Do unto others as you would do to yourself

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A friend of mine told me how he had once checked his mother into a local hospital, and as all the private rooms were reserved, his mother had to occupy a shared room until such time as a private room became available. Once he got her settled in, he could not help but notice a frail heap of humanity occupying the adjoining bed. It was the near lifeless form of what seemed to be a young oriental woman.

The woman lay there still, and her breathing was very shallow. A near semi-comatose state as far as my friend could tell, and her only visitors were the doctors and nurses who frequently entered the room to check on her and monitor her vital signs.

Her face was badly bruised and adorned with red and blue welts, her hair was cropped short near to the scalp, and she looked very malnourished. Her skin tone and complexion was unusually dark.

Over the next couple of days, while still waiting for a private room for his mother, my friend Mohammed could not help but wonder about the circumstances surrounding the condition of this poor woman as he sat by his mother’s bed. While he sat there amidst a group of family members comforting his mother, he could not help but feel a heart-wrenching tug of sympathy for this individual, who but for the visitations of the doctors and nurse, apparently had no other visitors.

Gradually over the next couple of days and through the hospital staff grapevine, Mohammed learned of the mystery behind this woman from the staff attending her. She was a domestic worker employed by a very wealthy family. It seemed that her employer was a very vicious and vindictive woman, who for no apparent reason had taken her wrath out on this worker.

Coupled with the constant torment of the employer were the continuous beatings and insults of the family’s juvenile offspring. To express their displeasure, they would resort to kicking her savagely. This worker had apparently been tied up and forced to spend several hours a day up on the roof in bright sunlight with nary a stitch on. Needless to say, with the force of the sun beating on her frail body, she was blackened beyond just a suntan! The gossiping staff at the hospital continued to fill Mohammed’s ears with horror.

Her meals were taken on the floor of the kitchen. She slept there as well. She had no sympathy from her sponsors and would come to expect none. Her hair, once said to be long and flowing to her waist, was brutally cropped by her employer in one of her fits of anger. What remained was a jagged crop above her shrunken head.

As I listened to Mohammed continue, all I could feel was a slow smoldering of fury and rage against this travesty. When she was brought to the hospital, it was reported that her weight was down to 39 kilos! Apparently, her condition was so pitiful that the admitting doctor, an elderly Egyptian MD, could not help stop tears from forming in his eyes. Her employers, in order to avoid unwelcome civil and criminal litigation in the event of an unfortunate demise, were compelled to admit this domestic worker to the hospital.

Not only that, but the woman she worked for checked herself into the same hospital the very next day, claiming mental illness! No doubt a ruse at the advice of some powerful friends to escape prosecution for what was clearly an abuse against another human being.

The nurses assured Mohammed that this domestic helper was on the path to recovery, in spite of the remaining visible signs of abuse. She had looked much worse during her first few days at the hospital, and the sympathetic nursing staff readily volunteered their free time to nurse her back to recovery.

The sick nature of her employers is indeed an aberration within our society and not a true reflection of what we are. We are by and large a humane lot, and when those amongst us commit such dastardly deeds, it is not something we condone or ignore.

And what enraged me even further was the thought that while the woman who had employed the domestic worker had checked herself into the hospital and was flying to Europe to recover from her mental malady at the recommendation of the senior physician and purge herself from her perceived minor and temporary inconvenience, the poor domestic helper would most likely carry the scars of abuse for the remainder of her pitiful life.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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