african american art – Cute Couple (Pinterest)

Nothing prepares a parent for the realization that their child could be sexually active.

Certainly, nothing had prepared Mama Ken for the day she bumped into her teenage son’s girlfriend coming down the stairs from her son’s room.

I have never seen my employer react with as much disbelief as she did that Saturday.

Instead of admonishing her son for bringing a girl to the house, she ended up threatening to report the girl to her parents.

“Why didn’t you tell me that girl has been coming to my house to see Ken?!” Mama Ken would then proceed to direct her fury to me.

I knew this would happen. The house help gets all the blame for the misdeeds of her employer’s children.


Even if Angie had known about it, I doubt Mama Ken would have berated her for it. Angie has been attending Saturday tuition sessions in the neighborhood for as far back as I can remember. It is because that girl is always preoccupied with her phone no wonder she needs extra coaching on school work.

But I cannot tell my employer this. It is simply none of my business.

“I did not know about it Mama Ken.” I lied, all the while hoping I sounded convincing.

‘How can you not know about it yet you are always here in the house?!” It was obvious that Mama Ken was not convinced.

“Do you realize that girl can end up pregnant?! What will happen then?!”

I nearly mentioned that she should be telling her son that. Not me. But I held my tongue.

“Anything that happens in my house under your watch, I need to be told!” Mama Ken was firm.

“And I don’t even know when you transformed into such an expert liar Coretta. I have always known you to be an honest girl.”

An unexpected praise from my employer although delivered in a stern manner.

“I am not lying Mama Ken.” I mumbled, averting my gaze.

“And go change into something decent! That top you are wearing is too tight!” Mama Ken suddenly ordered.

My face subsequently grew hot from embarrassment.

I had recently got my monthly salary and after sending the amount I usually send home, decided to upgrade my dressing. I ended up buying a couple of fitting tops and thought I looked nice in them by the way. But I must admit that I had not thought about the reaction from my employer, once she realized I now dress differently. And it was certainly not good.

Her mouth had now curved into a disgusted sneer.

“I hope you realize that there are men in this house. I will not have you dress in such a kind of manner!” She added harshly.

Retreating to my room, I was suddenly surprised that my eyes were wet with tears.

Mama Ken has never pretended to be particularly nice to me in the past. I have had to put up with her irritability and her need to constantly remind me of my place in her house. But implying that I was trying to get the attention of her son or husband with my dressing, had crossed the line and had indeed stung.

As I peeled off the “offending” top from my body, I let the tears flow freely. Tears of anger for having to work for someone else and follow all their rules. Rules that governed even how I chose to dress. Right then, I hated being a house help living in Mama Ken’s house.

Later on, when nobody was about and I was busy getting the dry clothes from the dry lines, Ken approached me rather meekly.

“Coretta,” He called.

“I’m sorry I got you into trouble today.” He mumbled apologetically.

Still brooding over my employer’s earlier actions, I only nodded.



Girl looking in the mirror. Photo sourced from Google

It was not long before Mama Brian got a replacement for Jesca.

She arrived, timid and wide eyed. Looking like the slightest scare would cause her to burst into tears. With a village aura around her. The one that urban dwellers found appalling and sometimes humorous.

I knew she would go through the whole orientation process. Make a few stupid mistakes here and there, receive a thorough tongue lashing from her employer, quickly learn the basics of city life and eventually, join the ilk of house helps who had already spent a significant amount of time in employment.

One thing I have never understood in my whole duration in the city, is why an employer expected you to be enlightened but not too enlightened at the same time. Almost like you could not be trusted if you ended up completely refined.

In Mama Ken’s house, it was totally okay for Angie to dress in a fitting pair of jeans but wrong for me to dress in a pair of tights under a knee length dress. It was totally okay, for the teenagers to spend as much time as they wanted on their phones but wrong for me to keep receiving calls on my simple phone. It was perfectly in order, for the teenagers to hang around the living room when there were visitors but wrong for me, to appear the slightest bit interested in conversation that did not concern me.

I have since concluded that urban dwellers have this deep seated insecurity, that makes them suspicious of anything likely to threaten their position of enlightenment. I have no desire whatsoever to compete with my employer. As a matter of fact, I’m beginning to experience a different kind of awareness. One that is confusing even to myself.

The awareness that I’m actually a beautiful girl.

Beautiful is not a word I would have used to describe myself with in the past. I like to think of myself as plain. I was a late bloomer. I remember my breasts started developing long after Priscilla’s had already blossomed into a full chest.

Quite recently, as I was taking a bath, I noticed just how full my breasts have since become. There is a large mirror in my employer’s bathroom. It is one that I have never bothered looking at in the past. For some reason, with that awareness of the changes in my body, I found myself staring back at my naked reflection that day. Even my hips appeared larger in the mirror.

Then I smiled.

It is a good feeling realizing something about yourself that you had never known in the past. For the first time, my clothes felt drab. The shapeless lengthy skirts and simple tops that I wore in the house did not feel like clothes I wanted to keep wearing. They did not flatter this new figure like I wanted.

But then I wonder if this kind of awareness is even right. Mama Ken has lectured me in the past about the opposite sex. Not that I have ever acted in ways that showed I was interested in men in the past. Mama Ken tends to mention in passing that men can derail a woman and especially a naive girl from the village such as myself. Sometimes, I wonder if she equally takes her time to lecture her children on the same.

Employers seem to have this mentality that the worst can only come from their house helps and not their own kids. Having made a promise to her son not to say anything, I cannot tell Mama Ken that a girl shows up at her house on most weekends when she and her husband are away working. I don’t want to lose my job for withholding information.

So if Ken was ever to get caught, let him get caught by either of his parents. I have since decided that it will be easier for me to pretend then, that I knew nothing about it.