The Amma and her Maid! It’s Complicated!

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Maids – those powerful women who can get away with pretty much everything! You can’t live with them, their attitudes, their non-existent leave plans, their tardiness, their sorry tales and all their drama! Yet, you can’t live without them! A slice of Indian life from the town of Chennai 🙂

Sunita looked visibly annoyed as she listened to the yarn trailing out of the her maid Anu’s mouth. The woman had disappeared for 3 days in a row without any prior notification, leaving Sunita to handle a house full of guests, the resulting loads of laundry and the never ending piles of dishes along with a full time job!

This was not the first time that Anu, who had received several warnings from Sunita  in the past about being fired  had gone AWOL*.  And yet, here they were again, listening to the tall tales that Anu spun about how her daughter had eloped to get married, while her son was ill from an infection on his foot!

Sunita was exhausted and Anu’s high pitched voice with dramatic undertones irritated her more than usual. She cut Anu off mid way…

“So, is your daughter married now?”

“No amma, she has run away with that useless boyfriend of hers and we are still looking for her!”, responded Anu

“Who is we?”, questioned Sunita

“My son and me, amma!”

” I thought your son was ill when all this happened! You said he cut his leg on some pieces of stray glass and his feet have been bandaged! How exactly is he helping you? I am getting sick of your lies…why can’t you just let me know before you take off? What good is your phone if you don’t answer it?”

“He hurt his feet while we were looking for her!”

Anu was trying hard to patch the gaps in her story. Pushing her luck she continued, “Please don’t fire me amma, I need to take my son to the doctor again and I need more money. Would you consider giving me an advance?”

“What?? You still owe me thousands of rupees in back loans! I am not giving you any more money!”

“But, I need to buy my daughter a new saree and some jewellery….”

“I thought you were angry with her because she ran away with a man you did not approve of! Now, you want to buy her gifts?”, exclaimed a confused Sunita

“I still need to give her dowry…what will my son-in-law’s parents think of me?”

Mindful of being dragged into Anu’s family drama, Sunita raised her voice and ended the conversation “Just get back to work and next time you do this, I WILL fire you!”

Anu scampered away as fast as she could while flipping out her cell phone to call her son and remind him not to show up around “amma’s” house as his feet were supposed to be bandaged!

Sunita heard her and sighed! This would happen again, maybe when Anu’s daughter returned (if had she  run off in the first place) and she would still not fire Anu.  She would probably loan Anu more money to throw a feast for her daughter and new son-in-law.

Finding a maid was the hardest thing to do in the city of Chennai! Yes, the relationship between the lady of the house and her maid could be best described as complicated!

*AWOLAbsent without leave.


  1. I think we need to remember that we pay them a pittance and get them to do the work that we dont want to do, and many of us would not be able to keep our careers without them.. so lets be more understanding. Years of being oppressed and ill treated have resulted in them having to lie. And dont we bunk work once in a while??

    • Thank you for stopping by. I am not so sure about paying them pittance, at least not where I come from. We pay our maids 4 figure salaries in the higher thousands. Fresh food and coffee with fresh milk ( no second or third decoctions), biscuits and good quality clothes ( not torn or faded) along with festival bonuses and sweets ate a part of the perks. Loans are completely different and let me tell you they are never paid back and we have been generous to let that go and not treat those that work for us poorly. So asking for some prior on leave or at least informing when they have already gone on leave is a fair demand. We do inform our offices when we “bunk” don’t we? Agree they help career women but they also misuse their status with many of us career women…like how they can do as they please, come and go as they please and even fleece us for more money cos we mostly work outside the yes as understanding as we can be I think it Isis normal to expect some basic responsibility from their side too.

  2. 4 figure salaries in the higher thousands is a good amount but it is still not very much given that they dont have any other financial security and most of them want to give their kids the opportunities they didnt have themselves. We all have fresh food, coffee with fresh milk and different bonuses at work so it is only fair to give them the same.
    On the subject of loans, it is a gamble. Some of my help have returned the loans or at least part of it, and others have got me to waive it. It is within our discretion to lend the money or not.
    I agree it is galling when they inform you at the last minute of their plans to take leave that day and we are scrambling to find alternative arrangements. But i really believe that we get what we give.

    • I think we need to accept that not everyone is cut from the same cloth,so even when we give generously or treat people with respect and care the same may not be returned… luckily it seems like your experiences have been generally good…hoping it lasts forever and hope the rest of us harried souls see some change…

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