ponamma in chennai is widowed. she’s a housemaid at three homes. one of her employer’s can’t communicate without yelling. ponamma’s daughter is pregnant. and the dirty vessels at house number two wring out her hand.
but ponamma has lalitha. her friend across the fence. as lalitha washes an inskirt, and ponamma scrubs out the blackened pressure cooker, they share a laugh. lalitha mimics employer number 2, and ponamma covers her mouth with a vim-bar hand to stop herself from lol-ing.
Taki is Indonesian. she is a live-in maid, for a Malaysian family in Kuala Lumpur.
She stays indoors every single day of her annual contract. She minds the kids, changes the sheets, squeaky-cleans the mirrors, and pestle-pounds cinnamon for a masala chai. She doesnt share a common language with her employer. She’s allowed to watch TV, but not allowed a conversation with a friend.
It’s just over one year since I’ve lived here in Malaysia. i’ve watched from my sixthfloor window, snippets from the life of a maid in malaysia. and i really think the right to a friend is a basic right.