House Help, Damn Help!

Iwara U. Iwara
By Iwara U. Iwara
We all created this problem by refusing to object to the name change. We were served the notification, but we either ignored it or just were convinced that there was no cause for alarm. What am I talking about?

I grew up in a Catholic Mission…yes those English style quarters that had taps running, lights shinning and your peers envying you for one thing; the Catholic Irish priest knowing you by name. It was a thrill. These white chaps who came to ‘evangelise’ us(na thief dem be) always had a HOUSEBOY or two to ‘helep dem collect fowl for altar during Mass’, custody same and ‘fry Fada egg later’. It was also the responsibility of the HOUSEBOY to wash ‘Fada soutane’, pluck oranges from the orchard and just make sure that ‘Fada’ is comfortable. His job specification included even beating you up if you passed by ‘Fada’s’ house and had the temerity to ‘disturb okagara wey dey sleep’. ‘Okagara’ is the Ikom special English name for what the larger Naija pidgin refer to as ‘Oyibo’. These HOUSEBOYS who came from all over the hinterland to work with ‘Fada’ always had funny names… Jehosephat, Abednego, Jeremiah,etc. I was to later discover that, they were ‘renamed’ by ‘Fada’ to reflect their new status… ‘Fada’ boy abi?.

Unfortunately, when most of these Irish priests left, they carried not along the Jehoshaphat, Abednegos and Jeremiahs. I am still working on a research to show that these ‘forerunners’ influenced the nomenclature change and tinkered with the job specification for the position of HOUSEBOY…how, I do not know.

Now o, the “HOUSEBOY/GIRL” is a “HOUSEHELP” and with this nomenclature change has come ‘a blatant, preposterous and often hullaballooic display of ephemeral epitasis'(I be bad guy abi?)…Em, I just wanted to say that our houseboys and girls ‘dey vex us’.

Because they are no more ‘house boys/girls’ but ‘HELPS’, you just find them wearing your clothes in your absence, seating on your favourite chair with their legs, outstretched on your centre table, just like you. Some of them are so ‘powerful’ that they can warm stew and serve you, to eat with banana. Some who have ‘ambition’ impregnate Oga’s daughter or take in for Oga’s son. The ones who are ‘dare-devils’ take in for Oga or ‘help’ Madam with the back ache massage.

When our relations visit, they must ‘respect’ the help or always end up with a bowl of soup that has no meat under the guise that,”the part wey meat dey, no gree defrost”.

When we visit our friends and refuse to ‘recognise’ them, ‘dem go open the gate small, so dat when you wan drive pass, you go scratch your moto’. When they tell you sorry after you have scratched your car, look at them through the rear mirror as you drive on…’dem dey laff u…o’.

Ask them to wash your car and see what you will get. A frown will rest permanently on their faces and within seconds they decide that this your car that you wax, ‘go know how far’. In that ‘spirit’, they grab a rag, a little water, negligible sand and scrub your car, peeling off your auto base car paint in inauspicious places, visible two weeks later.

Send the help to the market and she buys her wants first before attending to the needs of the house. Her own plate of soup is nutrient efficient while every other person’s is nutrient inefficient. Don’t you see how they add weight effortlessly like an overfed mosquito, waiting to die in a day or two.

They often are the reason why most families are running from one prayer house to the other, getting duped by men of ‘god’ in the name of casting out demons that have seemingly followed the ‘helps’ from the village.

Some are good o, to a reasonable extent and often the number is negligible because like all things human, evil ‘dey carry hand’ and ‘e dey be like say good dey fall our hand’.

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