Saturday, 6 August 2016

Room Service-A Short Story

Robin King was glad that he had got a placement in one of the well-known hotels in Delhi. Initially at least he knew that he would have to do menial jobs, before getting on in the job. He was a resident of Gurgaon and had managed to get  admission in one of the premier institutions in Hotel Management in Karol Bagh Delhi. In fact he had managed to achieve a very high merit position in the entrance test conducted by the institute. His parents had berated him for taking up Hotel Management as a career option, but then he somehow felt that he had an interest in the same. As it was, Robin had managed to pass his exams with very good marks and so he was given one of the choicest five star hotels in Delhi as the preferred hotel for his internship. What made the proposition attractive to him was the possibility of being absorbed in the hotel as a floor manager. The hotel, a unit of a prestigious chain of hotels across the world was named, The Vincent Hotel of Delhi. He was also glad to join the hotel because his senior by one year  Mukesh was already serving at the hotel. He was however working for the room service.

Robin soon got the hang of the demands of his job, whether it was answering calls in the middle of the night for coffee or alcohol, or for that effect cigarettes, or even emergency pills! It was a twist of fate that Robin was always given the night duty, but then he accepted the night duty because he got better bonuses. He was in any case planning to buy a good vehicle, and in order to do that, he needed to collect funds for the down payment. The tips moreover were generous in the night shift, what with desperate men asking for emergency contraceptives and alcohol to smoothen the time they spent with their women. Some of the demands that the men, and sometimes the women made of him included fresh towels, and, well toys. Robin was, however was a mature man of twenty-two years, and he turned a blind eye towards some of the bizarre demands made by the residents of the hotel. There were, incidentally visitors of all kinds, youngsters who were spending their first nights with their girl-friends men who were finding time with their legally wed wives, and then there were the clandestine linkages between men and women who were cheating on their marriage obligations. However, Robin had been advised to, ‘Mind’ his own business in such circumstances and service the needs of the clientele.

It was not that Robin was a freak or a strange case in such circumstances, he had a girl friend whose name was Sophia, and they shared a wonderful relationship which included grand meals at various hotels and restaurants, for which they saved, and the nights that they shared, that is whenever Robin could wheedle a night off from his employers. Robin was, in all ways street smart, and he always kept a stock of contraceptives in his wallet, for those stolen moments that he looked forward to share with Sophia, his girlfriend. Sophia, incidentally belonged to a family from Goa, who were very broadminded about what their daughter did, as long as she didn’t get pregnant. Sophia as it was, was getting ready for a job in a public sector bank, and she had, as it was a few lucrative offers form some of the well-known banks in Delhi. Robin and his girlfriend Sophia had shared numerous escapades when they had barely missed being caught by their respective families when they decided to spend the night together in some obscure hotel in Gurgaon or Delhi.

One day however things happened in a way that would change his life forever. That day, Robin was on night duty, and he had just completed his round of duty which ended at 5:00 a.m. when Mukesh, who was supposed to take over from him from 5:00 a.m. onwards requested him to pitch in for another half an hour till 5;30 because he had to go home to check on his sick mother. Robin acquiesced, although not before Mukesh told him to be careful about the calls he took.

‘Just be careful about the guest in room number 225.’ He said. ‘She is Mrs. Sonia Kumar, the estranged wife of the industrialist,  Mukesh Rawat.’ He went on. ‘She will ask for a flask of bed tea. Just ensure that she is dressed up, and knock on the door before entering her room!’

‘Of course, I will do exactly that!’ Robin responded.

‘Moreover,’ continued Mukesh, ‘just don’t let her shut the door on you.’

‘OK, Ok, I got your point,’ Robin replied even as he attempted to convince his friend that he would be able to ensure that everything would be alright.

It was past five in the morning when Robin got a call from room number for a flask of tea. The woman at the other end of the phone said, ‘Please ensure that you don’t put in too much sugar into it,’ she said.

‘Sure Ma’am your tea will be there in a few moments!’ Robin replied.
He got the tea in the flask from the Pantry and placed it on a tray along with a couple of tea-cups and then proceeded to the room. On reaching room 225, Robin rang on the bell a couple of times. On getting not response, Robin knocked on the door. On getting no response, he pushed on the door, and was amazed when the door slid open. Seeing that the door was not locked from inside, Robin pushed the door open and stepped indoors. He called out before entering the room, ‘Room service, Ma’am, your bed tea is here.’ He looked around and saw that the it was a suite with a living room and a bedroom beyond. On getting no response from the occupant, Robin edged forward into the apartment. It was with a sense of foreboding that he looked beyond the living room. Looking  into the bedroom, Robin paused as he called out, ‘Ma’am, your tea is here.’ He saw the occupant sitting rather quietly on the bed staring out into space. There was something that was very touching about the woman, a beautiful woman, who was somehow sunken in the depths of despair. He could see all of this in a flash. The room was lit by a couple of table lamps that showed the ruffled bed clothes next to the woman, and the shape of mound on the farthest edge of the bed, her child, perhaps. Somehow, he had to say something and so  he called out in concern, ‘Ma’am, is everything OK?’

Interrupted by his voice, the woman, Mrs Sonia, as he knew her to be stirred out of her reverie and said, ‘Please leave the tea on the centre table and lock the suite door behind you!’ Robin was somehow too mesmerised by the woman’s posture of vulnerability. There was a sadness about her, the way she had sat so still on the edge of the bed. His heart went out to her, he wanted to comfort her, and perhaps tell her not to be so sad, for Mrs Sonia was indeed a very beautiful woman, and he wondered what might have made a husband abandon  such a graceful  woman. She had appeared to be so vulnerable  while sitting on the edge of the bed, lost in her thoughts, forlorn and sad, it was indeed a sight that would tug the heart strings of any well-meaning man.

It was therefore with a heavy heart that he turned to the centre table in the bedroom and placed his tray on it. He turned  go out of the suit, when she called out to him, ‘Please shut the door to the suit.’ Without thinking he did the unthinkable! He had shut himself inside the suite with a guest who was probably undergoing emotional and mental turmoil! Professional ethics dictated that he should not have peeped beyond the living room into the bedroom, nor should he have even shut the main door to the suite!

He had lost his presence of mind, apparently and did according to her bidding. He had barely turned the key to the door when he saw that the lady had left her bedroom and crossed into the Living room. She lay on the couch covered by the sheets she had brought with her from the bedroom. Startled by the new development, Robin turned towards her with surprise. But then the invitation was clear, she wanted him to make love to her. She lay on the couch with no clothes on, and she had on her face that vulnerable look that demanded the attention of any well-meaning man. It was then with a sense of helplessness that Robin began stripping off his clothes, for the situation demanded exactly this. Before going ahead, however, he said to her, ‘Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?’

‘Yes, I need it!’ She replied, even as she snuggled into the sheets she had brought with her.

Somehow, it seemed as if the clothes were reluctant to come off and after what seemed an age, Robin was able to get off his clothes. Before he went to her on the couch.

What happened next happened as if in a state of trance. The woman somehow needed the physical proximity, it was as if she had never been loved by a kind human being. She had asked for it and he gave her what he could. There love making was frenzied and harsh, it was fuelled by desire and sadness. The woman wept and wept throught, but then he didn’t feel guilt or shame at what he was doing.

They ended up exhausted lying in each other’s arms like lovers long lost who had come together. Robin, however knew that he would be soon missed at his workstation, so he stirred out of her embrace and told her that he had to go. Somehow both of them felt surprisingly cleansed. It had been a rather cathartity moment for her, and Robin had somehow fallen into the scheme of things!

‘Thank you!’ She replied with gratitude, even as he stepped into his clothes... and that was it!

Robin wore his clothes that were lying on the floor, and then closed the door quietly behind him as he proceeded to his work station. He had been caught by the turn of events over which he had had no control.

He walked out of the room in a trance, half believing that what had happened had happened in a dream. When he talked about the incident with some of his best friends, they had told him that incidents such as this were part of the occupational hazard that was the result of serving in the hotel industry!

What had taken place that day would change his attitude towards life in a way that he would never have expected in the normal course of time. He would later tell his girlfriend about what had happened that morning. Of course she broke off their relationship then and there, but then Robin had gained a lot in terms of understanding how complex life is. Of Mrs Sonia, well she was able to get the divorce she had wanted from an abusive husband. She went on to get married to a more considerate man who would give her more security than first husband had. Whether she remembered her escapade with Robin, well he couldn’t say for sure. All he knew was that it was part of his profession, to give comfort to those in distress! 

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