Of house help and inner self..

The initial plan was that once K turns 6 months old , i will join work and opt for a project which allows me to operate from home. the “opt” part needs to be highlighted here, because I was just wishing that luck favors me and i can be with my daughter and still working. Keeping this in mind, I started looking out for a full time maid who would take care of K while i would be busy staring at my laptop or listening to never ending con-calls.

After some searching, we managed to hire a maid who would stay with us from 8 in the morning till 5 30 or so, and would primarily take care of K. Since my plan was to join work from Oct, i thought bringing her on board from Aug itself, as it would give her time to understand the baby, and K would also get use to her. However, man proposes, God disposes happened, and it so happens that i will not be able to operate from home; hence will have to take leaves ( kind of sabbatical) if i wish to look after my baby. So my long leave has started (How long is yet to be decided, but as of now i am at home playing a full time mommy)

So for the past 20 something days Poonam is with us. She is a 14 years old girl, 7th or 8th of her nine siblings, most of whom are girls.  her other 2-3 sisters also look after kids of working moms. She has never been to school and can not read and write. Anyway, that’s material for some other post. Now, since I am at home and plan to be at home in the near future also, Poonam’s role becomes redundant. However, since i have not yet decided on the future course of action, as in whether to keep her or not, these days she generally takes care of the various house chores, involving dusting, helping me with baby’s work, cleaning the far nook and corners of the house, running other such errands etc. Since after all this work also, she has plenty of free time at our place, i asked her to get some books, so that i could teach her basic maths, reading etc. She somehow does not seem to be interested in it, and rather prefers sitting in the balcony and staring at the traffic or sleeping for an hour or so…anyway, after multiple reminders, i have now stopped asking her.

While Poonam’s being around makes my life quite comfortable, as our home is clean and tidy without any peck of dust ALL the time; I do not have to call at shops to deliver stuff; all laundry folding etc is also taken care by her…so I pretty much have nothing major to do. This arrangement does give me lot of luxury, but at the same time, there is something about this system that makes me uncomfortable. Somewhere deep inside every time i ask this girl to do some work, there is a small part of me which feels bad…as in i feel as if I am exploiting this girl…as if i am using my power over her, the power which i have by being economically more sound than her….i mean i am not sure if i am being able to express it, but there is something which just does not feel right.  Yes, i pay her and pay her handsomely, but i feels strange when she asks me while cleaning – “Bhabhi ye cream/ lotion/ earrings etc..fenk doon?” and i tell her to take it for her. My dressing table is full of stuff which i keep buying and never use, and she gets excited when i handover stuff to her which i just want to get rid off.

I have  two other maids also, one cook and a cleaning lady. But surprisingly i have never felt the same way with them. May be because they come only for an hour or so and my interaction with them is very limited. Also, i can and will never have time and energy to do stuff which they do for me that is cleaning and cooking. But Poonam does all that work which till few days back i was doing on my own, and have always been doing myself…may be this is the reason.

I do not want to elaborate through this post the difference between rich and poor etc and how with every passing the day this gap is increasing in our country. But i had never imagined, that such feelings would creep in my mind when my situation forces me to come face to face with such individuals.

Whatever it is, on the face of it..i guess i am not very comfortable facing this huge gap between have and have nots every single day in my home. Though her presence has made my life very comfortable, but i am not very sure for how many more days i will have her around. The reason will always be that since i am at home now hence i do not need anyone else to look after the baby, but deep within i know that along with that i am not very comfortable having a so less privileged person around me all day..who keeps reminding me of the huge gap between us and the other less fortunate beings around.

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4 thoughts on “Of house help and inner self..

  1. Perhaps one of the reasons you feel the way you do is because she is only 14? That is really underage and considered child labour, no? I wonder if there is anyway you can help it though..

    • Hmm…the only help i can offer her is teaching her basic reading and writing. Somehow she is too lazy to study i guess…lets see how things unfold…

  2. Great post !!..Everything has a good and a bad side. You are fortunate to live in a country where you can afford to have maids contrary to NRIs. Another aspect is that we Indians are so much based on this cheap service which has lead us to feel helpless, if they are not around. Well that’s all part and parcel of life. Decide with an open mind whether you need her or not ?

    Love
    Shilpi
    http://www.pinkjasminestyling.com

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