A housemaid is the talk of the hour. Rare is the house where a maid’s tantrums are not found. Attend any gathering, social, political or any meeting, and the talk usually veers around the maid, a topic much discussed and finally with the saying that every maid has her day, one cannot deny her importance whether one likes it or not. My mother always advised me to go along with the tantrums of the maid for the simple reason that one can do her work for a day or two and then one would be ready to do anything to bow to her wishes and desire.
Having been brought up in Bombay, where a maid would work in four to five different houses and earn enough along with the promised meals for her family. Some households employed the husbands, many of those who lost their jobs in the wake of the mass closure of the mills.
After marriage when I moved to Kanhangad, a small town at the northern tip of Kerala, I was allotted a maid by my mother-in-law.
A widow who had lost her husband and son had seen better days and belonged to a family of landlords. As for me, a raw recruit to the profession of a housewife, faced with no modern appliances like gas, mixer, etc, I was at sea in running a house. Here I was faced with firewood, hearth, a grinding stone, etc.
I was really lucky to have the help of Netravati.
She would arrive early, prepare breakfast and leave with food for her two little boys. She would return to prepare lunch, a part of which would be taken by her to her house. It was during my sojourn in Bombay for maternity reasons that my husband moved her to his clinic, from where she joined our nursing home and has now retired to be with her children and grand children.The next maid had two little girls and her husband had deserted her. She initiated me into the finesse of Kerala recipes. When her new husband said enough was enough and no more being a maid, she left the job. The next maid was a deaf and dumb woman with so much grit and determination that she refused any maintenance from her drunkard husband. She worked in two houses. A bank officer married her daughter and today she lives with her daughter, husband, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The maid who takes the cake is the one currently working for me. She said she was earlier a beedi worker, that she was from a ‘low caste’, that she did not know any house work and I could hire her on her conditions. It’s been two decades since and I am completely at her mercy, for reasons unknown to me. As she had warmed, she works on her terms, when and how she wants.Maids, good maids are best found only in TV soaps and movies.
With the fast changing times, one can only hope to come across a ‘good’ maid someday. Until then, be rest assured that the present maid is the ‘best’.