In this city, they say, you can do without just about everything, even your spouse – but you just can’t do without a maid. Don’t however do the maid – like some now infamous actor and a wannabe president!
The maid, as I have learnt, is something to be treasured, maybe even given the red-carpet welcome every morning that she condescends to come to work, which in my case translates into clocking in around 11 am, when I am well and truly gone! Repeated reminders and requests and pleadings to come to work by 7:30 or 8 in the morning are simply meant to be ignored, as I have learnt, literally, at my expense.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that even if she comes to work, she will work her heart out in cleaning the house. I now understand why dear mother used to be after the life of the maids in the house back there – clean that nook, and that cranny, don’t forget that corner. I used to ask her did she really think the maid was dumb enough to leave a spot untouched – it wasn’t a question of being dumb, she said, it was a question of cutting corners, sometimes literally so.
Agreed, the pad where I am putting up is small – step inside, take a large stride and voila, you have reached the end of the house. Okay, so I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the drift. But finishing off the entire cleaning in 10 minutes flat was something of a new world record even for me. Turned out, the area behind the refrigerator was left untouched, ditto was the part under the steel almirah, or under the bed – as if some sacrosanct deity resided in those areas with the caption emblazoned: strictly watching, no touching! And then she sweetly has the temerity to ask: you want me to do the cleaning there also?
Oh yes, I said, if it wasn’t too much trouble for her ladyship. Hired 13 days back, she’s already notched up 7 holidays, making me wonder if I could probably play as truant with my editor! Probably an idea whose time hasn’t quite come as yet.
But thinking from her perspective, I did wonder: being a maid wouldn’t be all that easy on her, given the social taboos we have attached with certain jobs. Dragging yourself day after day without any scheduled off-days to clean up houses, utensils and in some cases bathrooms and toilets wouldn’t exactly be a job up-for-grabs, not really inspiring you to give your best and doing probably nothing for the self-esteem.
Maybe cutting corners to finish work as quickly as possible would be their defence mechanism to subject themselves to the minimum time of self-humiliation. I have heard about scavengers becoming dead-drunk before venturing to excavate human waste – that’s how they survive the obnoxious and inhuman work that by the way is illegal but goes on in certain states, nevertheless. Being a maid, in comparison, may not be as revolting to the sight, but may be repulsive to the self’s psyche of the maid.
Maybe, just maybe, I am veering around to the view that it’s probably time to let her go – my own little, howsoever warped, contribution to let her regain some self-respect and pride in herself.
Besides, I did notice my trousers were fitting me a lot easier when I was doing all the household chores myself – saves all the trouble of going to the gym or the park for jogging, lazy bugger that I am!