Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Story: Molly in Singapore. Part 8.2.

by Lady Charlotte


2. Question Two

"Tell me, Julia,"
said Signora Moretti, "back when you were the youngest ever Professor of History at Cambridge, did you reckon yourself an atheist?"

I looked at my employer in surprise. For months now, ever since our chat about my one-time feminism, she had only ever summoned me to discuss matters more appropriate to a domestic: cleaning, childcare, errands. Now, out of the blue, an unexpected question once again.

‘I… when, Madam, I…’

Signora Moretti raised a hand. "Silence, Molly. There is no point trying to have a discussion on such a topic with someone whose English and intelligence are as limited as yours. As it happens, I know the answer to my own question. Look."

She held up her iPad. A photograph – me with Richard Dawkins, three years ago. An entire eternity now. “You hosted him at the Cambridge Secular Society. I imagine, as a high-flying academic, you felt yourself too smart for God. Didn’t you, Molly? Too smart, too comfortable?"

I twisted the bottom of my apron awkwardly, and tried to find something to say. Even had I not had limitations imposed on the vocabulary and grammar that I was permitted to use, I would have struggled to reply. I was so tired. So very, very tired.

Standing before my employer, I found it a struggle not to sway. A
struggle not to curl up on the floor, to go to sleep, to surrender to my paralysing sense of exhaustion and simply lose myself to oblivion.
My workload had been increased after the interview with Signora Moretti in which she had intimated that I had two choices of husband. The scale of this revelation had been such that for the days and the nights that followed I had been unable to think of anything else.

The veil of my complacency had been ripped away, and the vulnerability of my situation, as a peasant from a country in which women were expected as a matter of course to marry, brutally exposed to me. That I had ever thought to look down on Mr Singh! How could I have been so foolish, so arrogant? If I married him, I would have residency in Singapore, and the security that would come from being the wife of someone who would always live there.

But John Carlo, I knew, wished to return to the Philippines. He also wanted children. I could see a future for myself in which I would be forever pregnant, forever tied to serving his every need – and then, once I had given him children, sent back abroad as a maid, to keep my family financially afloat. The terrifying implications of such a life, and of what it would be like to have the grim reality of it close over my head, had given me sleepless nights – and resolved me, if I possibly could, to win the affections of Mr Singh.

I had sought to attend more to my appearance: to brush my hair more carefully, to try and make my cap perch more prettily on my head, and even to improvise with cosmetics. The shame of this, that a chauffeur was now someone that I yearned to have look favourably on me, made me shiver whenever I thought of it. Yet I knew as well the standards imposed on me as a Filipina – that I could not, as I would have done in the West, actively intimate my interest in him. Instead, I had to be with him as I was now with all men: submissive, yielding, obliging. The most I could do was to blush when he looked at me, and perhaps, when he spoke to me, nervously giggle. And all the while, lurking in the kitchen, fat, greasy and grinning, was the rival suitor: the man who, if Signora Moretti had not been lying, intended to make me his wife.

But perhaps Signora Moretti had alternative plans. Certainly, it was rare now that I was alone with him in the kitchen, and not busy at work. A few days after my conversation with Signora Moretti, she had begun to increase my workload. Without letting up my duties at home, she had informed me that I was to be employed as well as a cleaner at her university. Every day of the week at 5, I would have to get the bus from her house and report for duty at the campus. There I was employed for eight hours as part of the housekeeping team. I would not be back in bed until at least 2 am – only to wake up at 6 the next morning.
Unsurprisingly, then, I became increasingly shattered. I began to do my work more and more as a zombie. I had not had a single day off in almost five months. At the university, I would see the teaching staff – people with jobs of the kind that I had held until only three years ago – leaving for their comfortable homes, while I, in my hideous yellow housekeeping uniform, my hair pulled back behind a logo-stamped baseball cap, and laden down with my cleaning trolley, would have hours yet of work to complete. Scrubbing down lecture halls, cleaning desks, and mopping corridors, I almost felt too exhausted to feel the humiliation of it all – and yet, of course, it was always with me.

So it was, when Signora Moretti suddenly introduced the topic of atheism to me, I was too exhaustion-befuddled to do anything save stare stupidly at her. She smiled at me, then reached into a drawer. "You might find this interesting." She handed me a small pamphlet. I looked at it. The Church of St Bernadette, it read.
"There’s a mass every Sunday in Tagalog at 1.00 pm," said Signora Moretti. 'Were you a devout Catholic, Molly, like most girls of your status, I would be more than happy to let you attend. Indeed, I would be happy to give you the whole afternoon off. So it’s a shame that you’re an atheist, isn’t it?"
 I looked at her. Sunday was tomorrow. A whole afternoon off! I swayed at the thought. "Please, Madam…"
 "Yes, Molly?"
  'Please, I… very happy… go…" I pointed to the pamphlet. "Very happy."
 "Why, Molly, are you saying that you have changed your mind about the existence of God?"
  I nodded frantically.
  Signora Moretti snorted. "I don’t believe it."
  "Please. Please…" I began to cry. I was so tired. So desperate. "Please Madam."
 "No." Signora Moretti shook her head. "If I were convinced that you were indeed a devout Catholic – well, that would be different, of course. But until I am convinced…" She smiled up at me. "I’m afraid it’s a working day as normal for you tomorrow!"
And so it was the following Sunday, and so it was the following Sunday after that. But the following Sunday after that was different. Not having the time myself, I had asked Linda, giving her some of my meagre and precious savings, to buy me some things: a crucifix on a chain, an icon of the Virgin, a Bible in Tagalog. Signora Moretti had duly noticed. Three weeks after she had shown me the photograph of me with Richard Dawkins, she informed me that I had her permission to attend mass at the Church of St Bernadette. And so it was, for the first time in four months, I was permitted to put on clothes that were not a uniform, to go out and not have to take a bus to my cleaning job, and to enjoy the giddy liberation of an afternoon off.

I was wearing a rather conservative and ill-fitting dress that Signora gave me telling me casually, "Put this dress on for the Church Molly, it's an old one of mine I used as a house dress back in Italy, too warm for me in the Singapore climate but perfect for you. It's modest enough, the three quarter sleeves and the length below the knee are perfect for your first Church visit.  And don't forget to cover your head with a scarf when you go in."

"Yes Ma'am, thank you, Ma'am," I answered, relieved that she hasn't changed her mind the last minute.
Walking into the church, and seeing it full of women like myself, Filipinas tired and drawn, but in the best approximation they could make on their tiny salaries to a Sunday best, I felt myself at home. And when the priest read the Gospel, and spoke of how the poor would inherit the kingdom of God, and of how the meek would inherit the earth, I looked up at Christ on His cross, and I began to sob, deep tears of exhaustion, and of gratitude for His love, and I kissed my crucifix, and knew that atheism was no longer for me, that as a maid and a peasant, I needed God. 


  1. I luv it. Getting religion. Getting married. What next? lil rug rats?

  2. Please be honest. Were you a former Filipina FDW? I was and almost all of your stories are real-life experiences. Thank you so much for your creativity and I look forward to reading the next episode soon xo

    1. I cant speak for Lady Charlotte or Monica Graz, but suspecting they were not. Neither was I. Thank you for the complinents. Would you like to share some of your experiences, how they match or do not match whats in the story? Feel free to drop me a line if you dont want to share them publicly.

  3. Now Molly is really beginning to learn her place. In body and soul she is the servant of her employers and even the inferior in rank and status to those she would have not even noticed in her previous life! How can she fall further? Maybe she can find her way back to Cambridge and a life as a Domestic to her former equals.

    1. Definetely a possibility. Although she may find it harder than getting all the legal work done for Singapore. Also something tells me the Signora is not done with her yet.

    2. Indeed, Signora is obviously an employer with staff development high amongst her priorities! I'm sure her diplomatic connections would allow her some influence in the placing of a mere humble foreign domestic. Molly would need to to show herself totally suitable for a post back in Europe - a conditioned Molly would be rewarded with the chance to better serve her superiors and the small part of her that is Julia can be reminded of a status lost never to be regained. The story is yours to tell though and I await the next chapter with interest!!

    3. Yes, that is one option to go back to Europe. The only other, given her station in life, will be to become a Filipina mail order bride to marry some dude twice her age in Europe. She could then return back, but only to become totally dependant on some pervert who is into Asian women because of their alleged submissiveness and traditional views on family relationships. She would have to go tbrough all the procedures to become a legal resident etc. Passing English language test might prove difficult, but I am sure her husband to be will be happy to pay for Molly to attend classes for foreigners like herself. Who knows, may be they will be held in Cambridge somewhere? Imagine the irony!

    4. A most interesting idea. Marriage to a guy whose attributes are all that Julia never dreamed of and with expectations that Molly will need to work hard to meet. The former youngest ever Professor of History at Cambridge struggling to gain her certificate in English after a hard day's domestic drudgery and then home to satisfy her husband and Master - now that is a suitable irony.

  4. Question three: "Tell me Julia.............., did you reckon yourself an intellectual, a snob?

    1. We'll see. I have a few ideas myself, but not sure what the author would pick.

  5. I'm having trouble understanding Molly's desire to continue this charade. It has become too horrible for her to enjoy it as a lark, has gone on too long for her to still think of it as a vacation from her regular life and too humiliating for her to do simply to satisfy her curiosity. If perhaps she had mentioned a desire to be humiliated it would be different, but as it is, her motivation escapes me.

    1. I think Molly's desire to be humiliated is more than obvious from the very beginning of the story. If you look at the story in its entirety this point is made several times in various ways.

  6. May I respectfully ask when the next
    instalment will be published

    1. It should be fairly soon. We are in tbe same boat here!

  7. Please publish the next episode soon. Want to see Molly in full maid's uniform being treated like something on the bottom of her mistress' shoe. Thanks.

  8. i love this series and everything, but when are you gonna publish new stories apart from this series.