Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Housekeeper

Whenever I see a homemaker who depends excessively on her maid for housekeeping – I remember this story. 

There is a saying: 

Behind Every Successful Man there is a Woman.

But now – with increasing number of women pursuing full-time careers  and with so many women breaking the glass ceiling – this saying is outdated – and – as far as successful women are concerned – the new saying is:

Behind Every Successful Woman there is a “Kaamwali Bai”...

Of course – I fully believe in the dignity of labour – and I give equal respect to all types of jobs – and the term “Kaamwali Bai” is used in a metaphorical sense – in fact – if translated literally into English – the term “Kaamwali Bai” means “Working Woman”.

Now – the “Kaamwali Bai” behind the success of a career woman may be anyone who does the housekeeping’.

The “Kaamwali Bai” (housekeeper’) can be a maid – a nanny – even a surrogate maid or nanny – like the mother or mother-in-law of the successful career woman. 

When I was in the Navy – I observed the dependence of some career-oriented wives on their Maids.

Here is a humorous story on the subject – have a laugh.


THE “HOUSEKEEPER
Fiction Short Story
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


Part 1


A RAINY NIGHT 

It was a scary night – dark – windy – thunder – lightning – and heavy torrential rain.

After the official ‘cocktail-cum-dinner’ party was over – my friend said to me: “It is raining heavily. Why don’t you stay over for the night in the mess – you can sleep in my cabin if you want.”

“No,” I said, “I will go back to my ship.”

“You have had quite a bit to drink,” my friend said, “Do you really want to drive in this heavy rain…?”

“I am okay – you don’t worry – I will reach safely…” I said.

“Be careful,” my friend said, “Drive slow…”

I put on my black oilskin raincoat over my evening ‘Red Sea Rig’ uniform.

I wore my helmet.

Then – I started my motorcycle – and I drove off in the rain.

A few minutes later – while I was driving through the married accommodation area – there was a sudden ‘cloudburst’ – a huge torrent of rain – a flood of water on the road.

I lost control – my motorcycle skidded – and I fell into a gutter – and I got totally drenched in the deluge of water.

I struggled and got up – hauled up my motorcycle – and dragged the bike into the parking lot of the multistory high-rise married accommodation building nearby.

I was totally drenched – soaked to the skin – and my oilskin raincoat was covered with muck from the gutter.

It was raining very heavily – and – in this torrential rain – it was impossible to drive my motorcycle – yes – in this terrible rain – and the flood of water on the roads – even going back to the mess was out of the question.

And – from the way it was raining – it did not look like the downpour of rain was going to subside very soon.

I stood shivering in the parking lot of the multistory high-rise building – wondering what to do.

My eyes went to the wooden board on the wall – on which the names of occupants of the high-rise building were listed.

I was delighted to spot the name of ‘course-mate’ – against Flat No. 303.

I had not met this ‘course-mate’ after leaving the academy – in fact – I did not know that he was in Mumbai – but then – that was the ‘Bombay Culture’ those days – where everyone was on his own trip.

I took off my stinking oilskin raincoat and helmet – and left them on my bike.

Then – I walked to the lift – and pressed the 3rd floor button.

I stood outside Flat No. 303 and rang the doorbell.

After some time – a young woman opened the door.

It was obvious that this charming young woman was my course-mate’s wife.

She was dressed in her night-clothes – and it was evident that she had been sleeping.

“Sorry for disturbing you, Ma’am…” I said.

She looked at my wet uniform – but she said nothing.

So – I said to her: “I am a course-mate of “X” – he lives here – isn’t it…? I had a small accident on my motorcycle – and I thought I will spend some time here till the rain lessens a bit…”

She smiled – and she said, “He is not here – he is away on duty…”

“Oh – I am sorry – I will go…” I said.

“No…No – it is raining very heavily – please come in…” she said.

“Thanks…” I said.

I walked in – and I sat on the sofa in the drawing room.

“Shall I make you a cup of coffee…?” she asked.

“No – Ma’am – I have already troubled you so much – please go to sleep – I will relax here on the sofa – and I will quietly go away once it stops raining…” I said.

She smiled – and she went away – leaving me alone in the drawing room.

I do not know when I dozed off to sleep on the sofa.

What I know is that when I woke up – and opened my eyes – the first thing I saw was my course-mate’s wife looking at me.

She was freshly bathed – and she looked very beautiful – incredibly alluring – and I could not take my eyes off her.

She gave me a sweet smile.

I felt ashamed of having eyed her so brazenly – so I quickly moved my eyes away.

“Good Morning…” she said.

“Good Morning, Ma’am…” I said.

I looked out of the window.

It has stopped raining – in fact – there was bright sunlight.

“What time is it…?” I asked.

“7:30…” she said.

“Oh – I slept whole night – I am so sorry – I must go…” I said, filled with embarrassment.

“At least wash up – have a cup of tea…” she said.

“No – Ma’am – thanks a lot – but I have already overstayed my welcome – and I have to get back to my ship quickly…” I said.

“Okay…” she said.

“When will “X” be back…?” I asked.

“He should be back by tomorrow evening…” she said.

“Okay – then I will come over – and we will have a proper dinner…” I said.

“Yes…” she said.

“Thank you again, Ma’am…” I said – and I left.


Part 2


3 DAYS LATER

I asked around – and I found out the “X” was posted in an inconsequential appointment in the back of beyond.

No wonder I had not met him all these days.

Three days later – in the morning – I called up his office.

“Yes – “X” had reported back the previous day from outstation duty – and he would be in office by 9:30 AM…” I was told by his staff.

I reached his office at 10 AM.

“X” was happy to see me.

I shook hands with him and said: “I have come to thank you for the hospitality when I was stuck in the rain the other night – it was very sweet of your wife to let me stay…”

“Wife…?” he asked – looking confused.

“Yes – I was all drenched in the rain – I took shelter in your building – then I saw your name on the board – and I just barged into your house – and it was very kind of your wife to let me stay all night…”

“Wife…? How could she be there…?” he asked.

“Of course your wife was there…” I said.

“Impossible…” he said.

“Then who was that charming lady…?” I asked.

“That charming lady’ you met was my ‘Maid’…” “X” said.

“What...?” I said, stunned.

“Yes – the woman you met at my home that evening was my ‘Maid’ – she is my “Kaamwali Bai” – she is certainly not my wife…” he said.

“What…? She was your ‘Maid’ – she was not your wife…?” I blurted out – totally bewildered.

“Yes – the woman who you met is my ‘Maid’ – she told me that some ‘course-mate’ of mine had got stuck in the rain and slept on the sofa – she didn’t remember your name – so now I know that it was you…?” he said.

“Oh – I am very sorry. But – your ‘Maid’ is so smart – that I mistook her for your wife – yes – I really thought that she was your wife…” I said.

“Ha Ha – I must tell my wife this…” he said, laughing.

“No – please don’t tell her – it will be very embarrassing…” I said.

Tea arrived – and we sipped our tea.

I noticed that “X” wasn’t telling me anything about his wife – so I asked him: “By the way – your wife – is she out of station…?”

“She is an ‘air-hostess’ in an international airline – so she is out on duty for around 15 days in a month…” he said.

“Oh – that’s great – we must meet sometime in the club – I owe you a dinner…” I said.

“Sure – my wife should be back by weekend…” he said.

“One more thing – please don’t tell anyone about my faux pas – it was a stupid blunder on my part in thinking that your ‘Maid’ was your wife…” I said.

“X” laughed – and said, “okay…”

But – alas – “X” told everyone about my stupid goof-up – and I became a laughing stock.

This angered me – and I did not visit “X” again.


Part 3


3 YEARS LATER

I was flying abroad for some work.

An air-hostess came to me – and she asked me my name.

I told her my name.

Then – she said, “Come – we’ll upgrade you to business class...”

When I was comfortable in my new luxurious seat – the air-hostess came over to me and she said to me: “You didn’t recognize me...?

“I am sorry...” I started to say.

But she interrupted me – and she said“Of course – we have never met – I saw your name on the passenger manifest – and I guessed it must be you – well – I am your course-mate X’s wife – remember – you and the ‘Maid’ episode – you thought that my “Kaamwali Bai” was me…”

“Oh – yes – how can I forget – your husband “X” told everyone about it – and I became a laughing stock…” I said.

“In fact  my husband told our ‘Maid’ too – that you thought that she was his wife…” she said.

“What…? Did your husband “X” tell your ‘Maid’ that I thought that she was you…?” I asked.

“Well – my ‘Maid’ did have some inkling – she told us that you kept addressing her as ‘Ma’am’ again and again…” X’s wife said with a mischievous smile.

“I wanted to come over to your place – but I was so embarrassed to face your ‘Maid’ again – after my terrible faux pas…” I said.

“Well – you can meet her when you are in Delhi – the same ‘Maid’ is still with us…” she said.

“You’ve got the same ‘Maid’ even now…?” I asked her.

“Yes – we took our ‘Maid’ along with us when we were posted to Delhi – she is a big boon – it is because of her that I am able to do this air-hostess’ job which requires me to be out for so many days…” she said.

“Yes – I saw that your ‘Maid’ was very good…” I said.

“She looks after everything at home – in fact – I have handed over all ‘homemaker’ duties to her – she manages each and every thing – she even looks after my husband so well – and she is so good – that I just don’t have to bother about anything…” she said. 

I looked at X’s wife – the smart air-hostess – a successful career-woman – and – I said jokingly: “You know – there is saying – ‘Behind Every Successful Woman is a “Kaamwali Bai”...’ – Ha Ha...” 

“Ha Ha – it seems true in my case...” she said laughing.

Suddenly – there was a call for her – so X’s wife smiled a ‘good-bye’ – and she left to attend to her cabin-crew duties.


Part 4


10 YEARS LATER


Ten years later – one morning – while driving down from Mumbai to Pune by the Expressway – I stopped at the ‘Food Court’ for a cup of tea.

A car entered the ‘food court’ parking lot.

I could not believe my eyes.

My course-mate “X” was in the Driver’s Seat – and sitting next to him was his ‘Maid’.

Both of them got out of the car – they walked to a vacant table and sat down.

Obviously – “X” had not seen me – or if he had seen me – then “X” probably did not want to meet me.

But  I was curious to meet “X” – and yes – I was quite intrigued by his rather intimate demeanor towards his ‘Maid’.

I wondered why “X” had seated his ‘Maid’ beside him on the front seat of the car – and even now – they seemed to be talking in a rather friendly manner.

I picked up my cup of tea – and I walked towards their table.

“Hello…” I said to my course-mate “X”.

“Oh – Hi…” my course-mate “X” said with a smile.

“May I join you…?” I asked.

“Of course…” he said.

“I’ll just freshen up and come…” the ‘Maid’ said – and she left for the washroom.

“So – I heard that you suddenly quit the Navy…” I said.

“Yes – I quit 5 years ago – I am in the Merchant Navy now…” he said.

“That’s great…” I said.

“Yes – the Merchant Navy is much better – especially moneywise…” he said.

“So – are you going to Pune…?” I asked “X”.

“No – I am driving down to Mahabaleshwar…” he said.

“What is wrong with you...? You are driving with your “Kaamwali Bai” sitting next to you on the front seat...? You are going to Mahabaleshwar – with your ‘Maid’…?” I asked  totally aghast and shocked.

“She is no longer my ‘Maid’…” my friend “X” said.

“What…? She is no longer your ‘Maid’…? Don’t tell me that you have married her…?” I said  totally baffled.

“Not yet…” he said  nonchalantly.

“...Not Yet…! What do you mean by Not Yet’...? Are you saying that you intend marrying your ‘Maid’…? You are going to marry your “Kaamwali Bai”...? So that means that you two are living together…?” I blurted out excitedly – since I was baffled out of my wits.

“X” did not say anything – he just looked down at the table.

His silence spoke volumes.

For me – the whole thing was unbelievable – most bizarre.

Then – after I recovered my wits – I looked at “X”  and I said to him: “Have you gone crazy…? Have you have dumped your air-hostess wife for your maid...? Are you really thinking of marrying your ‘Maid’…?”

“X” did not answer – he just looked away.

I followed his gaze – and I saw the ‘Maid’ come out of the washroom and walk towards us.

I got up from my seat.

“Okay – Bye – it is time for me to move on…” I said to “X”.

Meanwhile  the ‘Maid’ had reached our table  and she was smiling at me.

So – I looked at the ‘Maid’ – and I said to her: “All the Best, Ma’am…”

Yes – I addressed her as Ma’am”.

Last time – calling her “Ma’am” was a faux pas on my part – because then  she was my friend’s Maid.

But now – she was no longer my friend’s “Kaamwali Bai”.

Now – the Maid’ had become my friend’s Consort – and – she had earned the right to be called “Ma’am”.

The Maidgave me a cute smile.

I smiled back at her.

Then – I turned  and I walked towards my car.

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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