This is a light poem I wrote some time ago to bring up the inevitable tension between housemaids and mistresses. While on one hand, you think you are being very generous when you hand a mobile phone to your housemaid, on the other hand, you are not at all mentally prepared to see her indulge in it. These days mobiles come equipped with playlists and you can fill it up will all the songs you like at a minimal cost. Thus if your housemaid is one great music lover, doomed are your days, because you have already lost her to the profound world of Bollywood songs. Calls coming in at night and you hear it because, she has not yet learnt to switch her mobile to the silent mode. The smell of burnt dinner reaches you when you find her happily learning how to text. All that is left of you then, is one seething, cursing, mumbling bitter person under the weight of unwashed dishes, burnt food and layers of dust gathered on every flat surface.
An unwavering knowledge and conviction they possess better than anyone else, is that their service is valuable these days and that every pebble you throw do not land on a housemaid, like in days of yore. They are expensive and they demand to be fed and clothed absolutely free of cost. In a Facebook-ian world like today, you wouldn’t want to be called a slave champion, now, would you? So you go ahead and ease your conscience and grant her, her wish for that pair of shoes that she said she could have never imagined to possess had she been stuck in her village, for that coveted pair of gold studs, for the latest Bollywood film she would die for! Besides, in a world like ours, we need them desperately because we do deserve that bit of physical gratification besides the pressure of our careers don’t we? – of afternoon chit chats at the women’s club or a Tupperware party at a friend’s or a dinner party the one both you and your husband are expected to attend together or perhaps even a weekly trip to the spa? Whatever you may say, we cannot do without our housemaids. They are the torch bearers showing us the way to our world of entertainment and physical rejuvenation. They are our domestic counterparts who may have a terrible disposition but whom, we have to bribe nonetheless with a bit of gold earrings here, a trip to the cinemas there, and with mobile phones, the latest fad. While you may develop congenial feelings for them and would like them to be a part of your lives, most of them are always seeking for a better position, and hence will make no qualms about leaving you, the moment they find it.
Personally, I have had the utmost good fortune of having one of the best helps during our stay in Nepal, whom we still treasure closely in our hearts – our own dear Bubbly, who, my dearest mother most generously allowed, to join us. But then I have also had the misfortune and the dread of having to suffer a few individuals who wreaked as much havoc in our lives as a stormy sea wreaks upon an unsuspecting boat. Below is a fictionalized version of course, but still only a fraction of an example
Housemaids and Mobile Phones
Housemaids and mobiles are a bad combination,
Coz’ there is plenty of talk and very less action.
Let me give you an original example,
of how our housemaid misused the mobile.
The ringtones began to change by the hour,
as its cacophonous rings turned me sour
Straight after dinner she’d disappear,
leaving dirty plates here and there.
I’d call her high, I’d call her low,
I’d call her until I could call no more.
One day I sneaked into her disheveled room,
and in her bed I found her happily lying down,
thumping busily at the cursed mobile!
with earphones stuffed ears and a merry smile!
You! I cried with scalding tears of rage,
is this what you’re up to with a house full of guests?
Out! Out! Out from that bed I yelled,
when from behind the door, my husband stuck in his head.
What’s going on? He asked bewildered,
“oh nothing, I was just leaving” it was she who answered!
She packed her bags and stood erect,
“my pay” she said examining her painted nails.
She hummed a tune as she snatched the cash,
boldy, from the palm of my hands.
Then on she stepped into the night,
and vanished within a second from my sight.
Rare treasures they are to come by these days,
we must suffer their tempest and welcome their sways.
Or say goodbye to days of such bountiful treats,
of languid mornings when, by your bedside, morning tea greets!
Image by Draz