My daughter was barely two years old when her fingers were scalded so badly that the skin was peeling off.
My wife and I weren’t home at the time so we don’t know exactly what happened.
Our Filipino maid, whose name was Beth, said she was carrying my daughter while preparing a milk bottle and accidentally spilled boiling water on my daughter’s hands.
Beth then called my wife and we rushed home to find our daughter still crying uncontrollably. We quickly took her to a neighbourhood clinic and my daughter’s fingers healed eventually.
Because of the incident and other issues, we finally made the difficult decision to let Beth go. My wife called the maid agent to make the arrangements.
A few days later, without giving her any warning, we told Beth that we were sending her home and to pack her things immediately.
I know it was a terribly heartless thing to do, but we were paranoid that if we gave her notice of her termination beforehand, she might do something to harm us – or worse, our children – out of spite.
In tears, Beth pleaded with us to give her another chance, but we didn’t budge, although my heart was breaking for her.
When we took Beth to the maid agent’s office in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, the agent was very nice to my wife and me, but then turned to poor Beth and scolded her for misbehaving and causing us to fire her.
At that moment, I wanted to tell off the agent:
“Who are you to scold Beth? You know nothing about her. This person lived with us for one and a half years. We entrusted her with the two most precious things in our lives, our children. She means more to us than you do. You have no right to treat her like... a maid!”
But I didn’t.
What was a mere scolding from the agent compared to the way we – who looked after her well-being for the past 18 months – were getting rid of her?
And just like that, Beth went from practically being a member of the family to an ex-employee. From being an integral part of our lives everyday to a stranger almost, a foreigner – someone whom we would never see again.
And we didn’t even say goodbye to her. We just left Beth weeping in the agent’s office without looking back.
We never hired another maid. My wife decided to look after the kids herself. So now every time I read about maids abusing the children they’re supposed to be looking after, I’m glad we made that decision.
And whenever I read about employers abusing their maids, I’m reminded of the maid agent’s callous attitude towards Beth – and perhaps mine.
Now 10, my daughter doesn’t even remember Beth at all. But I do.
- Published in The New Paper, 20 April 2009
TRENDING POSTS OF THE WEEK
There comes a time for everyone when you question the point of it all. Why are you doing this? Is this what life is about? For me, tha...
Dear Ashley Garcia , Clothes maketh the man while the lack of clothes can make a woman famous. Sometimes unintentionally. I mean, y...
Okay, I surrender. I admit it. I was wrong. In April last year, I wrote a column called “ So is Joanne Peh really going out with Qi Yuwu? ...
It’s like 1996 all over again. Only instead of the Macarena , we’re dancing Gangnam Style . Instead of watching the White House get bl...
A few days ago, my former employer, MediaCorp, announced the surprise resignation of its chief executive officer, Lucas Chow. So what ...
I have a favourite T-shirt. One reason it’s my favourite is that it was given to me many years ago by a friend who has since passed away...
I first met Darryl David at Gurmit Singh's wedding dinner in 1995. David's date was a woman named Lynette Pang , who was a stag...
Two years ago, when celebrity radio deejay Glenn Ong revealed that he was dating fellow MediaCorp deejay Jean Danker after splitting fro...
Lately, I've been noticing the recurring use of an unfamiliar word on social media. Aisey. Posted by SMRT Ltd (Feedback) on Wedne...
Zoe Tay said she was “just sexy”, and that men love her and women hate her. I can’t speak for women, but as a man, I don’t exactly love...