‘I can’t breathe here’

I am from India, I am married and I have a 2 1/2-year old baby. In my family I have one elder brother and one younger sister, my mom and dad, and my husband. I’m not from a rich family, I’m from a poor family. My family told me not to go to Singapore, but I told them I need to make my future and my baby’s future. I am in Singapore to earn money for my baby for their good study and because I want to make their good future.

Last Wednesday, I went to my employer’s house. I stayed for five or six days. In the house was my boss, my boss’s wife, the wife’s mother, the wife’s uncle, and a 3-month old baby. When I came, I told my agent I cannot eat chicken. They told me not to worry, my employer told the agency that I would only look after a baby. Not anything else. When I came to their house, they totally changed. Every time they made me smell chicken and fish. I told them I don’t eat it because I’m vegetarian, but they threatened to send me to the agency and told me, “The agency will send you back to India and put you on the blacklist.” Because I don’t eat chicken or fish, they only gave me one piece of bread and crackers.

My employer was a very bad person. Every time they tortured me. Every time they told me their house has a ghost, they said, “We closed your room with the ghost and the ghost will kill you and bite you,” and they told me, “We blame you, you stole my gold and you will go to jail for 15 years,” and they never let me take rest. I think they talked to each other about taking my phone, so I kept my phone in my bra. In their house, I never took a shower or washed my clothes on my own wish, only on their wish. I wore one set of clothes for three days. The whole family played politics with me; I go to clean the washroom, they say the kitchen is dirty, go clean the kitchen. I clean the kitchen, they say the washroom is dirty, go clean. I cleaned the washroom, cleaned the kitchen three, four times.

They told me they will push me outside the window, and they said, “The police will not do anything because we know all the officers. You are fresher, our family has been in Singapore since my grandmother’s time. We can do anything to you, but you can’t do anything to us.” They said, “You are not special, you are only a maid.” They think that I’m less of a person, like I have a fever or cancer. Don’t sit, don’t touch, you are a maid. They told me, “If you don’t do this or that, we will put our hot cigarette on your arm.” Every day they abused me, they called me “bitch.” Every time my boss told me, “Go to hell. You bitch, go to hell.” Every time. That’s why I’m very scared and want to go back to India.

I want to find good people and a vegetarian Punjabi family, otherwise I will go home. Now I want to go back to my country, India. Now I am full of stress and I want to go see my family and my child. I miss my whole family very very much. I want to go back to India and hug my mother. I want to put my head on her shoulder. I don’t know when I will go back to my country. I can’t breathe here.

This piece was written last summer during a writing workshop at HOME shelter, by an author that prefers to remain anonymous. After this was written, she found a new job in Singapore, but was unlucky again. She now wishes to return to India permanently.


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