This is Cristeta, Aileen’s domestic helper.
Her other names in the house includes Teta, Tita (which also means auntie in Tagalog),
Ta or like how A and I would call her – Tata.
2 days ago, we celebrated Tata’s 60th birthday at A’s place.
It was also Tata’s farewell party because she can no longer work as a domestic helper
in Singapore once she turns 60.
To many people, Tata may seem like just a regular domestic helper.
But to A (and I’m sure to all of her siblings too) Tata is almost like another mother to them.
Tata has been in Singapore for 30 years, and throughout these years, she has lived with A’s family –
look after all the 4 children and with them every step of the way,
helping to keep the house spick and span, meals piping hot, clothes pressed, floors squeaky clean.
A often share stories of how her childhood with Tata was like.
One particular one that is hard to forget is how she used to always creep Tata out (unintentionally).
They used to stay in a HDB flat, and A slept with Tata every night.
Every night when Tata wakes up in the middle of the night to use the toilet,
Little A would wake up after her, walk behind Tata without her knowing,
stand outside the toilet door in the pale moonlight with a straight face to wait for Tata to be done.
Hahahaha! That’s quite a creepy kid, isn’t it?
A is very good with describing, and she can always find the most appropriate words
to tell me how she feels. (Unlike me. Heh!)
And I enjoyed listening to her childhood stories; how Tata always looked out for her,
taught her how to nurse an injured bird, how Tata learnt Chinese nursery rhymes
so that she could teach her, and Tata has imparted her with life’s biggest lessons
in the most unassuming ways.
I’ve known Tata for 4 years and as much as I do not have as much memories with Tata,
I can totally see how lucky A is to have Tata by her side all these years.
Tata has green fingers, and the people who live in the same house
as her will all get fat with her outstanding culinary skills.
She is a big animal lover.
I recently found out that she actually have two “bird friends” who would come by the kitchen to feast on the overnight rice grains she throw all over the floor every afternoon.
I will definitely miss seeing Tata around.
– – –
It is really not easy for Tata, and all other foreign workers in Singapore to leave behind
all that they have back at home to start from nothing over here.
Like Tata, many had given up the best years of their lives to help us build ours.
“I have to start from zero when I go home,” said Tata just now.
After 30 years of hard work in a foreign land, yes,
she might now own a piece of land in the Philippines,
but deep inside, I think she might be feeling as lost as the day when she first came to Singapore.
Tata is not married, but she has helped put all of her nieces and nephews through school and college.
I can still remember how proud she was whenever she shows us
graduation pictures of her nephew and nieces.
It is definitely sad to have to see Tata leave, and I can only imagine how much A and her family will miss seeing Tata around in the house.
I hope Tata will be happy every single day back in the Philippines.
And hope A and I will get the chance to visit her soon. 🙂
Thank you for taking good care of Maliboo and I for the last 4 years too, Tata!
P.S. Be nice to your maids!