Can I Become a Lady?


I know I am envied for having a chauffeur and a housemaid here. My chauffeur takes me wherever I want to go, by just telling him the address or the name of the building. My housemaid does the housework for me, cleaning, doing the dishes, washing and ironing from underwears to shirts. That is wonderful!

    One day I had some errands to make. I could have gone around and finished all my business before noon. But I thought, "If I finish everything now, he will have no work for the rest of the day." So I came home in the middle and left home again a few hours later in the afternoon.

    Some other day, he came in as usual but I had no plans to go out. "If I don't go anywhere today, he'll be bored all day long," I thought and went to a deparment store to spend hours on window-shopping not knowing what I exactly wnated to see or buy.

    Among all the housework I cling to cooking as my province in order to have the least trouble when I come back to Japan. But yet this province is being intruded gradually. My maid offers a help and takes it away from me in the end.

    The first few days, she and I had no way of communication except for body language. All we could hear in the kitchen were a splash of water, a clatter of plates, a hiss of steam, a sizzle of oil. I finished cutting carrots, and turned to the stove to check the heat and to stir the soup. I looked back for the cutting board to do some more chopping and found it gone. I had to stand there just watching her wash it. It took me twice the time to prepare the meal.

    I, who was relieved from housework, was sitting at the table in the living room. A TV program which my children were watching drew my attention, but I felt a sense of guilt about being idle and watching TV while my maid was busily working. So I laid a writing pad in front of me with a pen in my hand, showing that I had something to do, and sneaked a glance at the TV like a child who was told to concentrate on her homework by her mother.

    Six months have passed. Still, the only place I can lounge over a cup of coffee is my bedroom, where I can keep to myself and away out of my maid's sight. And the idea that my chauffeur is waiting outside makes me ill at ease. I am adjusting to the situation here, but I wonder if I can ever become a "Lady". 


#56 Parkway Vol.6 No.5 October 1992


 日本に帰国した後のことを考えて、料理だけは私のテリトリーに残しました。 インドネシア到着当初、女中さんと私とのコミュニケーションはボディランゲージのみ。台所で聞こえる音といえば、蛇口からの水がジャージャー、お皿が触れてカチカチ、お湯がシューっと湧き、フライパンの油がジュージュー。私はまな板に向かってにんじんを切ります。そして、ガスレンジに向いて、鍋の火加減を見て、スープを混ぜ、野菜の続きを切ろうと思ってまな板に向き直ります。あれ?まな板がない。私は女中さんがまな板を洗っている間、何もせずに立っていなければなりませんでした。料理を作るのに倍の時間がかかりました。