A few hours ago, as i was typing my movie review for my 108, i heard a knock on the door and the familiar voice that said,
"Rhea, alis na ko."
At first i did not move and just replied with a nonchalant "ok, sige." And then it dawned upon me that we're not sure if she'll come back again.
I'm talking about Ate Neng, our household helper. I can't remember how long she has been with us; i can't remember how long it has been since i last cried when a household helper was about to leave.
Something in me told me to get up and go after her. So i followed her to the stairs and asked if she's coming back. She told me she told mom that she will if she gets well. If she gets well? Apparently, she has been undergoing tests but none was able to identify what was wrong with her. But she said she feels something. After a few more goodbyes and ingat ka's, she finally went out our door and i locked it. I couldn't help but follow her with my gaze through the window. And then i went back to my room to continue my essay. From my room i could still hear her bidding goodbye to some of our neighbors. That voice. I hope i'll get to hear it again.
I have not been always nice to her. For so many times i got irritated at her. I shouted at her. I was some sort of a demanding brat. Sometimes. There were also times when i was nice.
It really felt weird earlier for me to feel sad. But when i got back to my room tears rolled down and i was crying. I immediately suppressed it though to get my work done. For a moment i thought perhaps it's just the thought of not having someone here to do the things she did. She made life easier for me, for us. But then again, even if i know we'll find a replacement, i still feel sad about the whole thing.
Maybe it's because i've been accustomed to having her around. And maybe it's also because she has been really nice. Okay i'm crying right now. Earlier i felt like hugging her and telling her i'm gonna miss her and that i hope she'll come back. But then i felt like i would want to save myself from the melodrama. Had it been a friend or a family member, probably i would not have hesitated. But she was just our househelper. And then it dawned on me. I guess it's because she's like family to me. I was wrong to think that she was just our househelper. She irons my clothes, wakes up early in the morning if i have to go, walks me to the tricycle station when my dad can't drive for me to school, goes out at night to buy what i need, brings juice and snacks at my desk when i'm too engrossed with the computer with just one shout of 'Ate neng, padala naman ng (insert whatever my whim was at the moment here),' looks for stuff that i can't find for myself, gives me compliments (awwwww)... and so many other things. And that's just for me. There's also my dad, my mom, and my two younger brothers.
Now i know how Chesca felt like when Ate Pam left.
Right now i regret not hugging her before she left or at least telling her that i miss her. And yeah i'm still crying right now and i can't stop it!
I just wish her good health. I hope she gets well soon so she could come back to us. Because it's not just the thought of losing someone who does for you almost everything that you can't do for yourself. I love my Ate Neng because she puts up with my brat fits. But more than that, she's part of my life, too. She's kind, you know.
And so i [rhea]lized that maids should not really be treated as maids or labeled as katulong. The term kasama sa bahay is more humane. Now i look up to her, really. Just a few seconds ago, my brother was looking for her. I heard him call, 'ate neng...' And then i told him she's gone. And then i realized that that phrase is said for like a hundred times a day. Ok, maybe not a hundred. But do you get the point? We always go calling for ate neng whenever we need something. And though my mom's a bit strict on day offs and is perenially frustrated by ate neng's 3-day day offs every other week, i guess that when i become a lawmaker, i would pursue something for the welfare of the kasama sa bahays. I do hope when i finally become one, i haven't forgotten the little life lesson i learned today.
Right now she's on her way back to her hometown in Bicol. I wish her a safe trip.
And yes, good health. Lord, please.