Last week, as I sat to have my hair done at one of the salons in Blantyre’s Ginnery Corner, I was privileged to listen to some conversation that left me stunned. If at all one wants to hear about the latest gossip, hair salons are the best places to be. The gossip usually ranges from love affairs by ordinary people to politicians and business people. You just have to keep your ears open to get well informed about what is trending.
However, on this particular day, the lady doing my hair, who is also the owner of the salon, complained bitterly about her housemaid who she said was such an ungrateful soul and that she was simply waiting for the right time to fire her. She said she suspects that the housemaid was eyeing her husband and that the maid is generally rude to her. According to the lady, the maid is ungrateful despite being paid ‘huge’ sums of money, which she said is K10 500 per month— which is way below the national minimum wage, anyway.
She narrated that at one point she caught the housemaid in the living room watching TV. Now that’s an abomination. Housemaids should not be anywhere near the living room, let alone watch TV. Maids are expected to work and work non-stop. The only time they are to stop working is when they are sleeping, but again must be up at least by 4am and start working again.
I quietly listened as the lady and her friends chatted and agreed on what they said was the best way to treat a maid, ‘because maids don’t deserve sympathy, they are there to work and nothing else’.
My heart goes to all the maids who are unfairly treated by their employers. If only the employers know how much work these house helpers do to make our homes homily and even help in raising our children—some of the children who are very unruly—bosses would not dare to be harsh to their house help.
There are so many things we take for granted in our homes simply because by the time we wake up we find them already done by the house help. Often these are things that we cannot do without the house help. If anything, our relationship with the house help should be mutual because they help us with house work while we toil at work and we help them earn a living by employing them. It is not like the employer is the only one helping someone, in this case helping the maid.
I know women who don’t even know their children’s favourite food because they never spend much time with them—the maid spends more time with the children and looking after your home. The least you can do is appreciate them. Yes, they will have flaws just like any other human being, including you the employer. I would hate it if my employers did not appreciate the work I do for them, but are always pointing at my shortfalls. The same I believe applies to your house help. n