LIFE BY LOUIS: The art of spending time with the house help

Nothing seems to come cheap, including personal freedom.

Even when I was clearly starving, I had to wait until 3am to raid the fridge for any edibles and left overs. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

IN SUMMARY

  • My friends had lessons galore to share with me as I prepared for the six days of unpredictability.
  • I was advised that among the severe accidents to avoid include colliding with her in the kitchen or any narrow corridors.

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The high cost of living is glaring so hard at us that it has forced us to be humble. Nothing seems to come cheap, including personal freedom.

It is not until you are left with the Domestic Secretary in the house that you realise that it can still get worse. This is the time it dawns upon you that you are actually a visitor in your own house and she is the one that runs that block. She is the government.

Last week just before schools reopened I had the misfortune of being left with Domestic Secretary for a record six days. The other occupants of had gone for a visit to the village but I could not join them because I had already squandered my leave days at my place of work within the second month of the year.

CONSULTED FELLOW MEN

Before this unfolded, I had consulted a few fellow men on the dos and don’ts when faced with a situation where it is just you and the Domestic Secretary in the house.

In my case, it gets worse because I never seem to remember their names due to their high turnover.

My friends had lessons galore to share with me as I prepared for the six days of unpredictability. I was advised that among the severe accidents to avoid include colliding with her in the kitchen or any narrow corridors. In this regard, you let some noise accompany your movements as an advance warning.

Before proceeding to the washrooms, I had to monitor the door continuously for two hours to ensure she was not in there. Every time I entered the bathroom, I ensured that I sang very loudly and splashed a lot of water to ensure she was well aware that it is occupied.

I would also lock the door thrice and prop it with a big bucket full of water. This would not give me enough comfort, and I would shower while still in my vest and designer shorts. The mere thought of seeing the door swing open by accident got me really frozen with fear of the unknown.

AVOID EYE CONTACT

I was also coached that avoiding any eye contact is key. This would also mean minimising any direct communication with her unless she initiated the conversation.

She seemed omnipresent in the house, and every time I wanted to settle down and enjoy some television viewing, she was always there with her eyes glued to her favourite West African movie. There was no way we were going to sit down together and watch the movie, neither was she looking in the mood to bulge and leave the television to me.

My only reprieve was to disappear to my local and catch up with the news as I enjoyed a cold drink.

Because I was not very sure I could remember her name, I only addressed her when she was in close proximity so as to ensure that I did not have to call her out and probably address her using the wrong name.

To further mitigate the risk of contact and familiarity, I ensured that I only spent less than six hours per day in the house, and five of them were spent locked up in my room with minimal movements.

I could not ask for food because my advisors had coached me to know the difference between her and my wife. Even when I was clearly starving, I had to wait until the 3am to raid the fridge for any edibles and left overs. I would then rearrange everything back to its original place and clean after my mess because every morning she patrolled her territories like a nasty Sheriff.

When Mama Brian came back from the village I hugged her and the boys tearfully. Apart from having missed them when they were away, my emotions were more from the relief I felt from days of pain and suffering in the hands of the Domestic Secretary.

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