The Maid Wife
Sindhu begins her day, every day, with a bath at four-thirty in the a.m. Because the state-sanctioned water doesn’t kick in until later in the morning, and because sometimes it doesn’t kick in at all, she draws the water from the well by hand. She fills a bucket, takes her bath, and then draws more water for all the household needs.
After that, she goes to work in the kitchen. For breakfast, she usually makes chapati and chickpea curry. If not chapati, then it is idlis with sambar. Sindhu likes to hum as she does her work. She hums and dances a little, knowing no one is watching her. And so she hums and dances in the dimly lit kitchen and thinks about how much she loves her son.
After her kitchen work, she irons and does her laundry. At half-past five, her son’s lunch is ready, and all her household chores are done. Dressing him up and sending him to school is the responsibility of her mother-in-law, Mary. Sindhu prays that Mary doesn’t oversleep today like she does every other day. Appu has been late to school every other day.
The first bus out of her tiny village is at 5:45. She kisses her sleeping son on his forehead, grabs her lunch bag, tucks a small purse into her petticoat, then leaves silently, locking the door behind her.
Sindhu works as a housemaid. On an average day, she would be in and out of at least three houses, her responsibilities broadly being cooking and cleaning. The pay from each house is meager, and collectively it is still meager, but she accepts it and never complains. When she gets home, it is almost seven in the evening and all her muscles are sore.
But today, she has a new job, well, the same job, but she only has to work in one house. For that, she will be paid five hundred rupees per day, six days a week. It was luck, and a recommendation from an old employer of hers that got her the job. But luck mainly. Sindhu was ecstatic when she heard the news. She lighted twenty candles at her church and thanked the Lord for his blessings.
Her employers are the Peters, both bank employees who have little time to do anything else. The missus does all the talking, Mr. Peter the nodding. The other occupants of the house are their two children, a boy, and a girl, who are in the sixth and eighth grade respectively. And then there is Ambrose chettan, Mr. Peter’s sixty-year-old father, who may or may not have dementia. ‘He’s never gone to a doctor. So we don’t know. But in all probability, he definitely has it,’ said Mrs. Peter.
Sindhu has never been a full-time housemaid before. So she is a tad nervous on her first day. Her job details are the usual for the most part. Except for the little part Mrs. Peter shared with her the day she had her interview. Sindu has to keep an eye on Ambrose chettan.
‘Make sure he stays in the house,’ Mrs. Peter said that day. ‘The dementia makes him forget himself, and he goes on these little adventures. More than once he has brought a bad name to our family. I don’t want that happening again.’
Sindhu’s working hours are from six-thirty to five, and she reaches the place at ten past six. Mrs. Peter opens the door for her. She is wearing a churidar, and a towel is wrapped around her head. She leads Sindhu to the kitchen and tells her to make tea for them before doing anything else. Sindhu wastes no time and begins her work. The first impression is the best impression, she thinks. I do it fast and I do it good.
The Peters are sitting on the sofa when Sindhu arrives with the tea. Mr. Peter takes four from the five cups on the tray and calls for his children. Mrs. Peter is reading the newspaper and does not pay any attention to her. ‘What about Ambrose chettan’s tea?’ Sindhu asks.
‘Take it to his room,’ says Mrs. Peter without looking up from the paper. ‘First floor, second room to the left.’
So Sindhu climbs the stairs and reaches the room. She knocks on the door gently and waits, but it does not open. From inside the room comes sounds of exertion, grunts, and huffs. She knocks again and says ‘tea’. Some more grunting, and then an exhausted voice says, ‘Leave it by the dresser.’
Sindhu pushes the door gently and it opens. A man is doing pull-ups from two iron rings bolted to the ceiling. A huge, bald, old man, in a white banyan and a blue lungi. His back is to her, so Sindhu takes the time to get a good look at him. She then leaves the tea on the dresser and walks out, closing the door behind her.
After that, Sindhu is back in the kitchen, making the meals for the day. For breakfast, she makes idlis and sambar. For lunch, rice and sambar with sardine fries and omelets. Sindhu gets the idlis to the dining table in time. She notes Ambrose chettan’s absence again but does not say anything.
Back in the kitchen, she packs lunch kits for the four of them. A school van comes to pick up the children at twenty past eight, and Mr. and Mrs. Peter leaves at a quarter to nine. With no one around her, she hums a tune and continues her work at a slower pace, imagining Sarıyer escort this huge mansion as her own.
Ambrose walks down the stairs with the empty cup of tea. He is exhausted from his hour-long workout and wants to get some breakfast in him. Ambrose leaves the cup on the dining table and looks around for the new maid. Penny, his daughter-in-law, told him something about that before she left for work. It is a big house, so he searches for a while, following the sounds of a broom raking the dry sand somewhere. He looks out a window and finds the maid sweeping the grounds with a bent back. Ambrose frowns.
Ambrose frowns because he understands why his daughter-in-law picked this particular maid. He is sure there were other reasons, but the main reason, he guesses, is because she is unattractive. She does not have the curves he likes. And she does not have the color he likes. She looks like a stick wrapped in a saree, he muses. Even at this distance, he can see how hollow her cheeks are, and how her collarbone pokes out of her skin. She does not have much for tits and ass, and her skin is ink-black.
He takes a seat at the head of the dining table and waits for the maid. His stomach growls like he has a dog in his belly. Ambrose waits and waits, his feet tapping the marble floor restlessly. Ten minutes go by. Then twenty. He forgets about the maid, and breakfast, and thinks of other things. First, he becomes irate over the fact he took six fewer pull-ups today than he did yesterday. Ambrose likes exercising and staying in shape.
That is how I landed Shiny, he thinks and his mood sours.
Ambrose stops, then steers his thoughts away from his late wife. He closes his eyes and does a breathing exercise. His grandson won a painting competition a few days back. A good memory. Happy… and fresh. His lips begin to curve upwards. His grandson came to show him the medal, and his painting. It was that of Ambrose lying on an old bed, bench-pressing weights. The brush made it a point to show that both the bed and the man are old.
Shiny would have loved that, he thinks and his mood sours again. Damn it.
When he opens his eyes, the maid is standing before him. She asks something. ‘I’m sorry?’ he says.
‘I said, ‘would you like your breakfast now, chetta?” she says, her voice soft and servile. Even with her dark face, the dark circles under her eyes are prominent. ‘I made some idlis.’
‘Idlis would be nice.’
She smiles, a good smile, but a nervous one. Her two front teeth protruded, just a little.
Ambrose’s fingers slice through the rice cakes like a knife. The maid stands beside him, fiddling with her fingers. He tears a piece, dips it into the hot sambar, and takes a bite. With the first chew, he nods at the maid. He likes it. With the second chew, a range of flavors burst in his mouth, sharp like a bee sting, and all in perfect harmony. He nods longer and says, ‘Can’t remember the last time I had such good idli and sambar.’
She smiles again, a good smile, and a real one.
Ambrose wakes to the sound of a fan whirring. He shakes his head and closes and opens his eyes. He is in the dining room and before him is a plate full of idlis. His right hand is covered in crumbs, and across from the dining table, a woman is sweeping the floors with a plastic broom, one arm resting on her bent back.
‘Shiny?’ he says. His wife glances at him and then returns to her sweeping. Her hair is tied into a bun at the top, and her saree is worn impeccably. Her saree is so neatly wrapped, that even with all her movement, nothing comes loose anywhere. It turns him on a little, knowing that everything is left to his imagination. His cock starts to swell. It’s like he’s never seen her naked before.
‘Did you say something, chetta?’ she asks, still sweeping.
Ambrose wonders why Shiny is calling him ‘chetta’. She never called him that before. She usually calls him by name. ‘Chetta’ is something people call their elder brother or a cousin. Maybe he misheard her.
‘Why are you sweeping? Does our beloved daughter-in-law do nothing in this house?’
Shiny furrows her brow at him. ‘Mrs. Peter is a busy woman.’
‘Mrs. Peter?’ Ambrose snickers. ‘Yes. A Mrs. Peter she is. She acts like she owns everything now. The way she orders our son around…’ he shakes his head. ‘I just can’t bear to see that darling. One of these days I’ll remind her who owns this place. I can easily change my will and give this house and grounds to our daughter. I should tell her that today. Maybe she’ll ease up on our…’
‘Are you okay, chetta?’ There is concern in her voice. ‘Chetta’ does not sound so bad now. The way she says it, the softness and devotion in her voice, makes him want to take her in his arms.
‘You know, if the movies are right, then there are some places in Kerala where a wife actually calls her husband ‘chetta’,’ he says.
Shiny slants the broom against the table and comes to his Escort Silivri side. ‘Are you sure you’re okay? Is there some medicine that you should be taking?’
‘What do you mean? I’m fine. Have you eaten by the way?’
‘I had… some chapatis in the morning.’
‘Then how come you look famished?’ he says and takes a sip of water. ‘How long ago was your breakfast?’
‘Early. At five-thirty, I think.’
‘You got up that early? That bitch daughter-in-law is treating you like a slave. Can’t she cook for the family once in a while? Here…’ Ambrose tears off a piece of idli and dips it in the sambar. ‘Have some of your excellent idlis.’
‘It’s not necessary, chetta,’ she says. ‘I can manage.’
‘Don’t speak nonsense. Here, come and have some.’
His persistence reminds Sindhu of her mother. God rest her soul. She was always pestering Sindhu to eat well so that her chest filled out. ‘Men won’t like you if you have no chest.’ The memory makes her warm up to the idea of some breakfast. She rubs the sweat off of her forehead with her forearm and grabs a plate from a stack on the table.
‘No. No plates,’ says Ambrose chettan. ‘Here, let me feed you.’ He holds out the piece of idli in his hand.
Sindhu finds the request weird, but she does not want to risk offending him. She puts the plate back, smiles, and bends down to take a bite from the morsel of idli he held out. A tiny piece breaks off and falls on the table. ‘Oh, sorry,’ says Sindhu.
‘It’s okay. It’s my fault actually,’ he takes the piece that fell off and eats it. ‘Why don’t you come sit on my lap. I can’t reach all the way.’
Ambrose chettan pushes the chair back and makes an inviting gesture to his lap. It makes the hair on the back of her neck prickle. Sindhu thinks that it is not out of kindness that he offered her the meal. She stands there blinking, frozen like a rabbit in the path of a tiger. She should get away from him. Run with her modesty into the woods and never look…
‘Come over here, darling,’ says Ambrose chettan, who pulls her toward him before she can implement her thoughts. She is forced on his lap sideways, her right elbow keeping his chest at a distance. Then she feels it. The feeling you get when you sit on a couch without noticing the tv remote someone left there. She is sitting on his erect manhood.
Sindhu tries to get up but Ambrose chettan shoves a morsel of idli into her mouth. Some of it goes up her nostrils and she sits back down, grabbing his sleeveless banyan for support. The sambar in her nose makes her sneeze, which expels tiny particles of rice cake and spittle from her mouth.
‘You’re acting too shy today,’ he says and laughs. ‘Here’s another one.’ He breaks off another morsel. This time she opens her mouth wide. ‘Good girl,’ he says, and shoves it in.
Sindhu coughs as some of it goes down the wrong way. His other hand goes to her waist and pulls out the ends of the saree tucked into her petticoat. With an exclamation of victory, he throws her pallu to the floor.
‘What are you doing, chetta,’ she says with a full mouth. Ambrose’s calloused hand rubs and presses Sindhu’s belly. ‘Stop!’ She squirms in his lap.
His manhood under her pokes her buttocks, eager to get out. His right hand, the one covered with sambar and idli crumbs, grabs her chest and twists with a strength that rips off one of her blouse buttons. Sindhu winces in pain. She fights back, squirming in his lap, trying to free herself from his lust. And without her knowing, she starts whimpering.
‘Why are you crying, darling? look at me.’
He takes her face in one hand and moves to kiss her. Before their lips meet, Sindhu slaps him hard across his face. Waves of wrinkled skin ripple in slow motion. The slap pushes her off his lap, and she lands on the floor on her back.
Everything is a blur. Ambrose shakes his head and closes and opens his eyes. A woman is crawling on the floor on her hands and knees. She is whimpering, and her back is bare below her blouse. She glances at him hurriedly. Sambar and idli crumbs are smeared all over her face. She gets her feet under her, gets her saree somewhat back in place, and runs.
That was the maid. Sindhu is her name. She was trying to get away from me.
As he sits in the dining room, he can hear her footsteps racing along the corridor, out into the atrium, and then farther and farther away.
‘What have I done?’ he murmurs.
Ambrose’s lungi is in disarray, and his cock has raised a small hill in the fabric. The maid was on his lap, a minute ago. He was molesting her, but he didn’t know it then. She cried and writhed on his lap, but he didn’t listen. Ambrose imagines he must have looked like an old Malayalam movie villain at that moment. He lets his head hang in shame and guilt, but his cock twitches and helps him remember that it felt good to have a woman in his arms again. It is a despicable thing that he did, undoubtedly, but…
Ambrose gets Topkapı escort bayan up from his seat, washes his hand, and walks up to his room.
He enters the attached bathroom and proceeds to masturbate thinking about his new maid. It’s been a while since he masturbated. He does not do it often. And unlike most men, he cannot masturbate to models and porn stars. Ambrose can only do it to women he knows. Women worthy of his semen.
He finds it ironic that his unattractive maid is the first woman in a long while to make him masturbate. He remembers her toned belly, her abs, her cute belly button. He remembers how small and firm her ass felt. And amid his jerk-off session, he wonders what kind of workout she does. Her upper arms have the girth of tube lights, but he noted how well developed they are. That’s why her slap hurt so much. Ambrose feels himself nearing the end. He imagines one last tiny detail — her slightly protruding teeth — and his cock pulses and shoots.
Ambrose flushes the toilet, washes his hands, exits the bathroom, and falls exhausted on his bed.
One week passes. It is late in the evening. The bus she regularly catches is long gone. Sindhu takes out her mobile phone and looks at the time. The bus after the bus she regularly catches is also long gone. Still no sign of that woman.
The shades of orange in the sky are getting darker by the minute. And just when she thinks waiting any longer is futile, Mr. Peter shows up. He walks the length of the atrium towards Sindhu, who breathes a sigh of relief.
I might catch the next bus after all.
‘My wife is on a phone call. So she send me instead,’ says Mr. Peter, smiling in his easy-going manner. He gestures her to sit on a stone bench that is beside a small fish pond. The bench is covered with climbers to such an extent that the grey stone beneath is barely visible. Sindhu sits, while Mr. Peter remains standing. ‘Now what is it you wanted to talk to her about?’
Sindhu prefers Mr. Peter over his wife; he is always kind to her. But Mrs. Peter is better suited for this delicate matter. She does not like the idea of talking to a man about Ambrose chettan’s perversions.
‘It’s about your father, sir,’ she says.
He nods once as if he already knows everything she is going to say. ‘I thought we’ll have this conversation much sooner. You lasted an entire week with no complaints. Impressive.’ He sits on the other side of the bench. ‘So what is it about appachan?’
Sindhu hesitates to answer. She arranges her thoughts and chooses her words carefully. A good maid is a maid with few complaints.
‘I know he’s sick and all but he gets very physical with me sometimes, sir. He touches me a lot. He gropes actually, and he’s always speaking lewd things.’ Sindhu does not go into detail. Just thinking about it gives her the creeps.
‘Appachan tried to grope you?’ There is doubt in his voice.
‘He tried to assault me, sir.’ Mr. Peter’s eyes go wide. ‘And he calls me Shiny when he does it. I’m assuming that’s your mother?’
‘He thought you were my mother?’ Sindhu nodded. ‘That’s strange. You don’t look a lot like my mother.’ He stares at her through narrowed eyes then averts his glance.
Mr. Peters stays quiet, and Sindhu wonders if he just fell asleep with his eyes open. ‘I thought of not saying this, sir. But…’
‘No, no, no,’ he says, suddenly alert and sitting straight. ‘I don’t want you to think that you can’t address your problems here. Especially when it comes to appachan. It’s just that… I can’t believe he would do something like this.’
‘He didn’t do this to the other maids? The ones before me?’
‘He did try something with the last maid we hired,’ he says slowly. ‘He didn’t touch her or anything. Just some harmless flirting, but it freaked out the maid, so she left. But that wasn’t because he thought she was my mother. The maid was really attractive. Too attractive actually. That’s why we decided to hire someone less…’
Sindhu understands and smiles. She knows where she stands on the desirability scale and never in her life had any exaggerated notions of her effect on men.
‘I’m sorry, Sindhu. I just meant that the other maid was like… Silk Smitha level attractive.’ He blurts out real fast in an unnecessary attempt at consolation. Sindhu giggles. He looks around to make sure no one else heard it, then drops his chin to his chest.
‘I understand, sir. So, you’re saying he’s never done this before?’
‘No. Never. He usually just shouts at the maids, thinking they’re thieves or something. Most of the time he doesn’t know where he is or who the people around him are. And sometimes he gets inflicted with this horrible anger. That’s the worst of all his symptoms. When in that state, he’ll harm anything and anyone. Even his own grand…’ He looks at Sindhu. ‘If you ever see him angry…’
‘Run?’ Sindhu says.
Mr. Peter nods. ‘It would have been a lot easier for all of us if he just went to the doctor. But he doesn’t,’ he pauses. ‘I don’t want to jinx anything, but, he’s been doing a lot better ever since you got here. He doesn’t forget things as much as he used to.’
‘I think he does all the forgetting when I’m around, sir.’ Mr. Peter chortles. ‘How long has he been like this?’