Those were the days when every household could boast of three to four maids, to sweep and swab, cook and wash, dust and clean respectively. Today the old maids have retired and they have educated their children who obviously want nothing to do with menial jobs. The ubiquitous maid is now no longer that! Even carrying bricks at a construction site brings in more money, and the more educated folks are, the higher their aspirations, laudable indeed!
So the few rare maid specimens left behind have suddenly realized their worth. They have hiked up their prices, willing to shoulder the burdens of their predecessors only if they are paid for each separate chore. No longer are the lady of the house and her maid 'made' for each other, for even with compromises made, there lingers a strange kind of friction that causes frequent sparks!
My friend has a maid who has stuck to her for five years, but plays a cat-and-mouse game with her, despite the familiarity. Did anyone mention the word 'contempt'? The maid's ploy is simple and straightforward. She 'kills’ off one family member every time she wants leave. So first off pops one granddad, followed by a granduncle! The head count continues, with a parent here, an aunt there, a young cousin elsewhere who obligingly leaves for the Heavenly Realms, all at regular intervals. Each time, the distraught maid needs three days leave to go to a distant village and mourn with the family. Sometimes the killing is akin to the Solomon Grundy poem - not instantaneous, sickened on Thursday, worsened on Friday, died on Saturday and buried on Sunday!
Our maid is an amiable soul, rather gigantic, but a softie at heart. She seemed genuine at first sight, and I didn't realize that she was all set to develop an amazing relationship with us, a kind of affinity, you might say! For once, when I had a case of food poisoning and spent much time getting the rot out of my system, there came a phone call from Maid dear, sounding exhausted as she described similar symptoms in such graphic terms that I hastily put down the phone.
When my mother got wet in the rain and came down with a horrendous cold, misty eyed and red nosed, I could hear supportive sniffs from the kitchen as well. Our maid seemed to have got wet in the rain as well!
Came the day when I slipped on a pebble and strained my back. The doctor put me on one week of physiotherapy and traction, and when I got home, I was not in the least surprised when my maid walked in, clasping her vast expanse of a back, a look of agony on her face. The doctor had apparently asked her to 'put current' on her back and take bed rest. That was when I vowed that no member in our family would fall sick, at least not noticeably!
And so it goes! No longer do medicines lie, strewn around on the dining table. My mother applies her balm on aching muscles only after the door closes on our maid. My husband hurriedly covers his mouth to stop a stray cough from emerging and I keep a wide sunny smile on whenever she is around to assure her that all's right with the world! Needless to say, our maid has been hale and hearty for the last few months, even as I send a silent prayer up in support! Along with a fervent plea that no one in our family dare break a bone!