Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Power Of Love

Our maid, Fin, went back to her hometown in Indonesia for a holiday in July. She said she would return to Sabah to continue working for us after about 2 months. But as expected, she hasn’t returned up to now. So we haven’t had a maid since July.

It’s a bit tough for us to cope without a maid because both Mia and I are working during the weekdays; and the weekends are the only days we can take a break. We have therefore been looking for a maid, but haven’t been successful so far.

After several months without a maid, we were very happy when someone told us that there’s an Indonesian woman looking for a job as a maid. That was last Monday. I quickly called her up and made the arrangement to fetch her the next day.

Came Tuesday, during the lunch break, I sneaked out of the office to fetch Jovita from City Mall. Mia, too, drove all the way home from Alam Mesra to meet Jovita. We spent about an hour giving Jovita her scope of responsibilities. Then we had to go back to work again. Before that we told Jovita not to do any cooking and use any of the electrical appliances until we return in the evening. She had just arrived from her village about 2 weeks before that and was not very familiar with electrical appliances, you see.

Well, anyway, we went back to work. Several hours later, when I reached home from the office in the evening, Jovita was in her room. I called out to her several times, but she refused to answer. I raised my voice a little louder, thinking that she didn’t hear me somehow. When she emerged from her room, she was crying uncontrollably. I was surprised to find her in that condition. I asked her what has happened, but she refused to tell me what’s wrong.

Shortly after that, Mia arrived home from her office. In the bedroom, I told Mia about Jovita. Later that night Mia took her time to talk to Jovita. In the end, she was able to solve the mystery.

Apparently, Jovita had a boyfriend back home; and that boyfriend did not allow Jovita to come to Sabah. But Jovita had no choice because her parents needed her help to feed her other 4 siblings. She went to a loan shark to borrow 2 million Rupiah (the last time I checked, about RM800) and made up her mind to come to Sabah anyway. If she is able to find a job and repay the loan within 6 months, then the amount due would be 3 million Rupiah. But if she takes a year to repay the loan, it would cost her 4 million Rupiah. You know how it is with loan sharks.

However, that’s not the end of the story; Jovita’s boyfriend was adamant not to let her go. He warned her that if she left him, that would be the end of their relationship. But of course this joker has no means to support Jovita. In the end, Jovita made the brave decision to come to Sabah anyway.

That fateful afternoon, while alone in my house, her mind started to wander. Inevitably, she ended up thinking about her boyfriend. And she started to cry. And then she cried some more. And then she cried much, much more—until I arrived home from work that evening.

We asked her if she really wanted to work—she didn’t seem like she’s gonna last 6 months, let alone 1 year. She said she’s sure that she wanted to work. Otherwise there’s just no way she could pay her debt. One way or another, she must earn some money before going home to Indonesia.

Well, OK, I guess that’s sensible enough. After all the trouble of coming all the way to Sabah, why would she go home empty-handed, right?

The next day, I was driving at around 2 pm when I received a call from Jovita. She was crying uncontrollably again. I waited a few seconds for her to calm down. In between her sobs, I could hear her say, “ndak bisa; ndak bisa” (cannot, cannot). At that point, I knew what was happening—I had expected it anyway.

When I arrived home that evening, Jovita was already calm. In fact, she was humming a tune to herself. I waited for Mia to come home from work and then both of us sent Jovita back to her cousin where she will probably stay for a few more days before going back to her village to be reunited with her man.

She will have a lot to explain to her parents. Then she has to reckon with the loan shark; and probably will be indebted for the rest of her life. Hopefully the loan shark will not be too harsh on her family. A mountain of problems waiting for her at home. But in spite of all those, at least she will have her man. Sure, they will be poor—dirt poor—but, y’know, we’ve all heard it all before, the power of love is hard to explain. I just hope for her sake that the man is really worth it.

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