Agnes is the lady who comes around every Tuesday to do our housework and make sure the house I share with a housemate, D-dog, doesn’t deteriorate to hygiene levels below that of an Eastern Cape farm’s pigsty. I think I have fallen for her and it took her being away for three months or so for me to realise just how much I really need her in my life for eternity.
You see, Agnes was away on maternity leave for what seemed like an eternity of hell to me. Her impending and extended absence came as a surprise to me when she told me on the day that was to be her last at work for a while – yes, I did not know Agnes was pregnant, but you will come to understand how I am so unaware of such things about a person I claim to hold so dear.
Agnes and I have the perfect relationship; it is similar to the relationship so vividly immortalised by John Keats in his Ode on a Grecian Urn, which is one of my favourite poems of all time. The beginning is especially relevant to the context of our perfect relationship:
“Thou still unravished bride of quietness!
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time”
Well not maybe exactly, but you get my slow drift. Our relationship is perfect in its anti-relationshipness. Agnes and I do not have any of the obstacles normally associated with a typical romantic relationship. Agnes and I do not have the hurdles of having to like each other or talk or even see each other.
Our interaction is awesome in its non-interactiveness; the day she was going to come to work for the first time I remember I had butterflies in my stomach when I woke up. What would she look like? Would I like her? Would she like me? Will we get along? Will she think I’m funny? Will she burn my vests when she ironed them? You know, all the concerns of a new engagement, a blind date if you will.
So I was pleasantly surprised when she took the lead in our relationship, probably something about having a very strong mother that to me a woman taking control of things just seems right and then my role, as was my fathers, would be to see how far I can push my boundaries before the knobkerrie and spear combo comes out from under the bed (happy memories of childhood, excuse the digression).
Eggy, as I so affectionately refer to her behind her back, took charge of the situation immediately when we met. She walked into the house, paid me no mind and took no notice of what I was saying and just sat on the couch silently as we had our first “conversation” at the end of which I handed her the key and the payment for the day. The only thing she said was that she would keep the key so I won’t have to wait for her every Tuesday and I should just leave the money on the counter every morning. The next time I spoke to her was the day she told me of her maternity leave, eleven months later.
On that first day when I came back from work, I was almost in tears at the sight that greeted me. The last time I had seen a house so well-kept was my mother’s house at about 12.50 on a Saturday afternoon when we lived in a four-room house in D Section Kwa-Mashu. I remember my mother and my sister would spend all of Saturday morning cleaning and the house was at the height of its majesty at about that time. Then we would be allowed into the kitchen at about 1pm for lunch, and then the house reverted to a near pit as we systematically undid all of their hard work. Someone usually cried after that and it was usually me if my sister aimed well enough and landed one of her shoes on my back as I ran out the house after refusing to tidy up after myself after lunch.
Eggy is THAT good, she does the best cleaning, washing, folding, tidying job I have ever seen since Mom. Still mesmerised by the down stairs, I went upstairs to find my bedroom in a state it had never been in before, it was as if a ruler was used to fold everything just right and my wardrobe was spectacular, every shirt, every pair of pants and every T-shirt was crisp and seemed to be in a part of the wardrobe that it was made to be in. My love for Eggy was sealed though when the next morning, after the shower, boxers, roll-on and vest ritual, when I was folding out my socks and found that they were the right way around, ready for me to simply slip them on. I cried that morning as I realised that I had just found “The One”.
So Eggy got a sizeable raise after just one day of work and we have been together ever since, accept for the horrible three months when she was away having her baby. Those were possibly the hardest months I have had in Johannesburg so far. The house was a mess and I had to take my washing to the laundry, my bed was never made and cruelly, those ladies at the laundromat never folded my socks the right way around.
I dreamt of having Eggy back every single day and sometimes even cried a little about it between beers and when I absolutely had to wash the dishes because they were starting to morph into a life form with a rather nasty attitude. The lady who attempted to fill Eggy’s shoes only came for two occasions and never returned after that and without a word either, I don’t blame her. She probably felt the disappointment in the soul of the house as she could never replace our Eggy, no one probably could. And that lady used to call and talk to me which was just foreign to me, Eggy never speaks to me, actively pretends I do not exist even when I am standing mere metres away from her – it is better that way, it is perfect.
So Eggy is back now, all is well and compared to all the trouble I have been through in the past few months, this feels like bliss. I think a nice fat bonus is in order for her next month – to show my undying affection for her, I am quite possibly in love with her.