An Ode to the Home Help

by Chandrika R Krishnan

(This was written quite sometime back and was published in Deccan Herald,  when I was singularly unlucky with the home help…over the years, I have two wonderful souls in my life..who have made my life much better!   With the pandemic, I guess we have learnt this the hard way that a maid in hand is worth her weight in gold! )

I begin the day keeping my fingers crossed. I can almost feel people saying, ‘ Naturallement’!  ‘What’s new’? one might wonder.  ‘We too keep our fingers crossed hoping that the day would go well’, would be another opinion.  I agree that the oft used cliché is very common but I go one step further. I not only keep my fingers crossed but my toes too!

I am almost scared to pick up my mobile phone when it rings in the early hours of the morning.  I have a ‘telephonophobia’ in the early hours of the mornings.  I am afraid that the ringing phone portends bad news and invariably I am 100% right in this respect. The ringing phone announces that either my cook or my maid (sometimes both) is down with all kinds of dire diseases that prevents her or them from coming to my house in the mornings. They also seem to be octopusian in nature, in the sense, that the number of relatives each one of them claim to have can be associated to the tentacles of an Octopus. The said relatives also seem to die in unnatural haste and with frightening regularity.

 Usually a loquacious person (that includes giving and listening to lengthy explanation of any kind) I am short of patience to listen to the long drawn explanation of the various aches and pain or the manner of death of one of their relatives that the telephone call invariably leads to. I shake away the bed cover, jump off the bed, holler at my husband to make the bed and rush to the bathroom for the day to begin grumbling and nagging both husband and children to the point of absolute distress.

It is my considered opinion that for the lady of the house the sight of her husband or children would not lift her spirits as much as the sight of her daily help does.  The good humour of the lady of the house increases in direct proportion to the presence of the household help.  Nothing is as important in her life in the mornings as much as the arrival of her cook and maid and a wise husband would realize that he comes second only to the house help.

It is almost frightening to realize the extent of dependence that one has to their daily help.  It is also somewhat shameful that we are so dependent on them.  During late 2016, I heard many maids were paid the pending money and advance money through 500 and 1000 demonetized notes, and I considered that the meanest trick of all.  This ‘taking advantage of someone who is financially deficient’ is not too new for many of us. I also believe that one can and should take responsibility of educating the children of the help to the extent possible for the fact of the matter remains that they make the day more beautiful than it would be without their presence.  They surely do so mine!

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash


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