Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The horror of it all

Yesterday my friend PG called to tell me something that gave me the shivers.

This happened in Delhi. A Young Lady used to go to work leaving behind her 10 month old son with the maid. The maid had been sourced from a village and was believed to be completely trustworthy. One afternoon, a friend of Young Lady saw the little baby with a random woman (not the maid) on the streets. Not being sure that she had seen right, the friend called Young Lady. I think I saw your baby with someone, she said, call your maid and check if everything is alright at home.

Worried sick, Young Lady called up the maid. Where is the baby, she asked. Sleeping, replied the maid. Wake him up, said Young Lady, I want to hear his voice. I can't, said the maid, he has slept after a lot of effort. Young Lady and her friend both rushed home immediately.

To cut the rest of the story short, the maid had been giving the child out to beggars every day. The beggars would drug the child to make him drowsy and then use him as a prop to ask for alms at traffic signals. The maid had been making money this way for several months.

The baby has been returned to Young Lady who has quit her job and is understandably completely shattered. The damage to the child is still being assessed. I am not sure about the extent of police involvement in the case.

I have written this story here because I have seen my sister struggle with maids for the last eight months. In fact, she has run through some nine maids in the period. The chief reason why they quit/are fired is because she insists on verifying their credentials. Turns out every single girl so far has lied about her family and background. I believe it is a good idea to suffer in the absence of help rather than hiring someone without checking their credentials with the police.

In the meanwhile, I cannot get this incident out of my mind.

45 comments:

DotMom said...

oh my god.. i have no words for the young lady..I am praying her baby is fine..it hAs to be. unfortunately in india there is no good record keeping.. how will you know if a person is criminal or not? how do you perform background checks??

Anonymous said...

that was scary..wouldnt sourcing maids from places like regina pacis be a safer option?
mandira

Mona said...

that's awful! the poor Young Lady! hope the baby's okay.
since we're sharing scary stories, this happened to a teacher at my mom's school. the child, about 10 mos old, wasn't pooping and refused to eat and was pale and listless for two days, when just a few days earlier he'd been sufferring diarrhea.
the third day of no poop his stomach was really bloated and he was doing really poorly so the parents took the baby to the hospital where they performed all sorts of tests - with nothing. sadly, the baby died.
later, it came to light that the maid who was watching the baby could not be bothered to change any more diarrhea poopy diapers put glue up his anus.
isn't that just horrible?

Timepass said...

Very shocking indeed.. Its sad that people don't live up to the trust we bestow on them.

Shobana said...

Truly a horror story. Gives me the shivers everytime I think about it.

GettingThereNow said...

Whenever I hear stories like this one, I feel if I were in India I would not have worked outside of home. I would have been too nervous leaving the baby with anyone else. But seriously, didn't Young Lady or her husband EVER think of dropping in unannounced to check up on the maid? I would do that here too - even if I hired a nanny who came highly recommended. We have even dropped in to check up on the daycare occasionally.

Lavs said...

Really horrible. I do not mind losing my career and salary if such things happen with nannies and maids.

~nm said...

Oh my GOD!! This is really so very horrifying!!!!

I don't even want to imagine what that lady must be suffering after this. I know it must be really really bad.

And this is the only reason I preferred to send my child to a daycare rather than keeping a maid and leaving my child alone with.

I really hope the child has not suffered any physical injuries. Wewon't know about the mental trauma till the child is older. But I really pray that child grows up to be a normal child.

Cuckoo said...

Awful! I feel really upset for the young lady. I wish we had baby centres with certified child care professionals atleast in the top 8 cities in India. I hope her baby is okay now.

Anonymous said...

I live in Delhi and you have just scared the living daylights out of me.
I also feel rather validated-I quit my job to be with my daughter. I preferred not to trust maids..and even daycares with a child who couldn't communicate his needs to the caregivers. My plans now? Playschool at 2.5, wait for 3-4 months for her to adjust to it and then day care within the playschool premises. At times it was rather frustrating and mind numbingly boring. But in the long run, well worth it, huh? Thank God she's 2 now! :)
Shilpa

umarah said...

wow this sends a shiver down my spine.

dipali said...

How absolutely horrible. I hope that poor baby is alright. The poor mother must be going through such hell.

Poppins said...

This is utterly crazy ! After being drugged the whole day didn't the mom realise something was wrong.

As much as I hate to say this, this is equally the young lady's fault. You have to be NEUROTIC when you leave your child with anyone other than your own mother.

And mona's story totally freaked me out too.

Y said...

Poppins, Sweetheart,

Go easy on the young lady, she's obviously been through a nightmare since the discovery...I can't even begin to imagine the horror...The overall story is chilling.

Parul, I have no words for this. Except I am so, so thankful to my own mom for lending me the K, and view her in a totally new light. Thanks for posting this.

Y said...

Mona: I can't believe it. That's even more horrifying. Feeling sick to think there are such people out there.

Y said...

Mona: I can't believe it. That's even more horrifying. Feeling sick to think there are such people out there.

Nat said...

Just seems too incredulous to believe. I pray the baby recovers from every bit of inflicted pain and damage and there are no scars of any kind whatsoever. The lady's lucky she got her baby back. I can't imagine what else could have happened.
Mona's story made me sick. **shudders**

jayashri said...

OMG.
I got shivers down my spine. I have been sending my son to a day care since he was very small, friends suggested a babysitter, but I never managed to find someone who was good enough.
Eventually I found a decent looking indian woman. She asked me for an X amount and I agreed for it even though it was expensive. But I was keeping a very keen eye on my son and looking for any unfavorable signs. Within 2-3 days I noticed increased intake of milk and refusal to eat any solids (he was 7months old at that time)
This was surprising because he did not like to drink milk and preferred solids. Slowly I caught her lying about his feeds. Turned out she was not giving him solids cos he would spit it and put him on only milk diet.
I stopped sending him thr within a week.

Kodi's Mom said...

that is horrifying beyond imagination. I hope the baby and the lady recover soon, thank God, thank God, her friend caught this.

Preethi said...

oh my..you know I quit because I heard a similar story.. A friend's friend had left her child behind at home with a baby sitter. Her neighbors told her that the child was very quiet during the day and she decided to look into it. She found that the child was being given cold medication every few hours and slept through the day! That is harmful for the child poor thing. The lady quit her job.

rayshma said...

OH MY GOD!
that was SO scary!!

MAYG said...

uff!! all these horror stories have me so scared and sick..
every time I decide i'll start a job hunt and send my 2yr old to a day care, I hear one of these and decide I just can't trust anybody with my baby
*sigh*

Squiggles Mom said...

Oh dear, that is terrible. The poor mom must be suffering so. I hope the baby doesn't have any long term problems arising out of it.

However, I think we shouldn't forget that for every one such crazy person, there are hundreds out there who take care of us and our babies and do it to the best of their ability. It doesn't take away the fear from leaving your child with a non-family member but we shouldn't condemn an entire profession.

Stories like these don't make our decisions any easier. I agree with gettingtherenow about checking in unannounced on help/daycare.

Moppet's Mom said...

I don't know what to say... am feeling physically sick at the thought that there are people out there who can do this for money / or as in the case that Mona described out of sheer laziness. It's just beyond me...

Just Like That said...

Brrrrr! How absolutely horrible! Poor POOR Young Lady! And I hope her baby has suffered no lasting damage. Tho' still'... Brr!
Mona's story is even more horrible. How can anybody even think of doing that to a small helpless baby?Sicko! She should be tracked down and killed too. We haven't found a maid we liked enough to leave Sonny boy with, and he's old enough to talk now... but such stories leave us even more sure its better to plod on with no maid. At least at teh end of the day, you're happy and your baby is happy too.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god!! Just reading this sent shivers in my body. This is exactly the reason why I do not hire maids.

Shravani

Mystic Margarita said...

The horror! It makes me sick that people would stoop so low for a few bucks. I hope the baby has suffered no permanent damage. My heart goes out to the young lady. The situation is same here, too. You get to hear horror stories of how a nanny punched a toddler in the stomach so hard that she died of internal injuries. The toddler's fault? She tugged on the nanny's hair. Another one beat a 10-month-old's head against the wood floor, resulting in his death, to stop his bawling. To cover up, she tried to shift the blame on a 3-year-old. These incidents scared the hell out of me.

Neera said...

Horrifying!! Hope the baby is okay.

I have also heard of daycares giving Benadryl or some such medication to the kids to make them sleep/drowsy and have some quiet time. I completely second GTN and poppins here about being way too cautious when leaving a child with some one else.

Parul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parul said...

Everyone - Thank you for sharing your comments. I started out by replying individually to each of you, except that I ended up saying the same thing over and over again. So here it is, just once...

Yes, this is a horrible story. Mona's story is even worse because in that case, the price paid was immeasurably higher. Of course there is need to be very, very careful. However, how are we to know that the parents were not (careful, that is)? If the hired help's intentions are vile and evil and morals absent, no amount of checking and cross-checking and double-checking and surprise-checking will prevent the inevitable from happening. I think this is the reason why it is important that the help be emotionally attached to the child. Of course it is very, very tough to find someone who will care for the child and really love them. If and when you do, hang on to them for dear life (The K for Y, Padma for me...I am sure others are there too)....

In the meanwhile though, I think what the parents need is empathy and compassion. They are suffering enough, as it is, without our telling them that it is their fault that the child suffered/died. I am sure they have enough guilt circulating in the system without our adding to it.

My two bits worth over. I am so depressed that I cannot even bring myself about to blog.

Usha said...

Shocking - it had not even occured to me that such things are possible.

Itchingtowrite said...

that was awful, both the lady;s and mona's story
i can't even bring myself to allow anybody to take my kids for a walk within campus... i am so jittery abt the safety

Rohini said...

The parents have my sympathies and I don't think this is a time for blame games and finger pointing... hope their baby gets better with no lasting consequences...

However, in general, I am shocked (to say the least) with how lax most people I know are about hiring the people who look after their homes and children. They find their maids through the security guards and maids that work in their building and take them on without references/ background checks and just on an initial feel and interview...

Given that references are hard to come by, the only way to assure trustworthy and quality maids is to hire people who have worked for people you know. It's not easy and there is no guarantee for how long it will take but you have to be willing to put that time and effort. But there is no way you should leave your kid without 100% confidence in the person - maternity leave and financial compulsions be damned...

Also, while you might trust them - you have to keep reaffirming your trust - surprise checks, having more than one maid in the house at any given time, etc.

karmickids said...

Parul, I have heard this story too, from my own close friend, who while the maid wasnt handing the kid around to a begging cartel was doping the kid to sleep through the night. A six month old baby. You cannot trust maids. Hell I cannot trust them toxins who live in my house to look after the brat. He was dumped infront of the tv for eight to ten hours at a stretch to keep him quiet while I went to work. What do maids care>

Shyamoli said...

If this is a true story then it is a scary one. The bottom line is how can we trust any young,uneducated, inexperienced stranger to care for a baby? Babies are a lot of work -- they can be cranky, fussy, smelly and irritating to the maids. While we will love the kid how can a stranger show affection to the same level? This is not in defense of maids, there are some good ones too. But their lack of patience and health concerns are the reason for drugging or "gluing" babies. Such maids are stupid and dangerous.

Aqua said...

This story is indeed shocking and scary. My heart goes out to the Young Lady. I hope the baby is fine and no lasting harm has happened. this story is also scary for other young (ahem!) mothers like me who leave their precious little ones with a maid while they go to work everyday.

This is surely not the time for finger pointing and blamestorming. It is sad that this incident has caused some women to feel "validated" at their choice of being a SAHM. It is also equally sad that a working mother like Poppins would choose a forum like this to call other working mothers 'NEUROTIC' for leaving their babies at home with someone other than their grandparents. May I point out to Shilpa that if she's still seeking validation for her choices, she obviously needs to rethink them. and Poppins, not everyone has the luxury of having their parents live with them or have them "down the street". Most of us are economic migrants, displaced from our home zones and have to depend on maids / hired help to manange. We hire maids using the utmost caution and care, and leave our children at home with them, and every moment till the time we return home is filled with worry. and it goes on daily. yes, y're right...in a way it is a neurotic existence.

let me not hijack this post's purpose from the original one. all i can think of saying now is that my prayers are with the young lady.

Parul said...

aqua - Just one thing - I believe Poppins' comment needs to be read as "THERE IS A NEED TO BE NEUROTIC when you leave your child with anyone other than your own mother" emphasizing the need for extra care.

leaving1302 said...

cannot thank the lord enough that i chose to stay at home after naddus birth- yes its been tighter on the purse and what not- but wheni read things like these- i realize why i am too scared to get a maid.

the mad momma said...

let me see - i had over 23 maids in a year and a half. finally found one half way decent one who gave the baby away to a stranger while we were at a fair. and a few days ago left her in the park with someone. before that - let me see - one maid burnt him. another one would yank him and now that arm pops out under the least pressure, another left him sitting with a mouth full of blood and i could hear him crying till the bottom of the stairs, one was found in the guard room minus her pajama (she never did get back the pajama i think), another had TB... one was pregnant. i could remember the rest if i tried but it gives me nightmares. i'll stay home rather than meet anymore thank you.

i do keep a maid to keep an eye on the kids while i work but i'd rather be dead than leave them the entire day. sigh.

awful awful story. and now you've really ensured that i never go back to work.

i am a paranoid mother, where strangers are concerned...

the mad momma said...

@mandira - most of my maids have come from these christian agencies. they just send young girls - they cant really be bothered with a character check.

@ poppins. yeah go easy on her. you're lucky to have family around. most young mothers may not realise if the child is dopey. no one deliberately leaves their child in harm's way or is neglectful. the maid who burned the brat gave him his teething medicine and put him to sleep - this all in the one hour that i was buying groceries. i came home to a sleeping child and only saw the burn the next day by which time his clothing had got stuck to his body...

who knows what she came home to... my heart goes out to her. just count your blessings and dont point fingers. you are very blessed to have your mom.

bird's eye view said...

Good grief, what a scary story...I've also heard horror stories about maids, so I insisted on hiring older women who're mothers of grown kids, hoping they would be more loving...and frequently pop in on unannounced surprise visits at home. So far it's worked out all right, though I've had to learn to let things go, i.e. won't have a perfectly well-kept house but will have happy kids who seem to love their caregivers who watch them more carefully than I do sometimes...

Poppins said...

Yikes ! In my absence I have been slammed. If I sounded harsh it's only because I was so shocked.

I just meant to say what CeeKay and Rohini have also said before, that you have to check, check and cross check when you leave your baby with strangers.

I just found it odd that the mom didn't notice anything was different with the baby. Well obviously I don't know the lady or the exact story but like everyone else I drew my conclusions based on what Parul has written.

See Jayashri's story for example.

I say this because I have seen people in my apartment complex who hire nannies as casually as Rohini mentioned. I personally would be more neurotic.

And hey this isn't about Maids versus Mothers etc, so please don't turn it into one. I know I am lucky to have help and I don't put down others who don't have the same options.

Aqua - Peace?

Poppins said...

MadMomma: Accidentally burning a child and deliberately sending a child regularly to beg require different types of evil-ness. Even my mother could accidentally cause a burn to Poppin in my absence. Heck even I could.

But beggars? Doping? On a regular basis? Ok I'll stop now before everyone calls me evil again ;)

the mad momma said...

its not easy to do this check corss check thing. if i were already back at work and my maid quit suddenly and i were desperately looking for a replacement i would take the best i had... and if i called home and found all quiet and came home to find a peacefully sleeping well fed child, i'd say haan.. all is well...who in their wildest dreams would imagine begging!!!

if i step out i usually call and if the maid answers i am satisfied because it means she is around and close to the phone and not left my child alone and taken off with someone. and since i work just for an hour or so at a time its usually hard for them to know when i will be back. not much time to be up to mischief.

and yeah - your mum or you might accidentally burn a child but would you dope the child, clothe it over the burn so that it festers and put it to sleep? i doubt it..

no you're not being slammed baba... relax. i apologise for slamming or whatever. its just that touch wood, you're one of the lucky ones who doesnt have to depend on maids. the rest of us have had everything possible go wrong and have faced judgmental comments abt how we shouldnt have left with maids. we're young mothers with nobody around to guide or support. and that is why i dont leave with a maid all day. i know how much scope for screw up is possible. matter closed from my side!!!

bah - i hate how things snowball on a blog. and then por parul sits back and watchs us hammer each other :D

Homecooked said...

God,this is so scary!!! I hope the family is fine.What sort of a person does this to a child!!!