THE HARASSED GODDESS

TRAUMA: Being a working house wife is a nightmare as you have to juggle many roles including cook, accountant and child psychologist

By Zainab Sulaiman

The working house wife has to juggle multiple responsibilities. Her stress is heightened by power failures, gas tubes which do not connect, and a flooded kitchen because the fridge is leaking

Bhaag gaya, madam,” Dubey, the building watchman, announces. Apparently, the plumber whose background we had so meticulously researched, had run away. This, in spite of the fact that I’d insisted that Dubey does a recce of the last building the plumber had worked on, and the watchman there had told him that all was A-OK. Dubey had also added that the plumber’s materials were still lying at the site, waiting to be collected: a good sign.
“But he’s left his materials here,” he adds. “Maybe he’ll show up…”
We discuss ways and means to track down the plumber and drag him back. Dubey says that my cook knows where the plumber’s son studies and so he’s planning to follow the boy home from school so that we can finally locate where he lives. Visions of Dubey being lynched for following small children home float before me, and we discuss other options, though there are frankly none. I give Dubey a piece of my mind for bringing this useless chap on board and storm upstairs.
“Maydem,” Sanjoli, my live-in’s high-pitched whine greets me at the door. “Fridge kaam nahin kar raha hai (Madam, the fridge isn’t working).”
I have Samsung service centre on speed dial, and, within moments, I’ve lodged a complaint, while simultaneously pulling out wads of bills and receipts from the drawer, trying to find the last bill pertaining to the damn fridge.
It’s moody, the fridge. Sometimes, it drips water till it drowns all the endless bowls tucked away into the furthest recesses of its cavernous body. Other times, it’s warm as an oven, forcing us to (finally) throw away whatever is in those little bowls. It’s probably the third time in two months that a technician — as the company calls them — has visited. But not before insisting that I fully defrost for a day and night before he deigns to put a toe into my house, followed by endless fiddling around with some part or the other, till the fridge coughs, splutters and unwillingly comes back to life — for a few days. He has scooted off with my hard-earned cash in exchange for a few spare parts that we can’t even eat.
The technician — I insist they send the same man they sent last time, who’d sniggered at us and said we had kept too many things at the back of the fridge thereby “blocking the cooling” — sallied in the next day, took one look at the emptied contents (we had dutifully defrosted yet again) and said that there was nothing wrong with the fridge: the power point was spoilt.
“That’s it?” I’m super relieved, as for once I won’t have to shell out yet another large sum of money for some piece of metal or plastic, though I will have to pay for his visit to our humble home.
“Yes,” he says, smug as always, and begins to clear away his things.
“Maydem,” Sanjoli follows me out of the kitchen, “I don’t think that’s the problem…”
“What do you mean?” I glare at her. By default, I hold the person closest to the device fully responsible for anything that happens to it. “I put the microwave’s plug into the same point, and it’s working fine…” her singsong voice finally cuts through my thick brain.
“So. It’s. Got. Nothing. To. Do. With. The. Plug. Point.”
“No, Maydem.”
And with some amount of long-held-back resentment and a great degree of relish, I attack the hapless man standing in my kitchen. But sadly, the euphoria of getting back at my arch nemesis wears off the very next day. (The Almighty finally stepped in and sent me a lovely old man who’s been repairing fridges and microwaves all his life, and he’s sorted us out. Now, of course, I live in dread of when said person will cease to exist on this planet.)
“Mama!” an indignant voice barks down the phone. “The gas is over! How are we going to cook lunch?”
L is at home for the holidays and has a friend over and is obviously disgraced that we can’t even feed her.
“Don’t worry, we have a back-up cylinder.”
I’m pretty certain I’ve ordered it as well and all should be good in minutes; for the Queen-of-Back-Ups, existing on one silly old cylinder is simply not acceptable. But a few conference calls later, to the live-in and my trusty “Amma” (who really runs the show), confirm my nasty suspicion: there is a problem with connecting the new cylinder to the regulator.
The deliveryman had refused to check the regulator when he delivered the gas, in spite of the fact that the exact same problem had arisen earlier, bringing the household to an abrupt halt until 24-long hours later, when he’d strolled back in and fixed the problem. He’d apparently claimed that he was “too busy”. “In spite of me telling you a hundred times to make sure he checks it?!!” I enquire from Sanjoli, trying not to shout, as my colleagues tap away at their respective laptops in an tranquil atmosphere of peace and quiet.
“He was busy, Maydem,” she repeats, unable to understand why I can’t understand this simple fact.
“Throw fifty bucks at him the next time he comes,” I instruct Dubey, who’s summoned to the phone — the messiah is scheduled to arrive at 3 pm to resolve this crisis.
“But why madam?” Dubey’s indignant. “It’s his job.”
“Which he’s not doing! Once he’s used to a tip, we can stop it when he doesn’t cooperate.”

Coutersy: Indian Express

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