I am sure every household that has a maid servant would have a story to tell and I am no different. During the first year of marriage, I was so reluctant to have someone else do house hold chores. My amma and MIL to this day manage without a maid. Having grown up to seeing amma do all the work, the concept of having someone else do my house work did not feel very right. Also, I hated the fact that this someone would go over the entire house – it seemed like stepping on my very personal space. So I vehemently protested everytime S brought up this topic. Most of the days, I hardly had enough time and only the most essential work got done – like cooking and doing dishes. On the days I came back early from work, I would spend the time cleaning around. One year at this, I felt super exhausted. I really didn’t know where all my time went. The most difficult thing is standing next to the sink, putting out my hands in ice cold water to do the dishes, late at night – irrespective of how tired/sleepy I was. S decided enough was enough and spoke to the aunty next door to arrange for a maid. Now the maid story begins.
She is an elderly woman, mostly in her 60s. She doesn’t remember her birth date or age – thinks she is in her 50s. She stays alone in a small rented place. I don’t know when she lost her husband but she has three children – two sons and a daughter. Her daughter works as a house help too. One of the sons supply packaged water and milk, to which she helps. In the beginning I thought that there is no one to look after her but soon I realized that it’s her personal choice. She doesn’t like depending on her sons and likes to earn her money herself. She doesn’t demand tea or coffee and expects no food. The very first day I made her coffee as I was making one for myself. She said that she only drinks Nescafe Sunrise and that I shouldn’t bother making her a cuppa 🙂 In all these three years she has been working at our house, she has had zero demands. If I make something special at home, I offer her and she does the same for every Christmas. By the way, she was not born Christian. She converted from being a Brahmin and that explains why she has this “vegetarian houses only” rule.
Most of the days, we don’t even talk to each other. She notices me working in kitchen and goes about doing her stuff. And then there are days she becomes talkative. No, not the stories from other houses. She mostly talks about herself or the encounters she usually has. When I felt all alone with S being in Chennai, she was be my only human contact – I am not exaggerating. She would bring me local news from outside, tell me about any discount sales going on or enquire about me. On days when she finds only a few dishes to wash, she used to question me why did I not cook. She has reprimanded me many a times when I tell her I will quickly make Maggi. And then there are times we both have exchanged recipes. Somehow there was this connection between us –that is somewhat different. TV plays a major role in her life and often we have shared how important it is to have that constant noise when we are alone. Everytime she buys something new, she makes it a point to bring it home to show me. The sparkle in her eyes, as she shows me the new stuff cannot be described in words.
Moving on to her work, she is sincere in her efforts. But age is coming upon her and even in a fully lit kitchen, she misses some spots and we end up washing some ourselves. There are days when I tell her not to mop the house and that it should ok, she doesn’t agree and ends up completing the task. As I said she is sincere in her efforts. When I was down with the Sciatica, she had terrible backpain too and every day she would enquire me with expectant hopeful eyes if my pain is gone. Even when I told her to take a few days off, she insisted on taking leave when my parents reach as I was not well too. She doesn’t know how mobile phones work and still carries chits of papers with important phone numbers written. She does take off, but that’s far and between – especially if she knows I have someone who can help me. I don’t make a big deal, as she deserves her off time too.
We wash all the dishes once before using and clean the house once every weekend. The quality of work is inversely proportional to the amount of work. All this said and done, she does make my life a bit easy and I am glad, I am of tiny bit help to her in helping her being independent.
Oh I forgot about the most important detail that she once shared with me – she spent her childhood as the only grandchild to her grandparents, living in the riches. I did not ask her what brought her to this stage but from the longing in her eyes, I could understand that life can be cruel sometimes.