For more than five years now, Rona has worked as a domestic help to a rich British businessman in Hongkong. A teacher by profession, when she could not get any employment in her hometown in Southern Philippines and when violent elements were at the height of their terrorists attacks, she did not waver much in trying her luck to work even as a domestic helper in Hongkong.
Her family badly needed financial support and this was a compelling reason for her to take up a job that was not what she was trained for or after her heart but what was demeaning in a sort of way and definitely in her opinion an underemployment.
Her employer Mr. Smith was a widower, a man in his early fifties. He had a son whom he left behind in London. Ever since his beloved wife left him abruptly at her young age by succumbing to cancer, he showed no interest in women. He found them not to his taste or liking in comparison to his wife who was an epitome of all that is desirable and perhaps the only woman who made him extremely happy and complete.
Rona did her duties diligently with dedication and utmost care. She showed how a poor Filipina though a degree holder can work efficiently even as a domestic helper and showed no disdain for the work that was definitely below for her professional attainments. Mr. Smith was more than impressed with her and over the years, he could see a few things about Rona that won his admiration. She was quick to learn his likes and dislikes and adapt herself to his ways. After all being a college graduate, she knew how to deal with people with respect and right manners.
These personal traits of Rona and her pleasant disposition did not fail to make Mr. Smith fall for her. Whenever he went to London for a couple of months on vacation he would make it a point to take Rona along with him. To her credit it must be said she had also learned to be on the right side with his son Brent of winning his esteem and regard for her. He treated her with dignity and often talked to her as a good friend rather than as employer’s son.
It was a New Year's Eve in London. The family had gone out. Brent was alone at home. He asked Rona very casually, "Rona, do you have anyone special back there in your country? Any boy friend with whom you are in love?"
She was shocked and never expected such a question from him who was her age. A quick thought crossed in her mind whether this young man has any motive. She straightened up herself and replied, “No Sir. I did not have any time to think about it. My family is my priority. They need my financial help. We are very poor. The income earned by my father as a poor coconut farmer is hardly adequate to keep the hunger away. My mother is a sickly woman who stays home."
“Rona, please do not take me amiss. I have no dishonorable intention. I have found during the short period Dad stays with us along with you that he has a great liking for you. Whenever he speaks about you, his eyes sparkle and he speaks about you with genuine pride. He has talked eloquently about your pleasant qualities, your intelligence and your potential to be a capable homemaker and a professional. Although he hasn’t specifically mentioned about his romantic inclinations for you, I could sense his attachment for you. I wonder whether you have noticed this.”
“No sir, he has not acted in any improper way or made any advances. He has always been a perfect gentleman,” she replied.
“I think you must be about 30 and nearly half my dad’s age of 54 years. He is physically strong and in perfect health with no vices. You are good looking and capable and would eminently suit him as his wife. If you have no objection, I will have this broached at the dinner table today when my grandparents would also be there. I may add in confidence it was their idea that I talk to you. The only person who is not privy to this is my dad. Please think about it and tell me.”
Rona spoke in choked voice. ”I am sorry Sir this is not a practical proposition. I am just his househelp? I am a Filipina, with dark complexion. There is a wide chasm in our status; we are impoverished while you are affluent with a position in the social circles. I thank you for your kind thoughts though I regret that I am not lucky to get a life of wealth and a rich man for husband.”
“None of the reasons advanced by you are strong. If you don’t have any objection to the difference in age and if you like him, I do not see any hurdle in this materializing. One instant fall out is that your family would be lifted out of life of poverty. My dad will ensure that your siblings will have good education. I know my Dad, prim and proper he would not have proposed to you. But I think Dad is in love with you. Please give me your willingness and leave the rest to me Rona. I would be happy to have you as my Mom,” Brent said.
When she remained quiet looking at her toenails, Brent knew that he had succeeded. Halfway through dinner, Mr. Smith came to her room and said, “Would you give us the pleasure of joining us at the dinner table? Brent spoke to me. I would deem myself luckiest if this idea of his works out.”
Rona looked up at Mr. Smith who was much taller than her and gave him a shy smile and with a faint nod of approval. When Mr. Smith took her hands, she did not demur and instead, shyly clasped his into hers.
Mr. Smith said, "I love you Rona and seek your hands. I promise to give you a life of happiness and make your family comfortable too." He wrapped her waist in his strong arms and led her to the dinner table. Everyone at the dinner table, his parents and Brent, stood up clapping their hands to signal their approval to Mr. Smith’s new found love.
Photo Courtesy: xianlove from DeviantArt