16 April 2011

The woe of an employer

Its hard to lose a trusted and long-standing employee. I recently lost a maid who served with me for seven years. She had become almost a part of my family by then. Everyone assumed that she was a permanent fixture in my home. She was what her family says a 'kalaakar'(artiste) among maids! It is similar to what we know as the 'high performing' employee in the corporate world. The ones who come with the label 'handle with care'. All managers who have such employees will empathize with the experience I went through with her.

She started off with the humble duties of sweeping and wiping the floor. But over the years, her diligence and integrity won our hearts over. She soon took over the kitchen reins and other aspects of housekeeping to a certain extent. So much so that she became indispensable for me. But as she grew into this key role, so did her ego. Somewhere along the line, I had started bowing to her demands. At first, I did not even realize it until my husband pointed it out. I used to silence him saying what did he know about handling maids?

I had a baby last year. I was so occupied with the baby that the maid's presence became even more essential in my life. She started dictating her timings, her pay, her duties...everything. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, I saw it happening with my own eyes. Her vacation days, her demands for loans, bonus, gifts... everything increased. Which was still acceptable had the quality of her work kept up. However that had somehow dwindled over the years. I kept putting it down to her age though she is almost my age.

There were many times when we almost ended the relationship. But such discussions were usually very emotionally wrought with a lot of crying on her part. Every time I relented thinking she needs this job and I cannot do her out of it. This was against my husband's dire warning that she was simply taking advantage of me. Finally one day my patience snapped. When she threatened to resign I actually accepted her resignation. That was the end of it. I never thought it would end so abruptly. She stopped coming since the next day. She had been extremely attached to my daughter or so I thought. The fact that she hasn't asked after her even once since her departure shows that it was a sham.

We come across such employees at work too. At one point they are the most devoted, loyal and dependable employees. But they turn into a thorn in the side. What makes people so bitter? I do have another maid now and am actually paying less at the end of the month for her than before. But I still keep asking myself if it is a better bargain - after all I had invested so much in the other one.

08 April 2011

Priceless moments

Its amazing to watch one's child grow. My daughter is now a hyperactive and sharp 15 month old. She really surprises me sometimes when she emulates my expressions. When I'm watching my favorite soap on TV and laugh out loud, I am taken aback when I hear an echoing laughter from the other room! Then there are those times when I'm working in the kitchen and she is playing in the hall. I cough and immediately my darling tries to force out a cough too :)

Today I saw her trying to put my hairclip on top of her head in an effort to tie her hair! She has lately taken a teddy bear under her wing. Its amusing to see her try to put him to sleep or make him drink water from her sipper. Infact, I overheard her scolding him because he was not sleeping just the way I scold her when I put her to sleep:) She cannot speak most words yet, but her tone of voice is almost like mine. It is scary that my every action and word is being minutely observed and stored away for future reference by her. It is flattering and humbling at the same time.

Keys and cell phones are her favorite 'toys'. There is a big container which holds all her toys. Whenever she finds some 'treasure' such as keys or a cellphone lying around, it inadvertently finds its way into this container. She riffles through all the items in the container from time to time to look for a desired toy in just the same way I look for stuff in my handbag :)

Just the other day, hubby and I were having a heated discussion on some household topic. We were not arguing or fighting, just got carried away in the discussion so much so that we forgot that our daughter was playing in the other room. We were reminded of that when she came running to where we were and cried to show that she was disturbed by our 'fight'. When we both smiled at her reassuringly, she went back to her toys happily.

My daughter sometimes takes a long time to go to sleep. The ritual is that we retire to her bed armed with a bottle of water and some milk. She then drinks some milk first and settles into her favorite sleeping posture. But almost immediately she gets restless and tries to play with some toys that are nearby. I then sing to her and pat her forehead rhythmatically. However, even then she just lies there without completely going to sleep. This whole process takes more than half an hour sometimes. Nowadays, I just carry a book and lie down next to her reading it while she goes through the usual rigmarole of sleeping. As long as I am next to her, she is perfectly happy to wait for sleep to overcome her. I wasn't aware how observant she is during this time too. I realized it when I saw her carry one of her books to bed the other day and hold it just the way I hold mine. She then tried to read very seriously out of it!

And finally, the moment that takes the cake - when she fell down while playing (which happens quite often, by the way) and immediately cried 'Mummy!' I was so overwhelmed then - how do kids know to cry out for their mother when in pain? We as adults do it even now. Truly, mother-child bond is a unique one.

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