I wait for her to come each day.
Always worried beyond belief
That the trains may not run,
That there may be a cow on the tracks,
Or a lover gone wrong, something or the other
To keep, my maid from cleaning my floor.
Keep her from folding my clothes, stop her dusting my door
Nothing must keep her, from cleaning my already clean floor
But when she arrives, a lean machine, dusty hair and clothes windblown
I forget to ask how come she is there on time
Despite the crowd of women who fight to keep a toehold
On the Lokkhikantopur Local, at least I think
That was the name she gave as the name of her train
Despite the crowd of groping hands, despite her man’s drunken roar
Nothing must keep her from cleaning my marble floor
I push her into the kitchen, almost shove her to the floor
Where last night’s biryani and rezala congeals in yellowing pools
On the plates I paid excess baggage for on a trip to Phuket.
I give her the special cup that sits, alone on the shelf
Far from things that we, the others, use
In the dim light of a zero energy globe, I can barely see
The cracks that leak tea, onto her roughened hands.
I somehow forget the dry chapatis that I have saved from the weekend
My plan is to turn generous as she is finishing for the day
With a little week-old potato curry it should be enough
To induce her to stay late on the weekend
Such a boring life I lead, another party at the club
The only thing that can brighten up this existence
Is a trip to Park Street, or perhaps I will go ethnic
Byloom seems all the craze, their mutton chops are to die for
Said the skinniest of my friends.
The b_! I am so sure she hopes to shimmy up to X
Show off her perfectly sculpted stomach and get him to play
I look at my maid and think if only I had her regime
I would look like a million pounds too
Instead of reading that on my bathroom scales.
From my kitchen she must rush to sweep up nonexistent dust
Mop the floors, do the washing, hang it out
At least I am considerate, I have bought myself a washing machine
At lunch I eat too much, make a mountain of fish bones by my plate
She sits half asleep by the sofa on the floor, unseeing eyes fixed
On an educational serial on vernacular television
I know all the big words to use, I am about to cut a disc
Of poems, songs and ramblings set to techno-jazz
Ten percent of the profits I have chosen to give
To a women’s shelter that sells the most exquisite
Chikankari work to outlets abroad
As I get up to wash my hands, I notice something that makes me see red
A hand-print, five fingers, on the brushed steel fridge, that looks like dried blood
I call her sharply, I feel like slapping her stupid face, I ask her how she got mud
Near the water dispenser tap. Have you been drinking my ice cold water?
You are such a spoiled cow I yell, you are completely useless
See what you have done! Now I will go to the shops
With a bloody raging migraine.
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