Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The monkey is off my back

After moving to the new house, I had a brilliant brain wave.
I wanted a 24/7 house help. Although both Aman and me work and we spend all day in office, we don’t have any kids and neither do our parents stay with us. But still. I thought it would be great to have someone in the house to completely take care of the place.
Family and friends tried talking me out of this. They had their reasons of security, considering we were not in the house all day. Some spoke of privacy.
I had the basic set up in place. A maid that came and cleaned in the morning, a cook that came and did the cooking at night and an iron fellow who came and took the clothes each day. That’s most a household of 2 needs.

But the stubborn me wanted a 24/7 help. Some fanatical searching did give some results. With help of a friend we found a boy lets call him G who was ready to come and stay with us. I was clear that I didn’t want a girl (security you see) and I didn’t want someone very small.

Now when I saw G for the first time he looked really small. Not more than 12. I was shocked. We asked his parents and they said he was 15 and had been working for 3 years.
It was difficult to believe.

Anyways. I was excited by the idea so I bought their argument. And we got him home. I didn’t do away with any of the existing help. That meant that G had little work. I couldn’t ask him to do any thing. He looked so small. The moment he arrived the discomfort started to seep in. I stated feeling guilty of having a child in the house to do the house work. All my enthusiasm of having a 24/7 help vanished. I felt sick. As if there was this heavy rock on my heart.

And then I couldn’t take it anymore. I called his brother and asked him to come and take G away. All this conspired in the span of 2 days. I had him in my house for exactly 2 days. Third day his brother came and argued as to how G was 15 years old and that he has been working for 3 years and has been doing a lot of work. Whatever said and done, even if he was 15 he was still a child and I didn’t want to get into it. My conscience was getting killed. I said sorry, gave him some extra money and sent him off.

Ps: All this happened about 3 weeks back. This post has been in drafts since then. I couldn’t bring myself to post it. I am guilty of having him in my house for even 2 days. But then this space is my mirror. And putting it here means I have done peace with myself. Please be kind to me.


Monika said...

hmmm 24*7 house helps are always tough to handle more so of they are very young... i kept one when Ojas was born and my funda was clear she should atleast be 18yrs... my maids brought lot of girls who they claimed were 18 but looked only 10-12, the parents would argue no end that they can do good work etc but I put my foot down...

but girl why do u need a 24*7 help with two people????

mindspace said...

hmmm.. good decision finally. ya, you really dont need a full time help at this stage my dear! n from the subject i was getting ready to read another 55 word fiction :P

now do post the much awaited new house post for which u built the excitement earlier..

Mumbai Diva said...

I know what you mean, sweetie. Even we toyed with the idea. Apart from the cooking/cleaning I wanted someone who would do the extras....folding clothes, putting the bedroom in order, etc etc. I then realized it's all about the money. Be generous with payment, be nice to them and even one part timer is enough. I have one girl who comes in. She was with me even in my earlier house. I went with her got her bus pass made and now she travels to bandra. She comes in the morning, we leave, she finishes all the work and leaves later after locking up the place. She has only one key to the latch and not to the Godrej lock. So security wise also this is fine. And she does EVERYTHING. I even bought her a new purse so she can travel in style! God bless her, really.

Iya said...

@ Monika - I want someone 24/7 to keep my house in order.. I hate house work and I hate seeing my house unkempt.. So it’s a catch 22 situation for me..

@ Tara - house post.. Not getting myself to do it.. And now that u r waiting I am feeling the pressure too..

@ Mumbai Diva - u have exactly written what I am looking for.. U know someone to keep the home prim and proper.. The problem is the maid comes in the morning and only does as much in an hour before even we leave for work.. I am not comfortable with leaving my keys either..
U help sounds like a dream..

chandni said...

In the current stay arrangement where we live in a flat, I just can't beqr the thought of a 244/7 help as its so invasive!

If it was a small town where the we had a proper house I'd have done it...but abhi I am happy with the morning maid who comes and cleans up....I cook in the evening and till now, between the two of us, ots working ok!

Masood said...

You child labor employer!!!!

You have sinned. Go to the Himalayas for a 40 day sanyas. Only then shall you be cleansed.

hehe...kidding. Chill lady. It's alrite as long as you had it all figured out. And you are not to blame. Domestic help in India largely comprise of boys or girls below the age of 18.

mindspace said...

no pressure dahling.. take ur time... i am just being vella n eager :)

Smitha said...

Oh you did the right thing! It is so difficult isn't it - when they claim to be older than they are..

As for the need of a full time person - I totally agree - I think its absoltely essential - there is so much that needs to be done - even for 2 people..

Pinku said...

Iya, thanks for putting this up. every time I am late at work...a 24/7 help becomes a cherished dream...someone who could keep the food warm and atleast make us some fresh rotis etc.

I am glad you did what you did.

(share some new home pics please)

Mama - Mia said...

i think 24/7 maids are a pain even if you have a kid and more work at home! i am quite happy with the Amma who comes to take care of cubby and does all this upar ka kaam as well. before that just the reg maid! am hoping to get a cook now tho!

you did the right thing! :)



Just call me 'A' said...

Putting it here babes..means you've forgiving yourself for hiring a small boy.
I don't like the idea of 24/7. It has it's small luxuries but then over time it does get annoying too. When I used to live back home...long long long time ago we did have 24/7 help. over time, these people tend to take advantage of you, they are always around when you want time alone and then they have visitors too!
I prefer the part time help. give them a little more money and they'll do more. My maid back in India would come help out when i have parties or guest over.
Anyways, I'm glad you let the boy go...I was feeling sorry for him while reading the post, althought I know he'll go work at someone's elses house if not yours

~anu~ said...

dont stress yourself anymore, you did the right thing. besides, it is not a great idea unless there is someone who is trusted and has been around for sometime.

Mampi said...

hope the guilt pangs are over by now.

Solilo said...

How about an older woman from your hometown? So that the lady doesn't have any contacts with locals you know safety and also stays with you 24/7 for all the help?

Anonymous said...

That is nice decision. But what next ?

Indyeah said...

The fact that you have put it here is good by itself:)
It happens all the time and yeah this confusion over age led to some dissapointment and feelings of guilt here at my place did fine...SOlilo's suggestion is good...thats what I have seen some friends do and its working out okay for them...

Deeps said...

You did the right thing to send the little boy back.I'm sure you must be feeling a lot better now:)
You're a kind hearted soul,Iya:)

How do we know said...

first, good decision.
Second, my input is likely to be pricky, but as my maid says everytime i tell her i want an old enough person for work. she says "dont the younger ones have a stomach to feed?" and then ithnk - what are their chances in a place outside? I saw my maid's house yesterday.. am yet to get over the experience.

Net net, there are 2 sides to every coin, and am glad that you did what u were ok with..

Imp's Mom said...

good decision...24/7 help has its pro's and cons...and its worse esp when u have an underage kid at home... but the harsh reality is some body else will employ him!

at the end of the day our conscience has to be clear! and I'm glad you sent him away and are at peace with it..

Shruti SriHarsha said...

good one lady!

Kanupriya said...

Hmmm...why r u feeling guilty? U did perfectly right by not keeping him. His parents must be lying to get some money through him. And I don't think you need to have a 24x7 help in your current set-up...such helps are more of hassles esp. from privacy point of view.

Anonymous said...

Why didnt this strike you on day "1" ??? Itz so very obvious not to go for "child labour".

Jagjit said...

That's a right decision. Take care.

Iya said...

@ Chandni – Even we live in a flat but its pretty spacious. My idea of help was where I wouldn’t do anything.. But ya, u r right, with just me and Aman in the house most of the time any extra person contributes to crowd..

@ Masood – u r mean.. And its true domestic help in India is far too young.. I have given up by the way..

@ Mindspace – now u being nice is also making me feel guilty.. i guess I am on a major guilt track..

@ Smitha – even I feel a full time help is essential. But yes privacy does go for a toss.. I have dropped the idea for the time being

Iya said...

@ Pinku – it’s a catch 20 situation, full comfort vs full privacy

@ Abha – Thanks, I have a ok arrangement now. A maid and cook.. which means I too have to do some small chores.. but its ok I guess

@ A – I am sure he will be working somewhere and its only a guess how those people will treat him.. its a sad state of affairs we are in
But I am glad I sent him..

@ Anu – ya, back home things are different… I shall wait for a 24/7 help till I have a bigger family

Iya said...

@ Mampi – getting there babe

@ Solilo – no one is ready to come all the way to b’lore from Ranchi…

@ Hobo – to do some work on my own.. what else

@ Indeyeah – thanks, I have dropped the plan for a while now

Iya said...

@ Deeps – thanks ya..

@ How Do We know – what ur maid said is true.. its sad.. we talk about child labor.. the fact of the matter is for them there isn’t an alternative.

@ Imp’s Mom – what u say is what I felt.. I knew he will work somewhere but I somehow couldn’t let him work for me

@ Shruti – thanks

Iya said...

@ Kanu – for me it’s a catch 20 situation.. i hate to see my house dirty and hate to do house work.. That’s y the idea of having 24/7 help

@ Anonymous – it didn’t and that’s why this post is here

@ Jagjit – Thnaks.. Putting it here made me feel better.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Think all of us have these dilemmas - my maid used to get her daughter along as well - ten or eleven year old girl and it kept on niggling until one day i told her to stop. she told me she works at other places, and i guess i dont have control over that- but i guess at the end of the day one's conscience needs to be clear.

Anonymous said...

Brave move. Putting this up. Our maid started bringing her 10 yr old niece with her for company and soon the niece started doing the bulk of the household work! It took us a week or two to realise this and we had to fire the maid at the end of that, feeling guilty as hell. So don't worry, hota hai. :)

Avaran said...

why dont you get a lady who's like really old? in fact i think theyr th safest to have around, and they are more helpful, kind and capable (in terms of cooking)

Nautankey said...

Good thing you undid you mistake.There was this very tragic thing I came across in my aunt's house @ siliguri[W.Bengal].Most of the servant maids were bangladeshi/nepali immigrant girls who are less than 15.I tried to argue with my aunt but when she said abt these girls being sold off to flesh trade if they cant make their families meet ends,I seriously felt this is heaven for them.And my aunt n few ladies from neighborhood were taking some basic hindi,english classes to those kids to keep her conscience clean :).. Still not sure if having them as maids was a fair thing though

Indian Home Maker said...

So now you know Iya what I mean by your strong conscience?

I am not entirely clear about what is the right thing to do here. Sometimes life at their home is hell, in many situations, the child might be happier with a family who cares for his health, nutrition and some basic education ...

Iya said...

@ Cynic – ultimately we are accountable for what we do..u r right, we don’t have control over what happens at other places but atleast we can avoid the same happening at our end

@ Ki – Welcome to my blog Ki.. and thanks.. brave, yes.. but it was needed..

@ Avaran – whats the point in having someone really old.. making her work will send me on another guilt trip

@ Nautankey – In this case I think what ur aunt is doing is not wrong.. at least this way these grils have a safe home… i wish things were fair for these young kids as well.. in the age when they deserve to study here they are thinking about how to save their flesh.. will times ever change..
Welcome to my blog.. see you around

@ IHM – u always make me feel so good..
Y cant things be as they should be.. why cant we have free education, food and health facilities for all our children.. why do we have to make this choice of giving them a home and food in return of them cleaning our houses?? We are spending Rs. 10000 crore on the elections.. even a small kid can come up with better ways to utilize this amount.

Meira said...

Came across your blog via labnol. Nice place here.:)
I got married recently, so the idea of a full time maid was tempting. But we've now got one who comes thrice a day (we leave the keys with her and lock one room that has all the valuables).
Is working so far. :)

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Swaram said...

Oh ofcourse we hv to be kind to u Iya. In the first place, u wanted someone who is older and then u also dint give him work and sent him away with money :)

And abt a 24x7 help, I know it all depends on what each person likes :)
If u dont like doing the work and u want someone to keep ur house clean, its totally valid u hv one, whether there are 2 ppl staying or 6 :) To each his own - why do ppl dictate one hard and fast rule for everyone :)