Some families are lucky to have brilliant house helps whose work is exemplary. Such house helps are thorough and do a fantastic job so much so that some get absorbed in the families — and get treated as family members.
Some of such families even boast of house helps who have served them for decades.
Josephine, however, is not that lucky. Recently, she hired a house help who has only served her for two months. In the spirit of December festivities, Josephine played host to a Chama she belongs to.
She, together with her house help, spent the better part of the morning cleaning, cooking and generally preparing for the visitors. Chama members arrived at 2pm, ate and went straight to the agenda of the day — contributing cash for their common investment.
As the contribution went on, Josephine’s house help was washing utensils albeit keenly observing the goings-on in the chama meeting. She closely monitored as the chama treasurer counted the cash and announced the contributions. Once the chama members were done, they had an AOB session after which members left at own pleasure — one by one. After the last guest stepped out, Josephine closed the gate to her house. And that was when the devil in her house help reared its ugly head; ‘she’ walked over to Josephine’s bedroom wielding a pistol and demanded all the cash.
“Kindly surrender all the money members of your merry-go-round have left you with,” the house help ordered.
“Shocked and terrified, I obliged and gave ‘her’ everything. ‘She’ pulled off a wig she had been wearing all along, and that’s when I noticed ‘she’ was actually male, and not female as ‘she’ had fooled us for close to two months,” says Josephine.
The house help called his accomplices who swept the house clean leaving behind a confused Josephine. To Josephine’s house help, it was Christmas come early.
Josephine’s story is slightly different from that of a certain woman (name concealed because of the sensitivity of the matter) who, in 2005, found her six-month old baby killed by a house help in Nairobi’s Eastlands. The house help allegedly killed the baby because it had a terrible fever.
The baby’s mother was out for work. The house help, seeing as the fever was not subsiding despite giving the baby medication — Calpol, decided to slaughter the baby.
Upon returning from work, the woman as usual asked where the baby was.
“Mtoto fever ilizidi nikaona nimchinje, nikapika nusu na nusu nikaweka kwa fridge, juu unajua kama angekufa angetupotelea (I realised the fever, which the baby was suffering from had not subdued thus I decided to slaughter her. I cooked some of her pieces and preserved others in the fridge for tomorrow lest we lose her to the ailment,” said the house help.
She was arrested, arraigned in court, and sentenced to death. She is still serving her term in one of the women’s prisons in the country.
Other than the common things that house helps are known for, such as running away with people’s husbands, they do nuttier things. A case was reported in Kisumu where a house help was fired for her incompetence. She had allegedly attempted to switch off a gas cooker by sprinkling water on it! Others have been sent packing on very flimsy grounds such as ‘being prettier’ than the woman of the house, thus increasing prospects of tempting the man of the house into ‘cheating with them’.
That aside, can you imagine that perhaps every morning after you leave your house to go to work, your house help gets into your matrimonial bed. She jumps up and down and dances on it without any clothes on, and then takes a nap on it!
She then gets up at around 10am and calls the estate photographer to take pictures of her posing in your ‘Sunday best’ clothes. Or better still, invite her boyfriend — a neighbourhood butcher man with a bloody dust coat — whom you find her serving tea in one of your sexy lingerie.
After tea, close your eyes and imagine the hot couple entertaining each other in your bedroom. Once they are done, the couple proceeds to take a hot shower in your master bathroom; she uses your expensive shower gels, shampoo, oil and perfume.
Such was almost the case when Winnie returned home unannounced one day. She caught her house help — red-handed — entertaining her boyfriend in her (Winnie’s) bed.
“I returned home one mid-morning only to bump into my house help leading a beefy watchman out of my bedroom. Some of these house helps can be so disrespectful, I tell you. That incident really shocked me. As if that was not enough, she could afford to sheepishly smile at me. Of course, I fired her on the spot,” says Winnie.
Someone once said house helps will be the end of our families and our lives. They come to our households in different ages, sizes and with diverse intentions. The bedroom picture scenario is just one of the crazy things that those innocent looking house helps whom you have trusted with your home, family and life, do in your house in your absence.
However, most of the house helps are not to be solely blamed for some of the strange things they do. For instance, on the matter regarding some of them running away with their bosses’ husbands, it has been alleged that most wives delegate all their responsibilities to them. They wash their clothes, cook their food, serve them and make their beds. They do this with so much grace, especially when the man of the house is at home. And they make sure their efforts are noticed.
“What do you do if the woman of the house leaves you to make their bed, ensure her husband showers and has breakfast before he leaves for work? Sometimes the man is left behind and an opportunity to lure him into ‘other things’ presents itself,” says a house help who sought anonymity.
She says most of the time it’s never their intention, but they do it once, twice and before long, both the man of the house help get addicted.
Some have been reported to be so charming to people’s husbands that they end up marrying them as second or third wives.
“The not so clever ones get pregnant in the process and the story changes. Once you become a mother to your boss’ child, and he feels you are talented in all other departments than his wife, what stops him from making you his second wife,” she poses.
She winds up by saying strange things are not just done by house helps.
“Most of us come from rural areas and get exposed to technology and swanky lifestyles for the first time in our bosses’ urban homes. Are we angels to know how certain complicated things are done? Personally, for instance, I didn’t know that it’s unhygienic to share a toothbrush. I had shared a toothbrush with my boss for almost three months before she discovered. She was so pissed off that she almost fired me. Bosses have to teach us and give rules and regulations governing their houses and instructions on how they want certain things done,” she concludes.