Day today started with the usual drill. Silencing the alarm with barely an eye open, leaving the warmth of my bed, sitting up for a minute to gather up all my strengths, lifting my heavy feet to leave the room because Mr.kitchen was calling my name to prepare my son’s lunch. Then waking him up, getting him ready for school, seeing him off with his father and returning to my room to tidy it up. Musing between having another brief round of sleep or remaining awake to welcome my maid, I decided the latter.
Scrolling between the television channels for time killing purpose I glanced up at my clock and it showed 10.30am. The exact time when she shows up daily.
Expecting my doorbell to ring any second from now, I sat upright and all ready to receive her with an inner mocking voice “han han ao tou sahi. Bohot kaam parey hain tumhare liye”..
Dismissing it with a complete nod of my head and laughing at myself for this evil-ish thought I made a virtual list of tasks in my mind that needed to be completed by my house help. Suddenly I realized it has been a little up than 10.30am. Caught between slight horror and brief shock of panic, I again checked the time.
11 am!! 30 mins past the time she usually shows up!!
My heart thudded minorly but I assured myself saying “abi aati he hogi. Dair se nikli hogi shayad. Thori dair aur intezar karlu”. The clock kept on ticking with minutes turning to 1 hour and then two and it (my wall clock) continued bawling at me the entire time. Walking sluggishly, I peeped into my kitchen to examine about all the ifs, buts and thens and what I felt right after was my heart throbbing, legs shaking, hands trembling and myself feeling sheepish from head to toe at the sight of the kitchen sink overloaded with dirty utensils because “bartan dhona” is the last task I would like to perform before dying but however, I do it when needed.
Again comforting myself with the words “thori dair aur wait kar k dekh leti hu”, I munched on a granola bar because it didn’t require another plate off shelf and falsely because “ek plate bachane se bohot farq par jaega jese”..
The clock struck 12:00 pm!
With an utter disbelief and hasty glance of these digits at my mobile screen (because I found the wall clock to be staring and laughing at me with a big wide mouth) , I stood up assuring myself its time now and advanced towards the kitchen reluctantly touching the first dirty dish and scrubbing it with a faint hope still somewhere inside me saying “Shayad aa jae”.
The time as it stops for no one kept on passing and all dishes were finally done washing. With shabby hands and a sigh from somewhere deep down in my heart, the kitchen slabs and stove was then cleaned, the floor mopped and dishes arranged on shelves. Leaving the kitchen I finally whispered to myself “And Alas! She didn’t come today”. Only if she could have informed earlier and I had been mentally prepared for this kind of unexpected start to my day.
Relishing the lavishness according to one’s affordable limits, having a domestic helper for your home now has become a necessity rather than a luxury as it was once assumed. And even now, many Pakistanis living abroad long for this because of expensive manual labor outside Pakistan. Memories of the distributed house chores between me, my mother and sisters are still fresh in my mind from our time back in Muscat bacause hiring a maid was expensive and minorly because my father is of the thinking “Larkiyo ko sab kaam aney chaiye ta k waqt parne pe koi mushkil na ho”. Which I after having a son believe equally important for boys too and already talked about that in my blogpost ‘breaking the stereotype’. Kher, coming towards the context, we had days and timings fixed with alotted duties to the three of us and me sometimes enjoying the perks of being the eldest would bribe my sisters to do my part.
Being married in Pakistan, we already had a domestic help and my family shifting back to Pakistan afterwards, the first thing my mother did was hiring a maid she most longed for living abroad. And now on my daily calls to Ammi when I don’t get to visit her the first question we mutually ask is “Aaj Shahida ai thi?”, “Han ai thi tumhari taraf Tahira ai?” As if maid na hui koi ghar ka fard hogai jiski kheriat maloom karna is so mandatory!
This surely indicates our maids being an integral part of our households with a prominent importance to be asked for and being worried about if they don’t show up.
However they are also humans and no robots. They may need a day or two off for any xyz reason which can be overlooked on humanitarian grounds. 🙂
Had a day without your maid?
I will be glad knowing your experiences with the house chores.