When Kate’s* male neigh­bour asked why the clock in her bed­room was faster than the oth­ers in her house, she thought noth­ing of it. Lit­tle did she know that he’d been get­ting un­der her sheets.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Cover Reads - AS TOLD TO AZLINDA SAID

She didn’t sus­pect a thing un­til her neigh­bour asked about her house clocks.

“Jean* came to work for us two years ago. She was pe­tite and pleas­ant-look­ing, with tanned skin and long, dark hair. She was in her 30s then, and had left her hus­band and daugh­ter in her vil­lage back home to work in Sin­ga­pore. She was my first do­mes­tic helper and came highly rec­om­mended, hav­ing worked for my sis­ter-in-law Irene* pre­vi­ously. Jean had asked to stay af­ter her con­tract was over, and my hus­band and I de­cided to hire her, to help her out, as she didn’t want to re­turn home.

A Mat­ter of Trust

We gen­uinely liked Jean – she was hard-work­ing, fol­lowed in­struc­tions and cooked well. We gave her the freedom to use her mo­bile phone when­ever she needed to and even let her ac­cess the In­ter­net on our com­puter.

Jean was left on her own for most of the day but my hus­band and I never ques­tioned what she got up to. As long as the house was clean and there was food on the ta­ble when we re­turned home, we were happy.

How­ever, a ran­dom chat with our neigh­bour, Gary*, made me won­der – fleet­ingly – if I should keep my eye on Jean a bit more. Gary lived with his wife Mrs Lim*, along with their daugh­ter Lily* and her hus­band Jim*, sev­eral floors away from us.

Gary was al­ways friendly to Jean, smil­ing at her when we met in the lift and chat­ting with her. We didn’t know him very well but he struck me as a rich and flashy man. Jean, on the other hand, had sim­ple tastes. She sel­dom wore makeup, and was al­ways clad in a T-shirt and long pants, whether at home or on her Sun­days off. I won­dered what they would have in com­mon.

It all started with a con­ver­sa­tion about clocks, where Gary asked me, out of the blue, why I had a clock in ev­ery part of my house. He also pointed out that my bed­room clock was sev­eral min­utes faster than the oth­ers.

What an odd thing to say, I’d thought, and won­dered how he knew as he’d never been to my home. But I sim­ply brushed it aside.

The Con­fronta­tion

A few months af­ter we’d hired Jean and about a week af­ter that bizarre con­ver­sa­tion with Gary, there was a loud bang­ing on our apart­ment door, just as we were get­ting ready for bed.

We heard Jean open­ing the door, fol­lowed by loud fe­male voices and peo­ple storm­ing into our home. We ran out of our bed­room to see what the com­mo­tion was about. There, in the mid­dle of my liv­ing room, was a group of women slap­ping Jean and pulling her hair while scream­ing at the tops of their voices. Lead­ing the pack were Mrs Lim and Lily, who was heav­ily preg­nant.

My hus­band tried to pro­tect Jean from their blows. The women then turned on us, call­ing us rude names and ac­cus­ing us of pimp­ing out our maid.

Mrs Lim ac­cused Jean of se­duc­ing both her hus­band and her son-in-law. Worse, she said Jean and the men had been sleep­ing to­gether in our flat. I was shocked.

She ac­cused my hus­band and me of mas­ter­mind­ing a vice ring, and in­sin­u­ated that Jean was also sleep­ing with other men in the neigh­bour­hood. How could I not know what was hap­pen­ing in my home, she de­manded, when I told her I had no idea what had been go­ing on. She said she was dis­gusted at how we could have al­lowed our maid to use our bed­room for such ‘dirty pur­poses’.

My hus­band and I de­nied ev­ery­thing. That seemed to in­cense Mrs Lim fur­ther, and she tried to dash out of our house to knock on our neigh­bours’ doors to ask them if Jean had had sex with their hus­bands too. But her ‘en­tourage’ – made up of her rel­a­tives and neigh­bours – stopped her. All this while, Jean just kept say­ing she was sorry.

Let­ting the Cat Out of the Bag

We were at our wits’ end when I re­called my con­ver­sa­tion with Gary. I con­fronted Jean with what he’d said and asked her if she had ever brought him into my bed­room. She broke down and ad­mit­ted that she had – once. How­ever, Lily dis­puted this and claimed that Jean had also brought Jim into the bed­room.

Hor­ri­fied, I asked Jean if the men had paid to have sex with her. She re­fused to an­swer and be­came hys­ter­i­cal, fall­ing to her knees

“I couldn’t bring my­self to sleep on my mat­tress any­more – it was sul­lied… I felt that my bed­room was

no longer my own.”

while crying and scream­ing in her na­tive tongue. My hus­band and I apol­o­gised pro­fusely to the women and asked them to re­turn home, so that we could calm Jean and find out the truth.

Af­ter they left, my hus­band gen­tly ques­tioned Jean, ask­ing her how long the af­fairs had been go­ing on and if she’d slept with any­one else apart from Gary and Jim. But we couldn’t get through to her. I got frus­trated and called Irene.

A Quick Exit

Irene ad­vised me to ter­mi­nate Jean’s ser­vices im­me­di­ately and send her back to the maid agency. My hus­band headed there first with Jean while I stayed be­hind to pack her be­long­ings. Irene later came by to pick me up. At the agency, Irene, too, grilled Jean about whether she had brought men home while work­ing in her house.

Jean re­fused to an­swer. In­stead, she kept beg­ging for a sec­ond chance but I just handed her lug­gage to the agent and left. I didn’t want to be part of the night­mare any­more.

When we ar­rived home, I was too up­set and an­gry to sleep. I felt so be­trayed. My hus­band and I stayed up the en­tire night talk­ing about what had hap­pened. Un­like me, he found the en­tire thing funny – he thought it was all a joke.

But for me, there was no smoke with­out fire. I doubted that this was Jean’s first time mess­ing around. I sus­pected that she had done the same when she was work­ing for Irene, too.

I felt it was highly likely that Gary had paid Jean for sex, and then in­tro­duced Jim to her. I’m not sure how their wives dis­cov­ered the adul­tery. I had no con­crete an­swers; all of it was mere con­jec­ture.

The next morn­ing, I threw out ev­ery­thing in Jean’s room, as well as my own mat­tress. I couldn’t bring my­self to sleep on it any­more – it was sul­lied. My pri­vacy had also been in­vaded and I felt that my bed­room was no longer my own. I called in a car­pen­ter to dis­man­tle my cus­tom-made bed frame and re­place it.

I couldn’t be­lieve how clue­less I had been. True, I had never found any­thing out of place in my bed­room – Jean had made sure of that. I was also furious at my neigh­bours for point­ing fin­gers at us and catch­ing us un­awares. I felt they should have spo­ken to us first, in­stead of burst­ing into our home.

Bro­ken Fences

A few days later, af­ter I’d cooled down, my hus­band and I de­cided to give Mrs Lim and Lily a fruit bas­ket as a peace of­fer­ing. But when she saw us at her doorstep, Mrs Lim sneered and re­fused to talk to us, slam­ming the door in our faces. Al­most two years have gone by, and Mrs Lim and Lily still give us nasty looks and talk be­hind our backs.

We just stay out of their way now. Hon­estly, I’m scared of them and I don’t know how to han­dle them.

To this day, we don’t know what re­ally hap­pened. We tried ask­ing other neigh­bours if they knew about Jean’s in­dis­cre­tions, but they said they didn’t, as they usu­ally kept their main doors closed. They sym­pa­thised with us and un­der­stood that what­ever hap­pened wasn’t our fault – they knew that we were hardly home in the day.

As for Gary and Jim, they avoid us, es­pe­cially Gary. He used to greet us each time we met but now, he pre­tends not to see us. He never apol­o­gised for all the trou­ble that he and his son-in-law caused.

Al­though Mrs Lim and her daugh­ter re­fused to ac­cept our apol­ogy, I still feel sorry for them. I don’t un­der­stand how they could have stood by their stray­ing hus­bands and blamed us in­stead.

I’ve not hired an­other do­mes­tic helper since – I’m scarred by the scan­dal. Should I hire a maid in fu­ture, I will mon­i­tor her closely. I won’t leave her alone at home for long stretches of time, that’s for sure.”

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