The process of getting a maid is very difficult.
You don’t want to get an underage maid because, by law, you would be violating the rights of a minor.
The challenge that comes with it is that after the age of 18, most girls are ripe for marriage. So, there is the fear of them taking over your home. This leaves one with an option of getting older women, probably older than you.
So, if you are 32, you would want to get a 40-year-old to be your house help. But the African settings are such that when someone is older than you, there is a level of respect you accord them. How then would you tell them what to do, or reprimand them when they go wrong?
I have had maids come in and go. Some have spent only days, maybe weeks, others months. The longest-serving maid spent two years with me, but that was when I did not have a child. Maids hate children. They want to be in a home where there are no children.
One of the girls asked me, one time: “Do you have children?”
I searched my bag, got some money for her transport and gently asked her to go back. She did not even reach her job destination. I imagined what she would do to my little daughter if I left them together. She was someone’s child who wanted to come and work in a home where there was no child. How selfish can one be?
I went back to the drawing board and started looking for another maid. I got a Home Maids Company to help, and indeed I got one – dutiful, well-behaved and self-driven.
“Mummy, Joanna said she wants to eat chocolate. Please bring her some in the evening,” deep-voiced Proscovia knelt down and requested on behalf of my daughter.
Wow! This was new. I have not had a maid who cares that much about my seven-year-old Joanna. It is true Joanna loves chocolate, but I regulate it to protect her from eating too much sugar and keep her teeth healthy.
“Proscovia, thank you for caring, but I do not want her to eat chocolate. Maybe once in a while, not every time she wants it,” I said.
I returned home one evening, and found the duo at the dining table doing Joanna’s holiday work. Proscovia was helping Joanna master addition that involves carrying.
I could hear her saying: “Eight plus five is 13. So, you write three and carry one, and then add the one you carried to the existing number.”
I was very surprised. Proscovia had carried bean seeds from the pantry to help Joanna count, add them and get the answer. It was too good to be true, but I was happy I had got myself a girl like Proscovia.
After supper, I went through the part of the holiday work that Joanna and Proscovia had completed. Things were perfect there. And then my daughter walked in laughing loudly.
“Joanna, stop. Why are you distracting me?” I cautioned.
“Mummy, you can’t believe I peeped through the toilet key hole and saw Proscovia,” she said.
I jumped and slapped her hard.
“Joanna, you have to stop that habit. You did the same to the maid who just went, and I told you it is bad manners to peep. What is wrong with you?” I quarreled and raised another slap.
“Mummy please, don’t beat me. Mummy please...,” she pleaded amid tears.
I calmed myself, and sat her down to give her real talk about respecting people’s privacy. After I was done, she asked me: “Then why does she urinate while standing?”
A cold chill ran through me. I ran to Proscovia’s small room, and pulled her skirt down. She tried to fight, but I was already pulling off her knickers. And there ‘he’ stood – a boy dressed like a girl – staying with my daughter for the most part of the day, the two of them all alone.