I thought that I had a bargain. My agent found me an experienced maid who
had worked in Singapore for two years before going home. I like to get maids
while they are still in their country of domicile because they do not drive
as hard a bargain as those still in Singapore. My Pikola who is from the
Philippines had been home for a year and was dying to return to Singapore.
After she had been home for a whole year, she was very bored and very broke
and would accept any offer. So I offered her a lower than market salary
which I knew she would grab had not my maid agency objected. Anyway, it was
probably lower than a transfer maid would ask for. A maid still in her own
country are often willing to take fewer days off.
Pikola was not too bad and sometimes in my moment of weakness I actually liked her. But of course, you must not show your maid that you like her because then she will take advantage of you. And she will not respect you. You have to keep her on her toes. And keep Pikola on her toes I certainly did.
All was going well, but one day, three weeks after she started working for me, she began to cough blood. "Oh Lord," I thought, "after I have spent so many hours teaching her how to work, I am going to lose her." I was really worried. She told me that her grandfather had died of T.B. two earlier. At that time she was working in Singapore so she relied on her parents to tell her what had happened. It appeared that for seven days and seven nights, every time he coughed, there were traces of blood in his mucous or saliva. The doctors could not save him and so he died. May the good Lord rest his soul.
I told my agent that Pikola had tuberculosis and demanded my right: a free replacement. My agent said that I was talking cock (not so refined Singlish meaning I was talking balderdash) and that Pikola did not have tuberculosis because the doctor had already certified her medically fit before she started working for me. He would not give the free replacement I was entitled to. He would furnish me with a replacement at a lower cost but only if I could prove that the doctor had wrongly certified Pikola medically fit.
So I went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and they took an x-ray of her which turned out to be clear. No T.B., too bad. So I asked for a saliva culture. But it would take weeks for the culture to produce a result. Meanwhile, what would happen to my daughters? I didn't want my daughters to get infected with tuberculosis. Meanwhile I had spent so much of my hard-earned cash on the tests and my agent refused to reimburse me.
Please, do you have any advice for a distraught mother?