Based on true events, retold by Mira Khatib
I wish I could tell you that you never heard like my story before but I’m sure you have.Circumstances and lack of opportunity forced me to leave the comfort of my home and travel thousands of miles away from family and loved ones. It tore me apart kissing my child goodbye as I packed my small bag and headed into the unknown. I did it for my son, as to give him a chance in this life he needs good education, and for that I need money. So although I’m a university graduate yet domestic work abroad seemed as my only option for a decent income for my family. So I sacrificed.
My tears didn’t dry all along the 14 hour trip, but I made a promise that I would do my best, work hard and earn a decent living to help put food on the table for my family. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I heard some horror stories of women going to work and end up being abused, and I heard of others going and actually found a home far away from home. I wondered which hand I would be dealt.
I couldn’t really judge the first few weeks, I thought my employer’s temper was a temporary thing, but as nights turned into days and days into weeks and now months I realized that my fate is sealed with pain, tears, humiliation until the ending of my contract.
I was told that these people have high morals and are compassionate, yet to my horror they are far from that. They treat me like a slave, as if I am less human than they are, as if I do not tire, or get sick or have emotions.
My day starts at 5am when I get up to prepare breakfast for the family, pack lunch boxes, and then wake up the defiant kids. They kick me, shout at me, and if I don’t make sure they are ready on time, I get more anger from my madam. As soon as all the dishes are made, my daily chores begin. While my madam is out with her friends enjoying her day I work around the clock, dusting, mopping, cleaning toilets, washing clothes, ironing, and picking up after everyone there. Believe me I do not mind those things as it is what I signed up for, but I didn’t know that there is no pleasing my employer, nothing I do seems right, or enough and in return there are no thank you’s, no please or may you… there are just orders being barked at me. And if God forbids I make a mistake like any person might, the punishment is brutal. It is not so much the physical abuse, but the verbal and emotional are sometimes a lot more tormenting. “Are you stupid? Don’t you have a brain in that head of yours? What do you think you are on vacation?” if only I could respond.
I cannot go to bed until the very last light has gone out, even if it is after midnight, it is not a problem for my madam, as she wakes up around noon. So I am constantly tired, yet cannot afford to stop working. I was told I would get a day off, but once I arrived they told me it is not an option, as they need my presence even more so during the weekends, and it is not like I have any friends to see or talk to. On the contrary they do everything in their power to avoid me getting in contact with anyone else. So I am not just lonely but alone, homesick and broken.
Sometimes they withhold my salary telling me it is for my own good that this way they are saving on my behalf, it is not a lot of money mind you, hardly enough to buy my toiletries and sometimes a chocolate or two. They don’t allow me to eat more than the portion they set aside for me, and although I don’t have much appetite any more, yet at times although exhausted I cannot fall asleep from the rumbling in my stomach.
Many times as I rock my madams baby to sleep I think of my own child that I left behind being deprived of my embrace, and although this baby’s mother is in the next room yet he too is deprived of his mother’s embrace.
I hate to admit that I get evil thoughts at times, especially when they hurt me with their words and hands, my anger and pain blinds me and I think of doing crazy things, maybe spitting in their food, hurting their child when they are not around…I want them to feel the pain that they are inflicting on me, and although I consider myself a decent person, with values yet sometimes I find my mind wondering off to steeling just enough to be able to get away.
But then I remember my own family, and the thought of being caught and punished frighten me so I do nothing. The only thing I am able to do is to mark off another day on my calendar. Like a prisoner counting the remaining days till my freedom.