Weghol Windgebede

This page is for occasional non-sewing-related thoughts that I want to get out of my system or share via a temporary web link, will usually be in Afrikaans, and the content will frequently be cleaned up and replaced.


July 23, 2017, in response to this piece which really upset me...mostly because I know “the Catherines” of the world exist AND I SPIT ON THEM but also because I feel compelled to scream that We Are Not All Like That! Maybe almost, but not quite….


A day in the life of a Madam from Clubview

It is 7h00. Shool holiday, but Cornelia does not allow herself to sleep in, even though she is a stay-at-home-mom on reprieve from the school run.  She will be embarrassed if Liesbet catches her in bed when she comes in at 8h30, because Cornelia is aware that Liesbet boards her first taxi at 5h30 in the morning in Mabopane, then two different trains and another taxi to work as Cornelia’s domestic helper in Centurion.

Liesbet is the thorn in Cornelia’s flesh, and Cornelia hates herself for it. Liesbet does not deserve that label. She is a hard worker and honest beyond reproach. But Cornelia can’t help it. She wishes Liesbet would win the Lotto or get swept off her feet by some well-to-do, respectable guy who could just take care of her.

Liesbet is a hard worker, but incredibly slow. When Liesbet can’t make it to work (which is often) Cornelia herself easily runs through all the chores which are Liesbet’s responsibility. She does the ironing and cleans the 3-bedroom house. Granted, when Liesbet is off, Cornelia cuts corners like leaving the bathrooms until the evening after bath-time, when she delegates the main bathroom to her kids while she cleans the main bedroom’s en-suite. Cleaning a bathroom until everything sparkles takes 20 minutes.  So she wants to burst with frustration when both bathrooms are simultaneously out of commission for two hours while Liesbet is working in them.

But Cornelia seems unable to find the teaching skills to show Liesbet how fast things could potentially be done. She tried to no avail. Liesbet’s style of work is slow and careful, not quick and efficient. Cornelia should respect that, but it just makes her want to burst into tears.

Cornelia regrets the day she invited a domestic worker into her home, 8 years ago. She would never claim to have been the perfect housewife, and she doubts whether her kitchen floor ever passed the quality standards of her Mother-in-Law, but she coped. But one day Liesbet’s brother – a painter they hired after an eight month renovation project – asked if she could not perhaps give his unemployed sister a temp job. After the extended renovations their home was a mess, and she fell for the temptation.  She could use the extra help, just to get everything under control again.

With two young children and a toddler in the house, Liesbet was certainly appreciated, even if her idea of a job well done got on Cornelia’s nerves. But most of all: Cornelia could just not find the heart to terminate the temporary employment.

So they drew up a contract for two days a week, from 7h30 to 15h00. In reality, with Liesbet’s transport woes, actual work hours are at most from 8h00 until 14h00, because if Liesbet does not catch the 14h30 train, she is caught in peak commuter traffic and could get home as late as 19h00.  And in Liesbet’s neighbourhood it is a bad idea to arrive home too late.

Cornelia takes Liesbet to the station in the afternoon.  It is a real inconvenience, since the station is in the opposite direction of the children’s schools. The problem is not the distance, but the traffic so the afternoon school run used to be a blur of frustration.  Still, it made a world of difference to Liesbet.

Two of the kids finished shool now, and the school run quietened down so the station run is not that much of an issue.  Cornelia and Liesbet are never alone in the car on their way to the station.  The little 1300 hatchback is recognized as the local free taxi. Even on days when Cornelia does not do the run for Liesbet, there is always a “mama” or a “sissi” hopping in to catch a lift in whichever direction she is going. She has come to realize that Liesbet is one of the luckier ones.  Some of the women commute daily from towns more than 100km away in Mpumalanga, leaving the house as early as 2h00 so they can go scrub some white woman like Cornelia’s toilet. Any employment opportunity is desperately accepted.

Cornelia is perfectly able to scrub her own toilet.  She would really, truly, honestly prefer to get back to doing just that, especially with the big kids out of the house and the workload significantly reduced. Instead, Liesbet’s two days a week has grown to three, because Cornelia tried to find a way of helping her cope financially

Cornelia is slightly panicky, because apart from the UIF contribution, they can’t afford to put away anything extra for Liesbet’s future.  In the past year they already downgraded their own medical aid plan and cancelled a few of their policies in an attempt to balance the household budget… theirs is a single-breadwinner household, and the economy does not seem to have a sense of humour.

At least they still have a medical aid plan. She feels guilty about Liesbet not having something like that. So when necessary, she takes Liesbet to her own doctor or a pharmacist, and pays cash for the consultation and whatever meds are needed.  Cornelia’s husband is unaware that she does this; but she just doesn’t have the heart to send Liesbet off to some hellhole of a state hospital to wait six hours in a queue for Ibuprofen; while she knows sometimes getting better can be as simple as a vitamin C tonic, a good throat spray and sleeping things off for a day.

Cornelia can still write pages and pages about her love-hate relationship with her domestic worker. She has not even told about the station stampede and the direct lightning strike and the dirtbag of an ex-husband who came back from a long absence do deprive Liesbet of everything she built up.

But there is still lots of time for that.

Because Cornelia and Liesbet will probably be together till death do them part. Not out of love, but because there is just no way out.