Short Story: The Maid’s Home

Posted: April 6, 2020 in Indian Women
Tags: ,

Picture of a slum in Kolkata. Taken from the internet.

Jewellery is not something I have anymore. The scanty I had has been pawned, sold, traded. Now these marks are my jewels that speak of my husband’s lost love for me. Below my eyes, on my chin, sitting on my neck proudly like a necklace where his fingers had squeezed too hard the night before, on my arms where the belt created a dark gash or that short round, red one glistening almost like a ruby ring where he had pressed the burning cigarette butt.

I used to marvel at the marks on my body. We had ran away from home, married in a temple and settled in a small mining town in Jharkhand. The room was as small as it is now. But it was airy and not dingy. It was enveloped in warmth and there wasn’t any sign of aggression. Each room was connected by an elongated balcony and when I stepped out every morning to use the common toilets, I would be greeted by the giggles of the ladies all around.

I would keep looking at those marks with admiration in the broken mirror in my room. I wore those proudly as the ladies teased and laughed at our gossip sessions in the evenings. The moment he would come back from work I would run to our room making tea, making food, looking forward to the night.

Now I sit on the footpath outside the slum till 1 am. If I am not home, he passes away on the bed sloshed and cold. Another night gone, another night of terror avoided. After he’s lost his job as a driver, he’s home most of the day, drinking. I escape to the homes I work in as a maid. Their large three-bedroom, airy houses, the endless chores, their dump of clothes, keep me busy and happy. I could be away from that 10X10 room with the small window, smell of mustard oil and liquor, a small ceiling fan that circulates the asbestos heat and a monster waiting in its midst.

But life has changed overnight. There’s some virus doing the rounds and we have been asked to stay at home. All those ladies who would keep calling me if I wouldn’t turn up a single day, tell me to stay away now.

I couldn’t believe the same security guards who used to joke with me everyday wouldn’t let me into the building to collect my pay. No one from outside was allowed in, they said. Really? Strange!

 

Madam came to the gate and paid me my salary. I had thought I would tell her I would stay in their maid’s room and won’t return home. I would do everything for them, they could just watch TV. I am a good cook. They could use me. I could use their air-conditioner. It was on in the living room all day, anyway.

But when I looked at her masked face, I couldn’t tell her what I had planned. There wasn’t any sign of that warm smile in her eyes. Her pupils darted in all directions as if trying to perceive an unknown enemy. She passed me the cash with her gloved hands. I felt like an intruder.

“Madam, how are you managing?”

I could finally bring myself to ask. They hadn’t managed without me for a single day in the past 3 years.

“We are managing fine. You stay at home.”

Home? If only she knew.

I returned home last night at 10 pm because the police asked me not to sit around on the footpath. I pulled out the shards of broken glass from my earlobe all night, crying in pain. The drops of fresh blood oozing down my neck, was my new acquisition, my new designer jewellery.

*

You can read my other short stories: 

Guest Of Honour

How To Deal With Death On Social Media

My books are available on Kindle:

Exit Interview (Novel) 

Museum Of Memories (Short stories)

Comments
  1. Mahasweta Sen says:

    Enjoyed reading ‘The Maid’s Home’ Amrita. lovely. its so real. you have really captured a maid’s trials and tribulations. it must be actually very very hard for them to stay back at home, atleast for most of them and not necessarily only for the pay!

  2. Chandrani sankha Kar says:

    Brilliant Write-up Amrita,very real story of almost all househelp`s life…

leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s