Shaba-Aunty’s daughter, H, is down with chicken pox. She’s maybe 7 or 8 years old. She became symptomatic last Saturday, with high fever, vomiting, and of course, the pox itself. So naturally, this whole week, Shaba-Aunty has not been coming.
Shaba-Aunty became more than my “cleaning girl” in February, when I started working from home, and she started managing the kids in the mornings, while I worked. She dropped them to playschool, picked them up, gave them lunch, and put them to bed, apart from the usual domestic chores like washing dishes, putting out or picking up the clothes, sweeping, swabbing, dusting the house and so on. I’ve written about Shaba-Aunty’s immense value in my life in an earlier post. After two plus months of life with the enhanced Shaba-Aunty services, I’ve been sent back to the dark ages in the past one week and life has been pretty bleak indeed.
Right after breakfast, I’m deluged with house work. I don’t even attempt to do as thorough a job of cleaning the house as Shaba-Aunty does, but at least I have to make a modicum of effort to sweep most areas of the house. Then there’s always a mountain of dishes to wash, and all the rest of the housework. Meanwhile, there are the two pesky devils, demanding to be entertained and threatening to turn the house upside down unless I cooperate pronto.
Way back in the dark ages when Shaba-Aunty just did the house cleaning and buzzed off in less than an hour, I was used to handling the kids solo all day long. Besides, I wasn’t working then. Now, I’m ostensibly working – at least, I have been getting paid, so I should be working – but with two pesky devils and no Shaba-Aunty, I might as well attempt to climb Mount Everest without oxygen, so futile is any attempt to work while the kids are awake. Luckily, work has been going easy on me, so I manage to squeeze every inch out of the two hours when the kids sleep in the afternoon and make do with that… but it isn’t easy.
The simplest way to keep the kids occupied in these long, lonely days of no school and no Shaba-Aunty, has been to get them out of the house. I’ve taken them swimming three days this week, and it has them happily engaged and physically stretched, so that they eat well and go straight to sleep afterwards. Oh, and their swimming skills are improving too.
But all in all, it’s true what they say: once you get used to having household help, you can’t manage without them. I’m just waiting for poor H to get better so that Shaba-Aunty can relieve me from the drudgery of housework around the clock.
I asked her about vaccinations against chicken pox, she said that when H was small, the doctor told her that this one vaccination alone would set her back by Rs2,000, so they just didn’t do it. I wonder whether she regrets that decision now. At least her own health is not at risk, as she says she already went through her bout of chicken pox when she was young. Hopefully the girls won’t get it now… that would be a disaster.