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I have withdrawn all her savings and closed the account.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...


IBU said...

Salam Kak Ena

The second entry on maid for me this evening, the first was from Dad of Four.

It's hard letting go of the good ones kan? But how long can we hold on to them? They have their own lives too.

About that celana thingy, it's the same technique used by my maid. She even asked me to help pin the pouch to her belt, the pouch then safely tucked inside her underwear. Well.. I wasn't it was that safe but she seemed to think so.

But err... sorry Kak Ena, one nasty thought came to mind. Yours were going back to get married? Hopefully the bridegroom didn't mistaken that jutaan rupiah as a surprise dowry from her millionaire bride! Hehehe...


Rockybru said...

My maid has been with us two years. Maybe three? Nobody seems to be counting. She's gone back home to Jawa Tengah twice since joining us as our domestic helper.
She's my first maid. I decided to hire a maid based on your advise, too, and I must thank you for that. I must admit that I was anxious the first time she reported for duty. She has turned out to be a near-perfect maid - she even helps the kids read the Muqaddam.
Eventually, she would leave us. I don't know when but I know it will be hard on the kids and on her.

Nobody's a perfect employer to a domestic helper, Ena. But you've been more than just good to her. I've been to your dad's home and to two of your sisters' homes. All of you treat your maids like they are part of the family.
I hope your new maid will be good. It's hard to find good ones these days, I hear. Many of them treat their employers badly.


just goes to show, that there's always something new to learn.
i think that must be how they keep their money. I must say a thief-proof way.
I suppose....necessity dictates that they cannot keep their cash the conventional way.
Well, hmmm, if that is the dowry, hehehee


Ahirudin (Rocky),
As you know, I had other maids before Ani. The previous one had to quit to take care of an ailing parent. Before that, i had a maid who was married with 2 kids who came here looking so kesian but went back for holidays looking so cuun. the second time she went back, her husband hid her passport, wouldnt let her work anymore. she was so desperate, she told me to not employ anyone yet... but i couldn't hold on for long.
And before that, I had one (who actually had 2 children living in Keramat with her estranged husband). She left them with her husband and returned to Medan after a quarrel with him. Then, she was missing her kids and came here, on the pretext of wanting to work,but actually wanted to see her children. I took the children with me as well becos tak sampai hati. So she and her kids were with me for just one year and I told her to sort her life out, go back to Medan and take care of her kids, decide her future etcc... she was actually in no state of mind to be working.

I know some people expect their maids to be so perfect.The truth is, most of them are uneducated. They can;t cook, can;t keep house, and probably were doing things so differently back home.
You have to really teach them from scratch. You have to be patient and appreciate the cultural shock they are going through.
Kak Ton's maid, Mak Cik Halimah has been with Kak Ton for 30 years now.
SHe is now old that Kak Ton is taking care of her. She is like family. She's been good to Kak Ton's family because Kak Ton has been good to her.

Nina's maid heard that my maid was leaving and she (her maid) quickly (without consulting me) made arrangments for a relative of hers to work with me.

I hope this new maid is good, especially with my kids.
You know, we read about cases of employers abusing their maids. The truth is, I know that there are more good employers than there are good maids.

I am glad you got a very nice person to take care of your kids.

Dancy said...

Assalammualaikum .

My one and only Indonesian maid left for her kampong in Sambas , Kalimantan last February . She was with me for 8 years .

You are right ...she was not the best employee and nor am I the best employer . I did't expect her to do all the things my way be as clean and neat etc. etc .etc. my way . Coz if I were to do that ...the best person I'm looking for is .....myself !!

She left M'sia with a good grasp of english , plenty of skills in both cooking and baking as well as being fluent in reading the Quran .Once a month she would go out and meet her own people ...and she went home each year for Raya .....

I hope you will find another one soon ...your new dapur officer .

zaitgha said...


like ibu, i read Dad of Four entry on his maid a couple of days ago...when come to maid i think i was one of the lucky ones, i had maid when i was working and staying in KL, she was a God send, shes illiterate but was a very good assistance to fact she was so good i was like a queen for abt 6 years.

My husband fetched her at Malacca jetty when my youngest son was 8 days old, after 4 weeks confinement i brought her to our apartment in KL and of course the apt was kinda dusty, she just put her things in her room and looked for 'kain buruk' and with a pail of water, she started to scrub the oldest boy laughed at her and asked her what she was doing, he told her i used a mop to mop the floor and she asked my son how to use that thingy...imagine ya, she never saw a mop before...

After that the rest was history...shes actually a very intelligent woman, she could use all the kitchen gadgets like a pro and only needed guidance once or twice...she could speak simple english by the time she went home to Palembang ha ha ha...and shes an excellent cook too...

Anyway, i hope you get a good one this time around too...

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Kak Aina, you'll get a good maid.

I always believe that if you treat others well, you will get the similar treatment in return.

Afterall, maid is human just like us too!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was thrilled when Nuriah - one of the many maids I've had - called from Saudi Arabia where she's now working with her husband. She asked after me, my husband and the family. I told her we'd welcome her back any time because "kita dah bersaudara"

How right you all are! We sometimes forget our maids had, not only a life and a home before they came to us, but with that life came the loves, joys, hopes, dreams, fears and despairs - all humanly impossible to erase completely.

Apart from these ethereal things they had different cultures, customs and traditions, different foods, cooking and cleaning habits, different languages and world views. So all the things Malaysian (Malay, Chinese, Indian etc) have to be taught to them with a great deal of patience.

From my experience it takes about 3-4 solid months before they acquire the skills to manage our households. Some of the brighter ones rise to the occasion and do so magnificently. For the pittance of a gaji that we pay them!

I have the greatest affection and respect for the maids in my extended family (8 when we are gathered together) and generally treat them well - EXCEPT when they try to outsmart me or cause unwarranted ripples among the family, hurt a cucu OR get pregnant!

Then I do a GOBLOK on them better than the one ZAM did on you bloggers! Or the MONKEY of KJ!

MarinaM said...

Ena, my cook Ras went home a couple of years ago because her Mum died and came back a week later. My hubby noticed that her eyebrows had been plucked thin so he asked her if she'd gotten married. Blushing, she said yes.

Turns out that her husband-to-be (whom she barely knew except that he's from the same kampung) had gone to her Mum on her deathbed and asked to marry Ras and the Mum agreed. Ras only found out when she went home so before she knew it, she was married! How to say no to your Mum's dying wish, kan?

Now her hubby works somewhere in Malaysia and they get together occasionally. Ras seems to have her head together about this man and so far he hasn't treated her badly. Not a love marriage though.

Our Ras has been with us for 9 years and although she isn't the smartest and definitely not the best cook, she's honest, hardworking and strong as an ox. So we hope she'll be with us as long as she wants to.


dancy: yes...we cannot have high expectations or expect high standards.
you mustv been good employer for yr maid to have worked with u for 8 years.

zai: it's always good to hear stories like this...

OFF: i can imagine when all 8 maids get together.
yes, i certainly agree. What is important is that do not mistreat or illtreat our maids.
Good to know about nuriah...

MarinaM: 9 years is a long time. She must like working with you. I think we should not expect so much. When Nina's maid told me that her relative (whom she had asked to work with me), was not a clever person, I said that is the least of my worry. I told her as long as she is honest, hardworking and is a good person, that's fine with me.
"Bodoh bisa di ajar", I told her.

MarinaM said...

Err...I just re-read my comment...I didn't mean that Ras' Mum died and then rose from the dead a week later!!!


MarinaM: was sure that was not what you meant.


SK: Yes, i always believe that too.