Here's the thing. The woman who has cleaned my home for the past couple of years has vanished. I will call her Sonia.
Sonia knew I would be away and the last time she cleaned my home before I left she left a note saying goodbye, wishing me a safe trip, and asking me to call her when I return. This has happened over the past few years, and she has always returned.
I called her as I said I would, but her cell phone is now blocked to incoming callers. This is new. I called her home number and a child answered. He spoke english perfectly, in other words it did not sound like her seven year old son. I asked for Sonia and whomever answered called a woman to the phone. She had no idea who I wanted and confirmed that I had dialed the correct number.
I am at a loss. I know Sonia's last name, but I also know that her husband has a different last name, because the woman always keeps her maiden name. I know they live in Richmond Annex, but I do not know the exact address. I do not know where her son goes to school. A short while before I left she told me she was having problems with her young son. She didn't elaborate, but she said he was 'misbehaving' and that she and her husband were concerned. I gave her some phone numbers of places I thought could help. What I never asked Sonia was whether they were here legally.
Because I left South Africa at a very young age, I never had a servant. I felt conflicted about hiring Sonia, after all, I am perfectly capable of cleaning my house, but I don't have much time or energy for doing so. Now this situation feels a bit like South Africa where people had servants, but never knew their last names or anything about them.
Where can she be?
My mind is reeling - could she be a victim of domestic violence?
Could she or her husband have been taken away by the ICE?
Have they just upped and left?
These concerns are not just flights of fancy, I have come across of domestic violence situations too frequently. Sometimes the mother takes her children and runs to a shelter. All too often she returns to her abuser. Of course services such as counseling and shelters have suffered tremendously from the recent cuts, so who knows if she even found a place.
I know many families who live in fear of the ICE.
I have come across families who have upped and left. I have arrived at homes where I had been a week before and the home is empty, as if an entire family had never been there just a few days ago.
I don't know where Sonia is.