‘Maid’ to order

I brought this, Kamla said pointing to her bag. I peered inside. It held a cucumber, two tomatoes and a beetroot. ‘Is it okay?’, She asked. Though I was fuming inside, I said, ‘Perfect……for a salad’.

I am a journalist. And while reviewing a rehabilitation center I  met Kamla. She was a victim of domestic violence. She had been beaten so wildly by her husband that she has lost one eye and her mental balance. The police had rescued her on a complaint of a neighbour on one of her husband’s beating sprees and she had been sent to the center. Now physically she was fine and the center did not know what to do with her.

I was in need of a maid. One who would cook, clean and provide companionship. I opted to take her on. Her husband was still in jail and there was no threat of him to come anytime and demand her presence. Her parents were in Jharkhand and neither were they interested to take her in their care. The center incharge was more than happy to hand Kamala over to me. it was fixed that I would pay Kamala a sum of Rs 1500 every month for her services. My meagre earnings did  not allow  me to give her more. I assured the incharge that I would open a Recurring deposit in her name and the amount would be paid into it.  And then took her home.

The past two weeks has not been easy for me or her. Though I keep assuring her that she is safe here with me. She is perpetually in fear. The whistle of the pressure cooker, the doorbell, the ringtone of my mobile, anything can arouse fear in her and now I am so irritated with her fears that I want to go and beat the hell out of the man who is the reason of these fears. and yes she fears men too…any man. She is afraid of the watchman, the courier boy, the delivery man et all. Now how on earth can I substitute all these men with women.

I am lost in my thoughts when the mobile rings. I pick it up to hear the editor, ‘ Raksha are you my assistant’.

‘Yes’,  I said wondering where the conversation is heading.

‘I sent a package to you, why didn’t you or your help open the door’, he says.

‘Boss, I just returned from the _____ assignment. …..’, I say.

‘What about your househelp’, he says and continues, ‘ Raksha don’t give me lame excuses. I had sent  you a draft which needs urgent editing, now be here in another 30 minutes and pick it up personally’ and slams the phone.

‘Kamla’, I call out trying to be as calm as possible.

She comes and stands before me.

‘When I was not at home, did the doorbell ring?’ I ask.

She nods a yes.

‘Why didn’t you open the door’, I ask

‘Didi, I saw through the peep-hole, it was a big bald man with big moustache and so I did not open the door’, she says.

Kamla, it is Jagdish, he is the peon from my office and he has been here so many times, then why didn’t you open the door’, I scream losing my patience.

She looks at me with tears in her eyes . I leave the matter then and there and rush to go to the office.

‘Maid problems?’ a voice calls when I shut the main door. I move around to see my neighbour Latika.

‘Yes Latika, but I will speak to you later. Right now I have to rush to my office’, I say and run.

Later I call her from office and explain my woes.

‘Listen, she says, ‘I am free in the afternoons, how about me coaching her.’

‘Coaching on what?’, I say.

‘Hmm…life skills, respecting others, recognising good and bad etc…’, she said.

Will you do that Latika….’ I say.

‘For you … I will’, she says.

And from then on the afternoon sessions start.

In some days, I see subtle changes. she is less afraid of using the pressure cooker, she picks the mobile, yes she is still afraid of  opening the door to strangers but I am confident that Latika’s coaching will cure her of this fear too.

‘Thanks a ton Latika, I see visible changes in Kamla now, I tell Latika when I meet her.

‘Oh, she is a lovely lady Raksha, she just needed some patience’, she says.

 

          ***************

Kamla is now a better person, a much confident woman too.  I can concentrate on my job and need not fear about leaving her alone at home. In addition I feel good that there is someone back at home. Yes, she is my family now.

I am relaxing in my balcony when Kamla comes and stands beside me. By her demeanor I can understand that she wants to tell something.

‘What is it, Kamla?’, I ask.

‘I will be quitting this place at the end of this month’, she says

‘Huh’, is all that I can say.

‘I am getting 500 more at the other place’, obviously she knows I can’t pay her more.

‘And yes give my RD passbook when I leave’, she adds.

And goes away.

‘Kamla’, I say finding my voice.

Yes’, she says.

‘Where are you joining’, I say in a  faltering voice.

‘At Latika madams’ she says smilingly and  walks away.

 

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12 thoughts on “‘Maid’ to order

  1. Ha ha ha, that was a cute story with a lovely twist in the end. Latika was not necessarily doing a favor to Raksha but to herself all the while, wasn’t she ? 😀

  2. This story raises many questions.

    Raksha did Kamla a good turn by employing her, but was she paying Kamla less than the market rate?

    Latika did Kamla a good turn by coaching her, but poached her from Raksha. Was this pre-planned, or did Latika think about doing this only after seeing the improvements in Kamla.

    Was Kamla ungrateful to Raksha?

    Don’t many of us pay less than market rate whenever possible, poach our neighbours’ (or competitors’) employees, and switch jobs for better pay packages?

  3. right a good story of positivity but it has negative to it too.. I find Kamla not good at heart, someone who has shown her a new life for the lure of rs 500 extra she is willing to change jobs.. just because she geta a bit confident.

    and the neighbour well she is not doing anything good either in turn she takes away the maid from a FRIEND.. what sort of friendship is that ..

    Well I think this will make Kamla think twice now to help any one else

    but then this is the way of the world ..

  4. ha ha ha.. yes i expected this to happen.. it happens to everyone.. we send the maid to neighbors house for one day, as their maid has not turned up.. and end of the month, very own maid quits to join to the neighbors house.

  5. Aahhh…I have been through this. My neighbour’s mother comes and babysits for her during the day time. This lady would make my maid do all of her household chores from washing, cooking, cleaning, dusting, mopping, and even shopping for milk and veggies just to make life easier for her daughter. Which means my house was left vacant and probably unlocked on many a days. The maid informed me after almost 2 months when this lady did not pay her as promised. Please note all of this was happening without the knowledge of my neighbour who is a lady with enough self-respect (she tries paying for even a few seeds of pepper that she borrowed once). I gave a piece of my mind to the maid and was wondering how to confront the lady. After much thought and deliberation I decided to shame her in front of her daughter. When the daughter arrived I just went up and told her that I had to speak to her mother. When the old woman arrived I politely told her, “Aunty, you could have told me before making my maid work for your house. She’s now demanding the money from me.” She got left, right and center from her daughter and son-in-law who was home at that time. Since that day, this lady doesn’t have the guts to face me.

    In the above story, I feel the maid is not at fault. One should not trust anyone blindly. That’s the lesson I have learnt from life so far.

  6. well i really liked this story because it is more realistic, starting from the Raksha she was keen to help but with minimal prize, the neighbour she helped them both because of her own reasons. And finally the maid, we cant say that she is a bad human being she did it also because of money but also may be Latika helped her also groomed her, so she must be more comfortable in working with her. In all we all do things in life for ourselved, so there shouldnt be any bad feelings between the three. And the twist was great 😀

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