Talking of the ‘Char’ Genie

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Servants are hired.Slaves are owned. But the domestic help we have in our homes are a hybrid of the two. Servitude,subjugation are words we know  very well. Occasionally TV screen flashes with news of maids being mistreated media, concernedNGOs and of course mindful neighbours making hue and cry which dwindles down eventually .Most of  the maids are from the placement agency where registration in the agency itself is an uphill task with equal share of money, then quarterly fees are paid for the services.the norm of the agencies is so fool proof it will give any detective agencies a run for their money.

Domestic help, all over the country work on different working principles. Freelancer maids, in some parts of the country they come twice or once day. In a bizarre twist we end up being their slaves since our daily activities depends on their timings, fixed charges no bargaining. Not happy? they will shift next door and make sure no one works for you.

In other parts, we still have community ties, we take it as our duty to help people in need. Owing to lack of infrastructure and motor able roads, people from the interiors take it as an opportunity to be a domestic help so that they live with the bright lights,earn money and receive education.

A servant in our home is with no chains. There is no dearth of illiterate or poverty stricken people. So any person with a low income of 10 to 15 thousand can also keep servants or less privileged relatives from remote villages as household help.

Recently I visited a lady, a widow at her home. She was having lunch. A sumptuous table laid with mouth-watering delicacies. But she seemed teary. Missing husband maybe, was my ever ready jump to conclusion sad thought. “I miss Rani”.That was the maid. “This is her favourite” gesturing towards the potato salad. The domestic help left for winter holidays and failed to turn up. Does she really miss her maid like one of her own or isshe sad because she has no help now? Whatever ….The Domestic Help matters a lot.

Happy boisterous kids enjoying KFC the other day. Aclean well-scrubbed maid sitting at the other table eating her share, waiting for them. She caught my eye as I looked around and for about two seconds weexchanged a poignant loaded look. She seemed happy, well fed.

That made me wonder ‘the true definition of aservant, what are their rights, you are born in a privilegedhome, does that give you the power to own people?Ancient civilization, slaves might have been highly educated,unskilled servants or those who were sentenced to slavery as punishment. In olden times under the roman law, servants were considered as property and had no legal personhood.

Servants through agencies are paid to the agency so the payment mode is justified and also the nature of work. In a roundabout way it becomes a respectable profession. But what about those servants and helpers we have in our homes who doesn’t have patrons or belong to any agencies.some of us diligently send money to his home for his servicesas promised when he was brought to our home ,treat him like an extended part of the family and  establish him after he comes to the age of independence. Blessed are those who live in that kind of household and more blessed are those who truly works for their welfare.

Inadvertently domestic workers are subjected to serious abuse including modern day slavery. We are so comfortable, we have lost touch with our shoe brushes and potato peelers.

Are they paid regularly and in justification for the services rendered.Your house runs on auto mode.your car is clean. Clothes washed and ironed, your kids are picked up from school, warm food on the table. Well! many of us think “He was starving in the village, we provided food and shelter, God has been merciful to him”. What? Isn’t god merciful to you by providing him?One day your genie vanishes,you will have to do everything listed above along with getting groceries, clean the clogged drain, pack and unpack lunch boxes, hunt for the stray sock, fill the water bottles and many moreunlisted errands and on top of it a grumpy spouse affected badly by the absence of the help.

If you can afford a domestic help at your beck and call that means you are doing well enough. So as the great benevolent benefactor what are you doing for your domestic help?food and shelter, the good lord provides for us all. So kindly brush off the imaginary benevolence.Where is the monthly pay you promised to be sent home when you sweet talked the help to your home? Is he going to school like you promised his parents? Have you even considered empowering him so that he is skilled enough to stand on his own as he come of age? I met a young boy whose parents were domestic help in the same house. Isn’t that modern day slavery?

Two little girls were playing with my friend’s daughter decorating Christmas tree. After a while my friend casually remarked their mother was my maid, now she is married owns a small eatery. Maid to a mistress of an eatery. My love for my friend increased. There is nothing much to discuss, why how and where? It is not rocketscience that she has empowered the maid to stand on her own. In a home, prime time 8pm, adomestic help enters, switches on the tv and watches an hour of her favourite soap. Not even the high and mighty only son of the family dare touch the remote during that time. In a normal home it is heights of whatever. But the domestic help has become the indispensable member of the family just seeing her bustling away in the house gives you a sense of happiness, faith in human relationship. She looks after the house like a worried mother,bakes the bread as each member likes, adds sugar free sweeteners for calorie conscious madam,gives tea to the master with a dash of coffee, admonishes the child for half eaten lunch, polishes the golf clubs each Saturday so that it gleams the coming Sunday.These are not listed in ‘the domestic book of permanent chores’’ but care provided as a result of love shared by the family

No servant has to be reminded that he is a servant. He knows it,but he can be reminded that he is a member of the extended family.Banking and saving facility, show him the deposits you do on his behalf, give him the taste of empowered independence for his services rendered. He will serve and protect your family as his own. We should never forget that we are the vulnerable ones here, our home, elderly relatives, innocent children and even food ,everything is in his care. Leaders and high ranking government officials let the domestic help take pride of having served with you not worked for you. Working parents, your home and the well-being of your kids is in your Help’s hand. Establishment owners, empower him so that he has a prayer for you every morning as he opens the shutter of his own shop. Your own maid darning your hemline, covering your premature greys, blowing away the invisible stray from the eye brows, Rustling up a quick snack for yourkitty friends, a few hundred and time saved  for you, in the bargain she is empowered because you have made her skilled.

A man’s greatness is not by his wallet and the number of servants, but by the number of people he serves and empowers.

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