God is faithful. He has blessed your hustle with a husband. You began by going out of your way to show you were a dutiful Nigerian wife- cooking, cleaning and never saying no to your husband. God will meet you at the point of your needs and bless you for this. However, something is happening to you. Tiredness is setting in. You feel nauseous and irritated. The doctor has told you that you are having a baby. This has never happened to you before. (The one that happened in university doesn’t count- anyone who reminds you of this, God will truncate their hustle.) You and your husband agree that you cannot keep up with the house work with this growing human mass in your tummy. It is time for a house help. Your husband has left you to take care of it.
You have many choices. There is the choice of one of those Gbagyi or other minority Northern young girls who have been trained to work like horses, want little and show gratitude for whatever they receive. The girl may have thinning brown hair from lack of nutrition and may look stunted at 12 but trust me she knows how to fetch water, wash piles of clothes and sweep endlessly.
You also have the choice of taking the 11year old out-of-wedlock daughter of that distant cousin whom you have never met in your village in Umunede. You had heard that a boy got her pregnant at 14 and ran away thereafter. Since then the daughter has suffered stigma and neglect as well as blocked any chances of your cousin getting a husband. Those village people can be unforgiving.
There is that aunt in the village who promised you someone to help when you came for your traditional marriage in the village. You turned down the offer then. Now is the time to call that aunt and tell her that the housework will kill you soon. She will laugh on the other end of the line and tell you not to worry. You will remind her that you don’t want a boy o! Boys are hard to control. ‘I have heard,’ she will say and in one or two weeks you will receive your package of an awkward prepubescent girl.
Then there is the international connection- the Benin Republic kids. Someone has told you of these young kids from Benin Republic whose salary you will pay to a man who will claim to be their Uncle or cousin.
You do not need a person of legal age, an adult who will one day kill you all in your sleep, run away with your children or worse, snatch your husband from you. Anyone who quotes the Child’s Right Act, and calls employing anyone under the legal age, child labour, God will give them paralysis of the mouth. How else do they want you to get the house work done?
When the young girl comes, first thing to do is to test her for hepatitis and other infections. You don’t want her bringing diseases into your healthy home. If you must, go to the second hand store and buy her two old dresses. If you don’t have boys quarters, clear out the store so she can sleep there. Otherwise get an old mattress that she will use somewhere in a corner of the living room.
You need to cut her hair. It is better. Both of you should not be struggling to groom your hair. Anything a small comb can’t do must go. The more unattractive she looks, the better for you and your marriage. You can’t trust men these days. No one is too young for them.
There is no need to waste money sending her to school. It is not your fault that her parents can’t afford to. In fact she should be grateful that you are giving her a rare opportunity to come to the city and make some money. If she spends all her time at school, when will she do the house work? But if you absolutely have to, find a cheap school, maybe one with evening classes she can attend. Something simple that won’t confuse her about her station in life.
Discipline: Very important. Sometimes screaming degrading insults is not enough to put an ungrateful, sloppy house help in line. The phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” necessarily includes house helps. Sometimes they get too comfortable. Sometimes they are possessed. Only a healthy dose of flogging can rid them of evil spirits or too much comfort.
Watch the food she eats. Especially the meat. Nothing makes a house help grow wings like sufficient pieces of meat. Meat has a way of creating a sense of entitlement in a person. You don’t want that to happen.
Don’t make the mistake of allowing the house help have friends. Whether with the house help next door or with the one in the shop down the street or the one grinding tomatoes near the market. She did not come to your house to play and network. Next thing you know they will connive and do something evil to you.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there comes a time when you must let the house help go. Instances include when you notice that she has become a woman and is almost needing the same bra size as you. Like I said before, men cannot be trusted. They see breasts and they lose their minds. You need to be proactive and protect your husband from himself. Send her away and look for another prepubescent one to take her place.
Do not go looking for answers where you have no business looking. If the man who brought a girl from Benin Republic says he is her Uncle, then he is her Uncle. If he says he will hold her salary for her, then he will. The less you know the better.
Do these and God will, through your house help, lighten your load, and bless your hustle.