“MY MAID SLEPT WITH MY NEIGHBOURS… IN OUR BED”
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.
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.
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.
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.”