Tuesday, November 28, 2006



Kusumawthie, my faithful domestic and possibly Wellampitiyas’s answer to Mary Poppins, Elisa Doolittle, and Joan of Ark all in one, is back after a month long vacation, spent searching for a glass dot in her sole.
… last Monday I waded home through a sudden evening shower and found my front yard shin deep in a small stagnant tidal wave caused by a blocked drain. Silhouetted against our living room lighting the poor dear was battling the flood valiantly, trying to divert water away from the front door using the bathroom squeegee, and failing miserably, as the drain had a sizeable bolus of polythene stuck in it which she hadn’t thought to remove.

Having lived through the Kolonnawa Oil Refinery blast, regular Dengue episodes, surprise Police raids and instances of all out power blackout, not to mention all night exorcism ceremonies with noisy climaxes, I try to be calm in the face of disasters in general, but this was critical -if I had been another 15 minutes late, the sofas and then my bedroom carpets would have been well and truly soaked. We don’t want that to happen- those carpets contain the combined DNA of about 25 long dead cats and dogs who have been our pets down the ages (plus a crow and a bat who escaped and may still be alive) and they STINK when wet so I wanted, honestly to scream, and demand why she hadn’t called for backups, but since this is was our good Kusumawathie , I didn’t….she lives Ive noticed by rather convoluted logic which I cant begin to understand.

Kusumawathie is fifty five according to her NIC but looks much younger or older depending on whether its a fluorescent, daylight or torchlight (-not recommended) . Although she has taken to going through life hunching abjectly in a long suffering attempt to blend in with the furniture and not attract negative attention from malicious planets spinning light years away- her life story, sad to say, involves enough violence, mishap and excitement to make the average paparazzo gasp in awe.
To my knowledge she has so far been 1) knocked down by a car which affected her spine so she cant lift anything 2) scratched in the cornea by a potentially rabid kitten so she wont go near animals and 3) nearly strangled by another moonshine sozzled Sedawatte druggie cum robber cum potential molester who at the last moment in a flash of self loathing let her go on condition that she wouldn’t tell anyone about him- (which of course she did, with relish, anyone who would listen )not to mention the regular crockery throwing matches with her perpetually inebriated better half, and wrestling dramas in local buses. She has also had at least two serious accidents with firewood and hot kettles.

What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger, they say , but Ive noticed in some cases it just makes you paranoid- I have to admit regular serial misfortune has left poor Kusumawathi with a collection of phobias which she firmly incorporates into day to day work: irons for example are unpredictable death traps only to be approached when chaperoned by a capable English speaking person of responsible adult status possessing a valid driving license and vehicle, in case she gets electrocuted and the iron gets stuck to her( yeow!). Irons during a suspected thunderstorm even if it is 30 miles away, in the Bay of Bengal, are out of the question. Rice and pressure cookers and fridges command (un)healthy amounts of veneration although strangely the liquidizer has been allowed some measure of trust since it makes the coconut milk thick in spite of the ruckus. Gas tap replacement is an awe inspiring technical process to be monitored from a prudent distance, and the microwave is a thinly disguised portal to the netherworld as far as Kusumawathie is concerned: anything that small, square and inexplicable just has to be intrinsically evil.
Household dogs are best heard but not seen, preferably incarcerated behind chicken wire barricades so a lot of indistinct muttering greets any attempt to liberate these unfortunates while she is around. Any new pets are greeted with DISTINCT muttering and threats about going into retirement.
Potential visitors are categorized as regional criminals until proven otherwise, and firmly instructed to return with proper credentials.( I admit they often are so I approve)
Storms have a negative psychological impact on Kusumawathie due either to the Awe Inspiring Spectacle of Unrestrained Power unleashed by Nature in All its Glory, or the fact that she doesn’t like getting her feet wet- so the suggestion of a cumulo nimbus (or even a very small harmless regular nimbus) anywhere on the horizon means you can bet your last fiver she wont be turning up: so no hot dinner.
With all this caution getting in the way of her work, you may be wondering what it is she actually does around the house to earn her keep.
To be honest, now I come to think of it, so am I .
Sometimes there is hot dinner and she does make a mean Soya curry, but that’s not really it. It’s the comforting feeling that there’s someone in the back ground just in case you need her, and that’s nice to know in this day and age. So I’m not actually complaining.

*not her real name, of course
The author gratefully acknowledges that she owes a lot to her domestic assistant without whom she would never have time for the hobbies she enjoys such as: blogging, drawing cartoons, playing pinball on her mobile phone, and going for short dangerous spins in her moped.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh you lucky ,you! I'm the kusum of my house, but I wish there was someone like that for me! Sob!