November (Part 2)

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(Continuation from last week)

5Once during a chat session, she asked out of the blue – it was the 3rd week of November – where he was spending Christmas. And he answered: “There, with you.”
Huh?

ILLUSTRATION BY PERRY GIL MALLARI

ILLUSTRATION BY PERRY GIL MALLARI

Yes, my mother and I – we were there in Malaysia just last September, for some transaction.
What transaction?

With the Malaysian government. My father, you see, he died a year ago, he had unfinished business with the government, a collection transaction. He died without having collected what was due him. For a contract job he did. It’s a big amount. My mother and I are going back to collect it. I told you we were there last September. Am just waiting for a summons. From the Malaysian government.


The next days, their topic dwelt on his coming. It brought havoc and confusion to her heart. What? She was going to be with a man? After a long time? This man whom she had known only online?

He said for her to look for a hotel. She said she would. She knew several hotels not far from her place, so distance would not be much of a problem. Of course she was certain by now that she would see him. Probably have dinner with him.

That all? Dinner with him? He would fetch her and they would have dinner and he would bring her back home? Probably have lunch with him the next day? Probably accompany him to some of the tourist spots in the city? Do museum visits?

But weren’t they lovers? She went to look again at his photos in his Timeline and she began to have images in her mind, of her with that man in the picture with the gentle face, that man with the mask covering most of his face lighted up by the bright light in the operating room, that man holding a highball alone in a table in an obvious dinner alone, that man who had been calling her morning and evenings to greet her, wish her well, give her a goodnight kiss, tell her he loved her so dearly, tell her he couldn’t wait to start a life together with her. She saw images of her in his arms, him embracing her, most probably in bed.

She called up friends. And asked what she should do. Would she stay in the hotel with him? But this was a man she knew only in the internet! And whom she would be seeing for the first time! Should she have a chaperone when she goes out to see him? Should she go with him in his room?? Should she sleep with him in his room? What if he proved so be some kind of maniac? Or even worse? Tales of horror began to fill up her mind, too.

She told him she had contacted hotels. One was a hostel in the University area, the other was a hotel along EDSA. He had earlier said he wanted a 5-star hotel. But she said there was no 5-star hotel in the vicinity.
One Sunday morning, a week later, she had a garbled talk with him on the phone. He said he and his mother were going to church. He had previously asked if she was Catholic, which she answered affirmatively, would monitor her going to Sunday mass, which she would ignore. He said she arrived the day before. And they were going to buy the plane tickets that Sunday afternoon right after the church service. Later that afternoon, she saw in her message box, a scanned photo of a document, obviously official, with the seal of the Malaysian government Department of Public Works. It stated there that the government acknowledges owing his father, Arthur Mcdonald, the amount of 4M dollars for services rendered.

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She didn’t hear from him for two days. Which drove her to fits of anxiety. What happened? Also, how come she hadn’t received anything definite about his schedule? All that she knew was that he would proceed to Manila from Malaysia. And up to now, she hadn’t received a message nor a call if they had bought the tickets, when they were departing Scotland for Malaysia.

The anxiety-filled day was relieved when she received a call the next day. He said they were in a hotel – he and his mother – they arrived Monday afternoon – and they were on their way to the Department of Public Works this morning. He was just waiting for his mother to be done. He asked her to pray for him, for the success of their mission.

At 4:30 that afternoon, she received a call from him again, asking her to go online. He sounded a bit agitated. Seated on her laptop, not knowing what to expect, she heard his voice, sounding casual, bringing her the update. Things went on fine, he said, just a little kink – these people, why do they seem to be making it so difficult for us? Yes, he had a little problem – the people from the Ministry – they were asking that they pay 10% of the collectible amount, the usual taxable amount as required by the law. He had spent the whole day trying to come up with the money, but still there was some amount uncovered.

I hope that you could help me here, honey. I love you very much. I want to be done with this transaction so I can fly to you now. Mom has been crying all this while.

Suddenly flashed on the screen was an obviously scanned document whose content she could barely read.
This is the receipt showing the amount I have paid already and the balance to be paid before the cheque will be given to me, I need your help now, my love, and I want to leave this place now to come over to meet you. https://www.facebook.com/geraldine.maayo

Oh, darling, I am sorry to hear this. So sorry. But I have no money on hand to help you with, because all I have is my monthly pension which I use for my daily expenses. I suggest that you go to the US embassy there in Malaysia and seek help. They can probably intervene for you. . . please do this, my dear.

This is a family matter, honey, and it does not have anything to do with the embassy. My love, just need your help now no matter what.

Honey, there is nothing I can do in terms of finance. . . I’m sorry. . . I hate the Malaysian ministry for doing this. They should have told you about all these taxes etc. . . . You can go to the embassy honey, because you are a citizen experiencing problems in another country. . . see what suggestions they can give. . . This is a government to government thing, honey. Try it, just try it. Go to the US embassy tomorrow. . .

I have made all requirements about what you are saying now, even went as far as telling them to deduct the money from the cheque but they said no. It’s not cash, but cheque.
Try the embassy, dear. . .

I told you I have done that. This is a family matter. That was what they said; if this were another problem they can be able to come in.

A long pause.

You are not writing to me again, my love. Why all this silent on me. Bye.

I don’t know what to say. . . Don’t go please.
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004375697725How can you do this to me? . . . I thought you can look for a solution, honey

I cannot think of any solution honey…

Why? You sound very harsh you know. I sent you the receipt that so that you can understand what am saying.
Because I have no money. . . I told you I just get a monthly pension. Which is just enough for my daily expenses. . . I have no rich relatives I can ask money from.https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?
id=100004375697725

What can you do for us? I know you don’t have . . but I need a little contribution from you. No matter how small
I will accept it from my heart.

Sweetie, I have no savings. . .

Don’t tell me that. I know you are not willing to help me; hence you made up your mind not to help. But never mind.

You are accusing me of something which is not true!

Not really, my love. Just try your best for me. Please do your best for me.

Honey, I’m very, very sorry, but the truth is there is nothing I can do. . . this is money we are talking about. . . and I don’t have that kind of money. Didn’t I tell you professors in the state university do not get a high salary?

Maybe the best thing to do is just return another time for the claim? Raise the money that those people in the Ministry said you have to give them and when you have done so, go back and claim it. . . . Please do not let our relationship depend on whether I am able to help you in this financial predicament that you are in. . . Why are we allowing this to happen to us?

Honey how much can you offer to us? Never will I allow that, ok? Just need assistance from you.

I told you I am living on a monthly pension. Which I am able to fully consume. Because it’s not a big amount to begin with.

Can you try for me? I am still making more contacts about the money. Please help me, ok?

I have no rich friends, hon . . .

I am not talking about rich here.

If this means you will not able to see me this week, I will accept it.

Just try your best for me, my love. Why like this, honey? I though you will be looking
for a solution towards this problem.

However best I try, I know I will not be able to raise any amount. . . what I can promise is

I will try to ask some friends, but there is absolutely no assurance I can get any amount. . . Again, so sorry this had to happen to you. I feel for you, your mom. . I feel your pain.

But believe me there is nothing I can do.

You can do something, honey. My mom will even like to talk with you so you can understand what I am telling you, my love.

Honey, I know my finances. I know my relatives’ finances. Some friends may have money. But there is no assurance they will lend me as I have never borrowed money from anyone before. . . Please take it easy, pray so that you will be able to accept this with serenity. It is you who knows best what you can do. . . I can only offer prayers for you, my dear.

How much can you help me with? I don’t want you borrowing money from anybody because of me. https://www.facebook.com/geraldine.maayo
I told you nothing.”

Really? Why are you doing this to me? https://www.facebook.com/geraldine.maayo
For God’s sake, why are you asking me this kind of question? https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004375697725
Is okay, honey.

It’s time for me to rest. I hope you find solutions to your problem. . . I will continue to pray for you. This is a
very sad day. . . But I will accept it. . . .And yes, I thank you for the month of happiness I had with you.

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She knew that there was actually a word for it, that act – which she had consistently, deliberately ignored, although it must have been definitely at the back of her mind maybe as far, far, back – as he started his desperate litany of protestations, still trying so hard to con her, convince her to acquiesce, to give him what he wanted. She was amazed at the civility with which she dealt with it, even with a semblance of affection in most parts as she maintained their endearments, even thanking him and wishing him well.

Immediately, she brought her mouse to his profile and clicked “UNFRIEND.” She called up a close friend to narrate the just concluded saga in her life, went back to her laptop, clicked the privacy settings and clicked his name in the space for BLOCKED persons: Nicholas Mcdonald. For some reason, the act struck her as reminiscent of a requiem for the dead.

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