Maid of Honour

Written By

Krishani Khound

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My sister is a lawyer, who deals in corporate matters. She got the most challenging case of her career recently. Her client is our mother. Here is a rare case where a lawyer has to become charitable and unprofessional. The son of our mother’s maid got into a quarrel with his wife and she filed a police complaint of domestic violence. Now Minoti, the maid, is worried she might get entangled in the case. The chain reaction of the action even affected my mother. What if Minoti goes to jail? She won’t come to work. Thus Maa took the matter in her hands and immediately called her younger daughter to rescue. She ordered, “I don’t know how you do it. Minoti cannot go to jail. She is innocent. It is a matter between her son and daughter in law. If anything happens, you sort it out. Remember I made you a lawyer for this day. Do you understand?” My sister had to understand: for when her domestic help is on leave, she is dependent on Minoti too.

Shrestha, a friend of mine, got married to Gaurav some two years ago. Right after her wedding she was going through the ‘let me try a new recipe’ phase.  Gaurav was happy; like the typical Indian husband being fed with love by the newly wedded wife. But the portion of food on Gaurav’s plate did not appear to be equivalent to the portion of love. Though Shrestha made a good amount, she served Gaurav only a spoonful and whisked the bowl off to the kitchen. Initially he thought, ‘perhaps she is health conscious and doesn’t believe in eating large portions at a time. Perhaps,’ he thought hopefully, ‘she’ll serve the rest of the food tomorrow again’. But it did not happen. Gaurav decided to uncover the mystery of the disappearing food and followed her and the bowl of food to the kitchen one day. He was surprised that Shrestha was serving their maid a plate full of the delicacies, in generous quantities and not bothering to even offer a second helping to him. At night when they were alone in the bedroom he decided to raise the issue. “Our maid is healthier, happier and more taken care of than I am”, he sulked.  Shrestha casually replied, “Good. Then, she will stay with us. It is so difficult to have good and trustworthy help nowadays. If she goes, I will be more pitiable then you are right now.”

Gentlemen, your lady may send a hundred “Missing You“ messages; but rest assured that she misses the maid a thousand times more when she is absent even for a day. We women respect the maid and understand her value too well. She is indeed our true knight in shining armour. In every aspect of life when we fail, she helps us. One day without her, and I feel like the astronauts of Apollo 13 who couldn’t reach the moon and barely managed a return to Earth with practically no oxygen. There are days when she completely irritates me by forgetting things on purpose, breaking an exquisite piece of cutlery or telling a lie for no specific reason. Those days I feel enraged enough to let her go. But soon reality strikes and I realize that I am no superwoman like her. When my sister-in-law was moving abroad her only cause for tension was, ‘How will I manage everything without Her?’

‘Maid in Manhattan’ is a Hollywood dream and for us ‘Maid out is Mad-Hat-On.’

A few days back my dear Nisha looked a bit upset. True to form, I began to speculate that she meant to abandon me in the near future. The saner part of my brain said, maybe someone in her family was not in good health. Maybe she wasn’t feeling well. Maybe there were some family or financial problems. I decided to put an end to my uncomfortable curiosity. I asked, “Is everything alright, Nisha?” She replied, “Nothing serious. My husband is having an affair, I heard. He’s warning me he’ll marry another woman if I object to his excessive drinking.” I was concerned. How could she be so cool? The feminist in me went on to encourage her. I said, “Don’t worry. You are a working, independent woman. You can look after the family and take care of yourself. Who is he to threaten you? If the need arises I will go with you to lodge a complaint or file a case.”

A couple of days later, I found Nisha singing and chopping the vegetables. She told me delightedly, “You know the girl he was having an affair with? She came to my place yesterday with her mother. The mother told me to control my husband. I right away warned her not to dare speak ill about him, standing in my home. He is my husband and I trust him! If my husband goes to her place, she has all the right to give him a tight slap. She went away in anger. Most probably he visited her house and got slapped. Now he is back and showering me with love.”  We laughed. Then she started to blush. She added, “He also told me that I am the best woman in the world for him.”

Though a little taken aback by how accepting she was of her husband’s ‘foibles’, I accepted the fact that each of us was different and approached life’s issues in our own unique way. That day Nisha earned my respect.  I began thinking about her and the other ladies in her profession. How each of these women walk out of their homes every day and work to make our households and lives run easily. She leaves behind her endless mess and worries to earn like every other working woman.

The Maid epitomises fortitude and forbearance; qualities that we would do well to admire if not practice ourselves. I tip my (proverbial) hat to you, Maids of Honour!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am Krishani Khound, an optimist and a coffee lover. Once upon a time, I was a popular Radio Jockey in Guwahati, Assam. Following marriage, I followed Angshuman to the quite little Duliajan, for I idolize Ruskin Bond’s small town life and happiness. I have books to treasure, plants to leisure, calories I do not measure, journeys to enrapture and writing to pleasure. We make memories with them for the sake of old age nostalgia.

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