Thursday April 3 2014

My house help was made in heaven

Although she has never had children and she is

Although she has never had children and she is much older than her employers, Alice Ajambo (centre with a baby), looks after her boss’ children like they were her own. photo by Samanya Rahma Kyategeka. 

By Full woman

A week never passes by before you hear a colleague, relative, or friend talk about the weird things their house helps do, especially if you relate in the married circles, with mothers and children. Every time I hear such a story, I close my eyes and thank God for my maid.

Alice walked into our house when our first born was two months old. He had already gone through three maids by then. My husband was disgusted. He thought I was just impatient and difficult. In fact, he had told me not to bother his mother again. She had got us the last three maids.

I had turned to my father, taking advantage of his respect for educated career women. I exploited this by telling him that I would have to abandon my job and look after the baby. Indeed, he went to work and called me a day later asking me to travel to the village immediately and pick my maid.

The next morning, when I got to the village, I met a woman who seemed to be at least three times my age. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I was 23 then, and this woman told me that she was 53. My blood run cold.
How was I supposed to stay in our two-bedroom house with a woman old enough to be our mother (husband and I). How was I supposed to instruct her on the daily chores? My father said he was just desperate to get me help so I don’t degenerate into a housewife. The 53-year-old was to fill the gad while my father continued searching for a younger one.

That evening, when I walked into my house, it was clear that hubby was not amused by the new help. It did not help that she said she had never had children of her own although in her defense, she politely told him that, “We have children and babies in my family.”

The days that followed forever changed our attitude towards this woman who had only asked for Shs30,000 in payment. She proved to be a very first learner. She knew exactly what to do, from looking after the baby to cooking very good food.

This woman has never ever spoken to me on her feet; she always kneels to talk to me. She has taken on my children (now three) like they are her grandchildren. She can tell when they may fall sick, has mastered their immunisation schedules, pays attention to their meals, name it. When I have a fight with my husband, she is quick to ask me to keep my cool, because I’m a woman.

Save for my family members, if you walked into our home today and met Alice, you would mistake her for a close relative. Because we are all very busy, Alice oversaw the construction of our house until it was near completion when we moved in.

Though she is a Christian and we are Muslim, Alice makes it a point to take the children to the mosque on Fridays (without being asked to do so).
My children are three, two and one-year-old respectively. Despite the very
poor spacing, this woman has taken good care of them as I’m busy all week, with each day stretching from 6am to 9pm. After work, I go for a Master’s programme, so, I get home late.

The biggest boy has started school now, but even then, Alice was already homeschooling them all, albeit in vernacular. What more can I ask for? I’m the envy of my colleagues and peers, but really God did this for me.

I was lucky to meet such an angel and I know it. Oh, my father did find me a younger maid about two months later but I told him that I wouldn’t need her anymore. I’m comfortable with this “grandmother”.