I like writing about househelps (or domestic managers as they are now called) because let’s face it, they add a certain flavour, excitement or even drama to our daily living. From eating the baby’s cerelac, to entertaining male “friends” and wearing the employer’s clothing; their shenanigans are the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters. Love them or hate them, they are an important part of our modern city life.
Here are a few types I have observed:
One lady in my hood had a househelp who, in the name of tasting the food she had just cooked, would eat a plateful of food, then at mealtime, eat another plateful. Especially on the days she cooked meat dishes, ha ha. I know it’s true because the local “CNN” always had the freshest 411 from every household as soon as it happened. Well, many women in Nairobi would not keep such a househelp in their employ for long, because food can be a touchy subject. You will sooner fire her than deal with her (un)healthy appetite. The only way she gets to stay is if her work is exceptional, or is very good with the children.
Some are really just strange. Next-level kind of strange. Like this nanny who had the child’s father wondering why the madwoman of Kawangware had come to live with them. It might have been because of the glazed look in her eyes, or even her githeri fetish. Her appetite for githeri was so big, it was common to find her munching on it at all hours of the day and punctuating her bites with “aki mimi napenda githeri sana”. This of course with her glazed eyes and the hugest grin on her face.
Nanny from Hell
I will never forget the one who used to mistreat my nephew who was a toddler at the time. I discovered this one afternoon when I dropped in on them on a whim, after I felt a strong urge to go visit them. Immediately I rang the bell, the boy responded with a cry. I quickly let myself in and found the little one seated on the carpet with his head on the sofa having cried himself to sleep. I immediately took him in my arms to soothe him, called his mum, then set about changing his soiled nappy. As I was trying to cheer him up, I moved to touch his cheeks and he flinched. That’s when I knew that the girl wasn’t just neglecting the baby, she was also physically abusive. I was livid. If I was the mother, at this point I would have calmly taken my child to the neighbour’s house, then gone back home to wait for the girl with a panga in my hand. The rest you would have seen on the news. His mother arrived before the househelp, and after confirming the sequence of that afternoon’s events, went to her room. The girl finally came in after 6 p.m. to find a “calm” mother who asked where she’d been and why her child had been left alone in the house. My sister did not even raise her voice. We went about things as if everything was normal, except nothing was. Early the next morning, the girl was given her marching orders and that was the end of that. Thank God the boy recovered fully and regained his speech which had been affected by the trauma.
Some househelps come to your home with all sorts of dishonourable intentions. My friend’s househelp had taken to dressing provocatively around the house and there was this time she had on a low cut top as she was serving my friend and her husband their evening meal. You can imagine when she leaned forward her cleavage was all over the place. Without skipping a beat my friend asked the girl something like “aren’t you worried that your boobs will fall into the food?” Well, that was the perfect response because the girl never acted that way again.
Others try to subtly influence the man against his wife by highlighting her “faults” to him. Some men against their better judgement, give ear to the complaints not fully realizing they are playing right into a well-laid trap. (Obviously there are other men who, fully aware of what’s going on, still entertain such shenanigans). One househelp who tried it on my colleague was absolutely stunned when he warned her that if she valued her life, she must never, ever speak to him about his wife again. Poor girl didn’t see that coming, ha ha!
I salute all the women who have nannies and househelps in their employ, to help manage the household and raise the children. I believe it takes great courage to leave one’s child(ren) in the care of a woman who before she came to live with you, was a total stranger.