I am busy ~ Chapter 1

Previous Parts : Introduction

Chapter 1: At the mercy of maids

As Kanaka was getting too old to manage the household chores by herself they had hired two servants, namely Radha and Ganga to help her with the work. True to his nature Subbiah abhorred this extra expenditure but had relented after a lot of arguments ending with Kanaka threatening to leave the house. 

Subbiah had an absurd notion about maids. He believed they were made to harass their masters with their never ending demands of pay rise and holidays. He also felt they were careless and clumsy when it came to their work. To top it all they had a habit of going on leave very frequently for long periods. He hated all this. But Kanaka true to her nature was very caring towards them as well. Every day she would serve snacks with coffee without fail and inquire about their well being. She even tried helping them financially in whatever little way she could. All this would irritate Subbiah. 

In the mornings Subbiah had scheduled his pooja timings to match with the maids’ arrival so as to avoid them completely. But sitting in a complete meditative pose before the Almighty, his ears would be very much there trying to catch their conversation. He would catch bits and pieces of it and murmur his opinion to God, half-expecting him to nod in agreement. 
The courtyard of Subbiah's house

Once the servants left he would begin his war of words with Kanaka. As he continued talking Kanaka would go about doing her work waiting to hear ‘huh’ from him as it meant he was done. The moment she would hear that she begin her part of the story. This would go on till either of them left the house for their daily visits. One day it so happened that both Radha and Ganga were on leave at the same time. This acted like a final nail in the coffin for Subbiah. With each passing day his anger grew as he waited for them to come back.

One day Kanaka was busy in some household chores while Subbiah sat in the courtyard reading the newspaper with his morning cup of coffee. He raised his head as the gate opened to see Ganga entering the house.  He stopped her in her tracks and began his interrogation, ‘Where were you?

Ganga: Ayya….my son was not well.

Subbiah: So….you cannot inform us huh…??

Ganga: Ayya I had told Kanakamma.

Subbiah: You said one day and today it has been a week.

Ganga: Ayya my child….

Subbiah (Interrupting her): Huh…what do you people think of yourselves? We have also worked our entire life but never with such a callous attitude. How do you expect to grow like this?

Ganga: Ayya…. (She tried asking him with a confused expression on her face)

Subbiah: No no…nothing doing. It cannot work like this. Not even if you beg me or say sorry…

Ganga: Beg..??

Subbiah: I am not like your Kanakamma...huh.... I will not tolerate all this nonsense.

Before Ganga could say anything he continued;

I am very busy and don’t have time for all this. We don’t need you or your services any more. Please leave and come in the evening to settle your accounts.’

Without waiting for her reply he walked into the house in a huff. He got a bit startled a he saw Kanaka standing before him. She inquired, ‘What was all that commotion outside early in the morning? What happened?’  ‘…That Ganga had come…’ he said sheepishly averting his gaze, ‘I told her we don’t need you…..she was not even feeling bad about…..’ Kanaka looked at him angrily and said ‘How will we manage the household work now?’

Immediately Subbiah retorted ‘Arre…we will get a new one. There is no dearth of good servants. You wait and watch.’ Kanaka slapped her forehead and left the room murmuring Shiva shiva. Subbiah turned to leave the room ‘She will never understand anything. Impatient as always….huh…

He thought Kanaka was not hiring the right maids. This time he thought he will select the maid himself and show Kanaka what a right maid is. He thought a lot about this and decided that it was high time he took things in his hands. He could not let things go on like this. Any further. Kanaka smiled and wished him luck as his expressed his desire to her at lunch. This enraged him further and he began his mission with much gusto. For him this was more like a challenge where he had to win. He lost his sleep trying to derive upon a fool proof plan to get a maid.

The Newspaper agency's office building

He weighed a lot of options before finally deciding to place an ad in the newspaper for a maid. The next day he went to the local newspaper with this advetisement.

To manage all household work
With 8 hours duty
Will be paid handsomely
Contact P.O Box No: 15321

The newspaper agency’s sales representative looked at the advertisement and then looked at Subbiah with a puzzled look. He cleared his throat as if to gather courage and said, ‘Sir….we don’t accept this type of advertisements.’

Subbiah flared up,’ Why?? Why cannot you take up this ad? You have not mentioned this anywhere in your newspaper’s guidelines...Huh…. you people don’t understand. You all just want to harass us without any reason.’ The representative tried interrupting him, ‘Sir... I am sorry. What I meant was this type of advertisement might not get you the desired results….why don’t you try some other way to search a maid servant like….’

Before he could complete Subbiah started screaming,’ I don’t need your advice. I want to find a maid through this way only. What is your problem? You people just want to waste our time. You don’t realize we have other work too. Now please process this fast as I need to leave quickly. I am busy.’

The representative nodded and his head feeling disheartened and started typing furiously on his computer to process this advertisement. He took a print out of the payment receipt and handed over the same to Subbiah. ‘Sir, your advertisement will appear in Sunday’s newspaper for the next 3 weeks. Wish you luck.’ Subbiah retorted with a grunt and left after making the payment.

Subbiah waited anxiously for Sunday to see the kind of responses he got. Responses - he did receive each brilliant than the other. One wanted to know if accommodation was inclusive of it, while the other wanted lunch and breakfast to be included in the package. There was another one who had requested for a two hours gap in between to watch her favourite TV serial in lieu of which she was willing to work for 10 hours. To say Subbiah was disheartened would be a small word. 

Instead of helping him solve his dilemma this ad had added on to his woes. He had no option but to wait for next Sunday and hope the responses are better next week.  But to his utter dismay the responses only got worst with each passing week leaving Subbiah flabbergasted. 

One morning as he was reading newspaper an advertisement caught his attention. It was of a housekeeping company offering its services with some newly introduced schemes. He immediately picked up the telephone and started dialing a number. As the phone started ringing, there was a grin on his face as if to denote the imminent victory against Kanaka. ‘Finally……’ he thought, ‘finally I will hire the right maid and show Kanaka.’ 
Subbiah's Table
Subbiah: Hello…. Is that AMCO housekeeping?

Customer Service: Yes…tell me Sir. How can I help you?

Subbiah: (Smiling) I want to avail your services.

Customer Service: Sure Sir. Please be on the line while I transfer your call to the concerned person.
(Music played as Subbiah holds the line)Suddenly the phone was answered:

Good afternoon, this is Vishal here, how can I help you?

Subbiah: Good afternoon Mr. Vishal. This is Subbiah here and I want to avail your housekeeping services. 

Vishal: Sure sir, before we proceed I would like to know a few things about you.

Subbiah: Sure…

Vishal: Can I have your contact number please?

Subbiah: Why do you need it? I am already on the line right now…

Vishal: Sir we need it for our records…please if you can provide

Subbiah: 2247105

Vishal: Mobile?

Subbiah: Yes…I am mobile.

Vishal: Sir, if you can share the number please.

Subbiah: (gruffly) how many times should I repeat? I already gave it to you earlier 2247105

Vishal: Mobile number sir!

Subbiah: What mobile number? I gave you number na….

Vishal: (sounding irritated) Sir, I meant do you have a cell phone? Can I have that number if you have one?

Subbiah: No…I don’t have any cell phone. Please note my landline against my name.

Vishal: Thank you very much Sir. Now if you could tell me your requirement.

Subbiah: I need one maid servant

Vishal: Ok…. (Nodding in agreement)

Subbiah: Ok...Let me know the cost and by when can I begin to avail the services.

Vishal: I am sorry but we don’t serve clients having requirements below 5.

Subbiah: (frustrated) what do you mean?

Vishal: Sir we have a package of 1 cook, 1 maid, 1 driver, 1 security guard and 1 assistant, which costs you around….

Subbiah: (cutting him in between) I don’t need all of these. I need only one servant to do cleaning, mopping, washing of clothes and utensils mainly, adding to it other miscellaneous work like chopping, ironing of clothes etc.  

Vishal: Yes sir, our combo of 5 does the same thing and in lesser time also. Why don’t you give us an appointment, we will come and explain it in details to you.

Subbiah: Why don’t you understand? I don’t want so many people.

Vishal: Sir it is exactly the same thing - One person doing so many jobs or so many people doing all these jobs. It is more cost efficient and economical also. Most importantly if one were to go on leave the other would be able to manage the job without any hindrance.

Subbiah: Huh…. You just want to go on and one… I told you na once I don’t want it. I don’t want to meet you at all as I don’t want your services anymore. 

Saying this he banged the phone down. Before he could turn around the phone rang:

Hello Sir…Mr. Subbiah this is Vishal here. I think the call got disconnected. Sir I would request you to meet us once wherein we can discuss things in details.

Subbiah: Look Mister. I am a very busy man. I don’t have time to meet you. Ok? Now please don’t call me again.

Subbiah disconnected the phone and removed it from the hook. Irritated with all this he started cursing the maids – who according to him were the root cause for all this. Kanaka who was observing all this tried hard to suppress her laughter. 
The phone is disconnected
In the evening as Kanaka went to hand over his usual cup of coffee to him, he noticed the fatigue on her face. He asked her, ‘What happened? Are you not well? Why is your face like this?’ Wiping her face with the edge of her sari she replied, ‘Nothing , just finished the entire house work. At this age I have become slow in doing it, will now begin preparations for dinner. ‘She turned to go when Subbiah called her ,’ Kanaka…….’ She recognized this time immediately. 

He used this tone when he wanted to call it quits. He continued, ‘Listen ……do one thing….find a new maid. Otherwise you will fall sick. This is not your age to do so much work. My process is very tedious and lengthy. So while I keep my search on why don’t you find someone as a temporary arrangement?'

Kanaka looked at him in awe as he began sipping his coffee. ‘This old man will never mend his ways……’ she thought as yet another attempt to keep himself busy boomeranged badly.

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