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Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Awful Story

Women are supposed to be nurturing, caring, honest and hardworking. Those who know me well will agree that I am none of those things. I have no problem with that. I have a problem when I come across other women like me. There are too many of them. I call this type The Awful Woman. There is a number of the other type too, nurturing, caring, honest and hardworking also known as The Good Woman. I had the unique opportunity to see one of each type in a startling tableau which began six months ago and ended this week.

The Awful Woman had offered The Good Woman a job in the Middle East to work as a housemaid for The Awful Woman’s equally Awful Daughter. I happened to have a ring side seat because I poked my nose into something I should not have. I believed I could help the Good Woman lift herself out of grinding poverty by getting her a job with a friend of a friend in the Middle East namely, The Awful Daughter. I have vowed never to do that again unless I know all the actors in the drama.

The Awful Woman had a strange method of recruitment. She wanted The Good Woman to live in her house day and night for two months to “train” the Good Woman to cook and clean for her Awful Daughter in the Middle East. The Good Woman said since she would be starting work with the Awful Daughter in January 2009, she could not put her present employers to inconvenience and said that since she knew how to cook and clean she would adapt to whatever special requirements the Awful Daughter had. The Awful Woman did not take this with grace and said, “You should not bother about your employers. Since we are paying you double, you should do what we tell you to.” The Good Woman said sorry, she could not do that but she could come in on Sundays and for a couple of hours in the evenings to get “trained” but she would not desert her current employers.

She began her “training” which involved no cooking, only cleaning out a dirty storeroom, cleaning fans, cobwebs etc. It also involved avoiding the husband of the Awful Woman who one awful day held an almond to her lips urging her to accept it from his hand. The Good Woman told him she did not want any almonds and when he continued shoving the almond at her lips she hit his hand away and threatened to call his wife who was in the next room on the computer. He hastily stepped back, put his palms together, apologized and entreated her not to say anything to his wife. Later he telephoned The Good Woman asking her not to complain to his wife. There were other incidents when the Awful Husband tried to get chummy. The Good Woman was too embarrassed to tell me The Fool Who Got Her Into This Mess, about the Awful Man since they were friends of a close friend of mine. Instead she avoided moving into the home of the Awful Couple for as long as she could.

Well six months passed like the wind. The Awful Daughter came to visit and examine The Good Woman. She professed her satisfaction and went back leaving instructions with The Awful Woman to take The Good Woman for a medical check-up. The medical check up done, the Awful Daughter called up The Good Woman to tell her to move into The Awful Woman’s house and wait for her visa to be sent. She asked The Good Woman if she had any more queries about the job. The Good Woman who was leaving her family here and going abroad only for the money she would earn asked the Awful Daughter if there was any possibility that after one year, if her work was satisfactory, would the Awful Daughter consider giving her a raise? The Awful Daughter said they would discuss it.

The Good Woman spent money from her meager savings to buy suitable clothes and toiletries for the Middle East for two years. The next day The Awful Woman called The Good Woman and said they did not like her “attitude” in asking for a raise and not wanting to stay in The Awful Woman’s House and therefore they did not want her. The Good Woman was aghast. She had just left her other two jobs; she had spent her tiny savings on new clothes; what was she to do, she asked the Awful Woman. Do whatever you want, said the Awful Woman.

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