I can’t do without her. Nor can we live in harmony. She knows the place she holds in my life. And she uses it to her benefit. So when this noble lady tells me, “Pocha kal” I obey at once with a respectful nod.
Today she reports nearly three hours later than her scheduled time, but I say nothing because being present on the job is an even bigger quality than punctuality, isn’t it? She is reporting after 50 hours, which is fine because little breaks from work helps keep her mind fresh and active. Besides, it gives me and the mister a chance to do some house chores as a break from our very humdrum life of blogging.
Last December, right after my back injury, I knew I couldn’t avoid this anymore. To give up washing our utensils, to give up on sweeping and mopping our one-bedroom home office, to give up on my freedom to do whatever I want with my home was something very tough for me. We had shifted home just a couple of months back and hired the maid who claimed to be the most ‘in demand’ in our housing society. We had no choice but to believe her and depute her. Soon after the transfer of power, a familiar feeling began to overpower us.
Our endeavour to keep our home clean had failed again. This maid hardly turned up. And God forbid, if she ever did turn up, she also made sure to leave within ten minutes. So quick and efficient was she, that all the utensils self-washed themselves, all the dust vanished from the floors before they got magically moped with glassfuls of Lizol. It took me a week to decode her modus operandi.
She transferred dirt to nooks and crannies that are invisible to the human eye. Though, these were visible to the pests that lived with us and often laughed at our ignorance. How I got rid of the pests is an altogether different story that needs to be told as well. Living in rented homes teaches you a lot about human behaviour, I tell you!
I had questioned this lady holding in my palm a portion of evidence although it was ‘dirty’ – dust, hair, a few pulses, some shedded skin too I guess. She was deeply hurt that someone could question her integrity like this. She left at once and promised to never come again. She came the next day to collect her salary for the days she deceived us though.
So 2013 began with this new maid who came with recommendations from the neighbours. This time I got smarter to not rely on self- proclamations. She takes her time at the kitchen sink. Then she carefully sweeps away dust (hair and all) from all nooks and crannies too. Then she mops the floor with a corkful of Lizol and leaves a fragrant home for the two of us.
But, she hardly reports to work.
Sometimes, her daughter is sick or at times she takes a week-long sojourn to her native land. That way she prefers to keep away from the dim of city life and rejuvenate through all the greenery in the countryside.
She works at nearly seven homes everyday, thus earning our empathy. So when she does report to work, she finds herself with more than a day’s dirt to wash, sweep or mop. She made sure it wasn’t too hard on her. So the invariable response was ‘Pocha kal’ which meant ‘mopping tomorrow as today there is too much work load’. Also, ‘you guys don’t seem to mind not having a squeaky clean floor anyways’!
Every thing including her absenteeism was going fine up until I saw her leaving a neighbour’s home after finishing their chores, and leaving on the sly. And, she has been doing this for the whole of this year, right under our nose!
Out of the 350 days she took salary for, she must have reported for only 280 as every month sees her sickness, her daughter’s sickness, or her wish to take a breath of fresh air from her countryside.
She is a good worker who knows her value and her employers very well. This November, I gifted her a saree along with Diwali bonus, although me and the mister did all the pre-festive deep cleaning. She was apprehensive in taking it then. Unlike other maids who rejoice over getting gifts over Diwali, or blackmail into getting them, she seemed a tad bit guilty. Her uninformed absence for the next 11 days gave me the answer.
Well, this is my maid. My very own ‘Maid in India!’ I am hoping you have your very own maid stories to share too 🙂