Die Haushaltshilfe

The Housemaid
“I don’t want to stay here any more!” says Martina to her mother via webcam in an internet café near Lake Constance. Meanwhile, her mother in Slovakia tries to calm down her daughter. After all, they need the money. Martina is working as a home help and carer to an elderly couple.
Lore, the mistress of the house, is in a wheelchair. She has difficulty getting around. Otherwise, she’s full of energy and keeps a tight rein on the household. Her husband, Max, can no longer speak but observes everything that goes on around his bed. Theirs is a tiny world, over which Lore holds sway. The fact that their idyll has now been penetrated by a young Slovakian woman who is going to spend the summer looking after Max and Lore is a bitter pill for Lore to swallow. The German language alone poses countless problems. Lore insists on giving Martina step-by-step instructions on how to make Swabian noodles, but Martina isn’t used to being observed while she works. Lore wants to live, with the aid of this young woman. But she has to do everything the way Lore wants her to. Lore doesn’t miss a trick but it frustrates her when the girl’s lack of German hampers the communication, and so Lore decides to give Martina vocabulary to learn. But when Martina complains to the agency that she doesn’t get enough to eat and flatly refuses to wait another four weeks before she can go back home for a visit, Lore decides to fire her home help. “May I know what you think?” Martina asks her mother, hoping for her support. But there is no answer. And so Martina must go her own way.
by Anna Hoffmann Germany 2009 59’

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