Sunday is a day I look forward to, like everyone else. Preparations for the weekend start from Saturday itself. I work half day and prefer not to give many appointments or post major surgeries for that day (thus reducing my weekend stress from any unexpected post-operative complication); enjoy a heavy lunch at home and a divine afternoon siesta (pesky calls and neighbours' dog permitting). The evening is spent in the company of friends or quietly at home watching a good movie (thanks to the liberal choice of movie channels). A couple of pegs of good scotch — even Scream 3 seems tolerable!
The next day I wake up late — the only day I am not woken up by the persistent clamour of the alarm. With difficulty, I open my eyes to the glare of sunlight streaming through the window — my better half has thoughtfully left the curtains wide open lest I waste too much of this lovely morning in bed. I loiter around the house with an unshaven chin, doing odd jobs (whether or not they require my expertise) and since I am in the mood, prepare French toast for my son for breakfast — the only culinary talent I possess and guaranteed to keep my wife out of the kitchen for the rest of the morning. The weekend is going on just fine.
Well… until the maid makes her entrance!
Suddenly, priorities change. The breadwinner of the family, who has been working hard throughout the week, doing delicate surgeries and saving people's lives, is no longer someone who has to be indulged — but a clumsy, jobless character who is just in the way of the super-efficient, hardcore professional who needs to finish this shift before moving on to the next one. I try my best to stay away from her area of furious activity — but am far too sluggish.
Hearing her dusting the bedroom upstairs, I put the computer on in the living room, hoping to check my mail. But no sooner the Windows logo disappears from the screen than she is down attacking a different window and my wife orders me up. I sulk and go to the television room, hoping to catch the morning headlines — but I am told curtly that I cannot watch TV. She has only finished the dusting upstairs and will be coming up again to do sweeping and mopping. I am asked to finish my bath, as it would be another 15 minutes before she reaches the bathroom. Under the circumstances, I decide, the bathroom would be the safest haven for me right then.
Just as I am revelling in a leisurely hot shower — for once without the weekday irritations from the early morning calls of highly strung anaesthetists (who always seem to find that precise moment to call to inform you that your patient is ready to be anaesthetised and say ‘could you hurry up please') — I hear a loud banging on my bathroom door. I turn off the shower, hurriedly wipe myself and with the towel wrapped around anxiously open the door; certain that it has to be either of the two domestic emergencies — the lizard that I scared off last week is back in the kitchen or my mother is on the phone. It turns out to be neither. I see my consort's face, flushed from rushing up the stairs,
“Maid no. 2 has come early today and she wants the washing clothes. She is in a hurry as she has to go to the Sunday market.”
After a detailed analysis of the habits and behavioural patterns of maids in our locality, my shrewd spouse arrived at the profound conclusion that the most cost-effective method of retaining maids is by distributing jobs. This way she would not be at the whims and fancies of any one of them and even when one went on leave or quit, the others could chip in and thus maintain domestic harmony. I could never remember their names — for by the time I managed to, someone else had already taken her place. My enterprising wife had discovered a novel way for me to identify them — they were referred to by the jobs they did.
After ensuring that Maid no. 2 is not denied the pleasures of her Sunday shopping, I debate whether to continue my shower or not. I decide against it as Maid no. 1 is now almost ready to start with the bathroom — and she would do her job irrespective of whether I was under the shower or not.
Half an hour later, my wife is up again. There is a concerned look on her face.
“No. 3 has stomach pain since last night and says she cannot work today. Can you give her some medicines? And do not give her what you gave last time. She said that it did not work and made her worse.”
I frown. I could not remember their names — how, heavens above, was I expected to remember what medicine I gave her three months ago? I rummage through our medicine chest, pretending to peer wisely at the names on the packing and hand over some anti-spasmodic.
“This is the latest and will definitely work.”
“One more thing; No. 1 has already left or else I would have asked her to do the dishes. Naturally, I cannot cook today — you will have to eat yesterday's leftovers. Unless you prefer to take us out for lunch.”
“Leftovers are fine.” I sigh.
(The writer's email is drumanathnayak