I never wanted to talk to her. She always dressed in expensive clothes and jewellery, while I struggled to make ends meet as her daughter’s maid. She was a snob, she would look at me in a way I disliked. Poor, stupid thing she would think and I would pretend to busy myself with something while I listened as she spoke about her children being overseas and the amounts of money they sent her. On this particular day, I regretted not falling “sick” so I wouldn’t have to go and help her out while she bragged.

Putting on my maid’s uniform I made my way to the gate to wait for the taxi, grateful that she wasn’t the one picking me up. I didn’t want to hear about US dollars when I had none.

“Oh you arrived safely,” she said upon my arrival. You were not there to drive me into the sea or give me a heart attack with your latest buy, I thought. I heard she had been sick recently – probably Alzheimer’s or stressing about what to buy; rich people’s problems.

“Yes, thank you,” I replied. “We can chat while you clean,” she said.

“OK,” I replied, pretty sure she would tell me all about her trips to Paris and wherever else she had been when she was young or the price of the golden crockery I was cleaning.

“You seem lonely and unhappy,” she said. How does she know that, I thought?

“I’m fine and very happy,” I said.

“I don’t think you are, in fact I know you are not. I’ve noticed it,” she continued.

“I’m not that much of a talker,” I said.

“I know you don’t talk much, but there is something about you. What did you want to be while growing up?” she asked, surprising me.

“A writer, an actress and a motivational speaker. I used to write poems and short stories when I was in school. I wanted to write books and movie scripts too,” I replied.

“Then?” she asked.

“Then my parents died and my dreams faded away. I couldn’t afford to go to varsity,” I replied sadly.

“What’s the one thing that would make you happy?” she then asked.

“Perfecting my writing skills, at varsity, then again…” I trailed off.

“You can still be all you wanted to be.” She said with much encouragement.

“How? I don’t earn enough,” I argued.

“Enrol for weekend classes, start where you are. I’ll pay the fees for you. Nothing is wasted, each small step leads to success.” She said. My ears were playing tricks on me I thought, I never expected such wisdom and generosity from her. She then went on to tell me how she had struggled to accumulate all her riches. I had no idea.

I enrolled at a college a few days later. I never thought any good thing could come out of a dying woman, she noticed my intelligence and how unhappy I was. When she had looked at me, it was out of kindness. The lesson I learned was not to judge a book by its cover, one can never know what the chapters inside behold.