After joining my position in Riyadh famous Hospital, the most delightful person I have ever met here was Sinta. She was a kind and innocent lady with a constant smile on her face.
I discovered her in a small jail inside the hospital where she had been staying from last four years. It was not actually a jail. Sinta came in Saudi Arabia from a backward Indonesian village for the sake of work as she had to fulfill dreams of her teenage daughter and 9 years old son.
She was in her late 20’s when she came here on the sponsor of a wealthy family. That family was residing in a Villa in Riyadh and her tasks comprised of common household chores and taking care of oldest lady of the house whom she used to call “Mama Ameenah”.
That was the only lady from the whole house who used to treat her with kindness and respect. Rest of the family member were too active to take care that she may get minimum time for taking rest and sleep.
Sinta was such a passionate lady, as she never complains about her difficulties and restlessness which she kept on facing for six years during her stay in that villa.
Her sponsor, who was the son of Mama Ameenah, kept on making fake promises with her about her going back to Indonesia to meet her family during vacations.
She never took even a single day off from her work and was totally handicap while her stay in Saudi Arabia. Her passport was taken by her sponsor when she reached Riyadh airport and she was provided with a mobile phone without credit.
There were so many difficulties on her way to get connected with her family, still, she used to say Alhamdulillah (Thanks to God) as she could send money to her family and was provided with shelter and food.
Sinta was patiently facing the difficulties until Mama Ameenah had some medical issues for which doctors prescribed gastroscopy. She was taken to hospital for it while right after the procedure she was shifted to ICU due to complications in treatment.
Later it was discovered that Mama was given a drug while procedure by which she had a severe allergy. Since Mama Ameena was transferred to a general ward in ICU which made the family of the Mama Ameena frustrated.
The whole family requested the hospital to provide her a separate room. Due to the mistake of hospital management they had to say yes to their demands and a separate room was assigned to Mama with latest equipment and machines and Sinta was assigned to mama’s care.
She kept on sitting mama’s bed for four-year, she ate there, she slept there, and she had showers and did all her tasks while sitting on mama’s bed.
She kept on holding mama’s hand for hours and talking to her in return of which sometimes mama could open her eyes with any actual gesture that whether she understands her words of not.
Despite no improvement in Mama’s condition, Sinta kept on making efforts for rehabilitation with her care for a long period as if she were doing this for her mother.
Sinta was so true to her job that she put all her efforts to recover Mama Ameenah’s health. Soon she developed a routine which would allow her to give mama maximum of her time.
She would be cautious all day so that all of Mama’s needs and requirement were met. Thereby she herself hosted mama all day and all night long and would simply refuse any other nurse’s help.
It looked like Sinta’s every moment was devoted for Mama. She would prepare everything before doctor’s round in the morning. So much so that the doctors started to stray from mama’s room, they would skip check-ups, they knew the patient was being nursed very keenly by Sinta.
But mama was in critical need of medical assistance: Sinta was a house maid, not a doctor. Mama’s health was a serious matter. She should have been given physical therapy and mobilization to avoid bed sores and stiffening of joints.
She was admitted to hospital for a proper check-up and medical assistance. Yet doctors would either skip her or would not give her due importance. Neither the poor old lady was given any therapies!
I bet mama’s condition would have improved a lot if doctors had been responsible for allocating proper time and check-ups. The old lady at years of paralysis did not suffer from bed sores! Not a miracle though: it is all credited to Sinta’s tireless efforts.
However, her joints got stiffed and caused her pain: indeed, the doctors are responsible for it. The poor patient in a state of paralysis could not tell what she needed nor the doctors wanted to know.
They were satisfied that Sinta was there for her. The paralyzed patient was conscious or not: it is not confirmed though, nevertheless, Sinta was assured that Mama could hear and feel, but her paralysis did not allow to express herself.
She knew that the human was alive and required help as she could not move at all. Sinta wanted to make mama feel that she was alive: she would sit by mama and hold her hand in hers. She would tap the hand and talk to mama.
Sinta believed that mama was listening every word of hers, as though she was awake and could feel everything. Sinta was very much convinced of it because she observed that mama would often respond with her eyes.
Mama was aware when Sinta arrived or left. She would open her eyes and tried all her best to look at the door. Sinta wanted to make her more responsive and would often ask her to close and blink the eye.
Even though it was merely successful but Sinta never lost hope and kept on trying. Sinta would spend all day in the room: she was equipped with a couch and a small table at one corner of the room.
She had some friend nurses who were Malaysian. They would have a chat because of no linguistic barriers and would share meals. Yet most nurses did not like Sinta at all.
They would mind when they were assigned mama’s room just because of Sinta’s presence there. This attitude which was common among most of the nurses was out of my thinking!
What had Sinta done, the poor soul hadn’t provided any harm to them! Why would they hate her so much? Sinta was a great person, I would often chat with her: she was supportive and there was a spark in her personality.
We would often laugh while communicating because mostly we could not understand each other. Even though I had developed my Saudi language skills, yet they were not so good and we would end up using gestures and sign language to communicate.
She was very positive, even though she did not have a good experience with Saudis, she would always support me when it came to my marriage. Where everyone stopped me from marrying my Saudi husband to be, she was there to support me.
It was her positivism that gave me the strength when others would just bash Saudi men and let my morale down! She was very much hopeful about my marriage life. She was also excited about my future life.
She expressed her desire to become my housemaid after I had children. She even suggested that they could find a new maid for Mama. Anyone would believe it to be a kind gesture, but most probably Sinta was looking for an escape.
She was planning to leave the house she was working. She had concerns for mama as well. Helpless she was, but hopeful at the same time. It occurred to me but I wasn’t much equipped with sponsors changing procedure in the Kingdom.
Why would Sinta be thinking to leave the sponsor even though she had developed an affiliation with Mama? Well, her life and tasks weren’t easy: to host a paralyzed person day to night isn’t easy at all.
She had no leave; yes, not a single leave or a day off in years! She was being paid only 600 Saudi Riyals a month with loads of work. Her passport was with the sponsor and she had no escape.
She was handed a cell phone without any credit so that she won’t remain connected with anyone. She was a ‘prisoner’ in the hospital. She had only two or three dresses which she would wash and rotate.
I pity her: that was what consisted of her entire wardrobe! Her health was failing because of her hectic routine. The family was so busy in God knows what that they would visit once a week and would bash Sinta.
They were never thankful to her rather would just complain her upon her work. I got furious and once asked to keep a nurse that would rotate shifts with Sinta as Sinta’s health was being affected.
She was a human being, not a robot that didn’t need rest at all! I tried to convince them that if Sinta became ill who would take care of mama, but all my efforts were in vain.
I knew they were financially strong enough to hire a part time maid but either it was their laziness or what that they would not hire a maid that would shift duties with Sinta.
I started to feel bad for the poor soul so I would often give her some healthy food, some beauty products, would recharge credit in her cell phone so she could remain in contact with her family.
I would do certain small kind gestures to cheer her up, but I was never expecting nurses to get jealous. They started to develop envy for Sinta so much so that gifting a pair of old shoes would become a great deal for them.
They would taunt her while inquiring where she had gotten the stuff I gave. God knows why they got annoyed of things I gave her and time we spent together. I could not understand anyone.
Why didn’t they have a soft corner in their hearts for Sinta? Why were they so jealous and envious of her? Her life was miserable, her routine was tiring, her health was falling and no one cared!
But whatever people said didn’t matter to me; I devoted time for Sinta and developed a friendship with her. Even though Sinta and I belong to different nations, we have a different culture and were different in many ways; we did develop a bond among us.
Even though we had different languages, we connected strongly. It occurred to me as if I knew Sinta since long. I could feel her pain and joys. We were close to each other despite our differences.
I knew she was working tirelessly to send some money at home, so I started to give her some cash which she would save and send back home. I tried to cheer her up on Eid by giving her some extra money and fancy jellabiya.
But I was shocked when I was questioned by head nurse for financially supporting Sinta and spending time with her. I noticed that complaints were lodged by other nurses out of envy.
The spinster daughter would also envy Sinta, which I could never understand why! I mean why would a rich girl be jealous of a poor maid? On her visit, once a week or so, she would investigate Santa’s closet!
Sinta was in hospital 24 hours a day, what would she be having in her closet? Why was she even concerned about her assets? What was the daughter looking for?
She even took away the perfume and a dress that I had once gifted Sinta. She accused Sinta of stealing and took away the things. This gave me a shock! I was amazed at treatment Sinta was being offered by the family.
In return for such a horrible treatment, Sinta would remain loyal to her job. The way she took care of mama neglecting her health speaks for it. Whenever the family members came to a visit, Sinta was greeted with anger and complaints so much so that Sinta had developed a fear of them.
She would not come out of the room so that no one would complain that she had neglected the patient and was taking a break. She would not take short walks in the corridor either, she was afraid to be scolded by the family members and relatives of mama.
So, coming out of room in the day time was out of the question for Sinta, however, I suggested that she shall venture out at night while I would attend her patient. This somehow cheered her up and this was only outing she had in years!
She continued this routine for three years! Not going outside in day time, she kept herself prisoner in the room for more than three years. She had not felt the fresh air; the refreshing feels of breathing fresh air; she had not experienced sunlight striking the cheeks and its warmth.
She had not seen the trees and birds chirping around it. She had missed this all for so many years! So, one day I forced her to get out of the room in a day time while reaching the cafeteria she was frightened to look at people and when she reached out, she was much delighted.
She was so joyful that she started to cry. She was amazed to eat the ice-cream I offered as though she was eating it for the very first time. I was so happy to see her delighted that I wished she never stepped in a hospital again.
Her health had seriously been affected. She had gained weight because of her years of imprisonment and her blood pressure remained high. Her unhealthy diet remained unchanged even upon educating her on it.
Once she went through a mild stroke because of her high Blood pressure. The stroke caused her left half of her face paralyzed. The serious health issues alarmed the family: who would take care of Mama if Santa wouldn’t!
They were so frightened with the thought that Mama’s daughter accompanied Sinta to have her CT scan on a wheelchair; they called for best test and treatment for Sinta!
They were not concerned for Sinta; they were concerned for Mama! With all the prolong miseries Sinta still didn’t run away, she had affiliations with Mama and a pure heart which did not allow her to leave the poor old lady.
It was easy to escape from the hospital, but she never chose to do it! Even though the hospital and medical team were neglecting Ameenah, the family would charge Sinta for this.
They would attribute the falling health of the mama Ameenah towards Sinta. The family was even reluctant to take their mother home for a home-based nurse care.
This would have been better from the health point of view as she would have been provided with a better atmosphere: lying in a dark hospital room is not healthy.
One needs to feel the fresh air, people standing by giving hope and happening around: these are the catalyst for health and recovery. God knows why the family was so reluctant to take their mother home!
Looking at the patient’s condition from the medical and ethical point of view, having her lying in this small dark hospital room was the worst thing they could have done to their mother.
An Indonesian housemaid, Sinta was the sitter at the hospital. Even though she came to the Kingdom as a housemaid, yet none of the Spinster family members were ready to be a sitter. They would not even attend their mother for few hours.
They were busy in their lives and would come once a week or so and that for a limited time. This kind of treatment affected the health of both Sinta and Mama badly.
If any of the family members volunteered to be a sitter, Sinta could have gotten free time for rest and Mama could have been feeling better because one needs one’s own in this state of health.
Even though Sinta herself suffered a mild stroke, she was serving Mama at the same old routine. A few concerned shown towards Sinta by the family was just because they feared to lose a permanent sitter.
She sat in the hospital taking care of mama for years; she hadn’t stepped out of the hospital even once! The family would not allow her to go back home and take few days off even once in a couple of years!
But she was hopeful, for herself and others. I never saw her broken. She was so supportive that it amazed me. With such a miserable life, there she was with a smile. She never complains about anything; she never spoke something bad about anyone.
She would never say something which would reflect her miseries. She had such a bad experience with Saudis, yet she supported me throughout when I was to marry a Saudi guy. She supported me from the very beginning.
She and I knew each other for 4 years; she knew how I met my husband and how difficult it was to get married. Neither I was supported by any friends nor was his family ready to accept me.
It took more than a year to convince them, but not a single time Sinta let me broke (emotionally). We have gone through a lot. My fiancé was not getting the permission to marry me. They threaten him that they would disown him.
My in-laws were reluctant to make me the part of their family. Except for Sinta, no one gave me hope. Rather the only advice people gave was to leave him I was wasting my time!
Her approach was so practical, she advised me to pray. She told me that she would pray every day for her betterment. She advised me to send to be in-laws some gifts to soften their hearts.
I did send a bracelet through my fiancé for his mother, but it was rejected. I told this to Sinta with a broken heart but she gave me strength that things will be better soon.
After a year, when I was still in the same situation, she told me to travel: leave the place for a while. When I did go for a 3-month short world tour, it gave me positive vibes.
My worries were gone for a while; I felt relaxed and could think in new and better direction. Surprisingly things turned out to be much better after my return. I felt bad for Sinta on my return: she had been still in the same ward hosting Mama.
Both Health's had deteriorated than before. Mama was paralyzed and her brain had been almost dead. There are bacteria in the hospital which is dangerous for such patients.
Unhygienic practices also cause these bacteria to get strong and cause severe effects. Mama was safe from such infections earlier because of Sinta’s tireless efforts. With the advent of Super-bacterial infection on mama and random seizures, Sinta terms of prison became harsher.
She was now not even allowed to walk in hallways or step out of the ward! Poor Sinta had no fault at all. She told me that nurses would leave some medicines in the feeding tube. They were careless in cleaning the tube properly.
Mostly the piece of medicine would be seen at the bottom of the syringe. Sinta, being a responsible attendant did complain about it. But no one was ready to believe her. Who would respect and believe an uneducated foreign maid?
After her complaints, she was told not to interfere and leave it to the professionals! So, she kept quiet and did what she was told to. I had to leave her alone in this state because of my maternity leave.
She was so sad to hear about my short departure. I did promise her that I will soon reunite with her. She told me that she would be assisting me for the baby, but we would both laugh because we knew it wouldn’t happen.
Even when I left the ward, I would come for visits but soon abandon them for Sinta’s sake. I observed that the staff didn’t like it, I did not want to cause trouble to Sinta because of my visits. I did not want anyone to envy her.
After few months I heard about passing away of Mama Ameenah. The poor soul got a severe convulsion and was admitted to ICU. After being admitted she died shortly. What happened to Sinta is really a mystery.
I believe she was sent home when the patient was admitted to ICU, as attendants are not allowed there. I did try to contact her, but her cell phone is turned off.
No staff member knew where Sinta went, not even the ward housekeeper who was her friend! I do drop text on the number, but still waiting for the reply from the other end!
The phone gets on for a while, but nobody receives my calls or replies to my text. I guess the number has been passed on to someone else. Let’s just hope that Sinta’s life had turned towards betterment.
The death of Mama should have softened the hearts of the family and they shall have let Sinta go and reunite with her loved ones. I hope they had realized Sinta’s effort and be kind to her!
I hope Mama’s death turned out to be a miracle for Sinta’s life. Hope to meet her without her miseries and worries! Hope she is fine and healthy!
Source: Blue Abaya