Thursday, 29 September 2011

Maid In Kenya.

A little girl was once asked by her teacher what she wanted to be when she grew up.The little girl immediately replied that she wanted to be a maid!The teacher was shocked and wanted to know why she had this ambition.The girl answered that she had never seen her mother as happy as she looked every day when she opened the door for the maid!So she,too,wanted to make her mother that happy!
This happiness is true of women all over the world  if they employ daily help,no matter how educated or efficient they might be otherwise.And this joyous feeling becomes multiplied when you have a maid or a 'house girl' as they are called here in Kenya or anywhere in East Africa.
In Kenya,unlike in India,being a house girl is like any other full time job.They come in at 8 o clock sharp in the morning and leave around 5.30 in the evening which are regular office hours.They don their crisp checked uniforms,put a scarf around their head,roll up their sleeves and set to work to transform your house!Paying the minimum wage set by the government is compulsory,else you might be paid a surprise visit by the labour officer!The employer has to give them breakfast and lunch.Sundays are a paid holiday,they get a whole months paid leave once a year and if you call them on public holidays you have to pay them extra for that day!And of course you have to contribute to their social security fund which they get when they leave your employ!In fact,these women hire babysitters for their own children,while they wash and scrub,dust and rub,chop vegetables exquisitely,iron and even shop for you.To say nothing of rolling out the mountains of rotis without which any Indian meal is incomplete!They are as good as the London chars(Flowers for Mrs.Harris,anyone?) except that they work in just one house at a time.Scarlett O'Hara's Mamie often comes to mind as you watch them go placidly about their work.
Now imagine if you offered all these benefits to your poor overworked Laxmi Bai back home in India.She would smell something fishy and run away immidiately,if she didn't faint first!Not only that,she would warn the entire army of maids to keep away from your house painting you as a dubious character who wants to trap maids for nefarious activities!But all said and done,dealing as they have to with a drunken,abusive husband,a brood of children,the pressure to produce a male child,scrimping and scrounging to save to buy a tola of gold for a daughter's wedding and a witch in the guise of a mother in law,while working for a pittence,I feel our maid in India is truly a soni kudiya!(with apologies to Alisha Chinai!)

1 comment:

  1. A revelation indeed.
    Looking forward to reading more of your kenya kronikals.


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