"ohh what kat - kat of these kaamwali bai-s!!" is what each one of the Madamji-s must have uttered atleast a thousand times, if not more. These luxurious items* that most have at their homes though regarded with little respect, and contempt at times, are in reality, the much sought after, necessarily needed and desperately wanted, staff.
The relation between a bai and her respective madamji, is altogether on a different platform. The madamji indeterminately complains about what a lousy job the bai does... and the bai, not to be left far behind, complains the meager salary that she has to thrive on, despite the fact that Diwali bonus has happened ten days back!! Wait a sec, the much- much doesn't end here... she has three children to support, the household runs entirely on her salary, because her husband is a drunkard/ a womaniser/ a gambler, and in many cases, all of the above. But our educated madamji-s, haar nahi manengi, they'll say you work at 7 different places... what do you do with that money??! Smart, eh?
The zhadu-pocha-bartan-kapda regime goes on with general knowledge addition classes brought to you bai the by. :D It indeed soothes the madamji's ears to hear when Mrs. Gaitonde's daughter is going to return from the US, has she married an american? or does she have children already??!!!!, and what happened at the kitty party where mananiya madamji wasn't invited. In return the bai is waived off from cleaning the balcony which was due. Whoever would want to waste the precious time in getting the balcony washed than listen to the loud Chinese whispers??!!!!
Now, it is 12 pm sharp and the bai hasn't turned up! Unconcerned, the bai has decided to excuse herself from the duties. When the madamji starts showing symptoms of blowing her top, cunning bai will make her son call up for an emotional upfront... that leaves the poor madamji to get down to work, literally of course, much against her wishes. Thus, when the bai-s are in dire need for an off, the madamji-s relentlessly put down their foot! It's cyclical, you see! GK classes - madamji complains "kona choot gaya" (yet not wanting the information outflow to stop) - bai complains "pagar nahi badhaya" (audaciously ignoring the donations in kind) - bai vacationing - madamji sulking - bai's sonny calling to say mommy unwell - madamji's meltdown... (err the heart, I mean) - once back to work, bai starts GK classes. See? Simple!
All this procedure comes to a screeching halt if saabs are present. You won't believe the silence that women are capable of maintaining if saabs are at home. This uncalled for dearth of communication renders the madamji helpless. Whereas, that day the bai will do some chance pe dance and will wrap up the ZPBK*(ref. para 3, line 1) in 15 minutes flat!! Next day bai will come prepared with swollen eyes to impress upon madamji, what heavy verbal abuse she has had with her DWG (ref. para 2, line 6) husband. Illiterate, maybe... but they hold a doctorate degree in giving myriad excuses.
So you see... this is no-strings-attached friendship. You wished she would be more punctual, less demanding. She wished you would raise her pagaar every alternate month. You wished she would stop exhibiting her domestic problems and she wished you would be a bit more sensitive to her daily obstacles. Yet none can do without each other. You'll employ her inspite her sloppy job, she'll work inspite of your constant picking and remarks. Cheers to this 1 hr stint that goes on at every household.
Cheers to all the bai-s too, for all the help that they are to working/ non-working women. "bai, bai, man moraacha kassa pisaara phulala!!"
* definitely not derogatory; to be taken in a positive and humouristic way!