The one person whose role was restricted to washing utensils and sweeping/mopping the house- in the past only a few who could afford having a maid hired her. The scene has changed drastically. You will hardly find a single household who doesn’t employ a maid. From cleaning utensils and sweeping/mopping and washing clothes, she has been promoted to a cook, a person who manages all odd jobs like cutting veggies, folding clothes, dusting furniture, a nanny at times- her role has indeed transformed big time.
She definitely deserves an ode- an interview which looks at her life through her eyes.
- Your role has evolved big time over the years, how do you feel about it?It feels good to see that we have become such an integral part of people’s life. As soon as a new family or bachelors move in, the first question they ask is “Achi Bai mileage kya?” In the earlier times as most women stayed at home, they did the housework by themselves. But trends are changing now. With so many of them working, they need a helping hand. It feels good to see we are in demand. WE can call the shots at times. By threatening to leave if we are ill treated. There is no dearth of jobs. We don’t have to worry about recession or layoffs.
- People grumble you take too many leaves and give no prior intimation at times. Don’t you think you need to be more professional with changing times– Arree everyone takes these false sick leaves right, so why not us? I usually inform my employers in advance if I am taking a few days of vacation or extended leave and also arrange for one of the other bai to fill me in. Rather than asking me to be professional, don’t you think as employers you should formulate a certain number of sick days, privilege leave and casual leave for us. You think about it now
- What are your views about “period leave”- everyone is going gung ho about it. What do I say now? These ladies are priveleged. My DIL is merely 22 years old, she underwent a miscarriage. With a bleeding uterus, she went to work and toiled the whole day. Washing vessels, clothes in cold water. Then she came home and cooked for the family. I do not expect such privileges, we are used to working hard, braving all odds. But it would be good if some of these memsaabs could show some kindness when we tell them that we have a terrible back ache or stomach pain. They usually think we are faking it. Mrs Mehra of 13th floor is such a ruthless one- she was busy talking about some “nari shakti” (women empowerment) sXXX to her friends. Not a drop of mercy she showed to her 9 month pregnant maid who was struggling to mop the floor.
- What are your dreams for your children. Looking at the luxuries in the homes of people you work for, you must be yearning for a better life for your people. Of course did who doesn’t want to get out of this rut. Life is not easy for the memsaabs too. They work in office then come home and need to spend time with their kids. But at least they don’t have to come back to their own house and do all the work that they did in the past 8 hours again. We need to do this for our own people- imagine how tiring it is. I hope my kids have a better future, but we are content with our life now. We have a hand to mouth existence but we are happy under this thatched roof, sharing bhakri and mirchi for dinner. Looking at my Saabs and meemsaabs, they look lesser happy though have every comfort in life.
- A good gesture by any Saab/memsaab that brightened your day? One of these memsaabs Brinda who is a writer and writes lot of things which people read, wrote about me recently. She told me that it was called “A working mom no one talks about”. Many people liked it and she even won an award for it. I felt happy to be addressed as a working mom. Feels good.
This post has been inspired by Ratnamala Maushi, Basamma and the scores of maids I have met. Though their role in my house has been limited to sweeping/mopping and bathing my baby till she was 4 months old, we share a bond which is much beyond the daily job. They inspire me by their resilience and the way they take on each day with a. smile on their face despite their challenging circumstances.