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DADDY DIARIES: The househelp headache for fathers

Tuesday October 29 2019

According to him, his girlfriend was voiceless under my roof so he needed to come in as a fellow man in her defence. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

According to him, his girlfriend was voiceless under my roof so he needed to come in as a fellow man in her defence. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

HILLARY LISIMBA
By HILLARY LISIMBA
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Having house girl in a house with only a man and his son is a tall order I tell you . . . and it is nothing sexual.

When my wife moved countries in 2016, she left behind a young woman to help take care of the baby and house in her absence.

She had been with us for quite a while so the mutual employer-employee respect existed, not forgetting she was a mother herself with a son who was slightly older than mine.

The new dispensation, however, came with a number of changes that with time proved to be the reason for a messy separation.

MY DOCKET

The first was instruction. For months on end, my wife was in charge of issuing instructions of what to cook, the baby’s program as well as house chore routines.

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That was now my docket, and since we have been groomed to believe women know how to take care of babies more than then men, she sometimes ignored my instructions and went with hers.

It was a battle of what a father wanted for his child versus what a ‘foster’ mother believed. And what she believed was that she knew best.

We disagreed on so many occasions that I started feeling like I had become a perennial complainant which was on the verge of putting my child’s welfare at stake, so I took a back seat and let her run the show.

Maybe, just maybe, that decision empowered her to feel like the woman of the house; a huge mistake.

Then came the admonishing. In every normal household with humans, there will be instances when disagreements happen over differences in opinion or common mistakes like leaving the lights on in unoccupied rooms.

I would complain over an open mistake and the young girl construes it to be my uncouth approach to wanting her. To her, I was basically being dramatic to make her feel guilty so that I pave way for carnal requests.

This I came to know the day I learnt she was dating another young man in our estate who constantly fed into her head that since my wife was away, I must be lusting after her.

While buying some outfits from a regular hawker, she had intimated that ‘hawezi nunua nguo sexy kwa sababu Hillary atamtamani.’

She was by all means a good looking girl, but I had never seen her through those eyes, so the sentiments pissed me off.

SERIES OF DISAPPEARENCES

I was yet to see drama though. She was so smitten by the boyfriend that life became a series of disappearance acts.

One minute she is around humming to Diamond’s songs the next I can’t find her.

Tea is brought to the table, before I pull the chair to sit, she is already laughing hysterically out there. Figuring that enough was enough, I sat her down and expressed my dissatisfaction with her constant absence.

As expected, that information found its way to the boyfriend who wondered why I wanted to just see his girl gallivanting around me even when there was nothing meaningful to do.

He took matters into his own hands and sent me a long harshly worded WhatsApp message, telling me to observe distance between my employee and me.

According to him, his girlfriend was voiceless under my roof so he needed to come in as a fellow man in her defence.

It was the final nail in the coffin. I fired her that same evening, but for the sake of her safety agreed that she spends the night then leave in the morning.

She went to sleep in the arms of the man her heart loved, but her mom’s call the following morning accused me of ‘chasing’ her daughter away at night to get raped, robbed or killed.

I was dumbfounded, but you see it was her word against mine, with the only other witness being a young man who was still learning to talk.

When you are a dad and live with a female help in the absence of your wife, rumours about you abound, spread across all other households in the estate courtesy of househelps' gossip, yet there never is an opportunity to sit everyone down and dispute or give your version of the story.

You are accused, found guilty and convicted in their minds. You drive into the estate and several pairs of accusing eyes stare, loathing you for mistakes you probably have no idea you committed.

To fellow dads, if your wife moves away for an extended period and you need help with the young ones please employ a male help, have a third party in the house or plan your job schedule well and manage that household on your own . . . like I have done for over two years.

It is not worth going through the drama of he did she did when things turn sour, with no other witness in case an accusation like rape is thrown into the picture.

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