Chapter 3

CHARM got a call from her mother’s staff, informing her to come to the office. Her mother wanted to see her. She already knew what that was for. Her mother will tell her again to go to a Law school.

The bodyguard opened the door for Charm when she arrived at the office. As usual, if there was no hearing, Congresswoman Helen Barcelona was enthralled reading the papers. She was always like that, even in their house. Her mother would skip important celebrations, school affairs, and forget about her entire family just to do her work. Each time Charm would reprimand her mother, she would tell her that a public servant belongs to its people. And she hated that fact. If one chose to be a public servant, he should have thought about his family first. Learn how to manage and balance his time with those two. To sum it all, her mother was an excellent public servant, but she’s failed as a mother.

“`Ma,” she called. She walked toward the table.

Charm put down a paper bag that contains her mother’s favorite pancit palabok. She bought it on her way to the office.

“What is that?” Her mother asked as she massaged her head.

“See for yourself,” Charm said, beaming.

She took a peek inside the paper bag and looked at her. “Pancit palabok.

“Yep, you’re favorite.” She sat on the visitor’s chair.

Her mother beckoned on bodyguard to come over.

“Take this to the pantry, Allan,” she said.

“Why won’t you eat that?” she asked somberly. Charm was frustrated that her mother doesn’t pay attention to what she brought her.

“It’s not even break time, and I’m still talking to you.

“Right.” She slouched on her seat.

Her mother clasped her hands above the table. “Go to Law School, Charm. That’s what will make me happy.

“Mama, didn’t I make you happy when I took Political Science instead of Fine Arts?” She sighed. “I don’t even want to become a lawyer. My dream is to become successful in my career as an artist. I want to paint… to draw.

Charm saw things differently. For her, a parent should be supporting his child’s dreams and aspirations in life, and must not pressure them to meet their expectations. If only every parent would know how suffocating it could be. But it was a never-ending saga… the old ones always assumed that the younger generations don’t know anything because they were young, while they have been there back and forth. The world left an impression that they know what’s best, even if it suffocates the one they are trying to protect.

“You’re dream wouldn’t take you that far, Charmaine!” her mother snapped.

She flinched with the sudden rise of her mother’s tone. It seemed to her that her mother was mad.

“You know what’s better? The plans that I made for you. So, you must obey me,” her mother said through gritted teeth.

“Mama, I obeyed you once even if it cost me to sacrifice my dream. But now that I am old enough, please let me—”

“Stop telling me about your dreams. That passion of yours will consume you until you forget about what matters the most for you…” Her voice trailed off.

“M-mama…” Charm knew there was something more why her mother was acting that way. “If you’re afraid that I will turn my back on this family when I get there, you’re wrong.

How could she do that if her family is what inspires her?

Her mother heaved a deep sigh. Charm could see how she tried hard to hold back her tears.

“I… I know someone who was just like you. He kept following his dream.

“Who’s that?” She was curious. Charm wanted to know so that she could avoid that person’s mistakes.

“You’re my first-born, Charm. You’re already twenty-six, and you ought to know the truth…” She beckoned his staff to go outside. “I was twenty back then, a fresh graduate of Fine Arts. Just like you, I was dreaming of being a renowned artist. My parents supported me all the way, and they even sent me to an exhibit in Madrid. I met this guy with the same dream and passion as mine. We clicked instantly, and later on, we became good friends.

Charm did not expect that her mother would open up to her.

“I stayed in Madrid after the exhibit. I found inspiration there. And as I stay, that guy stayed by my side. Until we realized that we love each other. We lived together, things worked out just fine at first. And then, one day, he suddenly changed. His dreams consumed him. I just woke up one day that he was gone. And when I went home, I learned that I was pregnant.

A lump formed on her throat after hearing the last sentence.

Her mother caught her hand. “You’re that child, Charm…”

“Oh… my… God…” Tears fell from her eyes. “Who’s my real f-father then?

Charm felt a hammer hitting her chest. The revelation made her head spin round. Now it was clear to her why her mother does not want to support her. Because it reminds her of his father, who abandoned them.

“You don’t have to know who he was. Teddy is your father, no matter what,” her mother said. She rose from her seat and went in front of her. She grasped her arms. “I hope you understand now why I won’t support you with your passion, Charm. Because I was afraid that you’ll end up like him.

“`Ma… I won’t end up like him. I am not my father, I am a different person. It was you and… Papa, who took care of me.

“Oh… Charm.” Her mother caressed her cheek.

“D-does Papa know that I am not her real daughter?” she asked.

“When I went home, I was one month pregnant with you. Teddy and I were friends back in college, and he’s a persistent suitor of mine. When he approached me, I took that opportunity. I slept with him and told him weeks later that you are his child. I… I used him, Charm. And that’s a secret you and I should take to our grave,” her mother cried.

She tilted her head. Charm wasn’t good at lying, but she had to do it, or else her family would suffer. She could not help but hate her biological father. He was the one to blame, after all.

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