Maidservant

musings

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Lucky I must say I have been

Women like me go through the world unseen

As human beings with dreams and desires

At least I had food- something to which millions aspire

My employer was generous, she often gave me

Leftovers for lunch, discarded clothes and jewelry

Extra sweetmeats (she was conscious of gaining weight)

Extra rupees on Diwali, thus there was always food on the plate

For my whole family- she did let me use

The fan in summer, she did excuse

Me from work when I was really ill

(She deducted a portion from my pay still)

Gave me medicine, though my son would state

They were always past the expiry date

In the unpredictable universe in which I reside

Having an employer like her was a matter of pride..

*

Other problems in life I did not let bother me

For the poor of the world, life is never easy

So the drunken beatings I took in my stride

Thanked the Lord when husband spared my hide

Was grateful my children were going to school

Education would be their most powerful tool

*

Then my employer moved out of town, and I had to

Search for another one, I was afraid, it’s true

Horror stories from friends I had heard

Entering a new home felt quite weird

My potential new employer, to my utter surprise

Asked me to sit on her cream couch, but I was wise

That must be a trap, so I squatted on the floor

She asked me to sit on the couch again- I bolted for the door

Well, almost, I was so afraid, I had never heard such a thing

(New-fangled ideas these America-returned people bring)

Anyway the job was offered to me after questions few

She seemed interested in my family, that was unusual too

To my joy, she asked to get to work right away

(An extra day’s earnings do go a long way)

I thought she was unhinged when she stood beside me

In the kitchen as I chopped vegetables,  boiling tea

Which she poured in two cups that were identical-

Why was she trying to do this, I thought, I was not an equal!

Suddenly I was scared for my life, who knew

If Madam was a madwoman, she lived by herself too…

*

I might have quit but my intuition seemed to tell me

Nothing was wrong, besides, I was desperate for money

As time passed by, I gradually came to realize

She actually cared about me as a human being, to my surprise

She noticed my bruises, though I never really opened my mouth

Gave me resources if I was endangered, or if things went south

Taught me how to save, helped me open a bank account

Where unknown to my husband, I regularly invested small amounts

For the first time I felt my life was worthy of something

My self-confidence blossomed, I grew my wings..

*

That was ten years ago, now my children are grown

My girl starts college today, I can support her education on my own

I run a small business, a tiny fruit and vegetable stand

My children after school sometimes lend me a hand 

I am widowed now,  his life was claimed by the liquor

I had a tough time as he had grown sicker

Yet I was self-sufficient, as Madam had taught me

How to best manage my precious money

Of course I am no longer in her employ

(She now lives elsewhere with her husband and little boy)

*

Before I met Madam, what respect was, I did not know

But when I found it, it made my self-worth grow

The work was no different, nor was the pay

Yet something changed completely that first day…

Now I have been emancipated from servitude

All thanks to Madam’s benevolent attitude!

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