My little boy came up to me this week and told me that Violet was a maid. Violet is the lady who looks after his friend and who, might I add has to got to have one of the brightest smiles known to man. I was confused, we had known Violet all his life and I had never heard mention of this word before and by this time was dying with embarrassment, as at that very moment Ma Alice and I were engaging in a fat skinner session on the couch. And I knew she was having a good internal chuckle waiting for my response.
It turns out that the young friend has learnt this word quite recently and has been referring to Violet as his maid and not as his Violet. So I explained to my little one that a maid was a word we didn’t use. He now understands that it is a derogatory term and that if he tries using it my hand and his bum might have a serious conversation.
But this now begs the question of what a maid is. I was fortunate enough to never have a maid. I didn’t even have a nanny. Oh no, I had a Miriam. A Miriam is a lady slightly older than one’s mother who has been given all rights by one’s parents to take charge of your life. A Miriam is the lady you make tea for when you come home from school just to make sure she doesn’t tell your mom that you now smoke. A Miriam is the lady who tells you stories of her life that make your heart grow in admiration that she made it as far as your house. A Miriam looks after you when you’re sick and who your mother looks after when she’s sick. A Miriam has two children, Pitso and Nthabiseng, who are in the same age group as you and who are just as much a part of your family as your closest cousins. My Miriam, even though I am now in my 30’s, is still part of my family even though she retired ages ago.
Having left my parents home years ago, I don’t have a maid here either. I have a Ma Alice. Who is Ma Alice? Ma Alice is my second mother and second mother to my son. She is probably a far better mother to my son than I could ever be. She lives in Orange Farm in a house that we are now extending. She votes ANC and likes watching Cheaters. Ma Alice has dried my tears and seen me through a horrible divorce and I have held her as tightly as I could to comfort the pain she felt when her daughter passed. Ma Alice is not a maid, she is an angel. She sacrifices a great deal to look after my family while hers is at home. I am grateful to have a Ma Alice and to my parents who taught me how lucky I am to have these special women in my life. I’m hoping my son can teach his friends to appreciate the women who are their other mothers.
So what is a maid? Or is maid a term used by those people I often see letting their ladies eat out of separate crockery or not being allowed to use their toilets? Do you have a maid? You should be ashamed if you do.