A modern-day parody unfolds in my house every morning. It is believed that every forest has, but one king; it seems mine has two – not my dad or my mom, but the two maids that run my house and operate for a period of 3 hours combined.
Utter pandemonium breaks loose every morning beginning from 9 AM. I’m still either trying to steal a few extra minutes of sleep trying to recover from a harrowing previous day at work, or cowering away in my blanket trying to shake off a persistent hangover. Either way, I’m rudely awoken by the one in charge of keeping my house ‘clean’ – I’m fortunate she’s usually in a good mood and hence satisfies herself with merely switching off the fan in my room as I grumpily wake up without a choice. If she’s feeling over-adventurous or having a bad day at the office, I’m certain she wouldn’t hesitate to whack me with her broom screaming “Uth Melya – Mala zhaado maru de” (Wake up you idiot, let me sweep) – trust me I’ve had this nightmare plenty of times.
Even before I’ve had the time to brush and grab a cup of tea, breakfast is shoved in my face. Why? Because my plate needs to be in the washer, in time for the next maid to wash. My parents plan and plot their entire day’s schedule to somehow accommodate everything according to the convenience of these two supremely talented women, without whom, it looks like my household would cease to exist. My dad puts off going to the bank/temple/office, just because he’s afraid one of them will show up while he’s gone, and since I will be too deep in my sleep-enticed stupor to answer the door-bell, she will gleefully leave, without doing her chores for the day. My mom will select vegetables, spices and everything else that is required to cook a meal, depending upon the choice, moods & whims of the maid. She will also go to the extent of keeping everything ready and in place for the maid to simply arrive and give her finishing, golden touch. Combine this, with the massively high standards of efficiency and hygiene that my parents follow and insist on being followed, there’s usually a showdown in my house every alternate day about the way things are being run by the maids. In the last one year, we have let go of 4 maids, this combination being the 5th and we now stick by these because there’s none other available in the locality.
All of it makes little or no sense to me. What sorcery be this? The last time I checked, the services of a maid were a luxury – one supposed to be hired for the convenience of the hirer. Clearly, I’ve spent too many mornings sleeping/recovering and too many days working too hard to notice when the tides have changed completely. Without a shade of doubt, maids rule the average urban household. It’s an irony how we humans create something for our own convenience and then end up becoming slaves of the same creation.
Are we really so unable to do our own chores to the point, where we depend upon domestic help doing it for us? The dependence has progressed to such a level, where maids now sense and understand how strategically well placed they are in the strata of our delicately poised society. They can state, demand and negotiate their terms of service with such aggression, that we are left with little choice but to surrender meekly, or be left with no domestic help and all the work to do ourselves.
Is there a way out of this vicious circle? There’s little arguing the convenience of domestic help and how much time it saves from our otherwise busy lives. But at what point, do we stop changing everything we do for the convenience of our maids? I can’t help but find it comical, that we created something to allow us time to do other, more important things in our life; and now, we reschedule the same important things, in order to accommodate that which was created to suit this purpose in the first place. I hence present to you ladies and gentlemen, ‘The Kamwali Bhai Raj’.