My cousin waxed lyrical about her child rearing and cooking prowess when he called to inform me that he had "secured" a house help.
He told me that she was just what any parent with a young baby like me needed.
She had three kids of her own, had been married and separated twice, had worked as a hotel waiter at three different restaurants, and was raising the products of her womb alone.
Quite a detailed resume for a woman in her mid-20s.
SAME HOUSE HELP FOR YEARS
As a first time parent, I had very little knowledge about hiring house helps because I had grown up in a household that had stuck to the same help for years.
She had worked with us so long that she became as powerful as mom to us, allowed to punish us on days we played hide and seek upon seeing bathing water.
After years of scrubbing us so thoroughly that we became new creatures free of dirt and sin, she grew too old to work anymore.
By then we had all grown up, so mom never got a replacement.
Now it was my turn to try keep a help of my own, hopefully for eons just like my mom had done. As the narrative goes, I was told to send fare plus her mother’s ‘sugar’ and in two days she would start work at my house.
It was never clear whether the sugar money was an advance payment, a bribe, grant, nothing.
True to her words, two mornings later my phone rung at about 6.30am and a young girl informed me she had alighted at Gateway Mall so I was supposed to give further directions.
Not so long after, my house officially had a new addition; a talk dark Luhya girl with short hair, big eyes and a neck as long as a giraffe’s sat at my couch acting polite.
For purposes of anonymity we shall refer to her as Q.
GOOD WITH THE BABY
Q was very good with the baby, probably as a result of years of tending to her own.
She was also a good cook, which was expected since she had worked at hotels, but by far explained why my cousin had concluded I would like her; food.
One of the things she was good at was making pancakes. So there is this end month I paid her, as I always did on time to make her feel at home.
That evening she went to the kitchen and made so many pancakes, out of which she gave me two to taste before the next morning when they would officially be on the table as part of breakfast.
I went to bed a happy man that night envisioning how wonderful the breakfast hour would be the next morning.
That night, my baby threw major tantrums, so I did not sleep very well until the wee hours of the morning. The result was that I woke up late.
I dashed downstairs to catch my breakfast before the little one woke up. The dining table was empty, which was unusual because Q was very prompt with meals.
When I called like three times and there was no answer, I rushed upstairs to investigate. My heart was racing.
These are the times weird thought rush through your mind, like what if something had happened to her at night.
It would be a very tricky police case if a young woman turned up dead in your house and you are the only man.
Allegations of attempted rape followed by probable strangling in rage would follow you all the days of your life, and you would easily dwell in the house of prisoners forever and ever, for a death you had no idea about.
Because the only other would-be witness is a baby less than a year old.
At that point it did not make sense that she could have left because she was a very happy woman the previous evening, she even made us pancakes! I banged her door.
There was still no answer. Now I was worried. Even as I made up my mind to let my way inside I was praying that she is dressed, because that would have even complicated my case.
Thank God she was . . . NOT THERE! The bed was well made into a neat finish, complete with the bolters well arranged, but Q was missing.
The answer was simple; I was now ‘maidless.’ Just like that! I decided to go prepare breakfast, eat then chart the way forward when full. Ladies and gentlemen, of all things missing in my kitchen were the previous evening’s PANCAKES!
She had basically prepared them as her carry on snack knowing that the following morning she had a long bus journey to Western Kenya . . . and she had been kind enough to let me taste two!
FAILED TO READ THE SIGNS
My mistake was that I had failed to read the signs over time. She always went to some sister’s place on her off days, and though I saw her buy a big bag two pay checks ago then ferry it out the previous month I did not read anything into it.
I was devastated; one, because I had to pull out of a shoot that I had confirmed being part of and two; MY PANCAKES! I recovered from that morning’s shocker, but the pancakes still pain me to date.
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