SHE was short, squat and dowdy, and as I ran to join the group of tourists at the heritage building I wondered what this women was doing as a guide.
The lady looked up over the heads of the others and instead of annoyance, smiled, and suddenly I saw more than just friendliness, I was being welcomed because guide was glad there was one more to listen to her talk.
And what a talk it was. “This,” she said, “is an ancestral house, nearly three hundred years old!” “Three hundred years old!” said a newly married husband in the group and winked at his pretty blushing bride.
“Yes sir! And you can rest assured the owners were as amorous and as great lovers as you and your wife are!”
She exclaimed and pointed to a giant wooden four poster bed that lay in the middle of the room.
“As you can see it’s been well used!” The others laughed and I noticed the lady guide enjoyed the laughter.
“What do you think this is?” she asked standing in front of a strange looking box that had a small opening on top. “A hat stand?” said the same husband pinching his new bride affectionately.
“Ah no sir, but when Portuguese lord was busy with his wife like you are sir, and didn’t want to go all the way outside to the toilet, this is what he used!” She opened the box and revealed an old fashioned commode.
The group chuckled and the couple blushed and smiled at her. The lady guide smiled back affectionately. “How do you do it?” I asked afterwards as she walked with the guide outside the ancient house taking snaps of the portico, the stone carvings and the sculpture of the rooster on top. “Do what?” asked the lady.
“Put so much joy into your work?” “Sir!” she replied, “I am a housewife staying in this little village, and when the good Lord gave me this job, I decided not to let the good Lord down!” “You aren’t letting him down, you seem to enjoy it!” “I love it,” said Mrs Pinto.
“Why?” “Will you come with me?” asked the guide, “It is my lunch hour and if you don’t have a bus to catch…..”
I followed Mrs Pinto down the steps of the quaint, old, Portuguese street till she came to a cottage, nearly on its last legs. “This is where I stay!” she said and led me in. I walked in looking curiously at old tiles and brick walls, till suddenly I was in the only room in the house.
“Emily is that you?” asked a voice. I looked shocked at the thin, broken man who lay on the bed. “Yes Pinto I’m back!” she said and walked over and hugged the cripple on the bed. “My husband!” she said to me.
“He had an accident five years back. Truck hit him just outside our house! Now he can’t walk about alone!”
“Weren’t you devastated?” I asked.
“Overjoyed!” shouted Mrs Pinto, “Overjoyed he’s alive!” We walked outside, the guide her husband, supported by his wife and me.
“Everyday,” said Mrs Pinto, “I thank God he wasn’t taken away from me, and when the government gave me this job with enough money to take care of him, why I’m the happiest person in the world!” There were tears in my eyes as I walked out of the house. “I’ve seen true joy,” I said to myself wonderingly, “and it had nothing to do with money..!”