In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Goodbye, Kakak

How does one properly say goodbye to someone who's been with the family for 16 years?

Just the other day I accompanied my mum and papa to the airport to send Kakak off. That meant getting up in the early morning as the flight was at 7.30am. I didn't trust myself to get up on time, so i neglected to sleep instead and went over to my mum's place to wait for them at 7am.

Mum says she's been with us for 16 years. That means she helped bring me and my brother up. Still remember her tapping outside my window to wake me up for school (it was form 4 or 5 i think and the teachers were so useless that i often decided to stay at home to study).

Indonesia has a really, really big and disorganized que at the checkin counters (airasia). Also, it was apparent they earned huge amounts from overweight luggage fines. You see, Kakak's luggage was overweight (just like all the other indon maids around us) and had to pay RM220 in overweight fines. (With the long ques behind us, the checkin counter girl had wisely stuffed the luggage into the hold before Kakak could have a chance to take things out). It turns out that kakak had stuffed back in the luggage that my mum had forced her to take out the night before to avoid the overweight charges because she couldn't stand the thought of not taking the stuff with her (lol!). Ever benevolent, in the end my mum paid as Kakak had not enough money to. (Mum had earlier promised to send Kakak more money later every month as thanks for long years of service... kakak thought mum would deduct from here but mum said she wouldn't) Mum was very very annoyed and amused at the same time. :P

One thing that saddens me - talking about the details of how kakak gets home drives home the problems that plague Indonesia. Being illiterate, people at immigration would try to cheat Kakak at every turn, insisting on bribes for ridiculous reasons (like not bringing a letter from the maid agency - it is NOT a necessity, but many maids don't know that). Apparently she brought back with her a huge amount of money in cash (rm950 equivalent?) just to bribe her way home safely.

Worse, due to her relatives perpetually demanding money, she's has very little savings to show for her many years of work. It's something we've advised her against time and again, but we've come to understand that its very difficult for her to say no. The people there are living in such poverty that she cannot refuse, essentially.

Take care of yourself, Kakak.