During my growing up years and beyond, my family has had some of the most colourful additions to the home in the form of house-helps. We’ve seen them all – the good, the bad and the ugly. I have written about Beatrice from the Coast in one of my earlier articles so here I will only highlight a few of the others:
Veronica aka “Vere”
She’s the one who was found wailing, “iiiiiiiii wananiambia nifue brangetiiiiiiiii” (they are telling me to wash blankets) to the ‘Masaai” watchman in the backyard after my mom instructed her to wash some blankets. Apparently, according to her people do not wash blankets and my mom was the meanest employer for asking her to do it so she was pouring out her frustration and tears to him. She cried the whole time she was washing them.
Mom needed a house-help at short notice so Mrs. Mwaniki our neighbour brought her to our house. Strange was her middle name. Firstly, she was bald which I thought was rather strange for a woman. (Note this was in the 80’s.) She used to say that if she did not fill her tea cup to overflowing she would die. And for sure, every time she poured herself a cup of tea; she would make sure the tea spills over the rim of the cup for a few seconds. SMH. Once, she did that in front of my dad and told him the reason and he blew up. She really believed it because that didn’t stop her from doing that.
She had a funny smell about her all the time – I think that perhaps she never used to bathe or if she did, she didn’t do a very good job. And she used to like sleeping on a gunny sack in the garden when the sun was hottest. I can’t remember much more about her but maybe that was because she lasted only 2 weeks. My mother figured she was better off without a house-help than keeping her any longer.
I loved Stella. She was a chubby, bubbly, prayerful lady from Tanzania. She was a Christian and loved attending our local ACK Church & singing hymns very much.
She had a big bust and my oh my, she never used to wear a bra 🙂 so her goodies were sometimes visible (please don’t crucify me for saying this). My 10-year old self used to really be fascinated by her dancing boobs, and I now wonder how the respectable people at ACK St. James Church Buruburu dealt with it.
When it came to housework, she was some kind of superwoman because she used to have supper ready by the time I came home from school at 4 pm, even on days when we were having “chapati”. I had never seen anything like that before. But I didn’t like the chapatis she made because firstly, they were thick and secondly, they were not enough. The family rule was that each person eat at least 2 chapatis during the meal but thanks to Stella, we’d end up eating only one each which was a crime.
One day my brother was in the backyard, slaughtering a chicken for that evening’s supper.You should have seen Stella pacing back and forth praying for the chicken…”ooh Mungu wangu…maskini wa Mungu…saidia Mungu…” (oh God…poor chicken…God help it…)
Aki I don’t even know where to start with this one. I think she joined us when I was in high school so I didn’t encounter her much except during school holidays. But when school closed, I received updates on her exploits from my sister Cat. One luch-time she denied my kid sister who had as usual come home for lunch, access to the house. So here was my sister, stuck not knowing what to do when Cat showed up! Now Cat used to have her lunch at school so many times that the house-girl had not expected her to come that day. Why she chose to mistreat my sis, I don’t know but we just thanked God for His mercies on Lydia.
Her salary used to flow in & out almost concurrently :)))) and Cat was one of the big beneficiaries of the outflow. In fact, Wanjira is the one who used to give Cat cash to buy lunch in school even though she was supposed to eat at home. Cat was a smooth one I tell you – she used to convince the girl to give her pocket money as well as buy all manner of unnecessary stuff like sim sim snacks from the neighbour’s kiosk until her pockets ran dry. Maybe it was her payback for being so mean to my baby sister.
Gotta stop here but stay tuned tuned for the sequel…