The Maid and the Driver

by f


My mother has enough of the craziness and retreats upstairs early. I follow her, because I long for a nap. But my mother looks like she’s got one of her excellent nuggets of gossip. No matter how tired I am, I am always in the mood for a good piece of gossip.

We lie down together on the bed upstairs — I’m in love with the blue ridged bedsheets — and my mother says,

I’m so tired.

What now? I ask.

(I hope she gets to the point soon, because this mattress is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced and these sheets make it look like I’m in the middle of the ocean.)

The maid? my mother starts.

There are at least three or four maids around, but I know the one. She’s a young girl named R. Eighteen or so now, but thirteen and illegal when she was hired. It’s a sore point with me and I feel deeply uncomfortable about it because engaging a young child to do work is absolutely and incalculably wrong.

They’re thinking of firing her, my mom said.

My face is an exclamation mark.

She’s having a romance with W’s driver.

(I love the way my mother says “romance”. It evokes bad Hindi movie songs and the Swiss Alps and Russel Stover’s chocolate and the cloying smell of roses that wilt in the heat. I can’t imagine all of that … and R … in the same sentiment. It sounds like a gift from the Television Gods.)


W’s driver is a boy barely my age. He looks very boyish and certainly he’s high energy. He drives like a fucking maniac but that’s a requirement on Indian roads.

Yes, my mother says. Even better — he’s already engaged, and he’s spent 2 lakhs of the sixteen lakh dowry.


I make it a point to remember to be rude whenever I see him next.  But I can’t, because my Telugu is atrocious.

My mother muses; There might even be someone else, they’re saying.

R — lovely R — in her Indian frock wrapped alluringly around her legs like a fitted sarong, innocent and pigtailed and dark, running around the house at the drop of a hat or a scream — getting conned by a two-bit good for nothing driver? It makes me livid.

But I can see why she’s fallen in love with this driver. I see them together. He likes her company. He likes what she has to say. He gets the run of the car on his time off, so he can drive her around wherever she wants. They probably go to the Hussein Sagar and buy ices there, staring at the fetid water and the lights of D Nagar.

So won’t they do something about it? I ask.

Your grandmother wants to fire her, my mother says.

My grandmother wants to fire the girl whose future they ruined by making her work in the house without sending her to school? Their excuse for not sending her to school is that she didn’t want to go. What teenager wants to go to school if they have no idea what it’s about?

They sent her to art classes, which apparently satisfies some sort of educational requirement.

Now that she’s trying out her secret (not-so-secret) desires for the first time in her life, she will get cruelly rejected for it by the family that deprived her of an actual future.

One Comment to “The Maid and the Driver”

  1. This is terrible. 😦 I’m very sorry to hear about R’s situation. Nobody is disappointed with W’s driver for leading her on this way? He certainly doesn’t intend to see this relationship go anywhere, to him she is just fun. Still, does she know he’s engaged? I would be surprised if she didn’t. She does bear some responsibility here, as well. I really hope that she stops seeing him before she really does get fired. I hope she is able to keep her job. I wish that she had been able to go to school. That’s the real point here. She has nowhere to go and no real future ahead of her as anything more than what she is now. I don’t know how they look on people, or women in general, who get fired. It might be that if she gets fired, she becomes less likely to be hired elsewhere due to the stigma of displeasing the other family she worked for so much that she was removed. Which would make her future even more uncertain than it is now. R sounds like she’s very shy and naive by nature and now that she’s trying out a pair of semi-clipped wings she’s gotten herself into an awful jam. I hope that she gets herself out of it by deciding not to see him anymore. Is there a single thing that you can do? Perhaps talk to your grandmother about the situation? Or give R some advice?

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