Raising the broom defiantly, my maid thundered: "Saabji, give me 30% raise from next month or else I'll quit." Her threat wasn't surprising, for she frequently opens up with me when my bitter-better half is not at home. She has a soft corner for me because, unlike the memsaab, I don't pick holes in her work.
Her demand was genuine, even though her jhadu gesture was clearly aimed at cashing in on the AAP euphoria.
However, I could neither readily accept nor outrightly reject it. In both cases, there was the danger of stepping into the minefield of sexual harassment. So, I had to tread the middle path. "Well," I said cautiously. "I'll consider giving you a raise once I get my own, but I'm afraid my appraisal isn't going to happen for another six months."
"Nothing doing," she shot back. "Why should my salary be dependant on your performance, or lack of it?"
"You have a point," I said, "but the best I can give you now is a retention bonus."
"Tension bonus? What in God's name is that?" she asked, pointing the broom at me.
"It's called retention, not tension, bonus, though it practically amounts to the same thing," I explained. "You will have to return the entire amount in case you quit any time before the next 12 months."
"I don't want such bogus bonus," she said, resting the 'sweeper' on her right shoulder like a baseball bat. "Just you wait. Once the Aam Aadmi Party comes to power at the Centre, I'll make exploiters like you grovel. Then you'll have to accept my demand unconditionally."
"Hey, we are on the same page. I'll also vote for the AAP in the coming Lok Sabha elections," I clarified, fondling the party symbol she held tightly in her hand.
"S-s-saabji, are you making advances?" she wondered, recoiling back as if struck by lightning.
"No, no, no," I defended myself. "Don't misunderstand me. Just because our political leanings are the same doesn't mean that I'll take undue advantage of you in my humble abode. True, I haven't been made a member of the sexual harassment grievance cell in my office, but that doesn't prove I'm a lecher."
"I'll consider you a gentleman," she said, "if you follow in Kejri babu's footsteps and start cleaning up the system, beginning with your own house."
She handed over the broom to me and I took up the challenge. Right then, like an early-morning nightmare, my missus arrived, holding shopping bags in both hands. "What the hell's going on here?" she enquired.
"Our maid is asking for an immediate pay hike," I said, "but since we can't afford to do that, I have decided to lighten her workload once in a while. After all, both of us are part of the AAP army."
"And I'm a Congress supporter," my wife roared. Unleashing political vendetta, she snatched the broom from me and tried to shoo us out of the house. "Don't mess with us. Remember that you are in minority,"
I warned her. My domestic help applauded my new-found courage, while Her Highness turned green with envy and red with embarrassment. With the numbers not on her side, she willy-nilly offered support to form a coalition government in our house.