Enjoying my vacation, I sat near the window of my room at the Arenal Paradise Resort in Costa Rica. I had a good view of the dormant Arenal Volcano, the top hidden by white clouds resembling huge cotton balls. As my eyes travelled down the lava slopes, I discerned doll-sized shanties covered by tin roofs. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #Fiction #DrRaghavendraRao #Literature
Thick verdant rain forest covered the hills and valleys nurtured by the abundant showers as though the sky had multiple water leaks. Rivulets splashed down the mountains like thin ribbons of melted silver. Cicadas chirped incessantly in a chorus. Farther down, plush resorts dotted the mountainsides with spas, pools, hot springs and exotic restaurants catering to the rich.
There was a knock on the door.
“Housekeeping, may I come in?”
The voice was mellifluous.
A beautiful young brunette of about 20 years with almond colored skin and raven dark hair entered my room. A tiny mole on her left cheek enhanced her beauty like a black pearl in a gold ornament. She wore a dark pink resort uniform. “Change the sheets and clean the room, señor?”
I stood at the open window enjoying the cool pollution-free mountain breeze. The same breeze ruffled her hair. A gust messed up the sheets. She struggled to straighten the bed sheets in vain and looked at me. I closed the window.
“It’s a hard job. Isn’t it?”
“Yes señor, it is rough. You see the shanties on the mountain slope? I live there and walk to work, three miles every day. I have to work to support myself and my invalid husband, and two children.” She sounded sad.
“I’m sorry if I upset you.”
“No, señor. My husband fell from a horse and broke his back two years ago. Since then he is bedridden.” Looking embarrassed, she added, “I am sorry to bother you with my problems. Have a nice day.”
She adjusted the pillows and left.
I put a five-dollar bill on the table before leaving for a tropical forest tour.
When I came back that evening, the room was filled with the fragrance of flowers. I saw on the side table fresh lilies, carnations and lush green fronds in a vase, which had been empty that morning. There was an envelope with a note pinned to it that said, “Your house keeper is Jasmine. Enjoy the comforts of the room. For further assistance, call the front desk.”
Jasmine came the next morning.
“Good morning, señor.”
“Good morning. The flowers are beautiful. How is your husband?”
“He has a fever now and some loose stools. It is hard to move him back and forth to the bathroom. I will take him to a doctor today.” She fashioned a butterfly with the towels and placed it along with a few Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses on the bed. “Please excuse me. I am bothering you again with my problems.”
“Not at all. Don’t you have brothers or sisters to help you?”
“Jasmine, you speak good English.”
“I am a high school graduate. I can type too.”
“Then you should look for a better job. I’m a doctor. If you’re in the States, I would have hired you as my secretary.”
“Really señor? If I come with you, will you take me?”
“And leave your invalid husband and children here?”
Jasmine paused for a second. “No, I cannot leave them here. I like this job. I live on tips from visitors. If kind people like you give me good tips, I will buy a wheel chair. That will help my poor husband.” Tears rolled down her cheeks.
I gave her a tissue.
Jasmine recovered quickly and apologized. She replaced the drooping flowers in the vase with fresh red roses. “I must go now.”
“Take good care of your husband and children. The Lord will help you.”
Jasmine stopped for a moment at the entrance, turned and looked at me. A hint of a smile flashed on her vermilion lips for a second. “Thank you. You are a kind doctor. I am sure everyone loves you.”
It was my last day at the Arenal Paradise Resort. Before leaving the room I placed $300 in the envelope and a note saying, “Buy a wheelchair for your husband.”
The airport van was late in coming so I sat in the bar, which was empty of customers. I offered a beer to the bartender and the conversation flowed freely.
“Perhaps you know this house keeping lady, Jasmine,” I said, “poor thing, she has to take care of her paralyzed husband and two children. Hard life at such a young age.”
“Jasmine? The cute girl with a mole on her left cheek?”
“You are mistaken señor. Her husband works here as a cook. Eating free food at the kitchen, he is as sturdy as a horse. They don’t have children.”
I fell silent like the Arenal volcano.
“The airport van is here,” the front desk receptionist announced.