Raffy: Bakit ka nagpaiwan?
Lea: Bakit umalis ka kahit naiwan ako? Dahil malakas ka at malakas ako. At iba ang gusto mong gawin sa gusto ko. Nawala ka sa akin pero kung sumunod ako sa iyo noon ang nawala sa akin ay ang sarili ko. Magiging masaya ka ba sa isang babaeng walang sarili? Hindi na sya siya magandang asawa kapag ganoon.
(Raffy: Why didn’t you go with me?
Lea: Why did you leave? Because we were both strong and we wanted different things. You left, I lost you. But if I had gone with you, I would have lost myself. Would you be happy with a woman who doesn’t own herself? She would not have been a good wife for you.)
Award winning Tagalog novel by Lualhati Bautista.
It also had its own movie which starred Vilma Santos,
an actress who became a politician, a typical career path for Filipinos.
I miss Jonas.
It is April but I feel chilly which, according to Kim, is weird because everyone in New York just adore this weather. Maybe, she said, I am cold intolerant.
I just woke up and the one-room loft we share is empty. Kim’s bed is already made up; she went out early to make rounds.
I am alone save for my thoughts and these … memories … of him, who else?
I know, I know … this was my choice. I chose to go. I chose to leave him hanging there with his ring and his good intentions and his heart which, according to Marianne, I have broken into smithereens.
So I am the bitch. Fine. I admit it. You can unfriend me on Facebook, Marianne; I messed up royally.
But … I also had to do this. I had to get out of that country which is slowly suffocating and killing me. I had to escape from my work where I haven’t been happy for a long time. I wanted this — this opportunity to learn so much more than I would ever have a chance to know had I stayed in Manila. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t take this chance.
Jonas, don’t you understand? I love you. With all that I am. But I also love me. If I had stayed with you, I would have lost myself. And would you be happy with a woman who does not own herself?
I feel cold. So I wrap Kim’s sweater tighter around me, and curl like a child on the lone sofa in the living room. I listen to the Chinese foodstore owner haggling with a customer downstairs, the smell of fermented shrimp paste wafts up my nostrils. Smells of home have never made me feel sadder.