Monday, June 13, 2016

Story: Molly in Singapore. Part 10.

by Camille Langry and Monica Graz

The man turned to the right, looking around the room, and I froze in complete and utter shock. It was Mark! I looked at Signora, who, after seeing my reaction, walked towards me, blocking Mark from my view.

“Follow me. Let’s talk briefly before you do something stupid,” she said quietly and walked towards the study. I followed her, too scared to check if Mark saw me.

She turned and faced me as we both entered the study. I was still in shock and my hands were trembling. My normal English came back as I said in a very anxious voice, “Why you lied to me, Signora? What am I going to do now? I don’t think that I can go out there again.” I had tears in my eyes as I finished speaking.

She gave me an angry look, but managed to compose herself and said in a low but commanding tone, “Listen to me carefully, Molly. I wasn’t lying to you when I said that Mark and his wife had to postpone their trip. That’s what was mentioned in the last e-mail they sent me. But as he explained just now, there was a false alarm and his wife had only a strong allergic reaction and a persistent bad cough that initially was diagnosed as a possible bronchitis-pneumonia. After a thorough check-up and a good dose of cortisone she was fully recovered and they just run to catch their plane never having the chance to alert me.”

I looked at her in disbelief, gradually recovering from my shock. She gave me another look, this time more reassuring, and continued, “We don’t have time, Molly, we both have to go back to the guests, so let me tell you what is going to happen. I don’t have any intention to expose you to your former lover, all you have to do is stay in role as the Filipina maid you are now and no one will give you a second glance. It’s very unlikely that even Mark will be able to recognize you the way you look at the moment with your dark skin and your exotic Asian eyes, I am pretty certain of that.”

She stopped and gave me another reassuring look, waiting for an answer. I was feeling better already as my submissive side was resurfacing fast, and started kicking on. She was certainly right. Even I had trouble recognizing Julia in the dark-skinned uniformed girl I saw in the mirror each morning. I gave my mistress a small curtsey saying in my adopted Pidgin English, “Excuse me, Ma’am. I can go do duties, I serve Mark like all other guest,  Ma’am, ”

Signora gave me another reassuring smile and said, “That’s the spirit Molly, go out there and simply be you. Nobody is going to give you another look for as long as you keep circulating and serving.”

Soon we were back in the main area. Signora made an effort to introduce Mark and his wife to the other guests and I started circulating with my tray of drinks and canapés, a permanent happy smile of an Asian domestic on my face, trying to look as proper and efficient as possible. At one point Signora motioned for me to approach her as she was talking again to Mark and his wife. I approached with trepidation trying to become as invisible as possible.
She pointed at my tray, “Please, Rowena, Mark, have some Prosecco Spumante , it’s very high quality, it comes directly from Italy through the embassy here.”

Both took a glass very willingly. I just about managed to look at them without lifting my eyes from the tray. Mark looked very much the same, that youthful boyish look that made me fall for him in my previous life. His wife Rowena - what a posh, upper-crusty name - was very pretty in a delicate way. Her natural red hair was framing a sweet face, her intensely green eyes looked at me briefly, before turning to Mark again .  I was relieved that I have never met her before. She was dressed in a short-sleeved knee-length summer dress that wouldn’t be out of place at a British garden party. All in all she was the epitome of a proper English lady - stylish, soft-spoken and well-mannered. And to think that no so long ago I projected the very same image to the world. Now I felt utterly inferior to people like Rowena in all ways possible - from my skin color and my unrefined speech to my red-and-gold Pilipinas passport, that relegated me to a third-world citizen needed a visa to travel anywhere in the civilized world.  
“Oh, how lovely, thank you Laura, prosecco is very much ‘en vogue’ in Cambridge these days,” she said in a very posh accent that betrayed her upper-class upbringing. “All academics seem to prefer it to the champagne, especially the strong bubbly one, spumante as you called it beautifully in Italian.”

“I love it too,” Mark added looking at me more carefully for the first time. Rowena instantly picked his look and turned her attention to me as well. “I must say your maid is so nicely dressed, Laura, so old fashioned, I love it,” she enthusiastically said and continued, “Sadly we hardly ever see maids dressed like this in the UK these days. This is so much nicer and very traditional; it reminds me of my early years at my parents’ home when they employed properly uniformed staff. Today you can only see something like this in an Agatha Christie TV adaptation.”

Signora Moretti looked amused and encouraged the conversation, “I must assure you, dear Rowena, that in Italy we still insist on employing properly uniformed maids, it is the case in many rich houses, especially in the north where I come from. Molly here has worked in Milan for over a year and she knows it first hand. Isn’t that so, Molly?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I said with a slight curtsey using my bad English with a now effortless thick Filipino accent, “I always in uniporm in Milano, even when buy in shop, Signora Matei very strict, Ma’am.”

Both Rowena and Mark smiled in a somewhat embarrassed way as Signora added, “Signora Matei is a very close friend of mine in Milan and this is how I found Molly, though I had to import her properly from the Philippines as an FDW.”

“FDW?” Rowena asked, slightly confused.

“This stands for  Foreign Domestic Worker, Singapore is very strict and very organized in that matter. They only allow a few countries to send maids here. You’ll notice it soon yourself, but I’ve read somewhere that FDWs constitute about 15 percent of the population in Singapore. Most are from the Philippines, like Molly, others are from Indonesia, Burma, Thailand and so on,” Laura said with a smile. “Molly started working in this house not that long ago and she had to follow some very strict procedures to obtain her work permit. I can fill you in once you decide to employ house help. Authorities here are very good at processing the girls coming in. Isn’t that so, Molly?”

I was playing Signora’s game now and said with another curtsey: “Yes, Ma’am, very strict, Ma’am. If no good work police send me back to Pilippines.”

Mark, who was inspecting me up and down, finally said, “You look somehow familiar, Molly, have you been to England before? Have I met you somewhere in the past?”

I felt my face burning and my knees started to slightly tremble when I heard Mark’s question.  For a split second I thought that probably this is the time to reveal everything, to tell him about Julia, but I felt Signora’s menacing stare on me. That revelation would certainly create quite a sensation and spoil her prestigious party.

No, I wasn’t that brave, I couldn’t do that and probably deep down I didn’t really want to confront Mark trying to explain the unexplainable. Definitely not in front of his aristocratic wife. I immersed even more strongly in my Molly role and said in my bad English with my sing-song accent, changing also the tone of my voice to a higher pitch so that I almost sounded like a little girl, “No Sir, sorry Sir, never not go England bepore, only Italy and Romania in Europe, Sir.”

He still seemed a bit puzzled and asked, “How come Romania? I wasn’t aware that Filipino maids were working in Romania as well...”

“No Sir, no maid in Romania. I born Romania, mother Gipsy, father Pinoy. Went to Manila as child, speak only Tagalog, Sir, and a little English and Italiano.”

Signora interfered in an amused way, she was not worried anymore that I was going to create a scene after all, “I’m afraid Molly’s English is rudimentary, she tries to learn, but she is not the smartest student I am afraid as she didn't even complete her high school education; she is very good at her menial tasks though, a true domestic worker at heart. Which is probably for the better. I keep hearing from my friends here how domestic helpers are becoming more and more spoiled year after year. Even if the girl is from a godforsaken village in Bangladesh the first thing she asks if there is wi-fi in the house. Can you imagine that? Luckily Molly knows her place. She even agrees to wear a maid’s cap. How many maids in our home countries would wear one?”

Both Rowena and Mark looked slightly embarrassed as they inspected my outfit once again - the show white cap, the black satin dress with white trim and the lacy apron. Signora was far too straightforward for their English political correctness, but they were too polite to say anything.  

Mark smiled to me apologetically, “Sorry Molly, but there is a strange similarity with a person I used to know in the past.”

At this point Signora decided to dismiss me, “You better continue circulating, Molly, guests need more drinks. And bring back some of those nice salmon canapés for Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam to taste.”

“Yes Ma’am,” I said with another slight curtsey. As I was moving away quite relieved, I heard Rowena say, “She is so well-trained and respectful, Laura, you don’t see that in the UK….” And then I lost her voice.

I went back to the kitchen to refill my tray and John Carlo, who was still busy putting the finishing touches to the dinner he was preparing, didn’t miss the chance to flirt with me in his crude manner, using  rather vulgar words in Tagalog, some of them not known to me.

I made the mistake of turning my back to him to grab another tray and he took the opportunity to pinch my behind. To  John Carlo’s delight, I jumped a little, almost dropping the tray, and let out a little girlish squeal, followed by an embarrassed giggle, that he most likely took for a sign that I was liking it. As Julia I would have probably slapped him across his grinning face or - at the very least - made a scene, but as Molly I now almost took such advances for granted. And it certainly made little sense to act all uppity at this stage - not after I let him grab me or talk dirty to me with no protest whatsoever for days.
He was trying to touch me again when Signora rushed into the kitchen. She looked at us and for a moment I thought she was going to chastise John Carlo for his rather crude flirting, but she completely ignored him and instead looked at me and said urgently:  “Molly, we need two more sittings in the dining room for Mr. And Mrs. Fitzwilliam, which means that we have to fit 16 around our dining table instead of 14 people. Could you do it? I’m certain there is space.”

“Yes, Ma’am, I can do it, bring two else chairs and more pork and nive.’

She turned to John Carlo and asked, “How are you going with your dinner preparations, John Carlo?”

“I’ll be completely ready in 15 minutes Mrs. Moretti,” John Carlo answered in a rather impertinent manner, as if he was slightly defying Signora’s authority.

She ignored him and turned back to me, “come on, chop chop girl, we haven’t got all day, go and rearrange the table and then circulate a bit more with your tray.”
“Yes Ma’am,” I said and ran off to get two more chairs from the spare room. I was finishing the table when I sensed someone’s presence behind me. I turned and saw Professor Caprio looking at me with a smile. I was taken by surprise. I knew he was invited, but I haven’t seen him coming in. I greeted him with a slight curtsey.
He started speaking in slow Tagalog so I could understand him fully, “I heard from Signora Moretti that you did your final step to your new life, Molly, and you did it without an open confrontation with Mark. You hid behind your new maid’s persona.
Why is that girl?”

I blushed as I heard him talking to me and I had to give him some sort of an answer though I was seriously pressed with my duties.

I spoke in slow Tagalog as was expected of me, “I was too scared to reveal my true identity to him, Professor Caprio, and I also felt that Signora wouldn’t like it, it could probably spoil her party.”

“You have a point there, Molly, your Mistress might be upset and angry if you were making a scene in front of her guests, but on the other hand the psychological truth for me is that you finally completely surrendered yourself to your other persona, the Filipina maid persona. Tonight you gave up your Julia persona for good. Am I right, girl?”

I looked around like a trapped animal, I didn’t really want to face that option now, to accept that Julia ceased to exist for me; it was too far-fetched somehow. I was looking for an escape and I found it as I saw Signora in the doorway motioning for me to finish with the table and start moving around again with my tray.

I looked at professor Caprio and said in Tagalog, “I’m sorry Professor, I have lots of things to do at the moment, my Mistress is getting agitated; I’ll probably have the chance to talk to you when I come to the University next week during my cleaning duties. I have to run now, Sir.”

He was slightly disappointed that he couldn’t ‘psychoanalyze’ me more on the spot, but he accepted it graciously, “Of course, Molly, you have your duties to accomplish, I’ll talk to you next week.”


  1. T'was a long wait. But worth it.

    1. Thank you! Hopefully you wouldn't have to wait that long for the next installment.

  2. Seems like Rowena like her as a maid and we might see Molly as Rowena personal servant in coming parts which will be a complete humiliation for her.

    1. That does seem to be the way the story is trending, and it sounds delicious to me.
      Will she be recognized at some point, or will she spend the rest of her working life as Molly the maid?
      And will she be subject to sexual harassment by wither or both of her new employers...?

    2. We'll soon find out! There are several ways the story can go from here...

  3. triumphant return after a long wake. glad we got some resolution, looking forward to more chapters.

    1. Thanks, there is more coming up definetely. Also there are stories by other authors waiting in the wings that I will publish in coming weeks.

  4. I am preposterously fond of this story series. Whatever and whenever we get installments, I can be only grateful :)

    1. Cheers, unfortunately the exact timetable was largely beyond my control. It is more so now.

  5. Outstanding update!

    Keep up the good work!

    Would love a more detailed description of Rowena.

  6. Hopefully she is recognized soon. All this flying under the radar is good for buildup, but if she isn't ever found out, then the story has missed what could be its most climatic point.

    1. Not to worry, there will be closure before the story is over.

  7. hey Camille ,for the next version also we have to wait so long or it will be soon.

    1. Should be much sooner by the look of things, but no hard promises.

  8. As someone else said, I am preposterously fond of this story. My brain has all sorts of ideas where it could go. Personally I wouldn't mind her never getting outed. Or even if she is, she remains as molly. My fav take would be to wind up married to cook(since she has been to!d she can't say no) and the two to wind up working at Marks together. As good Catholic she couldn't use birth control and winds up as wetnurse for Rowena s chi!seen as well as her own. Of course since she is still Caucasian her children will be lighter skinned. Can see her husband's family praising him for his blood winning over his wife's dark peasant skin. Would raise questions about who father is though,but there are ways of dealing with that ; ).

    1. Some delightful options here. Can't promise them all, but some are definetely possible!

    2. If it all happened the was I imagined it, where would the surprise be? ;). Part of the reason I love writing collaborations. The input of the other person injects new options and avenue I would otherwise see coming. The next section can't come soon enough, but the China one sounds interesting.

  9. I keep waiting for even the threat of corporal punishment. Or is that not an option for employers?

    1. We'll see. I am not sure the story warrants it to be honest, but my collaborators might have different opinions.