Friday, April 13, 2007

Maids Are Human Beings Too

Last night, my sister told me some news that brought chills down my spine. I couldn’t sleep well after that, and this morning came to work feeling groggy and tired.

A few weeks ago, my sister’s maid told her about a certain Indonesian maid in their apartment building who was never allowed to go out and was being locked indoors whenever the employers are not at home.

The other maids in the building were all gossiping about it and although the next door neighbours have heard her cying and complaining, nobody has actually ever seen her for she probably has never been out of the apartment ever since she came to work there many many months ago.

Last Saturday, she was probably at the end of her tether when she decided to run away. She threw her bag out the window of the 7th floor apartment unit and climbed out. She managed to climb down to the 6th floor before the railing which she was holding on to gave way, and she fell.

She died instantly.

It was a horrible horrible way to die to say the least, and my heart goes out to her.

I can’t stop thinking about it, how she journeyed across the ocean, leaving her family and friends to come to work in other people’s house in a strange country, only to face a tragic end and return home in a coffin.

I don’t know why there are people who think that their maids are anything less than human; locking them up like animals in a cage, not letting them see anything beyond the threshold of the front door. That is just too much.

Sadly, some people are paranoid about their maids running away that they fail to see right from wrong. True, there are many cases of runaway maids, but with each case, there are also many more that stayed behind, taking care of the employers’ household for years and years and earning an honest living.

If the maid is a potential runaway, she would have run away at the earliest opportunity, no matter how the employer treats her. The difference is, she would have plans and she would execute it flawlessly, probably with outside help.

If the maid is someone who just wants to work and send money to her family, opportunities to run away could present itself right smack in front of her nose and she would look away, because she is here to work and earn a living.

But if any honest hardworking maid is kept locked up for months, I would be very surprised if she doesn’t develop the slightest inclination to escape.

It was so obvious that the girl who died had no master plan about running away. All she knew was that she was desperate to get out and she had nobody helping her.

Alain Robert may be able to climb up and down the Petronas Twin Towers with ease but for the rest of us, it is just impossible. Nobody in their right mind would leave an apartment on the 7th floor by climbing out the window. Those who do that normally have suicide on their minds.

But that girl didn’t. She had every intention to live. She packed her bags and was climbing down to freedom. At least she thought she was.

Al-Fatehah to her and I pray that she rest in peace.

We may never know what kind of maids we are going to end up having, but whatever it is, it is only fair for us to treat her well. The idea is to have a little faith in people, and more often than not, they will not fail you.

If your maid turned out to be an ungrateful sod, that is too bad, but it is not the end of the world, unless of course if they commit a crime against you when they are at it, but that is another story. Otherwise, you pick up the pieces and you move on. You may lose lots of money in getting a new maid but at least your conscience is clear.

The rule of thumb is, don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you. Never mistreat your maids, as they are after all human like us.


Clark Gable of Pulau Duyong said...

Dear Sue,
Some maids wash car everyday.Send the car to the service station for washing ,it comes to RM12 .
Thirty x RM12=RM360 ...almost the one month salary worth.
But carwash is not the only thing she does....

"The way to see humanity in a person is to see how he treat his/her subordinates"....Shortfellow

Al Fatihah

elviza said...

Dearest Sue,

I am consumed with grief from your story. I could imagine how desperate she must have felt. For the life of me, why must you caged her like a prisoner?

I have a helper too and she is a godsend. But Sue, I seriously believe in what you said "dont do unto others what you dont want others to do unto you."

They work really hard for a mere 500 a month and they came so far from home in search of money. A little respect from the employers is a must. They are lonely and missing their family.

Please, they are just like us all - human.

KC said...

Dear Sue,

I blogged about maids too a coupla days ago. And what I've written were based on personal experiences of family members and friends.

That is why I mentioned in my entry yang kita semua ni sama di sisi Allah, tiada beza. Cuma mungkin kita ni sedikit bernasib baik.

It's just sad when there have been occassions where we've treated them really well, in fact macam family members sendiri, and when they want to leave, they can just leave. Just like that. I guess the hardship they went thru in life made them what they are. And we can't blame them for that. As I said, kita ni saja yang sedikit bernasib baik dari mereka.

But of course there are really really good and loyal ones yang pernah jugak I kenal, and their employers told me, having good and loyal maids ni macam kena loteri.

Even my cousin's maid of 15 years pun baru balik indonesia last December. It was like parting with a grandmother for her children. The relationship built all those years, was really something...

To arwah, Al Fatihah. Semoga rohnya dicucuri rahmat...

Typhoon Sue said...

clark gable:
100% true.
no matter how superior we think our life is to theirs, we actually need them to make our lives a little easier.

i know. If I am caged like that, I'd go bonkers in 2 days and go put my head in my oven. Seriously.

even the not so good maid can be good in time, if we have a little bit of faith in them. Those that are naturally ungrateful, tak boleh buat apa la.

but those that are treated well by employers would normally return the favour threefold. Their life back home was hard. Their journey across the sea was treacherous. And when they arrive at our shores, their lives at the camp before getting employment was like a prisoner of war; one meal per day, sometimes none. Telekungs were confiscated. Bed was just the dirty floor. No medical care. By the time they get employment, some healthy ones already become sick. TB is a common sickness spread through the camps.

So, those good ones will appreciate whatever care we can give them because they have been though so much.

NJ said...

AlFatihah to the said late maid... Sedihnya I baca ur entry nih, although these kinds of revealation has been reported in the papers daily.

Kak Teh said...

al fatihah. i just do not understand this kind of mentality. My siblings have been very fortunate to have very very good maids whom they treat like part of the family. They eat together, go out together. My brother's maid looks after my mother like her own. Even those who have left are still in touch.
again, ah fatihah to arwah.

Fauziah Ismail said...

Maid, amah, orang gaji. Whatever the job title is, employers have to be reminded that they are humans too bukan hamba abdi.
A little compassion goes a long way.
Al Fatihah.

Manal said...

Whats the use of having a bibik when all they had in mind are crazy paranoia and sadistic inclination just to lepas geram of paying them 1/6 or so of their gaji. They are aware that there wud be an increase in electric bills as well as food consumption. Bad majikan and bad maid happens everywhere. A good maid can turn bad in time too. But I so agree with u, Sue, and everybody else on the mistreatment issue. My bibik was asked to lie that she has a husband here because she was told that if she didnt do that, we the majikan might not be that lenient on letting her out of the house. After 5 months with us, she confessed all that asking for our apologies for we were so not like what she'd heard before.

Ntah la...byk factors contributing to all those weird behaviours coming from either the employers or the maids themselves. Kalau dah benci sgt that arwah, lepaskan jer la dia and ask the agent for replacement. Takkan tak boleh invest another RM1000 for that matter? kalau tak mampu, jangan nak mengada2 hire bibik.

Eh sue, sorry tulis panjang2...:-)

Typhoon Sue said...

mj, kakteh, fauziah, manal:-

how these sad stories can happen in our days civilized world is beyond me