Lina, the cook for our modest events business has resigned. She has been erratic with her cooking lately and has been very moody. It turns out she is pregnant with her present boyfriend. She is separated from her husband and was single mother before that. I learned that her daughters from her previous affairs are up in arms. I do not know what luck would befall her. She would be bringing with her the wife’s secret recipes.
What is it with cooks? But I might be speculating wrongly.
I remember our household cook, Nena, who forsook her family in Bicol by running away with our gardener, Toti, a Tagalog, who was also married. I talked to them before they both left. I said: “Sigurado ba kayo na hindi lang libog yan? True love ba yan? Iiwanan nyo ang mga pamilya ninyo.” But they were firm in their decision to live as husband and wife. Now, they are separated; Toti, who became a tricycle driver, got himself another woman. Nena is with her eldest daughter, being paid for her “apostolic” work.
Sometimes, we thump our chest by saying we directly provide livelihood to people. There was a time the kasambahay staff was bloated – with two drivers, two gardeners, a cleaning lady, a cook, and a labandera. That did not include the office hires, the ones with college degrees. Try as I might not to think about social stratification, we get more perplexed by the household staff and how to manage them. They seem to have a different code of conduct, for one. And also, they seem to love living in misery.
We have had dozens of characters under our wings whose stories could clog the MMK bank but for, today, I will tell about the Artemios, a whole family from Misamis, who we have dealt with for more than 20 years. In the mid 90s when we were still living in Quezon City, we hired Marina as an all-around helper. The wife taught her how to cook until she rose in rank to become a mayordoma when we transferred to Cavite. We hired her sister, Joan, who we trained to be a clerk in our office. But then she thought she would be getting a better pay as a factory worker. She did not reckon she had to pay for her fare, food, and board while, with us, she did not have to think about these. She got sickly.
Meanwhile, Marina got married to an OFW who worked as a construction painter whom she met through texting. She left us. She got the idea that she would be better off living on the dollars she was receiving from her husband. He turned out to be a sot. Umaga pa lang, lasing na. He lost his job abroad. Marina had to go back to work, this time as a cook in a restaurant. Joan, on the other hand, got so sick she nearly died. We had her hospitalized. When she got well, she also got married. To a man who could not hold on to a job. One time, we sent money for them to start a buko pie business.
The Artemios had an innate goodness. Through the years, we would hire her brothers, her father, and her in-laws. But I do not know what it is, they seem to be a cursed family. They keep on needling fate. They keep on botching opportunities for a good life. Are there people condemned to a life of want because of their attitude, actuation, or behavior? Do gods get angry and punish humans for transgressions that their ancestors did or they are about to do? We continue next week.