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'Corona Teachings': We Learn To Respect Our House-Helps More


02 April 2020

Sangita Agarwal


Introducing ‘Life Lessons During Corona’ Series 

When the whole world is gripped with the spread of the deadly coronavirus and is trying out novel ways to tackle with the unprecedented situation, OMMCOM NEWS has brought a series exploring out small learnings which are learnt by us during this pandemic. It is named ‘Corona Teachings’

Bhubaneswar: As most of the countries are busy battling Corona Virus in their own ways, India started its nationwide campaign by PM Modi announcing a 21-day lockdown from the midnight of March 24. People from all walks of life got affected as their lives took an unprecedented turn. No one was prepared for this ‘war’.

We all know that domestic help (maids) play a very significant role in almost each and every urban/suburban middle-class family. With the coronavirus spreading its tentacles everywhere at a very fast pace, and the lockdown in force, many families decided or were forced to (by their apartment dwellers) not to engage the domestic help for a few days. 

Ironically, with the kids at home and everybody working from home, they are needed more than ever. The home-makers have put their foot down to do all the chores and then started the chaos. The menfolk and the kids chipped in their efforts to help out and then dawned the realization of how tough is the work of domestic help, who worked for them for so meagre an amount. 

The Plight Of Maids In Indian Households

Shanti is a domestic worker in an apartment working in five different households. She cleans, mops and even cooks in some places. But most of the employers make a wage cut if she is unable to turn up for her job. She is even chided harshly if she comes late. This is the plight of many housemaids and they often work 14 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for wages far below the minimum wage. Many are also abused and exploited as they are illiterate and poor. 

With two small kids at home and a daily wage labourer as a husband, Shanti finds it very difficult to make her ends meet. With this lockdown, her husband’s income is nil. 

In many apartments, the maids are allowed to come in where the employer provides them with all the protective mask, sanitiser, etc but in most of the households have asked the maids to follow the 21-day lockdown seriously and took the work on their own.

The Relevance Of Maids

Cleaning the utensils for the first time during the lockdown, 17-yr-old Ashutosh asked his mother, “How much do you pay Gita auntie (maid) for her work?” When answered, he thought aloud that her work is really tough and how does she manage to do all these single-handedly for so less amount of money.

Millions of women and girls around the country are employed as domestic workers in private households. They clean the house, utensils, do the laundry, cook, care for children, look after elderly family members, and perform other essential tasks for their employers. Despite their important role, they are often looked down upon and taken for granted. 

This lockdown has taught millions of Indians the relevance and importance of their house helps. The work done by the maid is now not being able to be carried out smoothly by all the members of the family (clubbed together) on a daily basis. Even the so-called ‘elite class’ and celebs are trying to come to terms with their never-ending household chores during this lockdown in the absence of their house helps.

Hilarious Pictures Inside Households During Lockdown

Then entered the first-time cleaners, moppers, laundry-men, cooks, etc during the lockdown. 

*30-yr-old Baibhav Mishra decided to mop the floor with disinfectant and used a full bottle of phenyl in a single day (thinking it would totally sanitise the whole house). 

*21-yr-old Gaurav decided to water the potted plants in such a way that it won’t need water for another full week. One can easily visualise the consequences. 

*40-yr-old Sumit cleaned a single lot of utensils for the first time, got so tired that he slept for two hours.

*Dusting the house doesn’t seem to be so important for the ‘Mr. Perfectionists’ of the house.

*Neelam decided not to provide food to the inmates of the house if they did not extend help in household chores.

*Cooking in a clean kitchen becomes very tiresome. But it is very necessary, (you have to upload pics on Facebook and Instagram)

*So tough to take directions from wife while cleaning the house or utensils in proper way.(Did not know that it also had a format)

*The house which was so small till last week suddenly seems so big while cleaning.

*Everyone in the house seems to be tired all the time. How the hell did the maid manage all this???

Now the social media users do not find it funny to send memes regarding the treatment of maid vs husbands by the homemakers in the urban households. Now, respect has surged in the hearts of many for the domestic workers.  At least, the husbands and kids have understood the dignity of labour at home, quips Sasmita, a 43-yr-old homemaker. 

The government has appealed all the employers not to deduct wages of these workers if they are not turning up for work. Now, it is our duty as well as a mark of respect that we pay them what they deserve, even if they are not cleaning your houses these days.