Domestic Bliss in Africa

Since the tender age of 18 I’ve cared for my own home, and oftentimes the garden – that is except mowing the lawn – even though Chris bought me a Strimmer for Christmas one year, nice try

In Africa there are so many unqualified people looking for work and I think I must be mad to have been persuaded out of a employing a Domestic Helper all this time. I think I am about the only person in my address book who has not had someone work inside their home – rocks in my head. Why not help put some food on someone’s table whilst they clean the crumbs off mine – win win

3rd edit , a lot of waffling deleted and somehow half a tin of condensed milk has slyly forced its way through my lips and down my throat, naughty thing and I had absolutely no control of its insistence! As the saying goes – slips past the lips and straight onto the hips

In 2018 we inherited a young girl (about 26) for a half day’s work, from a tenant we lived next door to. Yippee, I thought the day had turned into Christmas when she arrived for the afternoon. A little cleanup here n there, take the laundry off the line and iron it – then she could go home. Mmm, I could get used to this I thought. Never did I realise the roller coaster ride that goes with this new territory, sailing in uncharted waters ahead

When the tenants moved halfday fell away, Chris offered her a job twice a week at our new address. Wooppee doo

Thing is – she is slow, no – let me rephrase that – she is very very very slow pace, I began to wonder if she lived on snails. Or perhaps it was a tortoise diet?

So I am married to the hare and employ the tortoise – what an exhausting combination. Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise & The Hare. My head has whiplash from following the journey of my husband’s antics – which turns into frozen shoulder when I turn to the nearly statuesque figure ‘working’ indoors

What flummoxes me is why some tiles need to be polished all the way through to the cement underneath, and others don’t receive a glance. Is there something that is trance inducing in the cleaning liquid perhaps? As soon as she leaves I read the labels of all cleaning products in the cupboard – looking for hallucinatory chemicals, cannabis oils and other sinister ingredients. Nope, none

Perhaps it’s in her arrival morning cuppa coffee – so in a very excited moment I make myself a cuppa instant coffee, with one sugar and a dollop of milk, just as she does. Kitty and I sit down on the couch waiting for that magical moment to pass over me – nope, none

Anyway, we leave that house to go and live near Kruger National Park for a year and I decide that should we return, Nomphilo will not return. For a year she wrote messages saying how much she missed me, she missed our laughs, she missed our cat, she missed me, who was fondly named Mom and Mommy. Ouch, no pressure

I stuck to my guns. The very sweet snail-alike did not come back though I thought about her often. She was reliable, gentle and a great sense of humour. But I ended up finishing off every day to save her back – in other words I had a dog but I did the barking

Housework housework – it just seemed that I could never get to my writing – the housework never ceased. I think Chris has a laundry multiplier installed inside the laundry basket – because somehow there is a load a day – be it linen, clothes for day, clothes for night, garage clothes – phantoms clothes. To be honest, my pile is not much better and though sectioned off in the hers part of the laundry basket – the Laundry Multiplier must work like Wi-Fi – through walls and solid surfaces

One day an acquaintance popped in to ssay hello, and it transpired she had worked on Yachts in her youth and now being a full time land legs person, she had trained a lady to clean her house and iron as close to the discipline practised on the boats. She must be good, I will employ her maid too. So, along came Nonsikolelo, aka Sikkie in October

Let the games begin. She started off this new adventure with a cold or flu or Covid keeping her away for a few weeks before starting work one day a week for us. The gut should’ve told me that this is just the beginning of wild and wonderful excuses. You know, we had silly excuses for not doing our homework, not wanting to do sport, reasons for arriving late for class etc and we never realised how transparent they were. Embarrassing now that I look back. Careful not to look back – Nomphilo did and turned into Lot’s wife remember

So the day came for Sikkie to work – great woman. Scamper Cat wasn’t afraid of her. Going like a Boeing and pleasant

Until week 3 – no show! Day on hold, Roz back to her career housecleaning. Week 4, she arrived half an hour early, she managed to get through a day’s work by 1.30 pm and asked to go home, to rescue her 20 year old daughter from a drug situation she got into the previous night (short story). Following week I asked her to wash some windows and she pleasantly suggested she cannot do this job as she already has a job cleaning the cottage, and to employ her for an extra day. Ssaaaay whaaat? Are you kidding me

Following week – “Heaven”, as Chris calls her, doesn’t arrive at work because her youngest daughter is HIV positive and is sick. She cannot be taken to a clinic because some spooks have taken over her body and she is training (at 4 years old) to become a Sangoma (witch doctor). Witch Doctor concoctions do not, apparently, agree with man made HIV medicine so the daughter stays at home ill, vomiting, hallucinating & pneumonic. Whatever …..

In the meanwhile, she was not arriving at Claire’s home on the alternate days – due to relation problems, daughter drug problems, house burnt down, robbed of her belongings & bla bla fishcakes. Would you be in the believers club by now? What happens in this situation is the age old story of crying wolf wolf – you know the fable

Christmas comes and goes with everybody travelling back to their birth homes way in the interiors of our country. It really surprised me that many more people did not come down with Covid – all this mingling & catching overcrowded public transport. Maybe Sikkie did not catch it then as she is habitually ducking and diving and will have an excuse for the virus not to climb aboard – or possibly the Sangoma has put a spell on her. This is a subject I am weary of!!!

Last week Sikkie managed to close my broom, my precious wooden broomstick that zoots me around the skies at full moon, in the door – snapping it in two

This week she arrived late saying the taxi had burning brakes so she jumped ship and caught another one and that is what made her half an hour late. Ja sure. She proceeded to sit on the closed loo, with bottom the size of an elephant, to clean the floor in the bathroom – and broke it…… a great jolly hole through the lid. My God, what really was happening inside that bathroom. Whatever the reason was – it flew right over my head and into the thin air – more stories

This is how it goes apparently. So next week episode 8 will be written – actually my hope is that it is such a bland Friday of domesticity that there will be nothing amusing to report, only a sparkling clean home and the soccer teams’ ironing hanging in the cupboard

Just a little aside but still about staff around the housse – once we had our regular building team renovating our house and Elliot, the main brick layer, came to the door asking for his breakfast. I was stunned, when did this new thing happen? I had to ask him to repeat himself 3 x and then went to call Chris. Hysterically funny – Elliot only wanted ‘brick force’ wire to thread between the bricks he was laying. Sounded like breakfast to my ears. Robert asked for his cheese on another day. After fostering something nearly live in the fridge for a day, via Chris in stealth mode, for Siyabonga the previous day, I forbade any more meat in my fridge! Here was Robert asking for HIS CHEESE now. I was furious you know! Transpired it was an innocent request for ‘matches’, to light his cigarettes

Oh my word Africa is not for the faint hearted. Every new day has a lesson and I love it here living amongst our colourful rainbow nation