Ever since I married MrNordin, I only know of one maid, Sri.
Sri came into my husband’s family in 2002. I was not married yet then. She was this tomboyish-looking gal with short hair and big-built, always looking at me nervously whenever I came around visiting.
I remember her going in and out of the kitchen when I visited their house one day and I thought she looked rather suspicious. She was illegal at first, but after seeing that she was quite capable of handling the housework, MrNordin applied for her work permit and so, she was made legal.
I got to know her better after I moved into the family. One word to describe her is ~ competent. She takes care of everything in the house while we are at work ~ from cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing to taking care of the pets (we had a lot then ~ chickens, cats, birds, tortoises and now a goose) and the kids.
She also supervises the gardener, the plumber, the electrician, the driver, the bill collector, the air-cond man and whoever that comes around to the house while we were out. We can trust her with giving instructions to them and clarifying what’s wrong with the devices.
She can cook very well, sekali ajar dah boleh buat. I thought her how to cook nasi lemak and asam pedas, now her asam pedas and nasi lemak are the ones that my kids crave for when they come home for the holidays. She makes the best sambal goreng and ayam berlada (which I don’t know how to). Her sambal belacan is only second best to my MIL’s and her masak lemak is almost as good.
Besides masakan melayu, she can also cook pasta and such ~ macaroni and cheese tu pejam mata je lah, spagetthi olio, carbonara, bolognaise etc, etc. But I thought her first how to do all these lah... (must claim credit !).
She’s also a good seamstress. Before she came to Malaysia, she was working in a garment factory in her kampung for a while and that’s how she acquired the skill. She sews her own baju, Nizzar’s baju melayu, repair our baju2 yang dah koyak, jahit tepi kain, jahit samping etc, etc. It’s so convenient.
Besides her multi-skills, she’s also quite clever. Maybe because she has been with us for a long time and she knows our style. Sometimes when I’m out with my friends at night and my MIL calls the house, she could cover for me by saying, “Kak Yati dah tidur, bu…” (I didn’t ask her to do that).
Or when some sales man call, demanding to speak to my husband, she could gaduh with the guy to stop bugging us.
And she can speak English as well. Not fluent, but bolehlah sikit-sikit. She reads Harry Potter, ok? And watches TV with my children. I guess that’s how she picks up the language.
I’m glad she wanted to learn although my MIL was not very happy when she found out that our maid reads books instead of doing housework. We told her, "Daripada dia dok melepak dengan maid2 lain kat luar, baiklah dia baca buku, mak…" She was not amused.
Having her around was a blessing for us all. I remember when Nizzar was just a little baby, she was the one who took care of him after I went back to work. She’s very good with children and I can trust leaving her with my baby.
But not everything is well and good. She has her flaws and her days as well. If you’ve been reading my blog, there were times when I got cross with her due to her lax attitude. And that’s normal especially when one has been working for one employer for a long time. Complacency sets in… she becomes lazy, sloppy with her work… that’s when we gave her a scolding so she toe the line once again.
But most times, she would realize it was her mistake and she would come to me after that to apologize. At least she felt remorse and that’s a good sign.
To this very day, I have never treated her as a maid per se coz she’s been a part of our family. She eats with us at the dining table, she goes on holiday with us, she comes with us whenever we dine out, she eats what we eat and she drinks what we drink from the same Portmeirion plates and cups that we have in the house. No different pots/plates/cups for maid vs our own use coz we don’t believe in that.
Well, initially she did eat alone in the kitchen after we had our meals but over time, we just asked her to join us at the dining table. Dahlah penat2 masak, takkan makan sorang2 kat belakang pulak, ya tak?
To me, she’s family. That’s why when she told us that she wanted to get married at the end of this year and that she wants to go back to Indonesia, we were devastated. Can we do without her? Can we get the same maid as good as her? Is she sure of her decision?
Going home is one thing, but getting married is another thing. She’s a good girl, hard-working, and has lots of money having worked here for 7 years. This guy is a painter (tukang cat) and he does odd jobs as and when they are available. Don’t know how they met but she told me he is a neighbor in her kampung. He came here only recently.
From what she told us, we were not convinced that he’s a good guy. I think he’s just after her money. But pressure from both sides of the family and the fact that she’s now 25 and still not married (kat kampong dia kira dah andartu lah tu..), she succumbed to their wishes tho’ deep inside I know she doesn’t really want to marry this guy.
I shed tears when she told me about it coz I worry for her future. After being with us for some time, my only wish is that she’ll have a better life after she leaves. Having worked so hard all this while, I don’t want her to lose all the money that she has earned to this guy. I want her to have a good life; not lavish but comfortable enough for a small family unit.
I feel that she deserves a good life. She always told me, "Saya datang ke sini untuk kerja dan kumpul wang supaya adik2 saya and anak2 saya boleh pergi ke sekolah... sesuatu yang saya tak pernah alami selama ini. Saya mahu mereka dapat kehidupan yang lebih baik dari diri saya, k.Yati...”
I know her intentions are noble, that’s why I don’t want this guy to screw it up!