The Housekeeper

It started with her being his live-in housekeeper. She had migrated from Lusaka, Zambia and needed a job. She saw an ad in the newspaper for a living housekeeper and she went to apply in person. The interview was to be held at the detached home in London.

When she showed up, he answered the door. He was dressed in a brown shirt and brown pants. He looked to be in his mid to late thirties and was very handsome. Smiling nervously, she said, “Hello.”

His eyes traveled slowly over her, surmising that she was probably in her late thirties. She was a very beautiful woman, perhaps too beautiful to be suitable for a live-housekeeper but he decided that he would interview her anyway. It was a form of discrimination not to consider someone for a position because of their looks.

“Hello,” he said. “You’re here for the housekeeping post, correct?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“Come in.” He opened the door wider for her to go inside.

She stepped into a large foyer. From what she could see, it was a beautiful place. A staircase wound its way up to where she assumed the bedrooms were. “You have a very beautiful house,” she said.

“Thank you. Let us go into the living-room.”

She followed him to the living-room. When they got there, she gave him a copy of her resume. He took it and invited her to have a seat before he sat down on the loveseat.

He turned so that he was facing her. She was looking around her. There was a fireplace with an armchair adjacent to it. A tall bookshelf filled with books was beside the fireplace. On the walls hung two paintings–one was of a woman sitting by a pond and the other was of a landscape. There were other antique pieces of furniture and a mounted flat screen TV. “This is a very nice room. It has a warm and snug feel about it.”

“It’s a snug room and is separate from the main living area. This is where I like to come and unwind.”

“Have you lived here long?” she asked.

“No. I bought this house last year. Tell me a little about yourself.”

“Well, I’m from Lusaka, Zambia. I went to university. After I graduated, I worked as a receptionist at Radisson Blu for five years and then, I applied for position of Executive Housekeeper and got it.”

“How long were you in that position?”

“Ten years.”

“Why did you leave the position?”

“I wanted to come to London and work here.”

“Why London?”

“My reasons for wanting to live and work here have to do with the economy, culture and healthcare,”

“Why do you want this position as a housekeeper after you’ve been in an executive one? It seems to me that you’re overqualified for this position.”

“I read that to it takes around four months or 122 days to find a job and I need a job now. I found the ad for this one and thought that I would apply. I have experience in housekeeping. The only difference is that with this job, I’ll be the one doing the housekeeping.”

He studied her for a moment and then, said, “All right. The job is yours.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sakarya. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity.”

“You’re welcome. Where are you currently staying?”

“At a friend’s place.”

“There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study, this snug room, a bigger living-room, a kitchen, dining-room and a conservatory. There is a good size garden. I have someone come and take care of it. Your duties are light cleaning in the living areas, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen, washing and drying dishes and putting them away, changing bed linens and making the beds, washing, folding and ironing clothes, cleaning interior windows, removing garbage and recycling, restocking personal items such as toilet paper, tissues, etc, general tidying of rooms, running errands such as grocery shopping, dropping off dry cleaning and mail, preparing meals and keeping track of cleaning supplies. I don’t expect you to lift any heavy objects or move any furniture.”

“And my salary?”

“The average live in housekeeper salary in the United Kingdom is £30,000 per year or £15.38 per hour. I will pay you £40,000 per year. That can increase over time.”

“And vacation time?”

“28 days paid holiday.”

“When would you like me to start?”

“As soon as possible.”

“How about tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow is fine.” He stood up. “I’ll give you a tour of the house now.”

She rose to her feet and followed him out of the living-room. After the tour, they shook hands and she left. The next day, she was back and moved in. It was a Tuesday and while he was taking a shower, she prepared breakfast after finding out what his dietary requirements/preferences were.

As he sat at the kitchen table, she found out that his name was Ahmet and he was Turkish. He came to London from Ankara with his family when he was two years old. They lived in Lambeth and owned a restaurant. Ahmet had two younger sisters–one was working while the other was in her second year at Oxford. Ahmet was Deputy Director GOV.UK User Experience at the Government Digital Service. He had been working there since he graduated from Oxford.

He finished having the Menemen which she had prepared, wiped his mouth and stood up. “I don’t think I’ve enjoyed my breakfast as much I have enjoyed this one,” he remarked. “You’re an excellent cook. I’m looking forward to dinner tonight.”

She smiled. “I’m happy you enjoyed your breakfast. Will you be coming home for lunch?”

He shook his head. “No, I don’t usually come home for lunch. I will see you this evening. Goodbye.” He left the kitchen and moments later, she heard his car pulling out of the driveway.

Alone, she got busy. Soon it was time for him to go home. Dinner was ready. It consisted of Kofta or Turkish meatballs, Stuffed eggplant served with Turkish rice and a Turkish salad. For dessert, she made Revani. He felt like he was at a banquet. After thanking her for the dinner, he left the kitchen. She brought a cup of Turkish coffee to him in the snug room where he was relaxing. She returned to the kitchen to finish cleaning up.

Before she went up to her room where she planned to spend the rest of the night before going to bed, she popped into the snug room to say goodnight. “Good night,” he said. “The next time, I’d like you to join me in here after dinner.”

“All right,” she replied. “Good night, Mr. Sakarya.”

Every evening after dinner and she had finished cleaning up, she joined him in the snug room and they as chatted they had Turkish coffee or an after dinner cocktail. In the background soft music played.

Days, weeks and months went by and he found himself looking forward to waking up in the mornings and going downstairs for breakfast and going home in the evenings. He even began to go home for lunch because he couldn’t wait until the evenings to see her. He had gotten used to having her around. The house seemed a brighter and happier place. There were fresh flowers in vases, their sweet fragrance filled the rooms. When he lived alone, he entertained women there but since Halima came into his life, he no longer invited women there or went out on dates.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, she asked him if he had a tree and when he said he had, she asked him to set it up. Together they decorated it. He brought presents to put under it. On Christmas Eve he told her that Christians were a minority in Turkey. “98 percent of the population are Muslims. Turkey is a secular country and the only Muslim country in the world which doesn’t have a State religion. The Constitution guarantees religious freedom and tolerance is the rule.”

“I’m happy to hear that because I strongly believe in religious freedom for all people. A person’s conscience, not government, should dictate his or her choice to worship or not. Jesus invited people to follow Him and it was up to them to do so or not.”

“Is Zambia a religious country?”

“Zambia is officially a Christian country by constitution. Christianity is the state religion.”

They talked about religion, the Bible and on Christmas Day, they went to his church. They had lunch before opening the presents they had bought for each other and the other presents he had gotten from friends and family. His family had invited him to spend Christmas with them but he declined, wanting to spend it with Halima whose family was back in Lusaka.

The following year, though, he ended up spending the holidays with his family because Halima had decided that she would spend them with her family in Lusaka. The house seemed empty without her and he just couldn’t get into the festive spirit. He spent his evenings in the snug room watching television or reading or listening to music, counting the days when she would return. When she did, he welcomed her back and asked her how she enjoyed spending the holidays with her family. He wanted very much to tell her that he missed her very much but he refrained from doing so. Theirs was still an employer/employee relationship.

This was a couple of years ago. Four years had passed since she began working for him. He didn’t like to think about what his life was like before he met her. He stood now at the window, looking out. It was after ten in the evening. She had just left him to go to her room. His mind was preoccupied with thoughts which he couldn’t quiet or ignore any more than he could his feelings.

Turning away from the window, he strode quickly out of the snug room after turning out the light and went upstairs. He didn’t go to his room but he went down the hallway to hers. After taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door. He waited. “Come in.”

He went in. She was sitting on the side of the bed wearing a white off the shoulder nightgown. He couldn’t prevent his eyes from drinking in the smooth bare shoulders nor his body’s reaction. Swallowing hard, he said, “I hope I’m not disturbing you but there’s something I would like to discuss with you.”

“No, you aren’t disturbing me,” she assured him. “What did you want to discuss with me?”

“You think of this as your home, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“How would you like it to be your permanent home?”

She stared at him at him. “My permanent home?”

“Yes. This could be your permanent home if you were to marry me.”

Her eyes widened. “Marry you?”

“Yes. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now. I hired you to be my housekeeper but now, I want you to be my wife.”

“Why do you want to marry me?”

He took a deep breath. “For the simple reason that I’m in love with you.”

For a few minutes, she seemed at a loss for words and then, she rose to her feet and moved closer to him. “Yes, I will marry you for the simple reason that I’m in love with you too.”

His eyes darkened and he caught her by the shoulders and pulled her against him. Her skin felt soft and smooth. “Oh, Halima,” he moaned before he lowered his head and kissed her heatedly on the lips.

He ended up spending the night in her room. The next day, he bought an engagement ring and three months later, they got married in a small and intimate ceremony with both of their families and close friends present. Halima continued to do the housework until she became pregnant with their first child. Ahmet and she decided to hire a local cleaner for a regular weekly clean while she continued to do the cooking.

Sources: Harri.com; Move Up; Stand Out CV; My Home Extension; House and Garden; Care.com; Talent.com; The Housekeeper Company; Indeed; Insanely Good Recipes; Insanely Good Recipes; Yummy Istanbul; Our Everyday Life; All About Turkey; Seventh-day Adventist Church; Wikipedia; Housekeep

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