23 March 2012
The girl who gave me a massage
She reminded me of sunflowers, for whatever reason, but never once did I ask her name, despite being quite a regular customer at the reflexology centre. But I always asked for her because I liked the way she kneaded my feet. In December 2011 she said she was going to get married, and wouldn't be working there anymore. I felt sorry that I won't be enjoying her massage anymore in the future.
I didn't go to the place again, until this month. I was desperate for a massage, so I went. What a pleasant surprise to see her there! We started chatting like old friends ( and I realized then that people often mean more to us than we ever realize). I asked her about her wedding, and she told me everything down to the last details.
Then I blurt out "so, your parents are separated?", having deduced from the conversation that she had the wedding at her mother's place. "Yes, since I was 12", she said matter of factly. Then without me asking, she went on to tell me how, when she was about to sit for her UPSR (year 6) exam, her father 'borrowed' her from her mother, saying that he was going to get her Malaysian Identification made (they are of Philippine descent). He, who then was married to a local and had a newborn baby decided to keep her for good to be their convenient babysitter. She begged him to let her go to school, but he could not be bothered to listen to her. And she ended up being her father and stepmother's 'amah' for 7 years. The only good thing to have been living with her father and stepmother for her was that the step-grandmother was very good at traditional massage, and she taught her to do it.
"So when I turned 20, I stole my identity card from my father, left his home, and went back to my mother (who lives 8 hours drive away)", she ended her story. I admire the girl her spirit. Not everyone would have survived the way she had, and still could make a decent living. I'm glad I know her story- it has made me appreciate more the things I tend to take for granted like access to education.
I came out of the reflexology center a little bit wiser, and I made sure I asked her her name this time. Although in my culture, not asking somebody's name is not rude; it's even encouraged, I'm glad I can now call her name whenever I see her.