Saturday, August 04, 2007
Maid and Money......
My maid of four years, Ani, left for home (Medan) today to get married for the second time. Her first husband who was a much older man died in 2002, the year before she came to this country to be my domestic helper.
She got a call from her older sister one day that her family had a "candidate" for her.
She told them she was not interested but they persisted.
I suppose she got tired of refusing and did not want to disappoint her older siblings. Her parents have passed away.
Actually, there was little she could do. I told her to carefully think about it. So she did and decided that going home was the best for everyone.
I wished her well and told her that I hoped her (prospective) husband would be good to her and was not marrying her for money. Ani is a rich woman now.
In her four years with me, she had gone home to Medan once, in 2005 for Hari Raya, and was away for a month.
She had planned to work with me for another 10, 15 years maybe, but......marital bliss beckoned.
I thanked her for helping to keep an eye on my kids when I was at work, to do the laundry, to cook, to mop the floor and other little things that made my life that much easier.
She thanked me for this and that and asked if she could come back (to Malaysia) if her husband turned out to be bad.
I told her not to think of that but to go home and be with her loved ones, rest, relax, do whatever that she had always wanted to do, get married and, take it from there.
Ani was not your perfect maid. And I was not your perfect employer.
But she tried her best with whatever that was asked of her. And I never asked her to do things that I could not do, nor to make her cope with more than she could handle.
I think working women like me do have to rely on domestic help to care for our kids when we are at work.
How else could I have continued working without their help?
Where I live, I can't find anyone who's able to babysit. My neighbours themselves are working couples with kids, and who rely on domestic help.
I have my family living in the same town and they have helped me a lot but I think it was only fair that I got a maid. More than anything, it was the practical thing to do.
Ani and I had a joint bank account. I gave her RM20 a month to keep -- just in case. She did not want to keep any cash with her but I insisted so she settled for RM20. The rest of her pay was deposited into the bank account.
I have withdrawn all her savings and closed the account. She asked that I changed all her money to Rupiah, except for RM1,000.
I told her it was best not to carry all that cash with her, and advised her to have the bulk of her money transferred to a bank in Medan from where she could withdraw when she got home.
Ani was reluctant because she was not used to banking transactions in Medan or anywhere. I did not press further because she already looked so confused.
So at the airport, before we bade farewell, I asked her where she kept all her millions in Rupiah, worried that she had stuffed the money in her checked-in luggage. I had noticed, when she opened her handbag, that she did not seem to have the wads of Rupiah.
"Dalam celana..seluar dalam", she said, in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Huh? macam mana tu," I said, in disbelief. I was stumped. Really, I could not imagine. I could not visualise.
But before she could explain, I shook my head and told her : "Tak apa, tak apa....pandai-pandai Ani-lah." Maybe I did not want to know how.
We were already at the departure gate. There was little I could do then. If Ani felt that was the best place to hide her cash from God-knows-who, then that's fine by me. I could offer no other solution or alternative at that point.
Then I remembered that the other time she went home, I had asked her the same question. In reply, she did mumble something about keeping her money in her underwear. I thought I heard wrong so I did not ask further simply because it seemed too ridiculous.
Obviously it was not and I had heard it right the first time.
But hey, don't look at me. I don't know how it's done! My maid of four years never told me that that was possible.
I am still shaking my head...