May 21, 2012

Helpless in our house

Many of us are familiar with the debacles we have in running our households. Perhaps young people may not. Now more so than ever as many of us seem to be moving away from the traditional extended family arrangements to the comfort and convenience of our own cozy apartments. Our new found economic self-reliance has enabled us to find that secluded niche that makes us feel independent and enjoy modern conveniences of technology without anyone bothering us or judging us for what we do. We could also enjoy good food --in this day of rising food prices -- without the thought of sharing those morsels with anyone else and so have less of it.

The newly wedded couple goes to their new hideout with these rosy pictures in mind. The picture we see on our television sets of such couples delighting in this new independence add to the lure -- doing their walls with deco paints of various designs with playful abandon, decorating the space with the latest designer rugs, furniture, and wall hangings, and in the midst of all this a tender moment of closeness, all bring to us a picture of excitement and enticement. The draw is indeed alluring. But it is not soon after that they must discover the realities of independent living. Things get dirty, items breakdown, bills have to be paid, the garbage put out, the pot-plants watered, the groceries bought, the cooking gas ordered, the beds made, floors mopped, toilets cleaned. The list of toil goes on. With both going to office to keep this kind of a life financed, the pressures of the ensuing evenings rise and they decide to get a housekeeper.

Nowadays in Maldives, the housekeeper is no more that typified by our traditional and romantic past. The picture of the needy island lass or lad – often the offspring of an island friend -- getting their keep and basic education with the family in Male, and thus enduring along for a lifetime of loyalty and honesty, is now history.  Now, the option obviously has to be for a substandard local who will not stick with the job for long or a captive expatriate who may not be at all tuned to the culture of our nation, and only grudgingly available just for the foreign exchange he or she can dispatch to his or her home country. Their mind is not on the welfare of this host family but on hers back home, or if with no family back home, on the day-dreams of how her next Friday afternoon will be spent with her friends in the crowded parks, along dilapidated Male pavements, or in the confines of any other Friday-cramped open space in Male. The ensuing consternation and anxiety of our loving couple is not hard to imagine. When the first baby arrives, the picture gets even worse -- more responsibilities on an already reluctant helper and the incidences of increased grumblings and unannounced darts in an out of the house for personal errands as her familiarity with Male’s easy social and legal bindings dawns on her. For the couple, such situations of having to keep constant vigil on possible dishonesty or deceit with the resulting suspicions taunting the mind in an insecure household can be extremely frustrating and not altogether unrelated to the instability of existing loving bonds between two individuals; not too infrequently these and other pressures leading to many a parting. Soon, one things lead to another to a situation bordering on silent pain or even outbursts of violence. Many lives are led in this way away from the security of our extended family settings, without the realization of the deeper causes of these pressures of life, with only finger pointing and laying blame being the easiest, yet hardly the most rational outlet for releasing such mounting frustrations.

But on the other hand, just imagine if we had an honest and caring housekeeper? How everything would turn around. Of course we need to take care of the honest housekeeper with the needed emoluments and perks so that he/she will reciprocate gratefully for the benefits received. But of course we must also be aware that we cannot keep our housekeeper with us forever, so for longer term peace of mind, we must choose the right ones that have the right credentials. We can indeed, if we care for our household and our loving relationships strongly enough and are aware of the dire consequences to us when we choose foolishly.       

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About 30-40 years back, the well-off in Male’ invite children as housekeepers or housemaids from islands. It is because these children are cheaper than housemaids from Sri- Lanka and India. They can work extra time and do heavy work with no day off!! . I suppose, some luck one’s do get some type of education