She’s leaving tomorrow and I can’t help but feel nothing about it.
My dad left. My brother’s married and is therefore living in another house, home, whatever you call it. My school is far away from our house so I dorm, and my mom works all throughout the day and sometimes even until evening so that leaves no room for the house to clean itself. And so we hire maids.
Well, people like to call them maids, some even call them kasambahay here in the Philippines, and even though that’s their job, I’d like to think of them as people who… who am I kidding, yeah, they’re our maids. Not in the way that snotty, snobby, rich kids treat their maids, I would like to think, because unlike them, we treat our maids in the same way we treat our relatives. Although in a more maid-ish way ’cause, hey, someone still has to clean the house for money.
Our current one, Ate Joy (I call her Ate Joy, like how I call my older female cousins Ate), is my favorite one yet, I think. I don’t remember when she came here, I don’t remember how it had happened. All I know is that my mom couldn’t really clean the whole house, and our maid(-ish) then, only comes to our house to cook and do the laundry (which wasn’t really much since she has to leave after dinner ’cause she has a family of her own somewhere across the street). Ate Joy wasn’t really much. She has a kid back home. Somewhere. I don’t really know. But she does, and she loves him. I can tell ’cause one day she went home with a plastic bag with shoes for a kid, and my mom even gave some of my toys, I think, even though I couldn’t really understand why because I’m a girl …
Ate Joy fit in our household quickly, although not quick enough for me. I was distant, as I always was to new comers in our house. But she and I couldn’t really ignore each other for months living in the same house. So we slowly warmed up to each other. And lo, we became close enough to let the stinking suffocating silence out the window.
It was comfortable, she was comfortable. Like I said, she fit right in. My mom loved her, my dad (who came home a few short times) did, my grandma, my aunts, uncles, cousins – hell, almost everyone did.
I wasn’t sure if I can say the same for myself then.
But she was comfortable enough to be with.
And she was honest, too.
A little awhile ago during dinner (or maybe it was before), she asked my mom to check her bags before she leave. My mom dismissed her saying that it wasn’t in her nature to check things, really, ’cause that’s just a sign of distrust and everyone trusted her. I did. I do. I do still.
I remember our old maid when I was in second grade. We had her for a while, compared to the others. But I loved her, I would think. She was the only one who would play with me when I was alone in our house during the times I was idle, the only one who would approach me. And she was the only one who called my dad from work when I had an ugly burn down my right leg (granted, she was the only one home at that time but you get the point). I think I loved her, yes. Loved her enough to even remember the happy times she and I played.
And I guess I loved her enough to remember the worst times too.
She was the one who introduced me to smoking. I was in second grade, can you believe that? She introduced a second grader to cancer sticks. I still can’t get my head to accept that fact either. But she did. And I’m glad she did. Because that one time she made me inhale one of those abominable sticks was likewise my last. I never touched a cigarette since.
She left a few months later.
I guess what made her leave was due to my mom and dad insistence. Well I guess the better term would be fired but I didn’t know that then.
My mom, dad, and I came home from the mall that day, I think (I was still in second grade so I still don’t remember much about what happened then). I had a pink plastic-glass-something-in-between piggy bank that I put all my five peso coins in after each day. I almost had it filled. Until I chose to check it again that day and hey, why is it almost empty?
We knew who it was, though, although we were insisting that it wasn’t true, that it must’ve been someone else. A burglar, a thief, someone else that wasn’t her. Until my cousin told us that she and our maid (I forgot her name) went out to the mall near our house and she paid for some stuff in five peso coins.
I definitely disliked my cousin for ratting her out.
I would say that I lost a friend that day. But I wasn’t sad when she left.
The next maid we had, or at least the next maid that I remembered was Ate Fe. She was alright. She did her job okay. She was definitely not in my favorites list. She was only nice when my mom was home, and although we did have some times where she and I would agree to something, most of the time we don’t.
I remember the first time I cursed someone and completely meant it.
Me being the computer freak that I am use the computer more than 18 hours a day since I discovered that I can open a CPU (and it’s still surprising how my ophthalmologist tells me my eyes are almost, completely perfect except for my right, which in itself, is another story). I use the computer the moment I wake up until the moment my mom threatens me. Ate Fe, she was playing mom that day. And I don’t know what happened but I guess I snapped. Ten year old me snapped. I told her to fuck off (and wow, I was a fourth grader then) and I told her things that I meant and I only half regret saying to her.
We both cried during that fiasco.
But at least I turned the computer off.
Ate Joy. She’s different. She didn’t introduce me to anything, didn’t steal anything, didn’t even pretend to be nice in front of my mom or anyone else (she was just that. Nice), and didn’t play mom.
I guess she would be, in my opinion, the best maid we ever had.
She’s leaving tomorrow for a better career opportunity. She’s going to Dubai, I think, where her friend (or was it cousin?) is so she can help her with her boss. She’ll still be a maid there though, but the salary would definitely be better. I just wish they’ll treat her better than we did (not that we treated her badly, mind you). I just wish that they’ll give her the treatment she’ll deserve.
She’s probably my favorite maid and she’s leaving tomorrow, probably never coming back to visit or anything. Everyone will miss her for sure. Heck, even I’ll miss her.
Yet funny enough, I’m not even a tiny bit sad about it.