7 years after…
The sister company of the clothingline company I’m currently managing is right here in Ottawa. Yeah right, the country I’m living now. Supposedly, I’m at the coffee shop waiting for Zara. Oh, by the way, Zara has finished her degree and currently a registered Psychiatrist na after niyang ma-curious sa nangyari kay Ardeem and right now dito na rin siya magbe-base sa Canada for her work na mag-iistart pa lang next week. Ngayon pa lang kami magkikita personally.
5 years ago,the world is too small kasi nung lumipat ako sa BF Homes, akalain mong katabing house ko lang din pala ang Cooper Family. Luckily, gumaling ang Cotard Syndrome ni Ardeem in almost less than a year treatment. So awkward talaga ang feeling when I’m often seeing Ardeem Cooper. Naasiwa talaga ako as in but that awkward feeling turned into a little sweetness turned to unconditional romance. And to cut the story short I’ve finally found the Christian Grey of my life after that stupid kiss in the bathtub. Who would have thought that the 3 bugs installed on his apartment would be part of the funny video display shown in our wedding reception in Toronto 3 years ago. Geez, nakakahiya in my part but yet so sweet for others. We had our first baby boy named Argrey. Dito na kami nag-stay sa Canada with my parents-in-law while Ardeem is always out-of-the-country supervising the oil-mining business in Dubai. Actually 1 year na siyang hindi umuuwi.
“Ugh.. She never changed. She’s always late.” I said to myself as I sipped a cup of macchiato. 20 minutes na ako dito sa coffee shop. Tagal na rin naming hindi nagkikita ni Zara but we never fail to chitchat through Skype. Nagring yung phone ko sa bag so I took it out.
Ano namang tinatawag niya? Pakielamero ng local cellphone yung twin brother nya! I’m sick and too tired of this! One year na akong hindi mapakali gabi-gabi mula nang mag-stay sa house yung brother ng husband ko. In-off ko na lang yung phone at nilagay sa bag. I peeked by the glass wall. Oh, Zara’s right here. She waved her hand and hurriedly went inside.
“Oh I missed you Ashcot my beshie! Sobrang tagal na nating di nagkikita! How are you na?!” sinalubong niya ako ng kisses and hug. I really miss her too, funny lang ng reaction nya para kasing hindi kami nag-usap through Skype last week lang. She’s more beautiful on her simple above knee V-cut red dress but still single. Ironically, naunahan ko pang mag-asawa si Zara ang sinabihan kong flirt before. We sat and the waitress came up.
“Can I take your order miss?” the girl asked.
“A cup of caramel coffee and creamed chocolate truffle cake. That’s all.” Zara said and the girl repeated the order and went on her heels. Sinagot ko yung tanong ni Zara.
“How am I? Well, still a supermom, you know like almost I killed myself to work and by the way, congratulations Zara, you’ve finally made it, dear. Welcome to Ottawa.” I smiled to her.
“Thank you. Oh, how about Ardeem? How was he? Why you hadn’t invited him to have some coffee with us? And also baby Argrey?” Zara asked. Dumating yung waitress and sinerve na yung order at hindi na nag-abala pang magsalita dahil nag-uusap kami ni Zara.
“Argrey is a granny’s baby you know. Alam mo naman ang Mrs.Cooper, mawala lang ng sandali ang baby nagpapanic na kaya hindi ko na sinama. I was like inagawan ng sariling baby.” we killed into so much laughter.
“Sira ka talaga, Ashcot. Eh si sweetie Ardeem. Don’t tell me ipinagdadamot mo siya sa’kin kaya hindi mo siya dinala dito huh?” she ate a spoonful of cake.
“Ipinagdadamot? Ardeem is in Dubai. One year na siya dun at hindi pa umuuwi, Zara. Miss na miss ko na nga siya eh. Ang tagal niyang bumalik.” I said. Muntik nang maibuga ni Zara yung coffee niya.
“Loka! Last week lang nag-skype pa tayo! You, baby Argrey and Ardeem! Hindi ko naman siya aagawin sa’yo. Like hello?” Zara smiled and rolled her eyes. Di pa rin siya nagbabago ng mannerism. Alam ko naman yun eh. How I gonna bring my husband if he’s in Dubai and still not getting back home?
“Hindi nga si Ardeem yun.” I said. Hindi naman talaga si Ardeem yung kasama ko nung nag-skype kami ni Zara last week eh.
“Eh ano, doppelganger? Ghost? Clone? Lost twin-brother? Oh my God, effect of too much stress na yan Ashcot huh? Wait, tawagan ko na lang siya.” Zara said at pinigilan ko yung kamay niya sa pag-scroll ng phone nya.
“No! Look, wala akong mapagsabihan na kahit sino for almost a year, I have to confess this to you my dear bestfriend. Hindi siya si Ardeem. Kakambal niya yun na acting like him. Yes, may kambal siya and I don’t know why he’s mimicking everything about my husband; the way he talks, his mannerisms pati personal na gamit ni Ardeem ginagamit nya. Looks like he’s almost crossing the line na. Inisip ko na nga lang na baka may mental issues din siya. Di ba possible naman yun kasi nagkaroon before si Ardeem?”
“Then you’re jumping into the conclusion that--?” napakunot siya ng noo.
“That he might be suffering a mental disorder! You know what Zara since psychiatrist ka na lang, i-re-recommend kita sa Cooper family.” I said. Sa case nga lang ni Ardeem, sobrang rare lang ang nagkakaroon ng cotard delusion well in fact memorized ko na ang klase ng delusions: nihilistic delusions concerning the body (86%), nonexistence (69%), hypochondriacal delusions (58%), and delusions of immortality (55%) .
“Huh? Are you okay? Lakas mo maka-theory huh, dinaig mo pa’ko sa pagiging psychiatrist, Ash. But wait you mean that the twin brother was the one kissed your lips nung nag-Skype tayo? Whoah, close kayo ng twin huh? Sabihin mo lang kasi if you two having LQ, okay? I’m here to listen.” Zara laughed. Bakit ba nya ako pinagtatawanan? I’m serious! I’m effin’ serious! Nagalit nga ko nung hinalikan ako ng twin nya. He’s pervert maniac kaya mula nun hindi ko na siya kinakausap! Nabastusan talaga ako sa ginawa nya! Sobra talagang strange na ang ginagawa niya to the point na gusto ko ng lumipat ng bahay kung hindi lang dahil sa in-laws ko.
“Love quotient? You’re freakin’ naïve Zara! His twin must be crazy! That guy is not my husband! He’s imposter! Ardeem was replaced by another man! Nasa Dubai ang totoong Ardeem, Zara. Nakausap ko pa siya nun and sobra na nga daw pagka-homesick niya! I’m telling the truth. Listen, sa guestroom na ko natutulog dahil hindi tama na ang nagpapanggap na asawa ko ay makatabi ko pa sa kama. He imitates all the physical attributes of my husband, the way he talks, moves, cares for baby Argrey, lahat as in ginagaya nya!” I stressed. Sobra na talaga, para siyang clone ni Ardeem pero hindi nya ako madadaan sa ganun, ang husband ko lang ang mahal ko. I will never betray my husband though we’re experiencing long distance relationship. Ayoko namang bastusin ang mga in-laws ko kung i-suggest ko kayang magpa-consult sa psychiatrist ang anak nila since aware naman silang may history ng mental disorder ang son din nilang si Ardeem.
“Ashcot, you’re believing that his twin brother is insane?” she asked. Nagvibrate yung phone ni Zara sa table at tiningnan niya ito. Natahimik siya and creased her forehead then napatingin siya sa may likuran ko at muli ay napatingin sa phone nya.
“Anong tinitingnan mo? Are you listening to me?” tanong ko sa kanya. Napailing lang siya at naging serious ang muka. Hinawakan niya magkabila kong kamay sa table.
“Don’t turn back! This is crazy. Listen Ashcot, Ardeem really loves you no matter what. I feel it. I don’t want to fall on my conclusion na tama ang na-oobserve ko sa’yo ngayon.” Zara furrowed her eyebrows. Hindi ko siya ma-gets. Bakit ayaw niya akong palingunin? Anong meron? May kinalaman sa nagtext? The moment she looked at my back, nabasa ko ang sadness sa mga mata niya. It’s genuine, parang bigla siyang naawa sa nakita nya.
“Ano? Of course I know my husband really loves me. Anong tamang conclusion? I don’t get you, Zara.” I asked. Napalingon ulit siya sa likod ko. Sino bang tinitingnan niya? Lilingon na sana ako pero Zara cupped my face to halt me.
“Listen Ashcot, you are the wife. Ikaw dapat ang may mas alam tungkol sa family ni Ardeem but I know his family background more than you know. He has no twin brother. Siya yung kausap ko sa skype and we talked about you pagkatapos nun. I can’t believe you’re telling these. Next week pa ang start ng work ko dito sa Ottawa but unfortunately I was really bothered about you now. Hindi ka maniniwala—“ she paused. Inialis nya ang kamay niya sa face ko then hinigpitan ni Zara ang paghawak sa magkabila kong kamay, nakatingin pa rin siya sa may likuran ko. Meron ba akong di dapat makita?
“Why? You’re saying what? You don’t believe me?” I sarcastically asked. I really don’t get her and then she sadly fixes her eyes to mine.
At an instant chitchat of Zara and Ashcot from a coffeshop, Zara’s psychological observation to her friend has confirmed lately that she has a mental disorder. Ardeem has no twin brother and not staying in Dubai, just in home and he was the one appeared on skype talking to Zara a week ago. Lately, he was aware by sudden coldness of his wife which he believed she lost her love for him. He tailed her by the coffee shop and then texted Zara, “Don’t let her know I was here, please.” Ashcot was diagnosed that she’s suffering from a Capgras delusion. A rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member has been replaced by an identical looking impostor.
Ashcot sees her husband’s face, she recognizes him but she doesn’t have the warm feeling that goes along with it. She doesn’t experience that feeling of familiarity. Only Ardeem Cooper is recognized but the connection with the emotional response is missing for almost one year.