Maids from My Days

Life is funny, right? How one minute you’re best friends with someone and the next you can’t stand each other. How one time you’re so in love with the girl next door that you want to feed her from your palms like a little bird and a week after moving in together you want to put laxatives in her tea and stab her tits. Time and tide change, and people change with it.

Like, si you guys remember back in the day how EABL used to plead with us not to drink and drive, eh? They used to do really chill commercials begging us to take cabs home after one too many. Then they got tired and have now resorted to threats. They went from ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ to ‘Drink, Drive, and Die.’ Yaani hawakubembelezi anymore. See how fast things change? Well, maids have changed too. The kind of maids we had back in the day (that makes me sound, what, 40?) are different from the ones I see now. Ours were dark and loud and red-eyed and sturdy with sweaty palms and elongated noses and thick arms and jarring voices. All I see nowadays are cry-babies who look like they belong to the Justin Bieber fan club; chics in 6 inch heels and crop tops walking across Garden City Mall with headphones on, taking selfies.

I sometimes look at maids today and wish I had grown up in this generation. Save from a few incidents here and there, I think it’s safe to say that maids are nice – and even a little hip – these days, No? Fine, there is that 2% that will toss your toi to the floor and walk on them and light their fingernails on fire and wipe their asses with your favorite handkerchief and spit in your bath water if you delay their salaries but si the other 98% are cool peoples?  These days you can even get your maids online; you could be in the digs going through your Facebook news feed to see what Boniface Mwangi has done this time, then kidogo kidogo you run into a page like ‘Pumwani Maids’ and voila, one click and the next day you have some petite little mami in pink ‘Rich Gang’ sweatpants running around the house cleaning baby piss and making your hangover cocktail.

As opposed to my time (Okay, now I hear myself say that), most maids nowadays are obedient and less rebellious. They do your laundry; feed and wash your baby; do the dishes; dust the house and clean the floor; wake up at 4 so you can have your breakfast before work; prepare the kids for school; hell, with a little time on their hands, they follow you on Instagram and like that photo you posted 36 weeks ago that no-one liked. Maids from these days wear mini-skirts and rock Lilian Muli weaves and follow the Kardashians on Instagram and have Tinder accounts. They listen to cool music like The Passenger and sing Taylor Swift in the shower and watch shows like Nairobi Diaries. I hear there are some well-polished ones huko Runda and Lavington who say “sir” and “madam” and “kindly” and “please” and “thank you” and take your coat off after a long day’s work and pour you a glass of 21-year old whiskey; just how you like it (I’m curious though, can they also make mojitos? I think it would be pretty awesome to find a maid who can make a mojito, No? Or even one who can pronounce the name correctly.)

Back in my day, folks would have killed for shit like that. We had some sort of bad luck with maids; mostly because my Mum was – and still is – a woman of little patience and would yell at them at the slightest mistake (also, if the maid was cruel, we normally carved ways of getting rid of her. Like, this one time, we had this maid who used to whop our behinds all the time. We finally had enough of that shit so we put some of our own clothes into her bag, waited till my Mum came back that evening and started complaining that we had lost some clothes. What my Mum did in situations like those was she ransacked the maid’s property, and when she found them in there, she slapped her face so hard I think I still hear the sound when I close my eyes. Next morning she was gone, genius, No?)

One time a relative of ours brought in this maid from the village; her name was Agnes. For the first few weeks, Agnes was warm and easy. She would do her chores and retire to bed when night fell; no fuss. Then days turned into weeks and then months as Agnes began to show her paws. For starters, she stopped doing our laundry and only did those of my parents. Every Sunday she’d take us out back and, with a whip in hand, order everyone to do their own laundry. We thought she was kidding…until three strokes landed on our backs and we knew shit was real. Then, she cut down on our T.V and playing time to literally nothing. We weren’t allowed to as much as stare at the T.V set during the day anymore. And we couldn’t go out to play because we’d come back looking like a bunch of pigs and that only had one outcome; whipping. So we’d stay locked up in our rooms, passing time with dreams of grandeur, mouths shut (she wanted complete silence while she did her nails, said it helped her focus – wasichana mna maneno kweli).

Evening tea with bread and butter turned to steaming uji. Every once in a while she’d wear my sisters’ clothes during the day and take them off just before the old folks came home. She would, sometimes, watch those annoying Nigerian films with dramatic soundtracks and, by jove, if she even saw the tip of your nose peeping, you would find out why the Kiswahili folks decided to call it cha mtema kuni. Failure to finish the food you had been served booked you an appointment with the whip (and she had a whole stack of them neatly laid out underneath her mattress.) We couldn’t report her to my Mum because she threatened if we ever got her fired, she’d make sure we were all dead before she left (and as ridiculous as that feels typing it right now, with all this ‘hair’ between my legs, we actually believed her back then). Also, my Mum rarely had squabbles with her because she was this perfect maid who always made sure her children were neat and well-behaved and the house was in order. Even if we did report her, it would have been her word against ours. And we were naughty kids back then, my Mum loved us but even we knew she wouldn’t believe shit we said. Agnes stayed with us the longest, yet no one time did we ever see (hear?) smile or laugh. She was like some time travelling robot sent from the future to prevent us from having fun and make shitty Chapos. We got tired of being slaves in our own home so we, eventually, came up with a plan to get rid of her; a plan that didn’t involve us telling on her because we really didn’t want to die. Hehe.

So we did the one thing all men know how to do only too well; We Got Her Pregnant.

Hehe. Okay, we didn’t, she left after losing someone close to her in the village (is it wrong that we felt good about that?), seeking time out, but getting her pregnant would’ve been epic, No?

By the way, it is pretty mental that when you search African Maid or African Househelp, 3 of the first four results are pornographic.


This is an aside…

Have you ever sat down and tried to come up with, say, a 1000-word piece? Just a simple article with the usual storyline even; boy sees girl, boy likes girl, boy asks for girls number, boy takes girl out, girl plays hard to get, girl dates boy, boy screws up (probably cheats, or says girl is fat), girl dumps boy, boy falls into depression and puts laxatives in own tea, boy dies with tongue sticking out. Have you ever tried that shit?

It’s not remotely as easy as people think. It’s draining, to say the least. It taps into your whole creative juice and leaves you thirsting for either one of two things; a double of stiff whiskey, or two doubles. Sometimes a storyline hits you in the shower, but by the time you flip open your laptop to put it down, poof, gone. With the wind. Just like that. So you have to sit there for another two hours staring at a screen with nothing but an annoyingly persistent blinking cursor. And, at the end of it all, still, having nothing worthwhile to show for it, save for maybe a banal sentence like, “The chicken crossed to the other side of the road.”

As a Writer, you have to deal with people coming to you and asking you to write shit about them and when you later demand payment, they’ll say, “But…dude…si it’s just writing? It’s easy.” But, perhaps, the most annoying thing is having to deal with lazy good for nothing mutura-looking dunderheads copy-pasting your work without as much as a single credit; mostly for foolish things like Facebook likes and shares. We, here at Mister Left, caught up with one such person the other day. A certain Facebook user going by the name ‘Nyawawah Nyakwar Janekoh’ who – as per the time the issue was being brought to our attention by a friend (bless your soul, Leslie) – had already plagiarized about 3 stories from here and was busy running them on his Facebook wall as his own.

Following a little back and forth, the individual has now blocked us and, we hear, brought down the posts. We take solace in the fact that the guy is probably a fan of this blog (otherwise how else would he have gotten the pieces?), But, we – as Mister Left – would like to declare openly that we will not respond lightly to any cases of plagiarism. Read, comment, share (with credits), but do no copy-paste and claim ownership. Writing is difficult, dear bredren. And we do not do just for the fun of it.

So, to Nyawawah Nyakwar Janekoh (the hell kinda name is that anyway?), may your daughter bring home one of those chaps who drink wine and text fellow men “Hey” and “Goodnight” and walk around the house on a lazy Sunday morning in oversized Spiderman knickers.

Ni hayo tu kwa sasa. Mbarikiwe.



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