This happened Sunday afternoon.
I woke up around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, around 8 hours after I fell asleep, I guess? I did my usual routine — open my eyes, check the phone for the time and what happened in Facebook while I fell asleep, nitpick at which posts I care enough to comment on or like, and then rise from the bed and climb down the double deck’s ladder. Open the door of the room, climb down the flight of stairs, then finally drink coffee partnered with a glass of water to rinse the after taste once I finish my cup of joe.
It was a mundane morning-afternoon, and really, nothing exciting can really happen. I chatted for a while with the ones in charge of taking care of the mini diner1 but, I just sat there and enjoyed my 2 hours of mental preparation and gathering the energy to finally, really wake up.
And then, a customer came in. Ordered a cup of coffee and nothing else. Honestly, no one gave the man much attention — he was just another customer who the staff smiles at and greets. It was when the lady in charge brought him his coffee to his table that our attention snapped to him. His back was facing my side of the bar counter, so I really didn’t see, but the lady who brought him his coffee suddenly exclaimed, “Why are you crying?”
Everyone was surprised, and honestly, I think he became a little shy and embarrassed to gain so much attention. The lady kept asking him what’s wrong, her own way of comforting someone. He kept silent and just handed her his spoon gently after stirring his instant coffee. I thought that he won’t tell her anything for a while because, for one, they’re not close. Two, he’s currently embarrassed after being announced that he was crying.
I think it came off as being cold and disinterested, but I told her to let him be. I didn’t explain further because it felt too dramatic and fake if I had added, “Give him some space, I think he need it.” Either way though, she did leave him alone and went to the back of the diner to wash that spoon and then came back to the front of the counter.
One or two more people came and a little later, when the man was facing us seeming a little more relaxed or calm than before, the lady in charge asked him what was wrong again. I honestly thought he wouldn’t say anything, but he answered. He said he was hurt. Heartbroken.
We all wondered why, and only the lady spoke her mind. We all thought that it’s related to something like getting rejected by some girl he was courting, or maybe somewhere along the lines of a girlfriend.
He stood up with a cigarette between his lips and came closer to the counter where a lighter was available for use. “I was cheated on,” he said while lighting his cigarette. “I was cheated on and I caught them red-handed.” I was taken aback by the weight of the words and how his situation seemed like those in soap operas in tv. I’m a teenager and I admit I’m naive to think that problems like these don’t occur everyday, or that they don’t occur to simple, ordinary people.
I was silent while the lady was more responsive. “What? By who, your girlfriend? With who?”
“My wife.” Woah. Shit.
He went back to his seat and peered inside his mug. Maybe it was empty that’s why he was smoking? “When did you find out?” my grandma beside me asked. “Just now?”
“No, it was yesterday. I sought to where my wife was without telling her and caught them by surprise. She was supposed to be in Xoxoxo2, but she went to Oxoxox without telling me. She went without telling me for a long time now.
“I text her everyday and even load her number regularly so she can reply but she never did. I started to suspect something was wrong after one or two weeks of lack of communication from her side.
“I called her mother and she told me she went to Oxoxox where we all knew her husband that she abandoned for me was currently located. No one even told me! Not her, not her mother, not her family. I had to call for myself to find out she was secretly seeing her supposedly ex-husband behind my back.
“I went to where she was last night after finishing my shift. There. I caught her.”
“It’s a good thing you didn’t hit him,” my grandmother commented.
“I forced to restrain myself. I can’t act reckless — I was in someone else’s territory.” My grandmother agreed, he might get beaten up if he had raised his fist. “We talked,” he continued. “I demanded for her mobile phone. She refused and struggled when I reached for it from her hand. I was restraining myself from hitting anyone but the anger was still there. I could only control so much of how I felt. I forced it out from her grip and looked through her inbox.
“Right in there were messages exchanged between the two. I took her phone with me; it’s right there in my compartment, containing the clear evidences of her betrayal.
“I made her choose. Go home with me, or stay with her man. She said it was better to stay there for the night. It was scary and dangerous to go the long way home after nightfall. She was right but I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t stand staying in that place. So, I left her. I went home on my own.
“We’re not really married. That man was her legal husband but she left him for me. We have one kid, but her marriage with that man isn’t void.”
“And now she went back to her husband and left you,” my grandmother said bluntly. He didn’t seem to take it too harshly or showed any reaction to her words. He just nodded with downcast eyes.
“She pleaded for me to take he back. Accept her again, but I said no. I can’t. I was too disgusted by her.”
My grandmother, ever so blunt and lively, agreed with him completely. “That’s good. That’s right! Don’t take her back anymore. Women like that?” she shook her head in disdain.
I stared at him for a while. There was not much that I can say. I’m not good at comforting people — close and otherwise — so making a complete stranger feel better was totally out of my league. I don’t even know his name.
“That’s just another obstacle in life, sir,” the lady said, keeping her tone soft but light.
I didn’t have much to say, so I came up with, “It’s alright. Just let it all out.”
He just nodded with a downcast smile at our awkward words of encouragement. “‘Guess she just wasn’t for me.”
A little later after that, more people arrived to the diner — most of them residents or closely acquainted with the building’s owners. Then the place became a little livelier and noisier and couple of customers finally came to eat.
It seemed like some his weight was lifted. He stood up and went his way outside. His parting words were “Thanks for the coffee” before finally leaving. I went back upstairs a while later.
Thinking about their situation, I can’t help but view the woman as a very loose creature. I’m not denying that everyone were at fault here. For all we know, in the husband’s point of view, he was the one who was wrongly betrayed first. And I guess that’s true. He might be thinking he’s done nothing wrong. He’s just getting his wife back. On the other hand, this man who opened up his problem to complete strangers is still brokenhearted. The husband might have been hurt first, but that doesn’t mean his wife’s lover can’t get hurt, either. This man truly loved his wife. He was double crossed by the woman he accepted despite her status. She picked him, so why did she betray someone who loves her yet again? I guess, if we see everything here in a naive pair of eyes, we can always say that she might have felt heavy guilt for betraying her husband and so she came back to make it up to him. Or maybe she didn’t truly love her current partner but actually her husband? Ugh… What was she thinking??
Hell, maybe the story’s actually different and because it was told in that man’s point of view, I’m more biased with him or something. Maybe it’s completely different in the other two’s eyes3? Really who knows. But by his subdued and tired tone, I really can’t bring myself to truly doubt him…
- I’m a border living together with my grandma and aunt in a rented apartment room above a “mini diner”. Like a “hole in a wall” diner. Carenderia in local Filipino terms. ↩
- Two reasons for this: 1. I can’t remember the addresses. 2. Let’s just let them have a bit of privacy. Telling this man’s story is already rude enough. So yes. I apologize for my half-ass, hypocrisy. ↩
- This is definitely a result of overthinking theories of relativity ↩