Katy had accepted the invitation that presented the opportunity she looked and to meet again Mr. Rodriguez. She wanted to settle an old score left open at the time she hurriedly departed seven years earlier. Even if her time with him had been turbulent he had been for her the only man who she couldn’t forget, the only one for who she had felt the love throughout her life. She was hoping that this time Mr. Rodriguez will accept her back and forgive her past behaviors. She hoped for a reconciliation making her dreams come true.
It was much more than Katy wanted to tell Mr. Rodriguez. It was something very important which she had kept secret to anybody, even her own husband. It was the true reason why that night she ran away, married in a rush, and never came back. She hoped that him listening to such news will be happy and thought, that was the only way she could have him back.
That night, knocking at his cabin door, surprised him. He was unaware of her return and her reasons. Katy was full of trepidation hoping to break into him again and return back love as it was in the old days. He accepted her in a gentlemanly way. He made her comfortable in an easy chair and offered a glass of Bourbon to drink together in the old days. He listens to her patiently. He struck dumb into concentration and thought of the old days together. Possibly he considered what a future together would offer and if possible. But things weren’t anymore the same, the magic of the past had been broken, and couldn’t be mended properly. He fell into a lethargic mental process and in this way his smile disappeared from his lips.
Katy saw it happening to look at him. She thought that her dream was only…Yes; it was only a dream and like most the dreams will never come true.
She had only a laconic answer to her questions.
“I cannot commit myself.”
That marked the end in her, and that was the last moment that Katy had been seeing on the boat. Katy vanished from the others the same moment she left Mr. Rodriguez’s cabin.
The morning after, they couldn’t find her anywhere and the alarm was raised, much too late to find her whereabouts. They said it was a possibility that an accident had happened to her and she fell overboard. The police were notified and an investigation was opened. In the police report was stated, that it wasn’t any circumstantial evidence. Over the course of the inquest, a taxi driver signed a statement saying that he took Katy to the airport, on that particular Sunday, and she had returned to Australia. Therefore the case was closed. But since that day nobody has seen her anymore.
Mama Maria arranged for us to meet Mr. Rodriguez in a local restaurant the next afternoon, outside of the normal trading time. I was apprehensive about meeting him thinking of the possibility that he was connected with my mother’s disappearance.
His European look was unmistakable. Tall and elegant, he was wearing the traditional Baron Tagalog, the silky shirt fashionable with the local businessmen.
He was in his sixties, but still looked handsome and that explained why so many young ladies were looking for his company.
He recognized Danny and raised his hand to attract our attention. Then politely he asked us to sit down.
He turned to me, “You must be Miriam. You are your mother’s portrait. Only recently I came to know you were living in Cebu.”
“Thank you Mr. Rodriguez to have mentioned about my mother. That’s the reason why I wanted to meet with you and talk about her last days. Apparently, you have been one of the last persons who saw her alive. They made me believe she died in Australia when I was very young but obviously that isn’t true.”
“Miriam, I honestly cannot tell you anything new from what has been written in the newspapers of those days. Like everybody else, I was surprised to hear that she disappeared during a boat party, and since then nobody has seen her.”
He looked at me, studying me thoughtfully, then with an open smile said,
“Obviously there are many things that you still don’t know about your mother, but those are information that I can only exchange in a more private conversation between you and me. I hope you will understand.”
I arranged to meet him again on the following evening in his office. Danny decided to go home to retrieve my father’s diary from where I had hidden it.
I was hoping that with Mr. Rodriguez’s confidentialities and with what was written in my father’s diary, we would revive the last days in my mother’s life.
Mr. Rodriguez’s office was downtown. It was huge with elegant mahogany furniture.
I received a friendly welcome and ingratiated me with a large smile while he invited me to sit in a comfortable velvet chair. It was evident that he had a refined European education, even if behind this benevolent appearance, he was a capable and astute businessman, and getting out the best for him.
He quickly came to the point of our meeting.
“My dear Miriam, you may know already that your mother and I were very good friends and I can tell you that always valued her good ideas. She was a remarkable young beautiful lady and I can’t deny that she drove me insane in no time. I felt soon in love with her.”
He paused thoughtfully, and then continued, “Even today, after twenty years since I first met her, I remember her in a special way. We have been bonded together and I can say that with her I had the most pleasurable physical experience.”
I was listening attentively to his confessions, analyzing his sincerity.
“Unfortunately we have been subjected to people’s judgment because of my prominent position. So I did have to hide our relationship to save my prestige.
“Nevertheless it was impossible to stop the gossiping moving around the university circle, where both of us were employed and compelled me to act differently from what my heart wished.
“Your mother acted foolishly after a stupid incident and for revenge married a stranger, a man that hardly knew, and opted to return to Australia in revenge of some words I said in a public place. I blamed myself after what happened that night but I couldn’t avoid the bitter consequences in her life. I never forgave myself for such a mistake. I should have listened to my heart then, but unfortunately, and that often happens, I realized it when it was too late.”
Painfully he paused remembering the past, then after a sigh,
“When she came back I met her only for a few minutes. She asked me to marry her. She told me about you. She emphasized the point that wasn’t fair to you, to live with, and call someone else father. That was the time I found to be your natural father.
Returning to Australia in the family she needed a husband to justify her imminent motherhood. That night, she told me that was the only reason why she married.”
This revelation left me speechless. But my heart didn’t feel any emotion or love for that man in front of me. It was still a stranger that I met only yesterday for the first time.
“Your mother always was a hot-tempered lady, acting instinctively, without thinking. That night, I told her that I would take care of you in the best way I could, but under the circumstances, I couldn’t marry her at such short notice.
“She became hysterical and screamed ‘You only think of yourself, you had never loved or cared for me. You have completely destroyed my life. I will make you feel guilty, for the rest of your life, for what is going to happen to me tonight.”
“Those were her last words to me and it was the last time I saw her. She was hysterical and out of control ran out of the cabin swearing and slamming the door. That’s how I still remember our last time together. Since then nobody has seen or heard of her.”
Mr. Rodriguez concluded, “Miriam you have to believe me, I always cared for your mother. I’m glad that we have established this first contact. I know what you mean and I can read that in your eyes, it’s difficult to accept such fact and more I don’t know how much you can accept me as your father. I confess this isn’t an easy thing for me either. We have to get used to one another. It will take time to feel those connections of love and understanding that should exist between father and daughter. That is why I want to suggest that we have to meet on a regular basis to create this family’s connection. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to live under the same roof, but I want to provide you with the financial support that you need to complete your education, either in this country or in Australia, where you can have a better result.
“I am proud of you Miriam, and love you, and I like to help you to build a future and a career.”
I gained something from this meeting. A new father and his promises he would care for my immediate problems. But nothing new came about the tragic disappearance of my mother. Hopefully, Danny would be able to find something in the diary, written by the man, I thought it was my real father.
Danny returned that evening, and he had my father’s diary with him. It was written in clear and uniform handwriting. He had entered the facts of his life with many details. Danny’s read from my father’s minute handwriting which confirmed what we knew already. Danny finally reached the paragraphs we needed,
“…On Monday, at one-thirty in the morning, the telephone rang, waking me. I replied in a sleepy voice, and immediately I recognized Katy’s voice on the other end of the line. She sounded distressed and tired. I asked her if everything was all right in Cebu. She told me she wasn’t in the Philippines, but at Sydney airport. I asked her to wait and I will be able to pick her up within half an hour. In a depressed and tired voice told me, ‘It’s not needed for you to come. Our paths take us in different directions. Had never been love between us and therefore, is no need to stick together. This is goodbye.’
She concluded by saying, ‘Don’t try to find me. I only ask that you take good care of Miriam and tell her that Mama always loves her…’
She hung up the phone before I couldn’t reply. In vain I rushed to the airport, hoping to find her, but she wasn’t there.
It was at the weekend that the news reported a woman’s body had been washed out to the shore, and it had been mauled by the shark. The head and parts of the limbs were missing and was impossible any recognition. The police were seeking the support of the public for her identification.
“Reading it I immediately knew that it was Katy, and prayed God to have mercy on her soul.
Suddenly all the ties holding me to Australia were severed. I wrote home asking forgiveness to my family for the past, and told them of my wish to return to the Philippines.”
Last week I celebrated my eighteenth birthday. On this special occasion Mr. Rodriguez, (I’m not able to call him father yet,) had arranged things for me. With his help, I will complete my education at the University of N.S.W. in Sydney, where I intend to become a lawyer, specializing in international law.
Over the past few months, many things had happened and are in my best interest for me. I’m now a pretty wealthy young lady. From Smith and Williams, solicitors in Sydney, I received notification that on my eighteenth birthday, my grandparents’ estate has been registered in my name, as for the wish expressed in my grandparents’ will. This property at the present time is managed on my behalf, by Jason, the man that in the past my grandparents choose as my possible mother’s husband. The solicitors have informed me, that I have an option to sell the property to Jason, at the best price valued by an independent party.
I also inherited half shares in the supermarket that my dad Juan and Danny opened over ten years ago in Cebu. Danny has agreed to manage my share of the business. Finally, Mr. Rodriguez has given me a handsome monthly allowance. I cannot deny he has been quite generous with me. He tries to win back my love. He told me I’m his only daughter and that I remember him of Katy that was his greatest love.
Tomorrow, after eleven years of residence in the Philippines I will return to Australia, to complete my education. This is the country I call home and to which I belong.