Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I don't understand arrogance and abuse. And I'm glad I don't.

I wrote this about a week ago, but I've been waiting to calm down a little bit over this before I made it public. (Un)fortunately, though, I'm still as disturbed over this, and my experience here is actually taking an entirely different turn. Well, that started a couple of weeks ago once I became more aware of the treatment and situation of the migrant workers here as well as of the rampant racism and prejudice here (not at all to insinuate that these flaws exist only here and not in other countries, since they're also actively present and real where I'm from and live - but at least there, it's safe and comfortable and acceptable, at least in my experience, to talk about the problems we're facing there! Here, it's a different story). 

So this is what happened. But before I tell you, the *last* thing I'll tolerate right now is anyone's telling me, "But, but ... but, silly qrratugai, you can't take the example of one migrant worker and think it's the same everywhere in the country!" No, I know there are exceptions to everything, but in my opinion, this ONE person's experience is problem enough for me to pay attention to. I know there are good people out there, "good slave owners," but it's the bad ones I'm interested in and the bad ones I'm talking about. Nothing can justify it, and I won't tolerate anyone trying to justify it, either. I "get" it - I really do, I swear I do, but I reject it completely. And all it takes is to try to put yourself in that worker's/maid's (no, actually, that slave's) position and ask yourself why you happened to be the chosen one and she/he isn't. It's reached a point where I am actually now realizing that the primary reason I'm being respected and treated well here by some locals is generally not because I'm another human being, especially a human living away from my family and they want to treat me as family, but actually because I'm American, because I have American citizenship, because they assume I'm rich, because they expect I'm from a better socio-economic class than their servants/maids/slaves and that being "above" them makes me more deserving of the privileges they bestow upon me, that being in this position gives me the privilege of being served by their servants. Again, of course, this isn't all of the locals here; I know some of them do sincerely care about their servants, pay them on time, treat them well, buy them round-trip tickets home frequently to see their families, let them speak to their families on the phone regularly, and so on, and in that case, I do appreciate their generosity, but in the rest of the cases, I no longer do.

So here's what happened.

An above-average home of a migrant worker. 40 Omani riyals/mo.
Some days ago, a friend and I went to the house of a friend we've made here. For suhoor (the dawn meal you eat in order to begin your fast) and a little before that, we were at her neighbor's house. This neighbor, an Omani, has a South Asian maid. We'd smiled at this maid the few times we'd met her before that, so she really likes us. Then this time, we took the risk of actually talking to her, which made her so, so happy; she was all smiles, and she hugged me and my friend. It made my heart smile to see her that happy. God give her strength in the hellhole she lives in. After hugging us unstoppably, and thanking us infinitely and joyously, she started crying to us. Pointed to parts of her body where she gets beaten. Pointed to folks in the house who beat her, who include the "madam" (who's younger than me, by the way) and then the madam's 10-year old niece who lives with her (her sister is divorced, so her sisters daughter lives with the Madam), THE TEN YEAR OLD BEATS UP THIS WORKER, who's at least 40 years old!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD!!!  IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?!?!?! She later then showed us pictures of her children after she told me I look like her daughter and asked me to live in that house. I was like I'll go crazy knowing you're being abused and there's nothing I can do about it. But didn't say this because she doesn't know Arabic or English and I don't know her language. She said her mother has passed away, may she rest in peace, and when she was dying, the family wouldn't let her speak to her own mother, who had been sick for some time as well, and the worker was still not allowed to speak with her. She said her daughter calls her but the family won't let her talk to her. She said she gets fed nothing and has no clothes. (And now you can imagine why we wanted to throw up while eating the food, the infinite fruits and rice and meat that this same worker had just served us). They don't give her ANYTHING and beat her up all the time. She cried again. I was scared for her because I feared that if the family sees her talking to us, they'll find another excuse to abuse her. Fortunately, she said she's leaving in I wanna say 15 days? She was really happy when she'd show us those fingers. She also said something that appeared to mean, "They punish me by not letting me sleep or eat for three days." The family later told us, when they were shitting about how useless she is to them, that "We're sending her back this Ramadhan and getting a new, younger, more educated girl. Someone who'll take care of our kids better" or something. Indonesians maids aren't allowed anymore because, rumor has it according to some Omanis I've spoken to about this issue, "Indonesians have no manners and no feelings and they kill our children." 

The same home as the above picture
 Since we don't share a mutual language, you might wonder how we communicated then and how I got all of this out of our time with her. Because we used signals mostly and she understands certain words of one of the languages I know and was speaking with her.

Now, after thinking more seriously about the status of foreigners here, especially of the migrant workers/slaves, I no longer even appreciate the food offered to these same people during Ramadhan. Because, while that's fantastic that they're fed well at least a month of the year, their reasons aren't quite something I can respect, and it all just seems to be a show, a shallow act to hide the terrible lack of humanity of the same people they're supposedly feeding because of the blessings of Ramadhan.  

I don't know in what world such arrogance can be acceptable. I don't know how poor, how weak, how ruthless a person has to be to treat another human this way. I don't understand arrogance and abuse, and I'm glad I don't.


  1. Heartbreaking.

    It only gets worse from here. Of course there are families/"owners" (I never understood the term, you can own a house, a dog but not another human being) that treat their maids well, who sitswth them, eats food with them, whom the children love like really love. Seen more of these in Dubai which makes me happy. But there are still humans that mistreat other humans because they're more privileged and powerful and also has the possession of their passport.

    Hugs. Maybe one day we'll wake up to a world where servants won't be treated as slaves but fellow beings who deserve every bit of love, respect and kindness

    1. But I'm not ready for it to get worse from here! I'll break down!!!!


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