Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Wrath Of The Spider Woman

"Maids, can't live with them...can't live without them" I announced to Ging, who looked as harried as I did after taking in the mess on the floor. Our maid Shanthi, in a fit of rage, had just swept jars of our favourite pickles off the counter on to the floor and was now glaring most defiantly at me. And the cause for her ire? That I had dared to draw her attention to the gossamer laced shelves in the kitchen!!!
" I wonder why we suffer this....I am so tired of living with a gazillion spiders and the most truculent maid in the world!"
This most definitely was one of those moments when Ging and I balanced ourselves precariously on the edge of reason, and contemplated drugging and packing Shanti off to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust .
Yes, I know...I shouldn't be cribbing and I can almost sense eyebrows being raised by my sisters all over.
But face it people, those of us who are privileged and can afford daily help cannot help but bewail their carelessness, unreliability and a gazillion other flaws. And those who go without, would shake their heads and perhaps with a little frown creasing their brows, wonder what the fussy haves are ranting about.
All through my decade of independent living, I was fortunate to not have experienced much maid trouble. Which probably was what decided the powers above that 10 years was too long a run for anyone, especially when it came to domestic help. The eleventh year brought into our home, Ms. Shanthi, the local spider conservationist and the Defender of Arachnids......Life has never been the same ever since.
To start with, our mornings became a never ending game of Catch Me If You Can with our very own Spider Girl. Every single day, the three of us would jolt into wakefulness at the crack of dawn just so that we could catch her in the nick of time. For you see, Ms. S had this strange habit of silently scuttling away faster than her beloved spiders, if we failed to catch her within minutes of her first ring. And to make matters worse, punctuality was not one of her finer points. Shanti could put in an appearance anytime from 6:30am onwards...It could be 7:15 one morning....7:45 the next...6:45 the third and 8:30 on the fourth. Strangely though, on Sundays or any other holiday for that matter, she would not only be at our doorstep with the lark but would also insist on leaning against the buzzer until allowed in. In vain have I wished her away or pretended to not hear the insistent ringing of the bell just so that I could sleep in. But on a holiday morning, Spidey always loomed large like a nemesis of sorts
Like every other maid in town, she would ever so often disappear for a day at a time, only to resurface with extraordinary tales of disease,death and all things morbid.....Her mother was bitten by a dog...her sister-in-law died...her sister's in-laws fell ill in turns and then died....We figured that over a period of 10 months, she must have decimated 3/4ths of her clan many times over to justify her disappearances. But eventually, even Shanthi ran out of relatives to consign to the grave and much to our relief, progressed to weddings and events associated with birth - the next spoke in the wheel of life.
These of course,were, the least of our worries. What drove us stark raving nuts was her grim determination to convert the moggie household into a spider farm. Yes, indeed....Most people had to deal with careless maids and the dust and grime remained after a vigorous cleaning. We had spiders and cobwebs to contend with.
The arachnids were all over - in the corners, floors, windows, beams, ceilings, around paintings, on objects, amidst my crystal, in the kitchen and even the bathrooms! For the life of me, I could not figure out Spidey managed to keep the house sparkling clean without disturbing the cobwebs. On occasions where the house was in danger of turning into a giant cobweb, Ging and I would nervously retrieve the broom from her sullen hands to evict our unwelcome tenants.....Only to be rewarded with broken jars of our favourite foods, crockery and even our trinkets, if Shanti did not find utensils to wreck in her rage....Very much like the present moment which had us stressed, cross and ever willing to throttle our spider girl.
Fortunately, reason prevailed and Spidey lived to work another day. As she stomped out of the door at the end of her day's work, I tentatively suggested that she start her next morning's work clearing out the cobweb covered ceiling of our porch. "After all, just how much damage can she do out there?" I smugly asked Ging, brushing aside her panicked glances at the car. "Surely, even she would not try damaging the Verna, would she?"
" No mommy, she wouldn't...But remember, she comes inside right after...what then?"...And outside, as if to reiterate Ging's concerns, Ms. S rattled and banged the gate ominously on her way out....
With a sigh, I got up to gather the breakables in sight & burn some incense at the altar. After all as Murphy's adherents would say, even if destruction is seemingly is not possible, good old Spidey would eventually manage it!!

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