Monday, August 23, 2010

The cry of my heart for Mak...and Ayah too...

23 August 2010, Monday (13 Ramadhan)

It was exactly 10 years to the day that Mak left me. I still recalled that day vividly. It was as though it just happened yesterday. Mak, I recalled how your 7 kids surrounded your bed as you fought for your life. Some were holding your hands, a few were whispering in your ears to recite the shahadah

while others stood at the foot of your bed, helpless.

We knew at that time that your time was near. I could remember vividly the machine next to you which showed how fast your heart rate was dropping,

and before the 7 kids knew it, Allah had taken back what belonged to him.

Mak, you will be sadly missed, just as we are missing Ayah too.

Alfatihah to you both and all my loved ones including my mother-in-law, my 2 elder brothers, my younger brother, my grandparents and all others who have departed this world to be with the Creator, Allah, the Exalted.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Footprints to My Past: The Journey Continues

19 August 2010, Thursday (9 Ramadhan)

After a hiatus of exactly a month, today I continued my footprints to my past. My sister and I paid a visit to our aunts' houses to seek more insight into our family's past. Today my journey took me to Ampang Jaya and Bandar Sri Petaling.

In Ampang Jaya, I met my aunt cum grand aunt (she's an aunt by virtue of her late husband being my late mum's first cousin; and she also doubles up as a grand  aunt as she's my late grandma's sister). Sounds complicated? Well, I discovered along my journey into my past that our family's history is really complicated, so this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If on 19 July I discovered that my grandmother was not a Chinese, today I found out more startling things. We were made to believe that my paternal grandmother was a Chinese. And after all these years, we found out she wasn't.

In Bandar Seri Petaling I met my aunt (who is my late dad's first cousin). In fact she is the last surviving member of her family. The rest have all since passed away. I was really happy to see her as I have not seen her for ages. It was exciting when she started regaling tales of yesteryears.

I can't wait to start penning down my stories. Meanwhile, my journey will continue.I started with Singapore, then Alor Setar, Kedah, and followed by Penang. Then, yesterday it was Selangor and KL. Next week,I'm going with my husband to Alor Setar and Penang again as there are a couple more relatives I need to interview.

I know it's gonna be a mammoth task to piece the giant jigsaw puzzle, and I'm aware it's such a daunting task, but I'm all game to complete what I've set out to do.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Runaway Maid, Twice Shy - The sequel.

14 August 2010, Sunday (4 Ramadhan)

Sequel from my domestic maid tales, "Runaway Maid, Once Bitten".

After reporting to my agent about my men-crazy cum runaway maid, both my husband and I had taken a decision not to take her back if if the agent found her. How could we trust her with my father-in-law if she had no sense of responsibility and could take off at her whims and fancies!!!

After disappearing for 8 days, the agent finally found her in Sungai Buloh (she thought she could easily get another job from the nurseries, but boy was she wrong!).

And the agent managed to cajole us to take her back and gave her another chance. They pointed out that if we didn't take her back, it would be such a waste of money with us having paid the agent a lot of fee.

Naturally when she came back, she begged for our forgiveness and I had told her in uncertain terms that I was going to keep her handphone, which was actually the roots of all evils, and what I'd termed as Perils of Technology. I told her that she could only use the phone on Saturdays.

That Saturday after she came back, she asked for her phone and at the end of the day I had asked for the phone back, as agreed between us and the agent. You'd not believe how willful and how mulish she was. She refused to return the phone citing reasons that her husband called her regularly and she didn't want to miss his calls. I doubted that very much.

What she didn't know was, when I took her phone, I had taken the opportunity to check her contacts. My!! My!! My!!. I couldn't believe my eyes. There was Cinta 1. Cinta 2. Cinta 3.... Sayang 1. Sayang 2. Sayang 3... And most of her contacts are the male species. So I was spot-on with my nick name for her, i.e. "Men-crazy"!!!

What could I do, but to relent. But I had repeatedly reminded her that she could only use the phone at night. Naturally, she defied me. At times, she even went out to the backyard to receive and make calls out. Her phone calls were so constant that it irritated me to the very core of my being!!!

And after things had settled down somewhat (what I hadn't reckon with her was, a storm was brewing quietly on her front), I had proposed to my husband to take back my father-in-law. So, on 1 August 2010, we took him home.

Everything seemed normal. And that evening, on 1 August 2010, I decided to give her the Maid's Job Description (which I hadn't bothered to give her at the beginning) and I had included the things she needed to do to take care of my father-in-law.. This time I had modified it somewhat given that she's such a blur soul, so I had simplified everything to make it clear to her.

Despite the JD being crystal clear, she was still uncertain. The next morning, August 2 2010, I had gone down to see my husband off before he left for Bintulu, Sarawak. And he had commented, "Lily is really efficient!". "Huh", I had thought. "She had given Bapak (father) a bath and had even washed his clothes." And it was only 7.15 a.m. I was pleasantly surprised.

And when I asked if she had given him breakfast, i.e 4 pieces of bread with butter and jam, she had answered in the affirmative. She said she had given him 2 pieces and pointed to the "Kueh baulu" which I had brought home a day earlier!!! What a total jerk!!!

So, I had told her to give him 4 pieces of bread, otherwise he would be starving and demanding for more food. And this time, I saw her taking 8 pieces!!!. I didn't realise the extent of her sloppiness and how dense, how harebrained, how foggy and how vague her brain was. Couldn't she differentiate between 4 and 8? Oh my!!! What else do I have to deal with this thick-numbskull maid?

After my husband had left for Sarawak, I went back to my room. And at around 10:30 a.m I suddenly recalled what my husband had told me about her having washed my father in-law's clothes. I went down to remind her not to wash his clothes in the washing machine but to hand wash them.

When I went down, she was in the bathroom. But I though something was not right as she was talking on the phone, and she was in the bathroom. I dismissed this without much thought as she had done many harebrained and idiotic things before. I didn't think that at that time, she was making plans for her second getaway.

So I went up again, and would come down later to remind her. And at around 11.30 a.m, when I went down, the room was in darkness. And when I called her, there was no reply. So I switched on the light but couldn't find her anywhere. And saw that the key was in the keyhole on my grille door.

I had thought at that time that she must have gone to do gardening outside my house compound. But I soon realised that she had scooted off for the second time. Imagine my anger at that time.

We had trusted her enough to want to bring my father-in-law back, and imagine on the 2nd day of him coming back, she had made her disappearing act once again. And this time I had reached boiling point!!!

After calling the agent, I  had made a decision that she WAS NEVER GOING TO RETURN TO MY HOUSE EVER AGAIN!!! Imagine the trouble she had caused me, leaving me in the lurch, with a semi-paralyzed father-in-law, a husband who was away in Sarawak and me, with an aching spine and back!!!

And because of this incident, I had decided once and for all that I was never going to take another full-time maid from Indonesia ever again. Once bitten twice shy, and in her case, it's twice bitten, several times shy!!!

Today I'm much happier with a weekly Filipino help who comes in once a week for 4 hours to help me with the household chores. My bathrooms are much more cleaner now compared to the last 5 months and the ironed clothes are much smoother and crispier as Lily was a total failure in these aspects. In fact, GOOD RIDDANCE LILY!!! I'm so thankful and glad you're finally out of my life!!! It's been a nightmare the last five months and finally I can sleep peacefully, despite nursing a failing spine....

Runaway Maid, Once Bitten

13 August 2010, Friday (3 Ramadhan)

Sequel from my domestic maid tales, "Lipstick-Jungle Maid".

Lily was my men-crazy maid. She had worked as my maid for about 3 months, with hardly much work to be done as we hadn't brought back my father-in-law home, when she first ran away. We wanted to be sure of her capabilities and competencies in handling my father-in-law besides doing the daily chores.

In June 2010, I held a kenduri (feast) at my house. As my eldest sister insisted on cooking for the kenduri, I sent Lily to her house to help her with the preparations. According to my sister, she hardly helped there. She was more interested in chatting on the phone in the maid's room.

And Lily begged my sister to allow her to use her phone as she claimed that her husband wanted to send his photo via MMS. And 2 messages came with it which clearly showed that it wasn't her husband but one of the strings of boyfriends she has amassed since she started working in Malaysia.

For someone who's married, she has no qualms about betraying her husband with all the love messages she exchanged with her boyfriends. It really stumped me as I believe strongly in the sanctity of marriage and all spouses should be faithful to one another, regardless of whether you're staying in the same house or working elsewhere or out of the country. But she broke all marriage rules.

When she  was away at my sister's house, I decided to spring-clean my kitchen. To my horror and shock, I found that she lied to me all these months. As my house is prone to mice (at that time), I had repeatedly reminded her to clean the back area of the washing machine and dryer as mice love to nestle in such places.

And I was in for a nasty shock. The back are of the washing machine was full of mice poops and you'd not believe until you see it for yourself. The back of the dryer had never been swept (probably for the last 3 months since she started working for me). It was full of rubbish, probably those mice had made a nice home for themselves. See for yourself to know what I meant.


And to think she claimed that she cleaned these areas every day. What a liar!!! And on the day of the kenduri, I was busy preparing other food stuff, so my poor husband had to clean up the mess. Anyway, what are husbands for???

And I thought I had enough shock for one day. I wanted to clean the toilet as I noticed that she's not thorough. She is a real lazy bum. She only cleans for the sake of cleaning and the floors and walls are still filthy. As I entered the toilet I could smell something stinking, like a dead fish. I followed the trail of the smell and  to my horror, as I took out a couple of towels Lily had used to wipe the floor, underneath the towels in the pail was a squid. And I recalled that the last marketing I did was a week before. My gosh!!! She had left the squid in the mop pail for a week. It was no wonder the toilet had a stinking odour!!!

And when she came back from my sister's house, I really gave her an earful!! How can I hold back, knowing how she had lied to me all these months, and knowing how filthy she was. I had been busy with teaching and my translation projects to bother about checking. And I had believed her because I thought she could be trusted.

Prior to this, I had seldom scolded her except when she made mistakes. In fact, I have never raised my voice at any of my maids before. Hence why they had stayed long with me. But with Lily that day, 21 June 2010, to be more precise, I almost lost my cool. She was saved from further hankering, ticking off and rebuke from me simply because the guests had started arriving at my house by then.

But what astounded me most was the fact that she managed to sneak out of the house whilst everyone was busy (this was later told to me by my daughter after my sister's maid mentioned to her), she had gone to the  public phone opposite my house (probably to make her plans for her getaway with her boyfriend).

That evening, after everyone had left, I had helped her with the cleaning up, and I went up to retire after I had left instructions for her to complete the cleaning up (there were a couple of pots and pans that were still unwashed), and of course there were tons of rubbish to be thrown away (which I had presumed she'd do the next morning).

When I got up the next morning, I had called her from upstairs but there was no reply, so I knocked on her door., and still there was no answer. When I opened the door, to my utter surprise she was nowhere to be found. She had scooted off. My son had mentioned that she was found hovering around in the living room at 3 a.m. When he asked her what she was doing, she had mentioned that she wanted to throw away the rubbish. That was just a ruse on her part.

When I walked into the kitchen that morning, she had left the condition as it was (before I retired for the night). The pots and pans were still unwashed. The floor had not been swept and mopped and all the rubbish were still lying in the kitchen, in several heaps, untied!!! Anger couldn't begin to describe my feeling at that time.

Runaway Maid, Twice Shy - The sequel.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

... Lipstick-Jungle Maid

11 August 2010, Wednesday 

By the normal standard in Malaysia, I'm considered one of the fortunate employers in Malaysia as my maid usually stays long with me. Maids seem to strike a good chemistry with me. I have had maids the last 26 years. 

When I was pregnant with my first child in 1984, my late mum had posed this question to me, "Wan, have you thought about who would look after your child after you have delivered?"

My! My! My! How innocent I was at that time. I was 24 then. It never crossed my mind that once I go to work, I would need someone to look after my little one. Obviously at that time, staying at home was out of the question. I had to work to supplement my husband's meager and derisory income. 

It was mum who took the trouble and made the effort to look for a maid for me. She had foresight. She arranged for a maid from Kedah, Rosmah to work for me when I was four months pregnant. She wanted the maid to get used to my style before the baby came along. 

And since then, I have had only 2 permanent maids, with a couple of temps. The temps are the ones with the most antics and most stories. Check out my Domestic Maid Tales (coming soon). 

I always likened getting a maid to getting lucky draws. If you are lucky, you get a good and reliable maid, like mine the past 24 years. It was only the last 2 years that I encountered psychotic maids. 

If you're extremely unlucky, you may even end up getting a schizoeffective disorder maid like mine (in 2009), or one with a similar problem or with other problems, which could be health, mental, or physical. 

No one in their right mind (both maids and agents included) would reveal any deficiencies that are afflicting the maids. Their biodata has been inflated to look very pretty and impressive. 

When it comes to getting a maid, it is WYSWIG - What You See Is What You Get! But if you're lucky, you'll get likeable and wonderful maids, like the 3 maids I've had before.

Perhaps, I should come to terms with the fact that not every time I would be lucky. Being three times lucky out of five times is not such a bad scenario.....

After I sacked Yanti in September 2009, I was left without a maid for six months. Naturally, it exacerbated my spinal and back problem as I had to do most of the housework, as by then I was a full-time housewife. And children being children, they think their mum is a maid.

The saying "Never judge a book by it's cover" holds very true to my experience with this new maid I employed since mid-March 2010.

She was the complete opposite of Yanti in terms of demeanour, she was soft-spoken and appears very timid. And there her good qualities end. 

She is what I'd term as a "men-crazy" type of women. When she came to work for us, my house was undergoing renovations. And of course, the house was swarmed with workers, Indonesian, Myanmarese and Chinese. 

This crazy maid of mine would run to her room to apply lipstick whenever the men descended on my house....

I had chided her many times for her silly antics. But it fell on deaf ears. She gets highly excitable with the presence of my workers. She would use every excuse to be outside the house or where the workers were working.

And she is a real lazy bum. She only does work whenever I'm at home. When I'm out she lazes around and plays truant. Many times I've caught her. And to think that she hardly has much work to do.

The main reason why I had taken a maid was to look after my semi paralyzed father-in-law. But we hadn't brought him home as we wanted to see if this maid is competent enough to look after him. We had deferred taking him back until we are confident enough of her capabilities. 

So she hardly has any work to do. No old man to take care of these 5 months or so; and she doesn't even need to hang my laundry as I'm the one who does it. My laundry are hung in my bedroom balcony and she's one maid whom I do not allow to step into my bedroom (I had this uncanny feeling that it was not safe to allow her into my room unlike my other maids and my intuition has been spot-on!!!).

RUNAWAY MAID ... Check out the sequel

Monday, August 2, 2010

The perils of technology

2 August 2010, Monday

Families are separated, couples divorced, and children are displaced due to extra marital affairs through mobile phone abuse. Do you think this is rampant in Malaysia and the world over? 

Mobile phones have also caused unnecessary distractions for students while studying. They have been reported to have used mobile phones to surf pornographic sites and engaged in immoral activities.

Viewing of such illicit materials provided fertile ground for the spread of HIV/AIDS. It has definitely provoked unprotected sexual activities among school population and families. Rape, cult and others can result from viewing such materials. 

And the latest peril associated with mobile phones are maids running off with their boyfriends or are constantly distracted by the ringing of the phone or text messaging when they are supposed to be working. And my maids are no exceptions. 

My first encounter with the perils of technology was in 2006/2007. At that time I had an Indonesian maid, Wati (name changed to protect her privacy), aged 27. Prior to Wati joining us, I have had a few maids since 1983. Rosmah, a Kedahan started working for me when I was 4 months pregnant. She went on to stay with me for 18 solid years. Mind you, it was 18 SOLID YEARS, not 1 month, not 8 months, not even 18 months. She left in 2001.

After she left, I had several temporary maids (check out my sequel on MAIDS STORIES, what I wanted to share are so hilarious, it deserves a story of it's own).

Wati was with with us for about three years before she asked if we could buy her a handphone. Being such a good maid, of course, we agreed.

She was unmarried. She had a boyfriend. Problem is it wasn't her boyfriend who gave me problem. It was my neighbour who kept communicating with her. She took on the role of a saviour. And of course in the process my maid was swayed and started being recaltricant and showing her true colours.

Despite being happy working for my family (she was treated as part of the family, went on holidays with us. We bought her gold for her birthdays. She stayed with us for 6 years), she decided not to renew her contract with us and left to work for another employer, who apparently paid her a much higher salary. If truth be told, I had said "Good riddance!".

Maids are maids. They tend to take on the role of a taiko after 3 years. That's the maximum duration they should stay with a particular employer. So when she told me she wanted to leave, I gladly let her go. In fact, I was hugely relieved.

And I took another maid from Java, Yanti in 2009. Problem was, my neighbour gave Wati's handphone number to Yanti, and Wati had happily proclaimed how happy she was working with the new employer with a much higher salary.

Naturally, Yanti wanted the same kind of privilege. She did everything to irritate me. She was loud-mouthed. She screamed obscenities at my partially paralysed father-in-law. She threw tantrum, she even whacked my father-in-law. And that was the last straw. By that time, she had stayed with me for 8 months.

I packed her off on the same day. Funny thing was, on the day she was supposed to be packed off to the airport, she refused to leave, citing shame as her reasons for not wanting to leave. She was ashamed that she would not bring any "wealth" back to Java. What a JOKE!!!

At that time, I had told my neighbour to remind Wati that if she continued to instigate my maid and came anywhere near my house ever again, I was going to lodge a police report against her.

Imagine a neighbour who keeps in touch with other people's maids even after she had left an employment!!!!!!!!. My husband can vouch that I, for one, have NEVER EVER bothered about other people's maids, especially my neighbours' maids. Don't talk about hp numbers, I don't even know their names!!! So, to think that I have a neighbour who CARES so much about my maids is something worthwhile pondering, perhaps even researching!!!

And I was going to report Yanti too for abusing my father-in-law repeatedly. Wati had happily came to my house several times when I was at work. Guess what their conversation revolved around????

And to think that the Indonesian government is making so much fuss about employers abusing their maids. What about psychotic maids abusing their employers, both physically and mentally? 

... Lipstick-Jungle Maid

My Kitchen Activities, August 1

2 August 2010, Monday

Now that I've completed my teaching stint at one of the leading Japanese restaurants in KL, I'm all gung-ho again to display my culinary skills in my spanking-new kitchen.

Hence, yesterday, 1 August 2010, I decided to cook Nasi Lemak Kukus (yummy, a recipe I learnt from my sister). I also prepared my signature Rendang Daging Daun Kunyit 'ala Kinsella to go with it.

And to top it all, I also cooked Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis and Sambal Tumis Sotong.

And for dessert, I prepared "Going Bananas" dish, a steamed banana dish with steamed grated coconut and topped with oozing juicy Gula Melaka (palm sugar). How yummy and delectable!!!

Apparently, at one of the fancy and up-market restaurants at KLCC, a similar dessert (called Pisang Bali) will burn a hole in your pocket as it will render you poorer by RM15 for a mere 2 slices of banana!! I'll go bananas if I have to pay this kind of money!!!

Come to think of it, it pays to know how to cook. Looks like my kitchen will be a hive of activity especially since the fasting month is just round the corner.