There she goes again

After four missed calls (I never know where my cell phone is, esp on Sundays) or ‘mis-caals’ as the residents of Neelum Colony and the majority of rural city-dwellers (or urban village-dwellers) are wont to say, Zahooran turned up at my doorstep today, Tayyab in tow.

I was puzzled, today being a Sunday and an off day for her, when she can do her own laundry and spend the day as she pleases.

Something was up.

She took off her slippers by the door and bade Tayyab do the same, conscientious about not bringing the dirt from the filthy narrow alleyways ย of the colony into my house.

She and Tayyab made their way over to the living room rug as I trailed behind, wondering what prompted this extracurricular visit, and asked her if all was well as they plonked themselves onto the floor. Zahooran evaded my eye and looked confused…. and a bit furtive.

‘Buss baji….ek masla ho gaya hai….,’ she began. There was a problem.

Last night she got a phone call from her husband telling her to come home (to Bahawalpur) as he wasn’t well. Apparently, he had an upset stomach and was dehydrated and needed a drip. Getting a ‘drip’ means serious business. It generally means one must be really quite sick, and it is appropriate for concerned relatives to congregate by the sick bed and look grave. And if you happen to be the wife of the sick person in question…? Well, obviously you must drop everything, take leave from your various work places, pack some clothes and travel 851 kilometres, tired and a bit sick from the road trip yourself, and tend to your husband’s sickly needs.

I sat on my chair and looked at her. She refused to meet my eye. It has only been four months since she came back from her hometown, after a visit that lasted three months, and I was forced to look for other help.

And now here she was, asking my opinion on what she should do. Of course I would say she should do what she thought best! I can’t very well tell her to forget her husband….that he’d have to get better by himself..?

Frankly, I really don’t see how the two of them can exist like this…she in Karachi, working her ass off to make ends meet and send Tayyab to school, he in Bahawalpur doing whatever it is that he does there, which according to Zahooran doesn’t amount to much.

Does she even love him? Does she even care?

I asked her if she thought it was feasible for her to just up and leave. People get sick all the time. Would she expect him to come and take care of her if she fell ill over here? Especially since he claims the Karachi air doesn’t suit him. What about the fact that she doesn’t LIKE being in Bahawalpur herself?

I realized she hadn’t really come to ask for my advice or opinion at all. In fact, she had come to inform me. And to collect her salary, with the assurance that she’d be back in a week. She had already made up her mind to go and had arranged to be at the bus stop at 4 o’clock in the afternoon (it was 1 when she dropped in.) And considering she had not mentioned anything about leaving yesterday, all this must have transpired overnight.

And I can’t help admiring her subtlety!

The funny thing is, I know there’s no way she’ll be back in a week, yet I don’t feel angry with her for running off just when the holidays end and school starts. I mean, I don’t feel angry for myself. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it makes me indignant for HER that she’s expected to go through all this inconvenience.

Yet, I’m aware that she herself probably doesn’t feel any resentment at all. If anything, she is just doing what she feels is right, what is expected of her as a good wife. What would people say otherwise?

As for me, let’s see how I feel a week from now, when she has not returned, the month of Ramadan will have well and truly set in, and I will not have the energy nor the desire to wash the dishes, vacuum the house, clean the bathrooms and dust the blasted furniture. ๐Ÿ˜› And I can’t believe she left me with detailed instructions on how best to keep the bathroom taps looking shiny and the glass cubicle spot-free.

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24 thoughts on “There she goes again

  1. saks July 31, 2011 / 4:15 pm

    awww … not again ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • munira July 31, 2011 / 8:22 pm

      Better believe it ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. auntyuta August 1, 2011 / 11:29 am

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I was born in 1934 in Berlin, Germany. Recently I added to my blog some of my memories from 1943/44, when we had a Polish live-in maid.
    It is interesting that in India people employ home-help because it is affordable. In so called first world countries, where the norm is that husband and wife have to work in order to pay off the mortgage for a house, even if the couple have an above average income they refrain from employing some home-help because they think home-help is too expensive!

    • munira August 1, 2011 / 3:34 pm

      Thank you Auntyuta, I’m glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚ Will come right over to check out your memories!
      House help is ridiculously affordable in Pakistan/India, not to mention a great way of employing the multitudes of poor in our part of the world. Win-win all around!

  3. huge August 1, 2011 / 12:00 pm

    What is her advice on keeping bathroom taps shiny and the glass cubical spotless? My uncle used to get me to spit on my shoes to make them shiny… I hope that’s not the advice for taps too!

    • munira August 1, 2011 / 3:40 pm

      Ugh, heaven knows she loves to spit ๐Ÿ˜› (yes I DO have issues with some of her idiosyncrasies!)
      She puts great stock in the cleaning power of newsprint. Therefore, I have been instructed to spray the taps with a glass cleaning solvent, then rub them vigorously with scrunched up newspaper…..that should keep the rust off ๐Ÿ™‚
      Same applies for shower cubicle, but I must rub down the bottom halves with newspaper FIRST, then spray the glass cleaner, then scrub it again with newspaper. Every day.

  4. Kathryn McCullough August 1, 2011 / 12:14 pm

    I will be curious to see how this all turns out. Lovely of her to leave you detailed directions–goodness!

    (By the way, I’m subscribing. How fun to have found your blog and be able to follow your story!)

    Kathy

    • munira August 1, 2011 / 3:51 pm

      Yes Kathy, Zahooran is really rather considerate, so I can’t help overlooking her general annoyingness and keep in mind her honesty and good-naturedness. She does make it very difficult to bear her presence sometimes, but when all is said and done, she is one of the best maids I have ever had.

      So many maid stories…so little time…

      (Lovely to have you subscribe! And to have your posts to look forward to as well!)

  5. rashmi August 1, 2011 / 6:55 pm

    heya,

    First ramadan mubarak, i know it wont be easy to get along this month of the year without zahooran but lets pray everything turns out fine… Nice post.. Enjoyed it

    • munira August 2, 2011 / 1:09 am

      It DOES help that I’m a healthy mixture of OCD types and laid-backness ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the wish and your comment!

  6. photokunstler August 1, 2011 / 11:25 pm

    Oh my. I don’t have such help in my life (I’d welcome it!), but it can be hard when you do, then suddenly don’t. Is it possible to find temporary help?

    And I am glad someone asked what her cleaning tips were! I was curious too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • munira August 2, 2011 / 1:33 am

      Yep, Patti, in many ways life is so much easier in our neck of the woods where house help is, to use a very obsolete phrase, a dime a dozen! However, one must be careful who one allows to enter their house. Unfortunately, there are many instances of petty (and sometimes not-so-petty) thievery among the class of people we tend to hire as maids.
      I do have another woman that I can trust and count on to come over and help me out when I’m left in the lurch……someone I can’t hire as permanent help for the sole reason that her cleaning standards are a ‘bit’ below par ๐Ÿ˜›
      Funnily, I enjoy the respite from having a maid do all the work all the time. I actually ‘like’ cleaning the ol’ place myself….because I do such a good job! ๐Ÿ˜› It DOES get very tiring and obsessive though, and I hate the part where I get cranky if Huz or Amu drop stuff on the floor right after I’ve swept and mopped!

      • photokunstler August 2, 2011 / 2:31 am

        Somehow I can understand all that!
        So do you look to see how clean things are after someone cleans? I do sometimes!

        I did find a wonderful cleaning person who comes every other week – we aren’t that dirty so we don’t need that much cleaning, but we make piles of everything we’re working on! So having Tina come every two weeks is good because we clean up for her. Then it takes two weeks to make it all piled up again!

        I’ll have my art supplies – sketch pads, boxes of coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, ruler, and my memory card reader, the remote control for the fan… I will have it all next to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

        We pay $20 an hour for cleaning, and I found someone who moves the couches and tables and cleans the fridge and the cabinet fronts and does the laundry if I need her to (I don’t usually because that’s one thing I do to clean before she comes). She is very, very good.

        My mom was immaculate and I learned to be that way too. And once Tina cleans I do yell at Rudi for letting Truffles carry in sticks and flowers from outside! And the bird! Needless to say, we vacuum several times a day anyway. We don’t have to worry about theft, thankfully, since people where we live don’t even have locks on the doors to their houses! If they do have locks the salt has corroded them long ago, so a key wouldn’t go in anyway.

        But I feel for you! Especially at such a busy time.

    • munira August 3, 2011 / 6:05 pm

      Hehe, I guess since she comes in each and every day, I don’t really go around after her, but I do notice things after she leaves and make a mental note to tell her what she ‘forgot’ to clean up. Mostly, I’m just grateful for all that she does do. We get A LOT of dust here, so it’s really nice to have clean floors to walk barefoot on every day ๐Ÿ™‚
      $20 an hour…hmmm….we pay that much for a week! Shocking, I know.
      And you’re right, it’s very easy to slip into slovenly habits when you know you have someone to clean up after you. Being maidless teaches me to be ‘a bit’ neater!
      And I hear you about the art supplies! I have piles of stuff everywhere! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Aziza August 2, 2011 / 6:55 am

    OH NO Munira! I hope she returns soon. It’s the same all over the sub continent specially the stories and excuses. Who knows what the truth is though it’s nice of you to assume the best.
    So far so good at my end; over a month and there has been only one emergency (sister lost her wallet with her credit card) and one ‘I’m not well’.
    Lets see how far this one last……. otherwise it’s an apartment for me.

    • munira August 3, 2011 / 5:52 pm

      Hmm, I’m such an idiot, never thought this was a sub-continental phenomenon! Sheesh.
      Glad you finally found help though AA, hope you can hang on to your lovely house!

  8. Single Malt Monkey August 2, 2011 / 8:13 am

    Oddly enough I have a friend who also swears by newsprint. Nveer used it myself , though. Whenever we have hired cleaners Fi always gets dissatisfied after about 2 months, instructs me to fire them, and then I get the job back. Oh well, I am at home all day. What else is there to do? ๐Ÿ™‚
    I hope you get your maid back soon though from the previous break don’t hold your breath, will you. Think of all that scrubbing as an upper-body workout ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • munira August 3, 2011 / 4:18 pm

      There’s something pretty magical about newsprint. It cleans beautifully and doesn’t leave any streaks! On glass, at least. Have yet to try it on the taps. Give it a shot, I say!
      I know she’ll be back, just not sure when. And as Aziza says up there, perhaps I’m too guileless and trusting. Maybe her husband isn’t ill at all and she just wanted to go home for Ramadan ๐Ÿ˜›
      I do need some exercise though and housework is pretty effective ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Aarti August 3, 2011 / 5:27 pm

    Oh dear, I do hope Zahooran’s hubby gets the treatment he needs. I guess being a dutiful rural south Asian wife she had no choice but to pack up and head back, whether she liked the place was secondary.

    On a lighter note, Ramadan Mubarak! Giving you a jaadu ki jhappi ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope you find a good helper who stays on (in case Zahooran can’t come back). In the meantime, Zor lagaa ke haiyaa with the ghar ka kaam!

  10. Munira August 4, 2011 / 4:00 am

    Yeah ๐Ÿ˜› I sure hope he gets what he deserves!
    Thank you for the jaadu ki jhappi…much appreciated! (though it makes me want to wander over to Deathly Hallows and read some more rather than attack the bathrooms today)

  11. crazygoangirl August 4, 2011 / 4:45 am

    At least he’s her husband M ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve had people take off to attend the funeral of some distant relative…unheard of and certainly uncared for until death suddenly makes him the most precious person on earth, if you know what I mean!

    I feel for women like Zahooran though – compelled to behave a certain way coz they believe they have no choice or perhaps worse – believe this is the ‘BEST’ choice. It pains me that the sub-continent in particular is home to millions of women who slave away and worship their good-for-nothing men in the hopes of…actually that’s what eludes me…hopes of what? I wonder…

    Oh don’t mind me…it’s just my dreary mood lately ๐Ÿ˜› You know what? You just go right back to the Hallows ๐Ÿ˜€ And me, I’m going back to Inspector Barnaby ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Munira August 5, 2011 / 10:00 pm

      Yes I know what you mean and it makes me furious! Kia mazaaq hai?!

      Aakhir KYUN????

      I’m pretty dreary myself, my sweet, the holy month is doing very unholy things to my head! ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. rumanahusain August 7, 2011 / 3:31 pm

    stumbled on your blog. love the posts and the pictures munira. hope you are doing fine without the house-help. do you really care if those taps don’t sparkle like they used to as long as your fingers are gliding on the keyboard and the camera is clicking! all the best.

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