Friday, February 15, 2008

Maid of Honour

Leaning on our refrigerator in my newspaper column-sized kitchen, I stared intently at my maid. There was a continuous jet of water from one of the taps and she was swiftly passing soaped vessels under them. Once the assortment of steel, melamine and ceramic had had their express showers, from where she stood, she expertly threw each of them into their designated storing places.

Wait a minute. Isn’t she supposed to wipe them dry before you do that? Not like I remember what mom used to do. A quick memory access does not yield too many image results. Now accessing science section. I’m pretty sure the water remains helps in breeding of dangerous microorganisms. I look around for a dish cloth. 1 found. Only I, a classified female with a colour vocabulary of 435686543779, can’t figure what shade it originally is.

I dash inside my slightly bigger Happy-Birthday-Sonia-ad size room while mentally constructing signs to explain the phenomenon to the aforementioned only-Telugu-speaking help. My head deeply buried between some aging clothes, I’m searching for that elusive piece of unwanted cloth.

‘Mein jaa rahi hoon, madam’. *Bang*. I’m leaving for the day.

‘Whaat? Wait! Hey!!!’


Lakshmi walked into our lives quite by chance. Our ex-maid Latha had barely been working for a month when she wanted to go back to her village for a short vacation. So she entrusted Lakshmi with the 10–day job and lied to her (Ref: Our cook) about how much we were paying so that she could pocket a neat margin. As luck would have it Latha didn't turn up for several weeks. By then we had given Lakshmi all the specific household instructions and had also begun a crash course in Telugu basics to communicate her.

Then one day Latha landed at my door. (Of course the whole conversation was in Hindi, or what I thought was Hindi)

‘I’m coming from the 1st’

‘No, I think it’s better Lakshmi comes. She’s knows everything now, she does her job well and we don't have the time to train you again’.

‘But I only told her to come for 10 days while I was away’

‘You didn't come back in 10 days. You didn’t even come back in a month. ‘

‘She wont come’

‘She will. We’ve spoken to her’

‘She doesn’t know Hindi.’

‘Neither do I’ (Didn't you get that with my smart gender assigning throughout this conversation?)

Her pupils became one tiny spot in the horizon and i could see her nerves throbbing. She stepped back. Her whole body was shaking now. I grabbed the pillow next to me and was ran some defensive moves in my head. Will she hit me? Will she spit at me?

She turned in a huff and ran down the stairs. That was the last I saw of her.

From what I hear (again thanks to my cook), Latha went and confronted Lakshmi the next day. She told Lakshmi that she is not to work with us anymore and that we have asked Latha to resume her services right away. Luckily for us, Lakshmi had the sense to pay no heed and turn up to work the next day. I’m still trying to figure out in what language they communicated.

Actually,it’s not their fault. Because all we do is compare all our help to our ex Man Friday.

Shankar was almost part of the house we moved into. He would sweep, mop, wash clothes and dishes. He would dust all the furniture and make our beds. He would pay all our bills, buy all our groceries and even fix fused bulbs. He would supervise the carpenter or plumber who came in and would even whip us an occasional omelette if we were too lazy. We couldn’t imagine life without him, he was truly heaven sent. Till the day he vanished into thin air. With my room mate’s phone. And the charger.

Well, I’m glad I don't have to bother about such issues a few weeks from now. For I’m moving to the *promised* land. Where I have to do all above mentioned things myself. Including the work of the carpenter and the plumber.