I am stuck in the middle of a serious conspiracy – between my landlady and our common maid. The saas-bahu serial kind. When I saw it happening in front of me, it was surreal. I have spent almost a decade slogging at MBA college and then workplace. How was I to know that saas-bahu soap tactics are actually inspired from real life?
Even though I wasn’t happy with my maid and felt she was a work-shirker, ungrateful despite all the clothes and shoes I had donated to her, I stuck along with her. She worked (or did not work) in my absence – she had the keys, and took liberty to lie and glower at me when I confronted her during our rare Sunday encounters. She was hardly ever bothered if I tried exposing her undisciplined behaviour by pointing out strips of paper and rubbish lying in corners of the house. ‘I cleaned. I don’t know from where all this came’ she would shrug indifferently.
And poor I, a single working girl, did not have the time or guts to search for another one. I doubted I would ever find anyone who would be disciplined enough to work diligently in my absence.
I still don’t understand why the Landlady was suddenly so concerned about the maid not cleaning MY house; why she confronted (she claims) the maid several times for not cleaning my house properly. ‘I saw her. She only did jhaadu. No pochha.’ she said, seriously. The maid’s felony worsened every time we spoke. ‘I saw from my balcony. She did not come to your house at all’.
I was on my alert. Ok, I wanted a maid who would come early morning and finish off work in front of me but the Landlady’s keen interest in my affairs was fishy. I suspected foul play. Such was her keenness in getting the maid removed that she sent another maid to meet me early morning.
I agreed to keep her for a few hundred rupees more. After all, she agreed to work in the morning.
But, on a safe side, I did not refuse Maid 1. I will see how it goes with Maid 2 for 1-2 days and then take a call on Maid 1, I thought.
Landlady had too much on stake, looks like. She dropped over to my place at night asking for status.
‘Decided on something about Maid 1?’ she asked, plopping down on the diwan.
‘Oh yes. The new maid agreed to come in the morning. I will keep her.’ I replied.
‘Good.’ She looked pleased. ‘She is really nice. You don’t have to worry. I have removed Maid 1 totally. She brings her daughter along and she has been stealing stuff. I lost two imported liftic, one Rs. 1,200 worth watch and my bahu’smake-up stuff.’
I tried to look sorry.
‘I immediately thought of you. What if your stuff gets stolen? I will feel so bad!’ she exclaimed.
There is so much junk around my house, I wouldn’t never know if something is lost, I thought. I kept quiet on this.
‘So, you call her immediately and tell her you don’t need her. I don’t want to spoil her reputation but I don’t want thieves to work for me’ she dictated.
I thought this was too much. Landlady’s house is so bare. It’s me who keeps all kinds of cosmetics, shoes and junk jewellery around. I have never seen anything out of place. The maid barely touches my house and leaves in hurry, let alone go through my stuff. Moreover, I didn’t know how to tell her to discontinue politely without hurting.
‘But Aunty, hasn’t she been with you since years? Then, what happened suddenly?’ I asked smoothly.
‘Yes, yes. But now she has changed. Now what to tell you. See, she has not told me anything but I came to know through other maids. Her daughter – yes, that dark girl – has been married twice but got divorced in just 10 days. See?’ she said, looking horrified. ‘What kind of a girl is she?’
There you go. Proper housewives gossip.
‘And then you know what? Now what she says? She wants to marry her Jijaji!’ she paused, waiting for my reaction.
I was clearly horrified. Not because of the unethical act done by the Dark Girl but because I felt cheap listening to such cheap gossip. Is that all that interests these ladies? Is that all they talk about – their maid’s lives? And do domestic complications of the unfortunates affect their employment?
If I were to become a housewife tomorrow, I’d shut myself away from all such ladies and maids. I’d ratherwork on my own.
‘The poor elder sister, who has 3 kids, consumed poison! She said in the whole world did you only spot my husband? Just think. This girl has no morals!’ she tattled on.
These females watch too much TV, I thought. These dialogues have been used in Bollywood since 3 decades.
I wanted to hear no more. This was too low. I couldn’t just sit there listening to unusable gossip that was menial to the extent of being offensive. The scandals presented in daily soaps are just glamorous versions of real life happenings. They pollute our minds and houses.
I am convinced there has been some issue between the maid and Landlady, which has nothing to do with theft or kaamchori. I am sure she has spoken a 100 lies to me. How can a servant shirk work or not work ‘properly’ when the lady of the house is at home, watching her every move? So, they were basically a bunch of lies.
‘Change your lock, so that Maid 1 can’t enter in. I have got another lock.’ Landlady glowers.
‘Errr. I don’t know. I am yet to discuss things with Maid 2. If it doesn’t work out with her, I will be stuck’, I recovered quickly and said.
‘Don’t worry. I will get you another one. Take this lock.’ she gave me an alternate lock.
I was happy with the conversation getting concluded. It had been too much already.
‘I was really concerned about you. Do let me know if you need anything else’ she said while leaving.
No, Aunty. Aapke kaafi upkar haialready, I muttered.
So there I was, victim of scheming ladies’ gossip. I don’t think I can ever learn to tackle their ways!