There are so many issues that hasn’t been documented in Indian writing. One of them being the taboo subjects. We often hear minors committing sex offence and most of the time we believe that their upbringing or being in streets after dropping out of the school as a reason for that.
And there is another thing about the poor ladies from India and other countries going off to abroad to work as domestic help. Their plights are very rarely documented for various reasons. Few Malayalam movies talk about such issues but as we all know our Indian arts have their own limits even in saying the truth.
Maid in Singapore by Kishore Modak deals with both these aspects. An Indian lady with her British banker husband moves to Singapore with their 14 years old son. They hire a maid as domestic help. The husband takes advantage of the poor maid. It is found that the maid is pregnant and according to law of land she is expelled to her country.
The series that follows is absolute shocker. The story is well narrated in the wife’s point of view for the first three part. Her insecurities as a home maker makes her forgive her husband. More because she will have a tough time. At the same time she sympathizes the maid and helps her too. Right from the start of the novel u can sense that the narrating character is a “me.. Me.. Me” person. She cares about her family and relationship but forgets that midst all these things her 14 year old needs some caring too.
The husband character in the novel is just any opportunistic husband. Kind of stereotyped. He does all the mistakes and he still shamelessly ask his wife to cover him which the wife dutifully does. He cannot stay calm at the hour of crisis. Very shallow gentleman.
The maid on the other hand we are always in confusion whether she is a good or bad person. There is lots of hint that her character is grey. At one hand she pleads with her lady boss not to send her back to her country but then she blackmails the husband and gets the money. She also loads the gun with bullet at one point of time hoping the master would kill his wife. But then for no reason she confesses to police about that. She warns the wife to take tests for the entire family for any STD but at the same time places some black magic items with the family. She says that she is forced to have sex with but then she delivers the child and leaves her husband for it. Bundle of confusion.
The author is to be applauded for his brave attempt in bringing such stories to light He is right in so many places like where he says “children with troubled childhood can never lead a normal life”. At this moment the plight of thousands of girls and boys in India flashes before our eyes. Its terrible to imagine the society will be filled with such abnormal people. As the character in the novel says if there is anything abnormal with the child in his or her teenage the parents need to talk him through it. Not shy away. A ray of hope strikes to me as more and more people are getting aware of this either from their own experience or from reading such books.
There are some explicit languages used and few acts detailed. But it was used perfectly. Maid in Singapore will be a good read and leave you with some thoughts if you are a parent of any teenager.