Thursday, 3 June 2010

Maid of Conscience

In this partly third-world coutry of ours, even the average earner has either a char or a live-in maid. My sister-in-law has always been kind-hearted and can’t resist trying to help anyone wherever she can. Thus she has always had a series of the poorest of the poor as chars and is always caught between feeling sorry for their plight and exasperated when they arrive drunk or don’t arrive at all when she most needs them. It was no different last week-end. The maid, Sophie, who has been (half-heartedly) fired several times, returned again, on the wrong day, muttering quietly to herself. She lives nearby. After the usual two hours of doing everything wrong and being more of a hindrance than a help, she was (as usual) sent home with a full day’s pay and half the contents of my sister-in-law’s fridge. Sophie has no husband, has lost four adult children to Aids - 3 daughters and a son - and now sits with all the grandchildren to raise on her own. My sister-in-law is a better person than me. I give only to registered charities now and don’t even have a char, so my house is always in order. I tell myself that I did my duty and had a full-time maid when my children were small, and char once a week when I was working. My conscience is reasonably clear. I don’t suppose it can ever be totally so, not when you live in Africa.

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