In the past few days it hasn’t rain, as if every breeze that touches her is a kiss from the sun. From her left to right, sellers are buzzing on trading their items, competing to one another to give out their best price. As she passes each row, she can feel that every sellers looking at her, acknowledging her presence by greeting her a good day. The noises and humidity make her more focus of her real reason why she is in this place.
Isabella went to the market to make some groceries for her sister’s engagement. She volunteered to prepare the foods, instead of calling someone to cater the event. She could not even remember when the last time she cooked for her family was.
She has never been to any Christmas, New Year or family gathering since she left the country. Not even when her father died. Her family was never been comfortable if she was around. Despite of all the achievements she had brought to the family, not any silver or gold can clean the stain she had brought to their name, since she was born.
Alex, her sister is now worried because it’s running late and Isabella haven’t finished preparing a single meal. She and her sister was never been close to each other, although Isabella assured Alex that she knows what she is doing and besides she is in the business for twelve years.
After graduating from a business school, she immediately flew abroad because working for her in an office set-up is toxicating. She applied at a restaurant as a supervisor even without a master’s degree; still she got the job because of her excellent managerial skills. Her life abroad was not easy. She is an alien in a strange world and forced herself to blend-in to the surrounding. Dazed and confused on her first year, to the diverse culture and different people but her life change when she met Raphael.
A woman with hard lines in her face and dressed finely, proudly shared at the dinner table that Alex would be one of the excellent surgeons in the country. Murmurs and cheering filled the walls, their relatives are eager to ask more questions to the woman. When Simon, Alex’s fiancé, rushed to end the long announcement before the woman says one more thing. He held Alex’s hand and looked at her passionately, while saying that Alex got an interview and invited to be a resident in San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. And the couple owned the night; there have been small talks about the wedding. But there was no room to talk how good the food was.
Isabella was never appreciated by any of her relatives. Not even when she graduated as magna cum laude or when she put up her own restaurant in New York. But with Raphael, it was like a dream, she never felt odd or uneasy. She was welcomed with open arms even she is an alien for her family. All she wanted was for her family to accept her, though it will never happen. Now that her ally is gone, her father, and she is to blame. Her father died on a plane crash when he was on his way to visit her. She will never be family, and she will always be the alien in the family.
After the long night, Maryse, her step mother asked her when she is planning to leave back to US but Isabella has no plans returning back. Maryse hastily insists that she need to go back, the family is uneasy if she is around. She tried to hold back her tears, but the tears started flowing in the rim of her eyelids. And everything begins to come back, her childhood, the first time she met Raphael, and that moment when he brought her home.
She was seven years old when her mom died from cancer. It was also the same time when she was brought home and introduced to her father’s family. No one was happy or wanted her. Who would want a bastard in the family? It was her dad’s words forced them to treat her well or it would be her dad that they would disrespect.
Her father’s family is well-known in the business industry, with this, it is inevitable that they have friends turned into family, but she was never one of those. She always remained an exception to her own family.
It was their 9th anniversary, and Isabella prepared a special meal for the two of them. The date was supposed to be at 7pm and the rain is pouring heavily. She was worried that Raphael might be trapped into the heavy rain, not until she saw her across the street standing with a bag on his shoulder and a baby on his arms.
Raphael, confessed that he accidentally got her pregnant. She can’t help but to feel angry about him taking home his child from another woman. But how dare she is to hate her own kind, an alien to her life when she in fact is an alien to her own family. She knows that out of all the people, she should be the one to understand the situation but it was difficult.
The next morning, Isabella packed her things and planned to head back to New York. Before she leaves, Isabella walks to Alex’s room to bid goodbye, then she heard Simon yelling at her sister.
“How could you do this to me, the tests were clear you were pregnant the whole time you stayed in US!”
“Simon, it was an accident, I met him at the medical conference.”
He asked her the whereabouts of the baby. And Alex said she didn’t know, that after giving birth she returned back in the country.
Simon didn’t believed her, “No more lies Alexandra!”, he yelled again and stepped out of the room, accidentally seeing Isabella.
Isabella, went in as soon as Simon left and saw Alex holding a picture. Crying and staring at the photo. She didn’t know how to start after hearing the fight.
“I was in US, but I never told you. I failed by boards, but didn’t tell mom. She’d be furious, so I told the family that I was in a conference. I couldn’t tell you, after what I’ve done to you. I was afraid you’ll judge me. You were the alien in this family, but dad loves you so much. You were his sun and his world rotates around you.”, Alex said.
She sit beside her to hear more of what she was about to say.
“Then I met him at the coffee shop where I work, he was a doctor at a nearby hospital. Raphael was very nice to me. That time I needed someone, and he was there to comfort me. He always tell me how I look liked her girlfriend. I knew it was not a compliment but the dates became constant. Until it happened, few days before my flight, I never expected that one stupid night will haunt me for the rest of my life. I got pregnant, Izzy.”
The last word made Isabella smile; only her dad calls her “Izzy”. But the later words made her spine sting, she sure of one thing that things will be more rough.
“He told me he’ll stay by my side through the pregnancy. And for once, I don’t to meet anyone’s expectations anymore. I continued my pregnancy and he told me he will leave her soon. But when I bore her, mom called me to get back here. I really never wanted to go back. But she told me I needed to marry Simon, she arranged it for the business. So, I had no choice, she would not ever trust you to handle the company.”
“But Alex how about your child?”, Isabella asked.
“Raphael, brought her with him. He told me he would not let our child to be adopted.”
Isabella left the country the next morning. When she got home, the baby was sleeping but he was wide awake and stunned of her return.
“Was it Alex, Alexandra Lajara?”, it is the question that has been running in her mind since she left Alex’s room.
Raphael’s face turned blue, he opened his mouth but before he started to answer she is already at the crib and lifted the baby.
Isabella noticed that she got the Lajara eyes, and Alex’s nose. His father welcomed her with all arms, even if he did not intend her to happen. And maybe God made a way to return the favor that was granted to her. She held the baby closer and gave her a kiss in the forehead.
Raphael went to her side, and kissed her on the cheek. “I’m sorry”, he whispered.
“I was different, an alien to my own family and you accepted me for what I am. And here I am, welcoming another alien like what you did to me.”