Remember Katjie? - our domineering, insulting and constantly-complaining domestic worker (described here)?
Initially her stay had been every bit as traumatic for me as I'd expected. She was constantly threatening to leave. This, in itself, had not bothered me - it was the inevitable unpleasantness surrounding her possible departure that I'd been dreading. So each time Nuha (7) threw down her socks instead of taking them straight to the washing machine, Katjie would reprimand Nuha, which I did not mind at all - in fact I'd wanted her to make them pick up after themselves - just maybe she'd have better luck accomplishing that which I couldn't. The problem was that she'd then storm down the passage in a huff, grunting that she did not want to work here any longer.
Then one day she awoke grumpier than usual. I could no longer bear being in the same room with her when she was so miserable. If, dear reader, you had any doubts about my cowardice, to which I so often refer, this little account should dispel them immediately.
I have no idea why she was so p!ssed off that morning. She came into the kitchen, mumbled a grumpy greeting in response to my nervously cheerful one, and proceeded to wash the previous night's dishes. If I'd ever wondered how hard one could throw a glass plate before it broke, I would have received my answer that morning, as she hurled dishes from dish water into rinsing water and onto the draining board. My stomach was in knots because, well, angry people can be scary. But this time, however, my anxiety was interspersed with mounting irritation and fury.
Then Shakeel (13) entered the kitchen, looking a bit annoyed (or he could just have been sleepy), but I jumped at the opportunity to get my message across to that beastly woman in the safest possible way. I turned to him. ''Oh no! I shall no longer tolerate grumpiness in this house. If you have a problem, say so. But this nonsense will no longer be tolerated. Keep this up and there'll be serious consequences.'' I ranted, slamming closed the cupboard door for added effect.
Poor Shakeel looked at me speechless, his expression saying, ''Huh?''
I stormed out of the kitchen before either one of them could confront me. I avoided her for the next few hours, until she cautiously crept up behind me. No, not to smother me with a pillow, but to say, '' You know, I don't think Shakeel was angry about anything in particular. Sometimes one just gets up on the wrong side of the bed. I'm like that too.''
I accepted her sort-of explanation and patted myself on the back. Cowardly I may be, but my sneaky deviousness had certainly paid off, as she not grumpy again....
Until an incident which sent everything downhill. One morning I received a knock at the door from a strange woman asking for money for food, electricity and her kids' school necessities. She was expecting a pay-out within a few weeks and was prepared to repay me. For some inexplicable reason I believed her. I wanted to help her. So I gave her what I had in my purse and asked her to come back when Mo could spare some more money. She popped in every day over the next few days to check if we had the money available. Each time Katjie stood around, hovering angrily, passing comments about what a liar the woman was. She was starting to make me really uncomfortable.
On the day Mo got paid, the woman returned as I'd asked. This time Katjie was more furious. She angrily and continuously paced past where I was sitting with the woman. I heard her commenting loudly about what fools / chumps hubby and I were. When the woman left she approached me and asked if I'd given the woman money. Without waiting for me to answer she said that if we could give this other woman money, we could give her as well. In fact, she yelled, if my hubby had electricity money to spare for this stranger, why couldn't he give it to her instead?
I was completely unnerved. I had no idea how to deal with this woman's audaciousness. We'd paid her a salary, with which she had indicated she'd been really pleased. It was market-related and much more than she'd earned before. So what made her think she had the RIGHT to any 'spare' money we might have, so much so that we should not be allowed to share it with anyone else? From that incident onward, she became quiet and withdrawn. She only stayed for another few weeks after that, citing personal problems as her reason for leaving.
Last month, unexpectedly, a relative of hubby's received a call from Katjie. She told the woman how much she is missing us all and how much she loves me (!!!)
Although we had not been 100% certain about the new woman we had just employed at that time, there was no way we'd venture down that weird and scary path with Katjie again. Thankfully, I think we've finally closed the chapter on Katjie this time.