April 17, 2015
A Piece of Paper
Winnie* is a gentle and quiet woman. She is very timid but hard working. She only had elementary education because she had to help her mother take care of her siblings. At 13 years old, she started going with her mother to do the laundry of well-to-do families in their place, and at 16 she was sent by her mother to a family in the city to work as a housemaid.
Winnie didn’t know any other life aside from what her mother introduced to her. Occasionally, she would be permitted to go home in the province to spend time with her family.
Some time in 2002, I was a visitor in their house. One afternoon, I was awoken from my nap by a worried voice. It was Winnie’s. I went out to check what the commotion was about. Beside Winnie’s was her youngest brother, Jack, with eyes swollen from weeping while in Winnie’s hand was a piece of paper I presume to be the reason of all of these. I asked her what it was so she handed it to me.
I looked at the paper and found out that it was a formal request for Jack’s FORM 137 from his former school. Before I was able to talk, Winnie started yelling at Jack asking what he did wrong in school. Jack answered ‘nothing’ and I’m sure it wasn’t the first time he said that. Winnie, unappeased, yelled louder
‘Then why did your teacher send us a letter!’
So, I interfered. I said that Jack didn’t do anything wrong then explained what the letter was about and what they were supposed to do about it. Winnie stopped yelling and Jack stopped crying and was finally allowed to play outside.
That was already 12 years ago. Why I couldn’t get over it, that I don’t know.
Sad, right? :(
*not real name