• Vijeta Gawdi

Maid Of Honour


I came across an interesting forward the other day.It read something like this “Not only have the Indians taught Namaste to the whole world, the world too has taught us Indians, that life can be lived without a maid” All of us have been affected by the lock-down in many different ways, but one aftermath of this lock-down binds us women commonly across all castes and creeds collectively and that is the absence of our Maids- Of Honour.

Now to understand the parallel that I am trying to draw here, let me take you through some trivia on the origin of the position of Maid Of Honour. The position of the Maid of honour today is essentially limited to organizing the bridal shower and being the bride’s confidante through the months leading up to the wedding. This position found its genesis in Rome.Ancient Romans believed that evil spirits haunted auspicious occasions such as weddings. They invented a novel way of dealing with the issue, around ten women were made to dress exactly like the bride, to confuse these immortal aggressors and thus protect the bride from their evil eye. To summarize, it was the duty of the Maid Of Honour to protect, safe guard and shield.

Its been over two and a half weeks now,I haven’t seen her. There is too much history between us and too many moments so bittersweet. Of all the normalcy I miss from my life, it is her I miss the most. The strut of her plastic sandals as she would dismissively walk over my flower bed every other day, marking her gait into my house with the mud stuck to the sole. The constant brawl, she would get into with her sister in law over the phone and then unapologetically rob me off my priceless moments of solitude while drinking chai, justifying her stand in the feud. The smug look she gave me every time there were 5 more plates in the sink to wash. The way she disapproved of my choice in vegetables and fruits, she deemed herself no less than an equity trader, who had complete knowledge of the formula for price to be applied keeping the quantity and kind as variables. Oh! How I miss those days of disputing and challenging her impassive mannerisms with which she broomed and swept my house. I miss her cursory style of cleaning the house and being perpetually on the defensive, when I would find a dried crumb of chapati from the previous nights dinner under the dinning table. Her demeanour for most part manipulative, as she tried on a number of occasions to pit me and my mother in law against each other. I miss her nonchalance at never drying the bathrooms after washing, the haste with which she flung the clothes from the washer and hung them out to dry. I miss the brutal insouciance with which she robbed me of a peaceful nights sleep, by choosing to call me at the precise moment I lay my weary head on the pillow, announcing her absenteeism for the next day.

Like I said too much history has passed. We have both spent too much time with each other to lose hope now. I have, to be honest woefully taken up some of the duties around the house with my superwoman mother in law helping me with the children. She is over 60 years of age and so agile, touch wood. Now if I think about my situation, being an optimist, its not so arduous as it sounds. It has not even been a month and every muscle in my body has been subject to 2 hours of gruesome exercise everyday, this is just the warm up by way of brooming and the sweeping, at least the postpartum weight is beginning to shift on the scale. I still have a twenty minute vim soak manicure to finish, as I scour the utensils from cooking lunch. More exercise for the fingers. This will be followed by dusting, a chore that makes me discern that we have surrounded ourselves with far more materialistic things than necessary. I mean, what is that 10 year old glass fruit bowl that now houses the children’s miniature, forgotten Barbie doll accessories that are left to disappear in the abyss of the imaginary black hole in our house doing on the dinning table. Mental note to self: time to move it out! The dusk is still a few hours away and the house work seems incessant and unabating.

This is me doing my house work. I can’t help but think about these women some older than me, others with children younger than mine, who have no option but to put on their armours every morning and leave their homes to earn for their children and provide for their families. Some of them work four to five houses in the mornings and then again in the nights. The little time that they are left with in the afternoons, they are scurrying home to prepare dinner, clean their own houses and keep laundry ready for washing because running water is available only for a couple of hours the next morning. All of this for the amount I pay her, I am appalled at how much I haggle with her sometimes. She has to put up with my bickering and blaming, with a smile or a silent cuss every now and then. Yes, this lock-down has taught me that we can live with a house that is a less clean on some days, it has taught me to be emphatic to the condition of these women who are toiling every day just to keep that roof over their heads. It has taught me that these maids are truly Maids Of Honour- protecting and safeguarding the sanity of my mind day after day, guarding the fortress of my sometimes tired and distressed mind, which I have the luxury of mending with an afternoon of restful sleep. It is because of them, that I can spend time with my kids and family and have that chai ever so peacefully sitting on the kitchen counter enjoying the view of the garden outside. Some days it is okay to just sweep the thicks and thins of our lives under the rug and forget about it and just enjoy the moment.

Dear Maid Of my Honour, your and my relationship is like that of Tom and Jerry, we agree to disagree at all times, but in the end, it all just turns out perfectly well.

Thinking of you fondly!!

Take a break ladies! Acche Din Aanewale Hain!!

Vijeta Gawdi:)

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