Every time our maid takes off without compunction or notice for valid and invalid reasons, I promise to buy myself an Aladdin’s lamp. The genie would solve all my problems. However, that has remained in the domains of wishful thinking so far.
I have often wondered if the brainy Jeeves could materialise and shimmer in to do my chores with the same élan with which he helps his young master sail through troubles. Yet, the mere memory of his subtly sly ways to achieve his agenda at any cost makes me think twice about my choice.
I remember what Letitia Baldrige once said, “When in doubt, look at what everyone else is doing.” Since I know that practically everyone in my radar is bearing crosses of different densities on maid miseries, I practically have nowhere to look. So, I decided to travel down the aisles of history and literature and tried to figure out what has gone wrong collectively with our generation of employers of domestic help? Why is it that we are not able to awaken a spirit of loyalty amongst our helpers like our ancestors did?
We certainly do not expect the likes of Panna Dai, the nursemaid, who quietly replaced her own bundle of joy in the place of the baby prince of Mewar only to be killed mercilessly. Nor do we expect a reliable slave like Jamal-ud-din Yaqut who stood by Razia Sultana through thick and thin. I am sure that none of us expects the cruel alacrity displayed by Malik Kafur in the movie Padmaavat when he killed two royals in response to a question that was mouthed in half-jest by his brand new master.
Following a feudal system or enslaving individuals or practising bonded labour is completely unthinkable, for the law of the land forbids it. Movies, soap operas and novels which showcase “old faithful” do not seem to have inspired the blue collared lot, nor has all the entertainment been able to educate employers on the secret of retaining employees successfully. Common sense quotients like regular increments, generous gifts, timely loans and advance payments do not seem to change their ideas of accountability.
House helps have become a tribe who can be loved or hated but can never be ignored. It will certainly do us a world of good when we accept that they are also people like us and they do need to take off. Never mind if they disappear way too often. So the long and short of it is to just figure out a way to function well in their absence. Then, watch out for Zen-like calmness that will ensconce your person once you get into the ‘swalpa adjust madkoli’ mode!