After two years in absentia, I finally saw her again. But not without a little regret.
It was a sunny afternoon the day I arrived. The first step that I took off that old bus and on to the dirt road in front of our country house made my impulses beat unusually faster. The excitement and the anticipation that I felt made that day somehow more humid.
There was our main gate, with its same old dark green paint now chipped and almost rusty.
Directly behind it I saw a familiar face.
Inside the main house were the marble floors, still as shiny as I had last seen it. As soon as I have settled my duffel bags, I came to face her. I gently hugged her but she hesitantly kissed me on the cheeks and carefully avoided my lips.
I could not blame her, I wasn’t around that much. The phone calls simply wouldn’t make up for the fact that I wasn’t there when she needed me. I was just relying on the hope that the special bond that we had would never fade, even for a moment.
We didn’t talk that much at first. I was just trying to catch her gaze and so was she. I guess we were both trying to figure out each other’s thoughts and making sense of what we feel. In our minds we were both trying to straighten out everything that had happened before and after I left so we could probably share new and recent experiences and do a little catching up.
All these years, I can still remember clearly the moment I first laid eyes on her.
After all I have gone through, all the pain, all the confusion, hatred, self-destruction, and chaos of my pathetic miserable existence, she came. Like an angel sent from above, she came. She was just an angel. When the light s coming from her pink little cheeks shone on my rugged unshaven face I felt lighter.
At that time, I just dropped off from school, I had no job, and was broke, but when I saw her I felt optimistic. I felt a sense of peace that a new chapter in my life is about to be written. And on its pages I could find nothing but a clean slate. Now it can have new and meaningful entries that can only be made by me.
Her coming into my life eases out everything that was locked-up from inside me. Like waters pouring smoothly from a waterfall, she washes whatever filth I felt I have in me.
I knew she was a gift from the heavens. The same heavens that I so despised and distanced myself away from. The same entity that I denied and dismissed simply as a selfish and arrogant prude who was only created by ignorant uneducated fools. I didn’t ask for a it, but still, He gave me a present. And it was the most precious.
Now here I am, as awkwardly as I feel, trying to come up with something nice to say and very hopefully, to start a conversation. Luckily, the shyness on her part eases away. Just like what they said, as soon as the dams broke, the floods came. Soon enough she was telling me everything. All that I missed, all the things she had done, the house, her school, her new friends. With that kindling glow in her eyes, she reminisces all the things that we have shared before I decidedly left.
And we’re buddies once again. I am in such a bliss.
Still, amidst all the joy and the laughter, I can feel a twisting pain in my belly. I know that these would not last long enough. Pretty soon I will have to come back to where I came from. And I will be absent from her everyday life again.
I know someday, a time will come when she will find another man to tell her stories, to share her laughter, to fill her life. I would probably be sad to see it happen, but I know it’s going to happen soon enough. It is going to happen and I just can’t do anything about it.
I just pray that she finds the right man worthy enough of her love. That time might not be so long after all. In four more years she would be eighteen. Just thinking about her asking me, “Papa, I’m getting married,” already breaks my heart.
And she, my girl, and my only daughter, would probably refrain from kissing me for good.