I just had to write about my dearest enemy and the most important person in my life today. No, I have no hard feelings towards her. Remember, I just wrote about forgiveness being divine in my previous post. And, so it shall be when I welcome her with open arms as she walks in whenever she feels like without bothering to explain her long absence. Oh yes, I was talking about my household help.
Sometimes, I have these out-of-body experiences when I watch myself, hoping against hope that she will turn up. Please God, make her come, especially today, I have so much work. And, 9 out of 10 times, we have this uncanny reverse telepathy that she will choose the exact same day to bunk. In the honour of her delightful excuses, I have already written a post about being maid for each other. So, I won't go there in depth. But I know for sure that anything from an earthquake to grievous injury or death can cause her to vanish suddenly only after remembering to switch off her cellphone.
And you know what, in keeping with our culture, I keep my infinite misery of dependence on the help hidden within the four walls of my home. Outside of that, I am fiercely independent and strong, but inside of it, I am her slave. She can take leaves whenever and as many times she wants. Who am I to stop her? The only condition I have is that she informs me, but come hell or high water, she just would not bother to do so.
And then there is this situation with guests. Yes, you have been dusting, cleaning, cooking and preparing lovingly for some near and dear ones to come live with you. One day before their arrival, you request, almost beg her to please not take leaves over the next few days. Please! You promise to pay her more. "Don't forget," you say putting on your most enchanting smile that even your husband does not have the good fortune of seeing while bidding her goodbye.
"But I know for sure that anything from an earthquake to grievous injury or death can cause her to vanish suddenly only after remembering to switch off her cellphone."
Next day, the guests arrive. And guess what, you have confirmed that she has arrived and is working in another house. Your heart does a merry dance, as you dive in the laughter, cheer and chatter. Half an hour later, she calls saying that someone has met with an accident, and she has to rush to her village. She is not sure if she is coming the next day either. That completely deflates your spirits. Suddenly, you see the remnants of a big breakfast (dirty dishes) laughing at your face, and plans of a hearty lunch begin to give you acidity only because you start counting the associated cleaning chores. So, you take stock of the situation. Everyone pitches in including the dear guests. After all 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' is all about doing dishes together. The older kids pitch in with vacuuming and cleaning the table. This is just what they must have envisaged as their idea of fun on a vacation. Apologetically, you do your share and also ensure that you keep doing the dishes the rest of the day so that there is no backlog in the morning.
Well! What do you know? She turns up the next morning, fresh as a daisy, no explanations offered! You had almost done all the work by then expecting her not to come. She obviously could not have gone to the village and come back in one day. But then both of us know, "Who are we kidding?"
Maybe, I am dense or something, but how come these folks run for every single disease or death to their village. We, poor employed people, have to inform our employers and cajole our clients for months before we can take even a weekend off. Apparently the only rules for vacations or unannounced leaves that our domestic helps follow are 'Their Rules.'
Alas, this is a never ending saga!
I leave you with a true incident. A friend of mine was frantically looking to hire someone. She interviewed one high-profile help who quoted an astronomical sum for couple of hours of basic work. She also explained her long list of demands. My friend listened patiently and retorted, "If you find such a household, let me know; I will go and work there!" (Aisa ghar mile toh mujhe bol, main pakad leti hoon).
This post has already appeared on Rachna says.