Aafster Life Banner

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nanny McFlee


Everyone beat their heads together now, because do I have news for you. We lost our nanny. Again. For the third time in a year. Shoot me now. (No really, I’m going through such nannyless hell these days that it might actually be a relief if someone were to grab a gun and oblige.)

It could have been worse. My Khala told me she went through eleven nannies in 1972. Now that’s commitment. I don’t know how many of those left of their own accord, though. Because that’s what’s just happened to us, and believe me, there is no closure in it for the employer. Saima, aka Third Time Lucky, was a dream come true. Polite, presentable, loving to the children, hard worker, pleasant. We knew she was engaged to be married but she had no intentions of walking down the aisle until she was done putting her sister through her education. So responsible and philanthropic too. How nice it all sounds, no? Waaaaaaaahh!!!


Anyway. There was one hitch. When we hired her, she could not provide us the number of her previous employer. She’d worked at a house in Lahore, she said, and she had lost their number. In the summer of 2011, we found out quite by chance (and this is an amazing coincidence) that Saima’s employers in Lahore were in fact relatives of ours. A little investigation revealed that she had been a superb worker and that they spoilt her to the hilt so that she wouldn’t quit, so much so that when she was going for her first long leave, they lent her a large suitcase and a mobile phone. She never returned, and neither did the case and the phone. No wonder she lost their number. Ironically, before we’d left for the trip where we found out this information, Saima had asked me to please buy her a medium-sized suitcase from her salary. She said she already had a large one, but that was too big for a five-day trip to Islamabad. No prizes for guessing where the large suitcase had come from.


ANYWAY. Despite finding out this information, we kept Third Time Lucky on. Because she really was a superb worker. And she was polite and presentable and loving to the children and… waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!! What was I saying? Yes, we kept her on and kept checking on our baggage once in a while, just in case (I’m kidding… we’re not very good at keeping an eye on our baggage actually; it comes out of the storage with wheels missing and stuff and we're like, "Hain? When did that happen?"). Kher, it was all going very well. Then my cousin’s wedding came up in Lahore and here we were again, jetting off for a three-week trip to the other end of the country. We took Saima with us, which cost us an arm and a leg but also allowed us to participate in the wedding, frankly, so was worth every penny of the ticket. And… we lent her our suitcase.


Oh shut up.


While in Lahore, Saima said that she’d received a call from her brother in Multan, asking her to come there for some legal work. Earlier, when I had asked her how many days she’d want off for Christmas, she’d said NONE because she had no one in Lahore whom she would want to be with. Now she suddenly had six brothers and four sisters, all of whom were converging in Multan and she wanted to go for a week-long trip that could stretch longer, depending on whether her official work was done in time or not.


“Baaji,” she told me, “mujhe shayed dair ho jaey. Aap Karachi chali jaeya ga aur mein shayed khudi aa jaoon.” (I may get delayed. I might just follow on my own after you’ve gone back to Karachi.)


“Saima,” I told her, “mein ne aap ke ticket ke liye tees hazaar rupay diye hain. Aap ki soch hai ke mein aik khaali, pandhran hazaar ki seat ke saath baith ke Karachi jaoon gi.” (I’ve paid thirty thousand bucks for your ticket. If you think I’m flying back to Karachi next to an empty, fifteen thousand rupee seat, you’re sadly mistaken.)


So she promised she’d join us in Islamabad on the last leg of our trip. To cut a long story short, she didn’t turn up. She stopped answering our phone and finally her brother, whom we managed to get through to, told us that he couldn’t possibly let Saima go until their legal work was done. Fair enough, but what about our suitcase?!


We returned to Karachi with one nanny and one suitcase less, and with a vastly diminished appreciation of our own IQs. Both children were sick. The cook couldn’t come for a few days. And Azfar rejoined office immediately, of course. It was damn hard, particularly because of the children being ill. And for me, personally, there was an enormous sense of betrayal. I’d always been upfront and honest with her and tried my level best to be fair in our dealings. And Saima really loved my younger son, you know? I couldn’t understand how she could be clutching him and kissing him one day and taking off indefinitely with our suitcase the next day.


Anyway. A few days later we received a call from her ‘handler’ (the guy who had her placed at our house). Saima was getting married to her long-time fiancĂ©. She would not be returning. And yes, she knew this when she asked for leave in Lahore.


Now Azfar has a very low threshold for such behaviour, particularly in professional relationships. He told the handler to communicate to Saima that she had an item of ours and that if it was not returned, he would lodge a police complaint. Lo and behold, Saima (who had not been answering our phone for over a week) called five minutes later. And the suitcase was returned to my aunt’s house in Lahore the following Sunday. Her wedding is on the 14th. In other words, her jahaiz will now be sent to her husband’s house in another bag.


I remember coming to stay at my cousin’s place in Karachi for a month back in 2000. After thirty plus days of camping out in her room, befriending her dogs, attending her friends’ weddings, taking music lessons from her master saab and talking to her psychic adviser at 2 am, I went back to Islamabad. When I asked her hopefully on the phone, “How does it feel not to have me around anymore?” she said, “Well, the first thing I did was remove the mattress from the floor. And with that and your suitcase gone, I was like Ahhhh… space!!” Badtameez aurat. “But I do miss you!” she added a second later.


ANYWAY. Point being that that is exactly how I feel after Saima’s departure. I’m suddenly thinking what else I can do with that room and at some levels it’s actually quite nice to have the house back to myself. But I do miss her.





(Thank you, Mahwash B for providing the title for this post.)

26 comments:

  1. why do u need a nanny And a cook if you are a stay at home mom ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh well! South Asians! Americans are unaccustomed to such luxuries. I am a single mom, so i work ( sole earner ), take care of four kids and manage the house all by myself without any help whatsoever. The concept of maids is non existent here unless you are a billionaire of some sort.If I had had someone paying the bills, I'd waltz my way through the household chores.Cultural differences and a tinge of jealousy i guess ! ;)

      Delete
    2. This is such an interesting topic that I'm actually going to write a blogpost about it! You see, I've lived in the US as well so it would be cool to contrast the imperatives in both situations. Mad props on being a single parent and taking care of FOUR appendages on your own, though. And whenever you're comfortable with it, do share your name :-)

      Delete
  2. The cook comes once every ten days; the nanny is the only full-time help we need. I actually work from home, so it makes a huge difference to have support on the home front.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm actually expecting her husband to call you guys one day and say: "umm, have you guys seen Saima? She apparently has a suitcase of mine.."

    ReplyDelete
  4. HAHAH!!! Incidentally, Fahad, I've just lost my mobile phone a few hours ago. Do you think Saima spirited it away from Multan or is my sarri hui qismat just coming full circle?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aw poor baby. hang in there. she was very sweet. and makkar. as all sweet people are prone to be. love the title of this post, by the way. made me giggle.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That's an interesting observation. Prolly just gave sweet people too much credit all my life!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmm, could've been any of the two, the way this series of unfortunate events is unfolding, they seem pretty connected.
    Hope you've just misplaced your phone or "bohat hee sambhaal kar rakh liya hai" somewhere =p

    If you've actually lost it, Ah well, time for a new phone !! Iss dafa torch wala lena, Nokia barah assee (1280) =p

    Come to think of it, I could actually be of help to you by the way:
    Consider someone "casually" whispering good stuff to a certain someone about a new android phone and how it's value for money and the best thing the market has to offer when it comes to phones. =p

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sounds uber exciting but my husband just got me a new phone for my birthday... he'll prolly have a freak attack if I started throwing around random mentions of androids! Are you in the business, though?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hahaha !!
    Nope, I'm not in the business. Apart from being an avid reader of your blog, I also work in the same organization as Azfar =)
    The someone in the above comment was me and the certain someone was Azfar.

    ReplyDelete
  10. WHOOPS! Informer in the ranks, informer in the ranks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. So, Fahad, do you recognise the black shoes in the banner image? :-D

    ReplyDelete
  12. This reminds me of motichoor ke ladoo.. khaao tho pachtaao, aur na khaao tho bhi pachtaao.
    hain!!! kya karein..!!!

    do keep posting.

    Anu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saima, my motichoor ka ladoo... come back!!!

      Delete
  13. I did, but also by process of elimination, the two boots wouldn't be able to accommodate his feet, and he doesn't seem like a person who'd have a thing for Kohla puri's (Yes, I learnt that after I got married, before marriage they were just chappals) so it's an easy guess =p
    BTW, our house hold help also left a few days ago and the driver we hired never showed up =S. We're kind of in a similar fix as you, minus the kids... which I think make your scenario not really similar to ours =p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have pets? Pets are like children, only... not human. Actually even children aren't human most of the times.

      Delete
  14. "kohla puri's" is actually pronounced and spelled as kolhapuri's. Kolhapur is a city in india. These chappals were initially made here, hence the name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *goes deep red*

      I've actually taken someone to task before for pronouncing it as kolhapuri!

      Delete
  15. Aaf, like I said before, two sick kids, sudden lack of help would drive anyone up the wall. It has nothing to do with being a SAHM or a working mom. It's not an easy situation.

    The thing is, when kids are well under the age of 5, the whole situation is a mess. No matter how organized and together you are, shit DOES seem to fling itself at you from every direction. So one just has to grit teeth and plow through the hard times, repeating "This will pass, this will pass" ... and think of the time when they'll both be off to school and you can sip a huge cup of tea with all the chanay ki daal ka halwa as you want.

    But then you're going to be in your I-need-to-be-in-shape mode, so you may have to replace the halwa with a trail bar but you just have to cut your losses.

    You're gonna look and feel great though. Most of the time.

    ...

    ....
    .....

    I forgot what my point was.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hahaha! You need nanny mcphee :P

    But she would flee too ;) So beware. But you might not need a nanny after you get her :P

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi. Please post a new article. I am tired of visitng your blog everyday to find nothing new being posted. I want a NEW POST ! NEW POST ! :P :P ... It's a pleasure to read your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you... I'm just swamped, to be honest. Am one of those people who, when faced with a monumental load of work, go into hiding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the new post. It was a delight to read as usual. You come across as such a warm person. And that makes it such a pleasure to read it. Kudos to you. Good luck with your babies. I hope you get the time to write. Because i'm sure, like me, there are a lot of people out there who look forward to reading your articles. Please write often.
      Anonymous.
      Ps- I came across your blog by chance. I thought u were an Indian but later found out you are a Pakistani. :-)

      Delete
    2. That's far too much praise but it really, really made my day. Why are you staying anonymous?? I could shout your name from the Twitter balconies right now, am so pleased!

      Delete