Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The silver line

Bang on 8, she knocks at the door. For a reason unfigurable, she has never used the doorbell. And for a different reason altogether, she has never been late. Introducing Jaya, our domestic help, role model for multitasking and an icon in time management.

Jayamma's day starts ticking at 4 am (ouch) when she rises to offer prayers, cook for a family of four and attend to a household whose keepers leave for work by 7am. She then hurries back home, gets her kids ready for school and does not turn her back on them till they are well inside the school gate. When ridiculed of being overprotective of a 10 year old and a 12 year old, she replies, 'If they skip school, they will also be washing and sweeping like me, Amma.'

Past noon, Jaya goes home for a frugal lunch, having attended to not less than four households, followed by a siesta. Confirming her children return home on time, she insists on them completing school work before play and watches over them not wandering away in bad company. But her true woes begin after dusk when her slob of a husband returns home to beat her up and grab a greater part of the couple of thousands she makes a month. The meager remainder post thrashing manages family expenses and should also be saved to realize Jaya's dream of sending her kids to college. Owing to the inavailability of cheap liquor due to the Government-imposed ban, poor Jaya is fleeced more than ever for money which her husband places on gamble, only to afford branded liquor. Talk about investments.

However, despite being a victim of multi-dimensional harassment (all of which is too long to describe, even for an epic of woe), Jaya goes about her business as usual, pretending all is well with the world, humming a catchy Tamil number as she mops the floor clean. When asked why she has been looking peaky for a while now, she replies, 'I have stopped resting in the afternoon, Amma. The Malayali lady from the next road is teaching us to read and write. I am going there.'