Didn’t I tell you about Ding’s string of girl friends? There were so many I couldn’t any more distinguish one from the other. But there were two whom I’ll never forget.
Eva was a girl from his office. She’s small, cute, brown, sexy. Well, to make a long story short, I was able to track down Eva and she turned out to be really nice as well. She promised to forget Ding. And she also asked me to bring her home “... so I can see Ding’s children ... so I can prop up my decision to break up with him.”
Taking a crowded bus, we were hanging by the estribo all the way. When we alighted, Eva said: “You could have pushed me from the bus, you know.”
Ding came home very early ... which I did not expect. He saw the visitor right away and was about to backtrack. I called him back and Eva saw him and he did not have a choice but to stay. We talked awhile, the three of us. Finally, Eva told him: “Sana naman, matauhan na tayo,” to which he answered curtly: “Ikaw lang.”
When Eva took her leave, Ding said he’d take her to the bus stop. No, I said firmly, I’ll take her. Before climbing the bus that would take her home, she asked me to forgive her.
Ding was cold and scornful after that. One night, I noticed him tossing in bed. When I looked at him, his face was glistening with tears. I asked him: “Why do you weep? Don’t you love me anymore?” He dd not answer but turned his back to me. There must be a place, a place where love has gone.
There had been many Evas in Ding's life. But this Eva stood out because she was a good girl, who could have been a friend.
Sarah was not a good girl, I think. She had no compunction about breaking up a family. She broke ours quickly.
When Ding met Sarah, the toast of a karaoke bar in Ermita, he threw all caution to the wind. He used to be reasonably discreet about his other affairs. The affair with Sarah he openly flaunted as if taunting me to do the worst I could.
She’d call our home and ask for Ding even if I was the one who answered the phone. When I badmouthed her, she badmouthed me back. One time, she insisted that Ding told me in my face that he loved her more than me. And what do you know – Ding did as told. “She’s drunk,” Ding explained simply.
When Sarah’s mother was hospitalized, he took a week’s leave from work to be their all around macho man and errand boy.
He came home infrequently. Before Christmas two years ago, he came home to ask for his freedom, as though marriage to me was prison.
For months, I held back. I’d never let him go, I said.
Going to church daily gave me hope. My friends rallied around me. They’d call up Sarah at my bidding. Through them, I learned when the affair was at high gear. Sarah had quit working at the bar, so Ding would quit being jealous of other men hovering around her.
I tried to end it all. But then, maybe I didn’t really want to. I attempted to drown myself – in, of all things – a bucket of tap water. I only succeeded in giving myself a bad case of sinusitis and colds. But that was enough to alarm my mother-in-law who in turn alerted my mother. My family came in full force to take me home. Already tired, I let them take away my things, my children, my self – away from the apple of my eye.
Away from Ding, I healed fast. I reviewed our life together – and found little that was worth salvaging. I guess I couldn’t love him enough for the both of us.
Karma, my friends called it. If it was, it came quickly for Ding.
Less than a year after we parted, Ding had a second coronary attack that was far more serious than the first. He was in coma at a hospital’s intensive care unit.
It took two days and all entreaties of my family and in-laws for me to visit Ding. You’ll never forgive yourself if he died and you didn’t see him, my Ate said.
Looking at him on his hospital bed with all the life support systems wired to him, the tears did not come anymore. “Take good care of him,” I asked the red-eyed Sarah who stood guard.
Ding came out of the coma eventually. He’s young and he’ll bounce back. Already, he’s on his feet, although still a bit wobbly, after a few months of therapy. He comes to visit me and the children every other day. He is wooing me again, after a fashion. He drops hints of a reconciliation. I laugh them away. Sometimes, when he becomes insistent, I answer with sarcasm. The tenderest thing I can feel for him now is pity.
There is very little in the apple that has not been eaten away by worms. I’ve thrown it away.
And just to prove you do ...
Come on, cry me a river
I cried a river over you.
- Barbra Streissand in Cry Me a River