The House on the Hillside Valley
(Glimpse of the past)
The house on the Hillside Valley was one of the oldest types in all of Barangay Cabuan. It was also a special house in the eyes of Ysa Leal because it was the home of Old Don Benito’s, the most powerful man in the village. People of great importance came and went to this house, and they came to see the only long lost daughter of Old Benito’s. It was a big and grandiose evening I ever witness in my life. Who is this woman who came into their life that for so many years we don’t have any information about her? A woman who had made her own mark on literary life in the other side of the world. It was a great pride, since she had moved here, the only heiress of the Old Don Benito.
In one sense, leaving my unconscious mind how does it come to be, in other ways, for she had known no other home. Those with families who seek for love and importance, maybe she is not homesick, as I know she had her own family outside the city. Or maybe she comes from orphanage or recently discharges from institution, or lay off from her job, separated from his family, whatever reason is, we see her face glowing, not conscious nor afraid of. Now she counted herself fortunate indeed. She had steady work in an unusually, stimulating atmosphere she had made friends, and she had her Bill.
She looked around the sitting room and smiled. I had a chance to talk to her, an opportunity to know her better.” Carmela, tell me what’s going on,” Her breath grew ragged and she buried her face in her palms, trying not to think how Bill had come to her life, how close she had come to losing him. She eased at the feel of Marc’s hands on her shoulders, but her protests were passionate when he turned her round and drew her into his embrace. She was helpless to resist, and Ysa wept in his arms.
Then she regains her composure and, weak from vented emotion, let her head rest against his shoulder. Suddenly she realized the picture she made- a sobbing, hysterical and bristled, desperate to regain her composure. This is not what I want for him; I don’t want to lose him. The man I owe everything of what I am now. The man who save me from you… and she turned to Marc. This is unfair!
In one sense, Old Benito understands how Ysa grief too much, her life before were so complicated until Bill came to her life. Now she counted fortunate indeed after a long journey she live a good life because of Bill.
“I have dreams, sometimes terrible dreams of this, “Tears dropped down the side of her face. He was still inside her, loud and powerful. She ached for completion. The situation was unbearable.
He wants to marry me. He asked me yesterday. I thought of waking you, but your light was out and you seemed so out of rests since of the high of the storm. I just could not do it.”
Oh what am I to do? Do I trust him and say yes? I love him but what if we just to pain and he find he can’t break it off with his fiancé. She shook her head and coldly she said, “You are not to see him again or have time to meet him and talk to him. How come he asks you to marry him when he has a fiancé waiting for him in Manila?
A moment passed, and Ysa stunted at the touch of Carmela’s hand on her shoulder. “You should rest first. I will serve that young man some nourishment.” Maybe she is true… how I will trust a man who is completely stranger to me. At least Marc, I know him and his family. But, I am afraid with his fame temperament. But I want to settled down and have my dream family, a big family whom I never experience in my entire life. “Yes no one knows him as I do,” Ysa said. She looked forward to talking with Carmela and to hearing all the neighborhood gossip.
“Good morning to you” Ysa returned. Although she looked weary, she could tell that she had been crying.
“Are you all right?” Carmela asked, being close to Ysa.
Ysa shook her head, I lost my baby, she said in a near whisper.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you’re pregnant,” Carmela replied softly.
I wasn’t very far for along. I always lose them. From the first few months, frilled her eyes at once and she shrugged her shoulders in bewilderment. “I don’t know what to do; I want a baby so much.” I want to give him a child. He gives up everything for me and if I can’t give him a child I am afraid maybe I lose him too!”
Carmela touches Ysa’s hand. I’m sure you’ll have one. Ysa shook her head. I’m not as young as you. I fear I’ll never have a child. The doctor says it’s dangerous for me to carry a child.
Carmela bit her lips and then, caring Ysa’s hand with hers she whispered, “You could adopt a well baby I know you, in just a little while you would love it just as if it were your own.
Wherever would I find a child to adopt? Ysa asked.
Perhaps from the Little Angel’s Homes in Cabuan, I’ve heard they help find homes for infants whose mothers are unwed or who cannot support their children, there are other such places as well.”
Ysa nodded. But there is something in her soft heart bothers her much. What about if I try to find her…Bills own child. At least if I found her Bill will be happy then. Carmela looked at Ysa and nodded. “I agree with you, but you think Bill will approve that?
I’ll talk to Bill about it. Perhaps it is the only way for us. Still, I am not ready to give up yet. I want try as long as I can. But this will be your promise… if something happens to me, help find Bill’s daughter.
Carmela gave her friend a big hug. Ysa wanted children so much that Carmela knows she would go on trying to have her own even though it’s risky and failure brought her new heartbreak.
She glances toward Bill, Ysa’s husband. As usual, he was at his PC desk in the study room working on web designing and proposals for his new system upgrading and Research Design. Ysa had a good, very loving and kind husband. And she was glad of that because Ysa is not physically strong and ten years older from him. Bill was known to be a very respectable and loving husband to Ysa and no one can question that.
Carmela was grateful to have known this couple for quite sometimes. When they moved from the city and live in this village and meet Ysa that was the greatest regards for her. That after a long journey they get married and Old Benito's didn't argue and help them settle down. The couple work hard and help Don Benito manage their business. Carmela knew very well Ysa a good and a loving friend ,and she will always be at her side no matter what happened.
“I must go now.” Carmela said, squeezing Ysa’s hand, my husband Jacob must be finished by his tea perhaps.” Carmela said.
“Please come back when you have more time, I enjoy talking to you,” Ysa told her. “But I’m being unfair. I know Jacob will get angry if you don’t hurry.”
Carmela smiled, everyone in the neighborhood knew about Jacob’s famed temperament. She headed for home. For so many years Carmela was very patient and loving wife to his husband Jacob. Jacob work as family driver unlike Bill who is an engineer and very understanding and loving husband to Ysa.
Jacob doesn’t want a big family. He only wants Carmela, only Carmela to his life. He doesn’t want commitment, since she had a three year old baby but that was left to Jacob’s mother in the city, when they moved to the village. That Jacob can’t afford to have her with them. Since Carmela love Jacob so much so she never complain about his temperament.
Jacob had enough problems with her Boss David without her telling it to be known that she was troubled by his action.
Carmela made her way home after purchasing goods to Ysa’s merchandize. A full day’s work awaits Carmela. It was once again a very busy day for Carmela and waited for Jacob to come home very late at night. She want to asked him where spent much of his time but she had shrugged and said, “What a waste of time!” He will not change anyway… he is used to be like that.
Carmela climbed the old narrow steps to the room over the tenement. She kicked of her shoes, removed her uniform and threw herself across the couch, exhausted. It had been a wonderful evening, physically and mentally exhausting, but nevertheless very useful.
She closed her eyes and in a moment had dropped off into a dreamless sleep. She sat up sleepily at the sound of voices hearing from downstairs in the tenement. Carmela instantly recognized one voice as that of Jacob. The other she was quite certain, belong to Mr. Parker. She couldn’t make out the word, but she could certainly tell they were both angry. She strained to make out the words, but then she heard the slamming of a door and Jacob’s footsteps and the old narrow stairs.
Carmela stood up and walked hurriedly toward the door, but before she reached it, Jacob threw it open and stamped angrily into the room. She frowned, smelling the whisky on his breath.
“What the hell are you scowling at, woman?” he shouted at her. She stepped back. Never before had he frightened her, but the smell of whisky, the tone of his voice, and his expression combined to make her feel threatened. “I’m not scowling,” she protested without raising her voice.
“Well, I call it a scow! Very unusual and so embarrassing when a man can’t even come home without criticism!” Carmela said nothing.
“Don’t want your time for lecture or you will not say anything or complain. I better go away and find my peace not for anyone else, not for this dumb house!” Pack up our things were leaving here,” Right now!
Carmela opened her mouth, not just in surprise but in a deep shock. “Jacob, we have to talk. I don’t understand. What do you mean, pack up our things? Why are we leaving?”
Jacob ignored her question.”We have time to pack up our things were leaving now.” Again she eludes and his grasp! “No, Jacob, we can’t leave here. Where will we go?
He look straight to Carmela, “I said were leaving and we are.” “What happened downstairs? She demanded.
“I had a fight with that old man, Parker. He gives me words that I didn’t like to hear. You know me… I’m really like this. I won’t let them rule my life nor control me. If they want me to leave then I go, who cares!”
Carmela blinked… disbelievingly at him. How could he is such thing? In his heart he knew that old Parker only wants him to be on time and do his job.
She could not imagine leaving now. These people were like family to her; she had no one else. “ I have obligations, she murmured.
The hell with your obligations! I’m going and so are you.”
Tears began to fill her eyes. Not because she wanted to cry but because she was so frightened. “We cannot go,” she said even more softly. “We can’t go, not now.”
He looked at her harshly. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m pregnant, we need our job. Please Jacob, go to Mr. Parker and apologize. I know he’ll take you back. I know he’ll give you another chance.”
But it was as if he only heard part of what she said. “Pregnant! How could it be? How did you let it happen? That’s not what I need, a bubbling wife and a screaming kid!” He kicked the side of the table, and then looked into her eyes.”You stay here and have that baby with you, I’m leaving! Not again this time, I cannot afford to have another one… I said you only and no one else, understand!”
He kicked the door and while Carmela watched in slummed silence, he threw his things together and tied them into an untidy pack.
“Please,” Carmela murmured. Please don’t leave us!” She held out her hand toward him, but he did not respond.
She was beyond crying. She trembled violently why was he behaving this way? Perhaps all the things people had said about him was true.
He picked up his grab bag and bag pack, turned and without looking back, slammed the door behind him.
Carmela sat on the chair,” perhaps when the effects of the drink wore off. When he had time to think about it clearly, perhaps then he would come back. But if he did not come back, what would become of this child, of our children. Oh, God Almighty help us, please!”
She wipes her tears and went to her secret hiding place behind the old picture frame hang in the wall. There she had some money given to her by Jacob’s mother and some extra money given to her by her friend Ysa. She gets the envelope and opened it carefully. Her mouth opened in surprise. It was empty! Only Jacob could have taken it! She drops the envelope… now there was nothing! Nothing left! She didn’t have even one peso. What more she is going to do?
Weeks went by and feeling great sadness. Carmela moved back into a small room. He moved to a small studio type apartment, but organized. There was less time to think about Jacob, less time to wonder where he was and if indeed he would come back… weeks went by and she missed her third blood and then her fourth. It was nearby the middle of April and the sun was warmer the days longer.
Carmela while in the front yard, watering the plants, when her neighbor Anna handed her a letter. Carmela looked at the envelope curiously. The handwriting was neat and carefully written. It was not his handwriting but seems familiar with her. She remembered when Jacob left,Lavinia followed him. Lavinia, is the girl from the tenement building where they previously lived. This is her handwriting perhaps.
Carmela sat down in a nearby chair and opened the letter, unfolding it carefully. It was indeed from Jacob written by someone. It was not an announcement that he was returning to her.
I am having this letter written for me. I have decided to go and venture
to another country and take opportunity to make life more meaningful and raise
money. I won’t let this opportunity taken for granted. I will be leaving the village
on the 25th of April with Lavinia. I hope this won’t be too hard for you.
What? She read the letter again and again. Did his marriage vows mean nothing to him? There wasn’t a single word about sending for her later, about carry for her child. There wasn’t even so much as such, “I Love You,” “I’m sorry,” even nothing except leaving me, leaving us.”
In her condition right now, she had to face having a child alone and rearing it with no money. She had to work, and working what she could for her and for the baby and her 3 year old baby left to her mother in law. This time she must be stronger and tough for all the things she is facing now.
“Are you all right?” Anna asked. “Oh, yes, Carmela answered. Jacob’s going out of the country with Lavinia. Maybe that is good for him, for us. There’s a lot of opportunity there. If he’ll not send for us…, Life will continue for me, for my baby and for our first born.”
Carmela pulled herself out of the chair,” perhaps, “she said. Turning away, knowing it would never happen. She picks up her things and ready for work. That afternoon she would meet her new boss and will be assigning to manage a flower shop. She needs to be compassionate and patience not for herself alone.
Years had passed and no news from Jacob and Lavinia. Carmela owns the flower shop now and her two children grown up and in their college taking up bachelor’s degree. For Bill and Ysa , they ‘re love grow stronger even they don’t have a child. They just support and help Carmela raise her children. They were good partners in business and expand more branches in the city here and abroad. God is so good to us; he is so merciful and blessed us with all his graces.
From the distance hiding in the big wagon, a familiar man now in his middle 50’s, gray hair and ravish, looking at them, with teary eyes, he said in a soft voice…” I’m sorry, “I failed. He turned his back squeezing his hand looking up in the sky. “Did you see him, the old man? Cristina, the eldest …seems familiar to me; I just don’t remember where I saw him!”Whatever, ate we must bring this to Daddy Bill and Mommy Ysa, today is their 20th wedding anniversary, Remember! And they went to the hotel where the celebration held with they’re mom driving the car. Yes, mom… why did you stop the car? No, maybe not him, forget it. Carmela closes the window of the car.” Let’s go, girls.”
"It’s me Carmela," Jacob grasp… "Carmela...my sweet Carmela!"
“In all our doubts and weary God is always with us. Remember HIM always!“
-To God be the glory.