A great number of women know the hustle of finding a good househelp. Very few women stay with househelps for years. Others will hire today and fire tomorrow. Some people will call them DMs, short for Domestic Managers. Probably because they manage everything in your house. Sometimes they manage the man of the house if he is the type whose blood boils at the presence of another woman in the house who ain’t his daughter.
Mama Rita prayed that she would not get that type. Like every woman, she wanted a househelp who would only manage the laundry, kitchen, home cleaning and children especially her four year old son. Her daughter, Rita was sixteen years old, in form three.
The month was January, the month that many DMs switch jobs in search of greener pastures. Many prefer homes that have less work, a good TV whose viewership is not resctricted and and employer who doesn’t control them. It’s one of those jobs when the interviewer is also an interviewee.
So when Rita received the seventh call that week, she had almost come to the conclusion that she would not find her prefered DM or one who would chose her too.
“Hello! I am Vicky. I heard you were looking for a househelp.” A voice said.
“Yes, how old are you? “
“Eighteen, I just finished form four and I want a job so that I have some savings to go to a hairdressing college.”
As Mama Rita interviewed the househelp over her mobile phone, her daughter was preparing some hot chocolate for her while Roy, the four year old brother was playing with his toys. The father had not arrived yet.
Mama Rita thought she had finally found the one. Vicky had a sister of around Roy’s age, so she knew about kids. She understood their tantrums, their sleep routines and even their play patterns.
“Besides I love kids and would not do anything to harm God’s child. And by the way Mama, I hope you give your leave days on Sundays, because I have to go to church. “
Mama Rita was over the moon. Her main conditions in hiring were ,that she could bond with Roy and also be a God fearing househelp. Rita who could not help but eavesdrop also gave the go ahead with a nod.
She told Vicky she was hired. She would start her job the next day. It would be on a Saturday. Vicky needed fare, she was 100 kms away and penniless. Mama Rita send the money. She had felt she could trust this one.
Vicky did not disappoint. She came at nine o’clock. She had woken up at 3 AM and taken the first bus to the capital city. She was slender and tall. She wore a cheap wig . Her lips had been smeared wìth Vaseline. Her dress was also too big for her covering her perky breasts all the way up to her neck and all the way down to her ankles and she had worn new black rubber shoes When Rita had a look at her, she burst out laughing.
“Please forgive my daughter’s manners. Her name is Rita. Then this is Roy. That’s their father .” Vicky was introduced to the family members.
Vicky politely extended her hand to Rita’s father who responded with little interest , his eyes were glued to the television. He was a football fanatic. When Vicky greeted Rita, Rita glared at her from head to toe then left the room in laughter that was meant to mock and embarass the househelp. Vicky seemed unperturbed, she picked Roy up who grinned widely when Vicky tickled his stomach. Mama Rita was happy that Roy liked the new help.
She showed her the way around the house, dictating her duties which Vicky listened to enthusiastically. Mama Rita finally took her to the kitchen and gave her a cup of tea and some snacks which she gulped in hastily. When she was finally done, Vicky started her work immediately. Mama Rita was impressed.
“The maid is just from a humble background. You dont have to be so rude and laugh at her appearance!” Mama Rita scolded her daughter who had gone to her bedroom. Rita was still in stitches. Her mum was surprised at this behaviour. Rita could be sometimes proud but this one had gone too far. She’ll get over it, her mum thought and left.
Her daughter’s school had closed down after a hazardous riot. Rita therefore studied from home until her school would call them back. Hence, Mama Rita and her husband would leave the three early in the morning and come back later in the evening. She prayed that the three would cope.
Vicky was industrious. She was thorough at home cleaning. She cleaned places which were rarely touched like under the sofas. Mama Rita was amazed at how strong the girl was because the sofas were very hefty. Vicky also made hand made toys for Roy who played with them with great delight.
Nonetheless, there was a challenge that Mama Rita experienced. Vicky never seemed to get along with her daughter. They seldom talked. Rita admitted Vicky was good at her job but she had nothing to say to the househelp.
“Why all this pride Rita? Can’t you see how good she is with Roy?” Her mum inquired.
“Why did you employ her,mum?For us to chat or for her to work and take care of Roy?” Rita answered back. “Or are you going to fire her because I don’t talk to her?”
“Of course not. ” Mama Rita said and knew that her insistence to change her daughter’s attitude to the DM was like lighting a pile of ashes. She decided to let things be.
Then,one cold Monday morning, two months after Vicky had been employed, Mama Rita almost killed. Almost.
On that day, she clad very quickly to keep up with her husband who had already dressed up and taken his breakfast. She had really sunk into slumberland that night. Her husband was having a meeting with a client. He worked with Real Estate. They left hurriedly saying quick goodbyes. Her husband always dropped her at her place of work.
When Mama Rita arrived at her business shop, she realised that she had forgotten the shop keys. She was vexed by the fact that she would have to go all the way back home to pick them. She took a cab and requested the driver to drive her back the twenty kilometres.
When she arrived, she was stunned at what she first heard. She put her ears closer to the door to listen in much clearer. Vicky and Rita were conversing. They spoke like very good friends. One could hear Rita’s warm and hearty laughter as Vicky made several jokes. Then there was something about Vicky’s voice. It no longer had the usual meekness. It was hoarse and confident.
Mama opened the door silently. Never could she have predicted what she set her eyes on. Vicky was stretched on the couch attired in a vest and boxer briefs. Mama astonishingly stared at his bald head, hairy chest and muscular legs. Vicky was not a girl. His head lay on Rita’s lap. Roy was on the floor playing with the new toy Vicky had made for him. There was stone silence until Vicky broke it.
“Boss, please…” Mama Rita could not wait for any other utterance to be vomited by the impostor. She grabbed an ash tray that was on the table and flung at him. He sprang up and slipped through the door as Mama hurled profanities at him. Rita will always remember the thrashing she received that day. She is sure that were it not for Roy’s pleas to his mother to stop whipping her, Rita would be dead.
Questions were asked and demands for answers were made by mother to daughter. Answers given tortured the mother’s heart so deep like a stab of a knife.
It all had been planned. Vicky had been her boyfriend before he came to work there. He was from a good family and his parents thought that he had gone to the capital city to study Computer Studies. They hatched this plan to be together. They often waited for Roy to have his nap so they could enjoy intimate moments. It happened several times she could not keep count. She was on the pill.
“No. Not my daughter!” Mama wailed at her as she sobbed in agony. She could not believe that the perky breasts she had seen in Vicky were just pieces of clothes. How fortunate of him that his face was still beardless! She did not understand why she never doubted the robustness of that boy. It now dawned on her why the boy rarely spoke. She angrily laughed at the pretence of the hatred between the two lovers.
When her father arrived in the evening, it was her mother’s turn to plead with him not to kill her. No one had ever seen him so enraged. He sat down taking deep heated breaths, then finally made declarations.
She was grounded. Her phone was confiscated. No TV. The worst punishment that Rita swallowed hard : She would join a day school and her mother would always pick and drop her until she finished school. She knew she deserved it. She had more to ache about. Victor had left her to suffer alone.
” No one will make us suffer for our love.I would rather come and steal you at night and elope with you.” She remembered his words.
She had waited by the window so many days. She had her bag packed so many nights waiting for her lover to sneak in and whisk her away. She imagined him firmly gripping her hand as they took to their heels to a free land. Days passed and she slowly realised her lover had forgotten her. To him, he was just playing main actor in a thrilling drama. She just had not realised that the drama had reached THE END.