Being kind to the house help

Updated: Jun 17

It was a warm evening of mid-April, the trees were in full bloom, the sun was shining bright and the cool, scented breeze was making the aura more serene. Ayesha was devouring her favorite pasta while enjoying this beautiful scene. She had just passed third grade a few months ago. Spoon in one hand and phone in the other, she felt a pair of eyes gazing at her from the side. A middle-aged woman with a thin but strong stature was standing with a young girl, almost Ayesha’s age. The girl captured her attention. There was nothing similar between the two of them, except their gender.

There was a tiredness in the girl’s eyes. Her dress looked dirty and it seemed it was old, even older than the girl’s age. Her hair was tangled and matted. Her attire arose despicability in Ayesha’s eye, and she started thinking highly about her own self. Her finely braided hair, branded clothes, and sparkling eyes had no match, in her child-like opinion. She ignored them, arrogantly.

After a few minutes, Ayesha’s mother, a decent yet fashionable woman, arrived. She explained to the middle-aged woman the different house chores and her expected salary. After that, she placed a note of Rs. 100 in the girl’s hand and smiled empathetically. Ayesha didn’t move as she didn’t consider them worthy enough to take her time. After they left, Ayesha returned to the kitchen to put the plates in the sink. She saw her mother talking empathetically to the other house help. She was guiding her about hygiene and other crucial matters. Ayesha was amazed. She didn’t realize though that her mother had been closely observing her reaction since morning.

When the sun set and Ayesha was alone with her mother after the Maghrib prayer, her mother called her and said, “Ayesha, we pray five times a day, observe fast, recite the Holy Quran, but you know what, we are only fulfilling the haq (rights) of the Almighty. It is only one part. But there are individuals in the society with whom we have certain haqooq-o- faraiz (rights and duties). Showing them respect, support, kindness, and fulfilling their rights make us successful in this world and the hereafter.

"See, Ayesha, the most significant attribute of our Lord and His Prophet (PBUH) is kindness. We are standing tall today because of Allah’s infinite bounty. Now, the Lord expects us to be kind to His creatures. Often, we run campaigns and post hashtags on Instagram about rights, but we overlook the exploitation that occurs in our own homes. They are working on the bare minimum salaries just to make ends meet, and our kind words, little actions, and monetary help could support them in a long way.

“So tell me, Ayesha, what can you do to be more empathetic and kind to the house help?” Her mother was keen and eagerly waiting for her response.

“We can offer them food” – the point instantly popped into her mind. “We can buy them clothes or if we can’t afford this, we can give them our old but clean clothes.” The event from the evening was rising in her little mind. “Mother, if we are educated, we can also give them basic knowledge related to day-to-day life and religion,” Ayesha said in a low-pitched voice. “Very good, Ayesha, I am glad that you have this realization, and I hope that you would implement it too. Also, Ayesha, we must understand that they are not our servants, but helpers, who make our lives easy. Just think if our house help Razia doesn’t come for a day, we are overwhelmed. The routine becomes hectic when we need to run all the errands. Don’t you think they deserve some gratitude for smoothing our way so that we may savor the other tastes of life?” her mother asked. “You are right, Mother. This statement made me recall an event from the past that I didn’t realize was miserable, but now it’s making me anxious. Once I went to my friend’s birthday. We were all in awe of the beautiful decorations and the cake. They had spent a lot of money on the event. We ate and enjoyed ourselves a lot. But a woman was sitting silently in the corner, doing nothing other than taking care of the guests’ possessions. Now I realize that she needed at least a respectable treatment from us. We could have offered her food and some space so she would not have felt left out.”

“You are right, Ayesha. Even in our homes, we need to realize the fact that they wake up early in the morning and work in other houses too. So, we need to be a little kind to them. Try to assist them. Like if they are washing the clothes, you may collect the laundry from the whole house and put it in the tub so that a bit of their energy and time is saved.”

The discussion with her mother occupied her mind till she was finally able to fall asleep. The next day when she saw the young girl with her mother on the car porch, her heart was filled with guilt about her last day’s actions. But she hoped to make things better. She smiled at the girl shyly and offered to play. The girl laughed and they ran off to play badminton. Her mother was happy to see the sight. At least, she had done her part and her innocent, yet intelligent, girl had understood the assignment.


Laiba Zaman is an in-house writer at Perspective.

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