“The baai’s daughter is getting married. She is off to her village!”
The above piece of news fell upon our quiet, South Delhi household like a rumble of fast approaching thunder. The baai (housemaid) in question has been employed with us for over a year and apart from a generous quota of casual and sick leaves, has been fairly reliable. The daughter isn’t really of ‘marriageable age’, by today’s more liberal standards, but there is a history behind rushing her to marriage. It seems marriage is the best option to brush off unnecessary affairs with less-than-suitable suitors. Anyhow, the point is, our baai will be on earned leave for at least a month and a half and that leaves our household in a state of utter disarray.
Don’t get me wrong; none of us at home have a single lazy bone. My Granny is among the most industrious ladies you can come across. She singlehandedly managed cooking for the family for decades till Grandpa forced her to hire a cook. Even now, she will not let the cook prepare chicken curry for that is a sacrosanct. No one can cook the said curry like Granny does and that remains true no matter what credentials the cook may boast of. But I digress. Even with the combined efforts of my little family, there are several chores almost impossible to fulfill given a working week and other challenges. When baai doesn’t turn up, the front courtyard has to do without a wash, the pile of utensils in the kitchen too much of a bother to constantly clean. With baai here, the air is resplendent with the aroma of freshly laundered clothes. Occasionally, the menagerie of soft toys gets a bath. Life is beautiful.
The jobs market for temporary baais isn’t bright for recruiters. There aren’t many willing to take up the job. “You will tell me to go when she is back.”, “Do you agree to pay me three months salary in advance?” and “Will I have to do both the clothes and the utensils?” are some of the interview highlights. Needless to say, we eventually chucked the interviews altogether.
Not that our baai didn’t try to help us out here. One fine day, she brought along a pretty young girl, with her hair done up in a neat ponytail. “She will fill in for me until I return.” our baai announced. The pretty girl scanned the house from top to bottom, nodded to all that was said and refused pointblank to work at the salary we were offering her. This, of course, after our baai left for the day.
As things stand, we are without a baai starting tomorrow. If we are lucky, the one and a half months of leave should end at the two months mark. The hunt for a substitute is on, though things don’t look too promising. Really, the very thought of a dusty sofa, unwashed plates and greasy floors make me squirm. Suddenly, they seem much more important than fiddling about with my keyboard, working on whatever story. Sigh! This will be one long summer.
Baais should never say bye. Err, excuse me.
NOTE: Any noble soul who can give me leads in recruiting a new employee receives a special treat! 🙂