Open letter to my maid

image from here

image from here

My dear Maid, 

I know guys don’t write letters to maids and they definitely don’t call them ‘dear’ and I hope you do not take offence in me addressing you as someone who is dear to me. So help me God. I have seen women write incessantly about the love-hate relationship they share with their maids but guys usually shy away from it. I blame our system for it, much like Rahul Gandhi. We are not supposed to feel affectionate towards our maids. I am breaking the barriers here and that is why it is so important for me to call you ‘dear’. It is not a word, it is a hammer and I am using it to break the wall and show my gratitude to all the lovely ladies who have worked in my house over the years. 

Let me begin by saying that I was brought up with a sense of being higher up in the pyramid of society. My grandma used to keep a separate plate and glass for you to eat breakfast and drink the tea she provided with a sense of charity. We were not supposed to touch those utensils and it was blasphemy to eat in your plate or drink water in your glass. You were supposed to be a lower class nobody who could never be satisfied with what has been given to her and your whole community was supposed to be like you. Well, let me tell you dear, that the phoniness of this unabashed display of superiority pissed me off as a kid and I gleefully indulged in numerous acts of blasphemy when I ate in your plate and drank water from your glass, much to the utter shock of my grandma.

Dear maid,

I remember so many unintentional hilarious and sad incidents involving you that I have lost count. So, thank you for the doses of laughter and the pauses of pondering I have collected over the years. I remember, when grandma in her rare moods of philanthropy, started teaching you the Hindi alphabets. I was surprised to know that you could not read or write. I was young. And then, grandma and you reached the alphabet ‘sh’. She would say ‘Sh se Shatkon’ and you would say ‘Sa se Satkon’ and it went for such a long time that I thought that only a calamity like grandma grinding all her teeth to dust or an astroid hitting the Earth could possibly stop the loop. And your name was Geeta which is one of the many ironies of life. Then you transformed into Bhagwanti. You were usually beaten blue and black by your husband when you came to work. You were 2D thin. I always wondered how much endurance you had for doing such physically challanging work when half of your body was swelling with pain. You made me laugh by the way you cleaned the utensils with all your might as your sari danced like waves with your movements. Then you turned into Sheila, who used to steal spoons for reasons I could not understand. It was hilarious because once mom caught you while you were trying to hide a spoon in your salwar. You said that you were itching terribly and merely rubbing the spoon over your skin. Then you turned into wide-eyed Sampa who would, in excited shrieks, tell her sisters over the phone that you went to the mall with us and saw a movie in the theatre and had chow mein in the food court. 

Dear Maid,

I know sometimes people are ruthless and you end up doing more than you could endure. You are constantly pestered at times, even when you are doing fine. Sometimes, you rebel and then you are told that you belong to a category of society that can never be thankful for what is being given to them. Have you noticed the crazy flip-flop of hatred and harmony you experience with a family? At one hand, you are sitting with them and having tea in your designated cup, telling them the story of your life and how miserable everything is, expecting some gift on Diwali and New Year and on the other hand you are blamed for being lazy and not doing things properly. How do you handle such relationships when you are at the receiving end? Of course, you grin and bear it, just like all of us who take shit from people above us in the pyramid, conveniently forget it and do exactly the same to the people below us.

Dear Maid,

I would like to thank you. Thank you for cleaning my room, my wash-room, my clothes, my utensils. Thank you for dusting my house, for making the food, for folding my clothes, for making tea for me, for being there. I know it would be impossible to survive without you. I know everyone knows that, no matter how high in the air their nose is, no matter how much difficult they find it to give you a raise which is equal to the price of a plate of chicken tikka kabab in a mall. 

And in the end, a small note for my present dear Maid –

It has been a month since your mother-in-law died. I know you have no love for her (and I am quoting my mom here), but you have already extended your 15 days break to 30 days. Yes, unbelievable as it may sound, my household has been operating sans you for a month now. It is a miracle and we are enduring one day at a time but a day does not pass when we don’t remember you. What you have done is unprofessional but it is OK. As always, mom will forgive you after giving you a nice piece of her mind. And then everything will be as it always was. It has nothing to do with the pyramid, believe me. So, you should return now. We are somehow, barely holding the fort but we need reinforcements. We have never told you how important you or your successor (who might be a reality soon) are to us and that is what this letter intends to tell you in addition to the fact that we are dying without you.

Thank you,

A humble dependant.

p.s. I will be a bit erratic for a while on my blog and all the amazing blogs I regularly read because I am working on my second book. Please forgive me.

55 comments on “Open letter to my maid

  1. 1 month and 4 days itsis with me and so I could relate to this post very very deeply. All said and done, the reality is none of us are super humans and need their help day in and day out. It has been crazy for the entire family, especially the kids and hence we too are on a maid hunt this week. But the commission of the agent makes you think twice about quitting your job and sitting at home. Best of luck with your maid hunt. Missed your writing for a while now. Good to have you back. Hope the book is on track. 🙂

    • It is so good to know that there is someone more tormented than us. 😛
      I know. They are an essential part of our lives and we should all treat them as one. They are practically doing everything for us.
      Book is on track. I am 50% through. The real work begins once the first draft is ready. 🙂

  2. Dear Amit’s maid, please return, and failing which, dear Amit’s current maid’s replacement, do take your post in his house. We need more blogs from him. Dear My Maid, please don’t go AWOL like this, ever. I’ll die.

  3. Whoa what a post! Can relate to every bit of it. I hope your present maid returns soon or you find a successor! May lord give you strength enough to run the Sharma fort for the time being. Amen!

  4. Great post. Ghar ghar ki kahani, really. But after reading this, one wonders who to be sorrier for. For us or for the maid?

    • It is a circle. We have to feel sorry for both the parties. It is like after watching ‘Jai Ho’ you have to feel sorry for both Bollywood and Indians.

  5. Really missed your posts, Amit.. and second book…wow…that is so nice to hear..keep going.
    Hmmm..no maids here…:( but for all the maids who served us over the years, hats off to them…seriously without them, we would have been late to colleges, late for tuitions, late for gossiping with friends
    Hoping your current maid will come back soon 🙂

    • Thank you Latha! 🙂
      Yeah, I thought that it will take almost a year for the first one to be in the market, so I will write another in the meanwhile. God know how long it will take with a kid in the picture.
      When we were in UK, we had to do all the work and it was a nightmare. We are not cut out for that kind of life. 😛
      Thank you. We hope so too!

  6. Nicely penned, Amit! Please give writing your blogs even if erratically. I miss them. I also wrote the post in honour of Her Highness recently. But my patience ran out after a week. So there is a new one. Let us see how that goes.

    • Thank you Rachna! Yes, I will try my best. My office and travelling taken up a lot of time and after Anika, things are a bit hectic. That is why I am not able to do blogging and writing together. I don’t like this arrangement but that is how things stand. 😦

  7. Lol!! Nicely done Amit! And what’s with maids and spoons eh?!
    We had 2 such maids over a period of time!!
    And all the very best for your second book 🙂

  8. You inspire me to write my own woes with maids. God but I’ve had a lot of them! I never realized!

    There was one maid I will never forget. She was simply wonderful. She got cancer and just disappeared on day even though we told her we’d take care of her. We looked for her high and low but she was too proud to leave any way for us to find her. I miss her terribly. I must write about her. Thank you.

    • I know! When I started counting the number of maids we had over the years, I ran out of fingers. No one stays forever.
      Bhagwanti was somewhat like the maid you have mentioned. She never allowed mom to interfere in her matters even though her husband was beating her regularly.

  9. hmmm.. Ok let me confess that I had cried so many days when my Maid didnt turn up, I had loads to dishes to wash and get ready for my work on time. And shamlessly used paper plates and ordered food from outside, as i couldnt do the cleaning part with out help.. 🙂

    • I understand all that. If I would have been living alone I would have done the same. Thankfully, we divide a lot of work and things are manageable.

  10. I so hear you!! Each morning we have to call our maid to plead to come to work, but my MIL will NEVER ever fire her! God only knows why! 😛

    And plz do try posting regularly! The new year is almost ‘old’ now and this is your 1st post of 2014 😉

    • Till my grandma was alive, she was a terror amongst the maids. They used to run away after a few weeks. 🙂
      Let me finish the first draft, then I will be more regular here. There is too much in my plate right now.

  11. Thank you for putting into words my life’s experiences with my maids through the years. I still feel a sense of loss when I remember the tearful parting (with a hug!) two years ago when I moved away from Gurgaon. She was always smiling, called me didi, was called didi by my children. She knew I trusted her, when she asked for days off, to return on the designated date and she always did. She is a gem and I hope that the other family is showing her the love and respect she deserves. We miss her every day – not for the chores she did, but for her cheerful presence.

    • Thank you for liking the post Ms. We haven’t come across any maid with whom the bond was this strong but yes, after a while they do become a part of the family. Goodbyes are always difficult.

  12. What do with them, what do we do without them? More appropriately, what do we do WITHOUT them? You have summed up the current domestic situation of many a family and the ubiquitous maid beautifully. Enjoyed reading it.

  13. Dear home help, What if middle class Indians start doing their own dishes, clothes, bathrooms, toilets and floors? What’s funny? This isn’t a joke. Why are you laughing so hard?

  14. Unrelated to the post… here is something from NYT that might interest you:

    A study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year, surprised many, precisely because it went against the logical assumption that as marriages improve by becoming more equal, the sex in these marriages will improve, too. Instead, it found that when men did certain kinds of chores around the house, couples had less sex. Specifically, if men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming — the kinds of things many women say they want their husbands to do — then couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car. It wasn’t just the frequency that was affected, either — at least for the wives. The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.

  15. Hey missed your writing and eagerly awaiting your first book. (Erm… you’re not an IIT-an I hope?)
    We four friends stay together and had a maid for the last 3 yrs (for cleaning house, washing up & cleaning bathroom & balcony not for cooking). But this time NY resolution was to do away wth this luxury and try managing everything ourselves. SUCCESS so far 😀
    But yea… can imagine how much of a nightmare it can be in a family with a kid! Hope your maid comes soon.
    ps- Knew a maid with a fetish for spoons 😀

    • Haha! No I am not an IIT-an. 😀 The book will hopefully be out by the end of this year.
      Where do you even get the stamina to do the daily chores after a day’s work?
      The maid came back finally and everything is back to normal. 🙂

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