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Once upon a time, there was a Dominican woman called Esperanza who lived with her boyfriend in a humble house for about three years. She and her boyfriend Ronaldo fought constantly, because she felt that her life was a routine and that she did nothing else but cook for him and clean the house. Her only entertainment was her homeless friend Jacinto, who everybody hated because he stank all the time. Jacinto and Esperanza were really close friends and everyone was surprised on how she could handle such a stinker. Everyday in the afternoons, they sat down in the backyard and talked about their lives. Esperanza always served him a plate of rice, red beans, and chicken. Jacinto was the only honest friend that she ever had. He was a wise man and he always gave her good advice. Jacinto always told her that she should not let anyone to control her life and that she should abandon her boyfriend, because he was only taking advantage of her innocence. He always told her “Girl do what you have to do, you have a whole world waiting for you. You should go on and forget about Ronaldo who does not even know how to treat a woman.” His friendship with Esperanza was another reason for discussion for Ronaldo, he always said to Esperanza, “He is just giving you his worthless advice to take our food, do not you see it!”
One day Esperanza decided to takes Jancito’s advice and left Ronaldo. With her pride, she picked up her belongings and rented a small studio. After two weeks the owners of the studio kicked her out because she did not have enough money to pay for it. During those days she felt alone without her best friend Jancito. One day, she did not have money and she stole a sandwich from a store. Afterwards, she sat in a park and suddenly saw a man approaching. It was her friend Jacinto. She jumped out of her chair and screamed Jacinto! Jacinto! They sat down together to talk. Jacinto looked pale and he told her that he had not eaten since the day she left. Esperanza said “Do not worry. Here, let’s share.” and she gave him half of her sandwich. While they were eating he asked her, do you want to go to New York? Esperanza though for a moment and said hmmm... why? and he said, answer my question, do you want to?, she responded, sure why not, if I go to New York, I think it would resolve all my problems, I would be rich and happy for the rest of my life, and maybe I would find my true love! But, why are you asking me that?
Jacinto said, because I can get you a visa tomorrow to go to New York and give you some money. Esperanza says, how? If you cannot pay for it!
That’s what people think, Esperanza, I have been through many misfortunes in my life. I have met many people who only like me before because of my money, and now I pretend to be a homeless to meet people who can accept me as the way I am and not because of the my wealth .You, Esperanza, are the only one who have showed me a true friendship. You fed me when I was hungry and I want to help you to find your way to happiness, so take my proposal as a way to say thanks.
Esperanza astonished, felt like the happiest woman in the world. Jacinto was not only her best friend but an angel from heaven too! The next day Esperanza picked up her belongings and took her plane to New York. The first days were fine, but after a couple of weeks she had no money and she was looking for a job. That day she met the a Spanish man. The man asked her name and presented himself. They talked for a while and then he proposed to employ her as a home attendant, which was based on taking care of the elderly. She took the job with enthusiasm.
Her new job consisted of working 24 hours, staying in the house, and to feed and maintain clean the old man. The old man was a Cuban and his name was Agustin. He was arrogant and had no legs. He lived with his son Tomas and twelve cats. In the beginning everything was fine but after days and weeks passed, she felt trapped in one of the worst asylum. Just with all of those cats, she felt miserable, since during her infancy her family taught her that cats were diabolic and unlucky symbols. She hated cats all her life and especially these, that seemed completely out of control. One day she screamed; “God! When am I going to be at peace?” When she had to feed Agustin, by the time she helped him getting up, the cats were already eating his food. The same happened with her food and in a period of a month she had lost twenty five pounds. The days that she planned to go out, she had to buy new clothes because the cats destroyed it, and the clothes that were of “good quality” were covered by cat hair. In addition she had to clean the entire house, dishes, and Tomas’ clothes which were not part of her responsibilities.
One day Tomas says to Esperanza, “You seemed to be a good woman. You are the only one who has stayed so long. I appreciated everything you’ve done and I would like to ask you something. He paused for a second and said, “Would you marry me?”
Esperanza: “Hah! To become your official maid? No thanks. Listen, I would never, ever, in my life marry a man like you, a man who just wants a slave to take care of you, your family, and your twelve hairy and uncivilized cats. Thank you, keep appreciating me but keep your distance!” Fortunately Tomas immediately forgot about the subject.
A year and two months passed in total and Esperanza was tired of this work. She felt that all her dreams were just dreams; none of them would ever come true. She realized that she could even count the times that she had smiled while having this job. Esperanza found herself in shock and suddenly she ran out into the middle of street during a rainy day, knelt, and raised her arms to the sky to yell “God what I did wrong, what am I paying, tell me why this is happening to me!”
A Dominican guy on the street walked by and said “Y esta loca.”# Others only looked and thought she was only a homeless person making a dramatic scene, while others just ignored her.
The next day seemed like God heard her complaints. Tomas and Agustin left her a note saying “We moved to Cuba; go to your agency to pick up your check.”
When she went to the agency in charge of seeking her jobs, the secretary gave her the check and another job opportunity.
Esperanza decided to take advantage of the job proposal. She felt happy now that she would not see cats again, but scared because she did not want the story to be repeated. When Jacinto gave her the visa, Jacinto was her sign from heaven, but then nothing came out like she wanted and now the only difference was that she had more experience. When she entered into the house, the most sophisticated, handsome, and confident man she had ever seen opened the door. He showed his hand to greet her and said. “Welcome to our family, my name is Leo and you are the woman who is going to…” Esperanza interrupted him saying, “Yes sir!”
Her work for this job was three times easier than the other one; she only had to work for twelve hours, just feeding Don Fermin. Leo and his father Don Fermin were from a very rich and well- known Dominican family. Esperanza liked them because of how well they treated each other. Leo was a bachelor with two kids, Daniela and Pedrito. He was a very genteel and polite person. Leo and Esperanza spend a lot time together since the times she had to work the kids were in school and Don Fermin was sleeping. Esperanza and Leo had many things in common, they laughed at the same jokes, and they loved playing cards, instruments and paintings. The time passed by, and the kids got so accustomed to their new company, that they called Esperanza, “Mami.” And without even noticing, Leo and Esperanza fell in love. One day in November, Leo asked her for her hand in marriage, Esperanza accepted, and they got marry the next month in December. During her honey moon Esperanza was full of happiness thinking that finally all her dreams were coming true. That day she sent a card to her best friend Jacinto saying “Thanks You, I am happy now, and I hope to see you soon and HAPPY too if not I would tell my daughter to make you smile.”