Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thinking of home

I was watching our helper, Dita, pack a box to be sent home to the Philippines earlier. A courier company in KL offers Filipinos a courier service to send things home by volume and not by weight. They charge a flat rate according to the size of the box. The box Dita packed measures 18" x 24" x 20". What it means is Dita can pack anything of any weight into this box. As long as the things fit within the box, she pays only RM185. A smaller box is RM120. To Manila it's even cheaper. Her parcel will arrive at her home in the Philippines in less than a month.

I've seen Dita pack her parcels home before and it amazes me how much she can pack into these boxes. Tonight, she had packed cans and cans of condensed milk, economy (aka jumbo) packs of Nescafe, washing detergent, economy packs of Milo, shoes and clothes for her grandchildren and sons, plastic plates which she picked up from a jumble sale, toys for her grandchildren, gifts for her sons, daughters-in-law and elderly parents. I hope her family appreciates what she has been sending to them. The grocery in that box is to be distributed to her elderly parents, her sons and her brother and sister-in-law who help her raise her sons.

Our helper, Dita, has been with the Teoh family for many years having left the Philippines to work in Singapore when her younger son was only 3 years old. Her younger son will be a father in a few months. That's how long she's been away from home. Packing essentials for them and sending them pre-loved clothes is her way of showing her love. I've asked Dita before if she sends letters to her sons and cards on their birthday. Her reply was, "What for? They never send back to me".

I've noticed that whenever one of her sons call, it is when he needs money for one thing or another. The roof need fixing, the older son needs a bike, the younger son wants to be a motorcyle taxi so he needs a bike, older son need money for wedding, younger son getting married, etc. Dita managed to save up enough money to buy a piece of land for her husband to farm on. Unfortunately, bad money management had caused him to pawn the land. A few years ago, Dita's husband was murdered over some misunderstanding. That added to Dita's headache 'coz the lawyers told them they need to pay them a retainer to keep the murderer in jail. The best thing to happen to Dita and her family in the murder case was the murderer dying of a heart attack recently. Cruel but true.

We have persuaded Dita not to send all her money back to her sons as they are grown men with their own family now. How long more do they expect her to take care of them? I guess Dita finds it difficult to say "No" after having been away from them since they were young. Guilt money? Definitely! So to help her save some money, Dita holds two accounts. One holds her salary to send back to the Philippines and also for her whenever she takes the day off. Another account is a joint account which needs two signatures to withdraw money. I have given her permission to be the bitch who will not let her withdraw all her money, so she has an excuse to say "No" to her sons who seems to think she's landed herself in a cushy job with neverending funds. Once, when I was having a chat with Dita about saving some money for her old age, I was encouraging her by saying she shouldn't rely on her children to take care of her when she retires. If they do, then that's a bonus. I asked her what is going to happen if her sons do not take care of her? Laura chipped in, "Don't worry, Dita. I will take care of you".


Blogger Inner-Me said...

Hey Min,

Guilt money.. totally agree. But i guess other than sending the necessities and money home, there's no way she can prove her love. You are smart to make her have 2 accounts... Luckily she's still got laura to take care of her!

12:11 am  
Blogger Adriene said...

dita is blessed to be working for sucha loving family. and so sweet of laura!

4:29 pm  

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