Milking and Laundering

Eternally Washed

The PC term for servants is now “domestic workers”. However Yusuf, the first cook I remember came not to work domestically, but to care for the buffaloes. Mom was happy to be training a cook “from the ground up” since she didn’t have to unlearn many bad habits. Cleanliness and attention to detail were high on her agenda (she having been a Home Ec teacher), as were honesty and trust.

… If anyone knew our brood it was Yusuf, and we kids considered him part of the family. (In biblical times we’d have probably “pierced his ear” and had him serve us forever.) But as I entered puberty my parents thought it was time to have less of an intimate male presence and we said sad goodbyes to Yusuf and his burgeoning family.

Thereafter we had female “domestic help” and we were all required to pull more weight in the food department. After all, I was in training to carry out my female duties as a future housewife. I didn’t kick against the goad; I had a supreme and contented example in my mother–albeit often jaded by exhaustion.

…So came sweet Sarwar Jan, cheerful despite poverty in every respect. She made the best cornbread and saag. She washed her brown hands very clean over the years of domestically serving us. By grace she’s now “washed in the blood” and has begun washing heavenly whites for an eternity.

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