at the brown, murky waters of the Pasig River, the ghost of a smile on her lips. This was hardly the perfect setting for the beginning of a beautiful love story. It was hot, noisy, dusty, and public, but Jones Bridge would be number one on her list of most romantic places in Manila, simply because it was here where she met the love of her life, the man she now calls her husband. She lifted her face a little, letting the breeze blow her hair. Slowly, she walked to the other end, trailing her hand along the balustrade, not minding the dirt, nor the passing vehicles beside her.
It was late in the afternoon, and traffic was starting to get heavy. Richard, as was his wont everytime he passed over this particular bridge, glanced sentimentally at the spot where he almost ran over the woman who would later become his wife, his eyes widening when he saw her. Maya?! He honked once, catching her attention. He stopped the car and got off, hurrying to her. “Sweetheart? Why are you here? Is there anything wrong?” He cupped her cheeks. “Are you OK? Nasaan si Joma?” He asked with a worried frown.
“Ricky?” For a moment, Maya could not believe that the very person she was thinking about was standing before her. Her expression softened and she chuckled, holding his wrists. “Hindi ko na maantay si Kuya Joma, e, kaya nag-commute nalang ako. Nakita kong paakyat yung jeep kaya bumaba ako. Matagal-tagal na din kasi akong hindi nakaka-daan dito. ”
Whatever reprimand Richard had in mind died on his lips. The blast of a jeepney’s horn startled them. Sighing, he smoothed her hair. “Are you done? Nakakaharang na kasi tayo.”
With a small smile, Maya nodded, and preceded him to the car. Both were silent during the ride. She stared out the window, surprised when he took an unfamiliar route. After a few more minutes, he turned a corner and parked in a quiet spot. He unbuckled his seatbelt.
“Sweetheart?” She looked at him curiously.
“Sweetheart,” he turned to her, “is there something you’re not telling me?”
“Ha?” She raised her eyebrows, “bakit mo naman naisip yan?’
He shrugged, “you were at Jones Bridge. May nakalimutan ba ako?
“Ikaw naman, wala,” she answered, a wistful note in her voice, “natuwa lang akong mag-commute. Ang tagal ko na kasing hindi ginagawa yun, e. Tapos nung nakita kong paakyat yung jeep sa Jones Bridge, na-senti ako bigla, kaya bumaba ako.”
He lifted a hand to cup her cheek, rubbing it gently with his thumb. “Tinakot mo naman ako. Seeing you there, akala ko may nangyari na. You know I don’t like you commuting. I still remember the time nung na-slash yung bag mo.”
“Sorry,” she said, contritely.
He continued to rub her cheek. “Gusto mo palang pumunta sa Jones Bridge. You could’ve told me. I would’ve gone with you.”
“Biglaan nga lang kasi,” she smiled, “masarap din yung paminsan-minsan gumawa ng isang bagay na naisip mo lang, yung hindi pinlano.”
He gazed at her a little longer. “Are you sure that’s all there is? You’re not hiding anything from me?” She shook her head. He lifted his other hand so he was cupping both her cheeks. “The next time na gusto mong su-menti, isama mo na ako, OK?”
“OK, sweetheart,” she agreed, flippantly.
He pursed his lips. “What?”
She giggled. “Ikaw, se-senti sa Jones Bridge? Hindi bagay, sweetheart.”
“And why not? I will never get tired of going back to the places and events that shaped our love story, kahit sabihin pang corny, o cheesy, o hindi bagay.”
“O, sige na nga, sinabi mo eh.”
“Talagang sinabi ko.”
They stared at each other, then both started laughing.
“Ang seryoso mo naman, sweetheart,” Maya said, in between laughter, “seryosong nakakatawa.”
“Eh, ikaw, e, you really had me worried, tapos ganyan ka pa.”
They laughed some more. When their laughter subsided, Richard opened his arms to gather her in a hug. “Hmmmm…,” she sighed contentedly, pressing her face on his shoulder, inhaling his scent. “Na-miss ko ‘to.”
He smiled affectionately as he kissed her hair. “Really? Parang hindi tayo magka-tabing matulog nang naka-ganito kagabi.”
“Hindi yan ang ibig kong sabihin. Na-miss ko yung ganito, yung magkasama tayo sa labas na tayong dalawa lang.”
Richard felt a pang of guilt. He realized it was true. He had been busy, dividing his time between LAS and LAI, coming home late and tired. While they still manage to have their you-and-me time at home, restdays and special occasions were always spent with the family. They haven’t gone out by themselves in a long while. He pulled her closer. “I’m sorry. I’ve been neglecting us,” he said quietly.
She shook her head. “OK lang, naiintindihan ko.” They stayed that way for a few more minutes. “Sweetheart?”
“Di ba may mga tatapusin ka pa sa LAI? Tayo na. Doon na lang ako magpapasundo kay Kuya Joma.”
“I’d rather be here with you.”
“Pero marami ka pang gagawin sa opisina.”
“You are more important than anything else,” he said, loosening his hold so he could lean back to see her face. “Ikaw na rin naman nagsabi, minsan masarap din gumawa ng mga bagay na biglaan. Well, I’m doing it right now. Date?”
She hesitated. He wiggled his eyebrows, making her giggle again. “Ok, date!”
They straightened, then buckled their seatbelts. “Where do you want to go?”
“Kahit saan. Spontaneous dapat. Ikaw ang bahala, sweetheart,” she smiled. He started the car and drove off, really having no idea where to go. Again, they were both quiet. After a while, he started chuckling.
“At ano yang ini-isip mo, Mr. Lim?” Maya raised her eybrows.
He glanced at her with a smirk. “I love you, Maya dela Rosa-Lim.”
He made a sudden u-turn.