Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We are maid for each other!

Not just for marriages, you should match horoscopes with your maids too!

I wonder how my mother managed to do all the household jobs without complaining. Not just my mother women in those days, my mother in law, my aunties …No washing machine, no mixer grinder, no vacuum cleaner… still they survived without complaints.. without maids….Maybe the earlier versions of God's products were more efficient to work without service packs or patches!

The first maid I remember in my life is Ittha. She worked for my grandmother. She had some speech disorders, so only we knew what she speaks. It was fun to talk to her, but was not the same for her. She never liked me. She rather liked Neyyuttan (she means Nijuttan, my brother) or Monuttan (my cousin brother) just because they gave her a "pachanottu" (the green 5-rupee note) or a "chonna nottu" (the red 2-rupee note) whenever they came for vacations. I now realize that we had "madhyama porutham."

Then a need for a maid did arise only when my son was born and I began to work in Chennai. We appointed Valli who was a gentle woman with a smile always…We had to say good bye to her when we moved in to Pondicherry. With her I guess I had an "Uthama porutham."

In Pondicherry, I had to look for a full time maid as now my mother also planned to go back to Kerala. My husband arranged Mary for me through his office contacts. Though Mary's main duty was to take care of my son, she began to bring both her kids to our home as she had no place to put them .. I ended up baby sitting for all the three kids of almost same age!!… had to send her off politely.

Radha joined me after some days. A well dressed, well mannered, woman who came in cycle everyday. This was love at first sight. My son also liked her. She volunteered to cook for me too.. learnt many Tamil cooking tips from her. "Pathil pathu sreshta porutham!" One day, stupid me thought this hardworking woman deserves more as she is managing a big family including her in-laws single handedly. When the office was hiring for cleaning and maintenance, I asked my husband if he would get her that job.  What will you do then? ..he asked me. I will ask her to find one for me, but she deserves this job and if we don’t do it, we will feel guilty later... I said.  He too felt we should do something for this hardworking lady and she got the job! She arranged another maid for me..
Lalitha.. this stout lady joined with conditions though! She came from a "respectable family" she said. So I should not send her to shops as her relatives who live nearby might see her working for someone! Also she wouldn’t dry the clothes outside… which then became my job.  When the I-can't-do-this list began to grow, I had to send her out!

The next female was again another Mary a short and stout lady, who always smiled, very rarely spoke anything.  I had no other way than to let her remain at home when I went to my son's school and picked him up in the afternoon. We began to notice unknown numbers in our bills…and came to know that they were made during this time when I went out! I dint tell her directly but asked her if she knew one of those number that I got a call from it. She acted as if she did not know, but this was stopped and that was what we wanted. One day as I entered a room where she was mopping, I found her opening my handbag and the moment she saw me she threw it away! I really do not know if she has done it even before!

Total poruthakkedu!

Then there was a loong gap to get another one. Gooodd! Send me a maid… I find it difficult to manage without a maid! My husband laughed when I prayed at the temple nearby..when we came out, our regular pookkaramma asked, Yemma unakku velaikku aal venuma? Without missing a second, I said YES! to her... and turned to my husband and said "Godsent!!"..She pointed towards a frail old woman sitting there.. She said that lady's husband brought in a second wife (I cant type the exact word she said, I have word sensor on!) and sent this lady out.. Her son also doesn’t take care of her listening to his wife! My husband was not as excited though.  He asked me to think a lot before appointing her. She does not even have a home and it’s a trouble to allow her to stay with us. If you ask me, I would say No to this lady. Then its your wish…. He said at first, but then later agreed to me as he couldn’t think of helping me at kitchen too!

Amma, enakku ethachum thailam venum kal valikkuthu..

I gave her Eucalyptus oil. She stretched her leg to me and pointed to her ankle… "inge!" !!!!

She expected me to rub it for her.. un amma mathiri nenachu thechu vidu!!!

Enakku konjam velai varren..!! I moved from there as if I did not notice my husband who was trying to resist laughing!.. When asked her to wash plates for us dinner.. she said.. innikku nee seyyu! Nalelernthu naan.. okva?

The next day morning in bed, I felt something scratching on my feet. I woke up to see this lady grinning at me! Enakku kaliela oru tea venum.. illena mudiyathu.. kasu kodu tea kadayile poi kudichuttu varen!.. I told her I will prepare tea and that she needn’t go out for it. She did not like my tea.. nalelenrthu enakku mattum nee STOPSTAR (she meant Topstar) vangu.. intha thool nallalle (TATA Gold leaves). Enakku oru saree venum, soap venum, powder venum, seeppu venum, sappal venum.. the list went on.  The next day she asked for another podavai, this time she was particular that she needed a saree with zarigai!..  "koyile le naalu peru pappangalle..." she said.  Question of porutham doesn’t arise at all!!

Then came Sivakami, who was good and worked for me for soo long, but recently when someone lured her with thrice the salary I gave, she quit! SIMBLE! (Hope Nina is not reading this!)

Then Saraswathi, who worked in 6 different houses. She was rather a minnal, you never see her entering.. zoom she goes, leaving me working on the after effects of her work, rubbing and washing off the soap from the vessels, checking the dustbin for spoons, my son's sketch pens, keys.. whatever were on the floor when she mops or cleans goes straight into the bin. She said she will do only washing the dishes and mopping the floor, for whatever she did other than that, she needed extra kaasu!, Sanju has just began to walk and she fell one day as the floor was not yet dry after her mopping. When asked her to squeeze it out well before mopping, she said "da parumma… neraya thanniyoda thodacha than enaku oreyadiya ella roomum thodaikka mudiyum naan aaru vootla vela seyren.. oon voodoo mattum thechu thechullam irukka mudiyathu ..ishtamiruntha vachukka.. illena vaanaam"… I had nothing else to think about it.. I said, "vaanam!" asked her to leave at that moment and did not mind her crying or mannippu requests.

Lakshmi, the last maid worked for me till deepavali always complained me about her husband who was not taking care of her or the children. Impressed with her work, I gave her all my son's old clothes, old school bags, my dresses, some accessories. After deepavali, she did not return the day she said, instead I got a call that she had a conflict with her husband and is staying with her parents and will not be coming after that!

Enough is enough!!! No more maids.. let us share the jobs and manage the schedule accordingly, we decided. We prepared our own time charts according to son's school timings, baby's sleep schedules.  We expect no one to do it later, we do it then and there.

Maid for each other!


Smita said...

Great post nish!!

Iththa is so much a part of our childhood precious, nostalgic memories...i remember ammamma giving her "bribe" coz she scolded her - chomanna nottu!!!! She is so happy to see any of us even now!! Tho her favorite remains niyuttan!

Gayatri said...

- Very entertaining post girlie :)
- Am writing a book on the babysitters I had :b
- I luv the Heading......:D

Sranj said...

@Sumi.. Never seen Itha since I left Anamangad!!

@Buzzy.. thanks! waiting for your book!

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