He sat in his usual corner, lost in thought, what ran in his mind, she had no idea. It had to be about the various problems that they plagued him with. "I wonder how he manages all this. Must be really difficult to be someone so important. He has so much to do and so little time to live. Poor thing" She thought to herself as she finished cleaning his room and went to another. She saw the waiter taking out an untouched meal and wondered when and what he ate. All the plates that he ordered went back to the kitchen or to the dustbin.
Working in a hotel had its advantages. She got to see a lot of famous people often and they really tipped her well. She really preferred it to houses where there were too many people and too much of work. The pay was much better here. She was like another part of the background, like the TV or the fridge in the room.
The guy in room 204 had taken it up almost a month ago. He paid the high rent and stayed there cooped up within it not coming out except to buy something once a day. She guessed what it might be. Afterall, she cleared their garbage everyday. A syringe once a week can be attributed to a medicines or the visit of a doctor. But a syringe everyday told a different story,. She was used to the going on of the rich and the unhappy. Sorrow was something all classes could identify and sympathise with, without any introduction.Such a young man too. He had his future in front of him and here he was locking himself up and wasting it away.
Room 257, now that was a different story. A week here with his very beautiful wife and there he was sitting and sulking all the time. Poor thing. She must have a tough time living with an ugly bloke like him. The way he carried himself and screamed at her for everything. Will all the expensive jewelry she wore compensate for that? Mascara can hide black eyes and enough carefully applied make up can mask her scars.The garbage was filled with wet tissues and blood stained wads of cotton.It saddened her to see it. But how did anything she feel matter? It was all a matter of choice and people made such strange choices sometimes. She thought of her dead husband. Sometimes, she wished he was alive.
This week, the toughest room to clean had been 351. There was a family staying there for their vacation. The chocolate stains on the floor were so difficult to remove. The brats seemed to attract and hoard insects of all sorts. The anaemic mother looked like she could very well do with some rest. The father spent all his time transacting deals on the phone. Soft drink cans, Chocolate wrappers, Lays chips packets,Biscuit tins told her the story of their food habits. Her children had never even had a piece of these things which these kids seemed to consume by the dozen all day.There they were whining again wanting more. They were sick in bed today because of a tummy ache and they still wanted more food!She was surprised
Her final room for the day. She always did it last the past week as the owners were asleep all morning. She wondered why they came to such a beautiful place for a vacation. All they did was hang around in the room surrounding themselves with luxuries of all sort, sitting glued to the television watching updates. The girl ate and vomitted everything she did as she wanted to remain thin. There was some fancy name for this disease, the cook had told her. The empty medicine sashets in the garbage bin were disposed off too easily
Her day done, she went to wait in the bus stand for her bus. She saw a packet of lays in the shop nearby. Little Minnie's voice echoed in her head. "Amma, I saw the anna in the poster with a big packet in his hand." She did not ask her for it. But the longing in her voice conveyed enough.Her inability to give them three meals a day told much more than what a few words could and she had very practical children. She went up to the shop and got a packet of the chips. "Let her feel nice atleast for a day" she told herself and walked the three kilometres home to be greeted by a weeping daughter. "Priya is dead amma. They said she had died as she dint have anything to eat." The lays packet lay unnoticed in the room. She hugged her daughter unable to console her.Somehow the image of the children who lay moaning in pain from over eating wouldnt disappear from her eyes. "She will forget her soon enough. Then everything will be fine. Nothing lasts forever. Not even this pain." She told herself. Afterall,a 25 year old widow of an early marriage knows best.In the home of the cleaning woman, there was nothing to clean.They did not have anything to throw away. Their garbage had only the tale of poverty to say.