In preparation for my SEA module, I am reading an academic article entitled as such, about the Filipino women who leave home to work abroad in order to support their families. I’ve never actually considered the intensity of the emotional strain domestic workers go through, and the difficult decisions that they have to make.
Even more heart-wrenching is what the children, who are left behind, have to go through. When you are young, how do you comprehend the notion of your mother leaving you as an act of love? Below is an excerpt from the paper that brought me to tears & rendered me unable to read on for a moment.
My dear mother:
How are you over there? Us, we’re here wishing you were with us… Mom, I was still very young when you left me with Kuya [older brother], Ate [older sister] and Dad. I still did not know the meaning of sadness…
Do you know that they would cry when they read your letters? Me, I would just look at them. I grew up actually believing that letters are supposed to be read while crying.
Mom, I am older now and I know how to read and write. How many Christmases have passed since I was born? I still have not experienced this day with you with me. I know that you love us very much and that you sacrifice and suffer being away from us so that you could meet our needs. That is why we love you completely and so much.
Mom, I am getting older and I need someone guiding and supporting me and that is you. I don’t want to be rich. Instead I want you with me, Mom. Doesn’t God say that a family should always be together through hardships and happiness? But why are you far away from us?
Mom, Christmas is here again. That’s why you should come home soon. I don’t want anything else but you with me, Mom.
Kuya and Ate read somewhere that Filipino workers in other shores are the heroes of our country. But Mom, come back and you will be the queen that I will be with every day.
My wish is that you come home this coming Christmas.
Your youngest child, Nina Rea
One more excerpt:
Mom, come home. Even if it means that I will no longer receive new toys or chocolates. Even if it means that I won’t get new clothes anymore, just being close to you will make me happy. Dad and I are so lonely here without you.
When I was away from home for 8 months, whilst in Nigeria, I remember the hardest part of the separation from my family & Jon was that so many things happened when I was away. I couldn’t truly rejoice in their happiness - I only got wind of it after it happened, and could only feel happy in its aftermath; I couldn’t go through the difficulties together with them - I only got to know about it after they collected themselves enough to tell me.
I remember the worst period was when my grandmother passed on. I remember just being in this constant state of grief, where I all could think of was flying home to be at the funeral and be with my family. After I got news of her passing, I would spend the next few nights awake, replaying the most recent memories I had of her, wishing that I had not left at all if that could have translated into more time with her. My last memory I had of my gran was her crying over the phone on our last long-distance call, telling me “我不舍得让你走” (I can’t bear to let you go). That phrase, and her voice, haunted me on a regular basis. And in that moment of pain, I lost perspective of what I was supposed to be doing and why I even left home in the first place.
So this article by Parrenas, along with the trip to Nigeria, has really brought me to a new level of empathy with transnational families - particularly those who are separated by circumstances and necessity. If I ever had a maid who has family, I’d ensure that she gets enough correspondence with her husband and children back home. Maybe I’d even pay for her to fly back twice a year.
Five years ago… Abi: Mum, why can’t I grow my hair out? Mum: It’s so messy, unruly & you’ll look so uncouth
Last night… Abi: Mum I’ve decided I’m going to grow my hair out long after this Mum: YAY! Abi: And I’m going to dip-dye it purple Mum: You serious?! Abi: But I’m going to grow it out. Why did you not let me grow it out last time, and now you don’t like my short hair? Mum: You’re going to dye it purple?!
So I have this Finance test tomorrow, and I have only covered 2 out of the 3 tested chapters. And out of those 2 covered chapters, one was quite shoddily done. I also have yet to do up my cheat sheet and I need to leave the house in 2 hours. I have discipling at 9.30pm after prayer meeting and probably won’t be home till 11pm. And I am so bored and too tired to throw myself back into studying. So dead.
When people keeping punctuating every other text sentence with “LOL”, the phrase “lolling around” pops into my mind and then I have this notion of Singaporeans with bad pronunciation rolling around on the ground. Lol.
Easter marks a weekend of New Beginnings - of spiritual and emotional refreshing - as we remember the new life that God has so gifted us with. This Easter, as we commemorate what Jesus Christ has done for us, I choose to leave my disappointment, guilt, pain and the rest of my ugliness at the foot of the Cross. Even though I wrote about being ready to let go & move on, I couldn’t really do it; it was as if I was stuck in this static phase of lingering sorrow, tinges of unforgiveness, and disbelief. It was as if my reality stood stock still, though I kept going through the motions of school, ministry and life. My heart still lies with pre-29th February, and I still wonder how I could have lived life better and how I could have been a better daughter. Questions running through my head day in, day out, and long into the night…
But Christ died for a reason, and the Lord chose to not heal Papa & take him in His time. Everything happens for a reason, and I don’t necessarily have to understand it. I know God makes everything perfect in His time, and it depends on us to have the faith to truly believe in that.
It is 0445HRS, 1 April 2012. In other words it is 4.45am this Sunday morning. I just arrived home from school, after a lengthy (to say the least) group essay-writing sesh.
My weekend looked something like this so far:
Sat morning - rush bizanal report
1pm-7pm - Easter Rehearsal
7pm-Sun 4am - group project meeting at Kent Ridge.
All I can say is: thank God I can drive, and that I have a car to drive.
From Abi and her BB (: