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EUNICE BARBARA C. NOVIO

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 7/15/2015 |




It was her way of protesting the worst and biggest decision she ever made in her life; by not using her husband’s name, even after ten years of staying in less than a blissful life of marriage. Leila Morales. It was her name. No, it was not even hers. It was her father’s name too. And with that Leila resented it even more. So what was really hers? Orson, her son. Nobody could take that fact. She could deny his father, but she was so sure of her being the mother. She was just sorry that she could not give her name to Orson. Ah, laws foolishness. She nurtured him for nine months, although she abhorred it before, thinking him as a mere choice, not a life itself. She Friday morning. Gray clouds hung on late September. It started to drizzle. Leila could not get up of bed. She was staring blankly on the wall. Her mother did not say anything. They had silent understanding and regrets. Leila knew she disappointed her mother very much. Her mother wanted her to pursue higher studies so as not to become just like a simple clerk like her late father. And this was not the kind of wedding she was dreaming for Leila.
When Orlando Guillermo proposed to her after knowing that she was pregnant, she could not say yes or no. Actually, it was not really Orlando who proposed to her, but his parents. Her mother did not push her to agree. She just looked at her, waiting for her decision on that Thursday evening that the Guillermo family came to seek her hand. Leila did not remember agreeing to anything. Again, it was Orlando’s father who decided for the marriage. It would be tomorrow, Friday, a civil wedding ceremony, no fuss and frills. The judge would not be around for the next few days, his father said. Just to make everything legal…for the baby to have a name…It was more like for the baby…for the sake of name! They did not even ask them if they really love each other, or the making of the baby was just an accident. She was dazed by the abruptness of everything. At 23, she could not see herself being a mother, much more a wife. Making love she knew was just only a part of being a wife but for her it was more of a biological need, just like the way she craved for chocolate or ice cream.
There were just his sister, his parents, her mother and two witnesses to attest that the wedding was taking place. When the judge asked her the very infamous line of the ceremony: “Do you accept Orlando as your husband?” she almost fainted, but still managed to nod. “Please say it,” the judge said. “Yes”, the word barely escaped her lips.
Then they sealed the ceremony with a light kiss. Orlando slipped a simple wedding band through her finger.
The baby was born a week before Christmas. Orlando named him Orson.
“Orson, come here son,” she lovingly called the boy. Orson carefully placed the book on the table and went to his mother.
“Why, mama?” It was obvious that he did not want to be disturbed from his reading.
“Umm, I just want to talk,” she said smiling.
          “Ok, go ahead,” the boy said and sat beside her on the sofa. Orson was straightforward, a trait she envied.
“What will you do if mama and papa do not want to live together anymore?”
Orson arched his eyebrows. He looked every inch like his father, “Well, I will live with my grannies and grandpa.” Then he looked at her intently. His gaze piercing her heart. “Why are you asking me that?”
“Just in case, you know…” now she was afraid to continue.
“Do you want to leave papa or he wants to leave us?”
“No, Orson. It’s just…I’m just asking your opinion…nothing. Forget it,” she dismissed him. The boy shrugged his shoulders and went back to his book.
Although it was very late, she could not sleep. The sharp words of Orlando kept echoing in her mind: If you can’t stand me anymore, the more I can’t stand you! A long time ago! You just wait for the kid to grow up and I’ll quit! He said it seven years ago when they have a terrible fight about his night prowls always saying that he was not doing anything wrong and just happened to hang around with his co-workers at the law firm. Since then, she remained silent, whenever Orlando came home very late, always hoping that the threat would happen one day. After a few days, Orlando apologized. She remembered it again because Orson could understand whatever decisions she could make.
But that is fifteen years ago. Leila wipes the wedding picture. She was wearing that foolish white dress from her mother’s wardrobe. On her face pasted a forced smile. Orlando was wearing a pin-striped long sleeved. He was smiling too. She never knows whether it is real or not. She puts the frame on the table. She lovingly holds the framed photo of Orson when he was a year old. What a handsome boy! She smiles, remembering the many firsts in his life.
Leila feels her hands. The wedding band no longer fitted on her finger. She put it away ten Decembers ago. Orson gave her a diamond ring to replace it. She cannot wear it daily, only when she feels lonely, to feel the nearness of her son, like today. She slips the ring on her right index finger. She smiles.
So many things happened during those years. She cannot recount most of them. All she knows, she remains in the house, waiting for Orlando to come home. She waits for him to leave. Yet he keeps coming home. He is after all comfortable with her silence and patience. Leila remains because of Orson; the bond that ties her to Orlando; the bond that she loves more than anything else; even her freedom. Now, Orson is gone, a doctor in the city. She is virtually alone with Orlando.
Leila goes to her room. She pulls the drawer and brings out the jewelry box. She takes the wedding band, wraps it in a small cloth. Then she goes out to the garden. She takes a shovel and digs.
[EUNICE BARBARA C. NOVIO]
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