It was a lull period in the salon, and a group of manicurists sat around chatting. One was having a long-distance phone conversation with her daughter, explaining to her why she should not have stolen money. As she put down the phone in exasperation, she explained that it was difficult to discipline her younger daughter as she left her country to work in Singapore since the girl was very young, while the rest of the family remained in their home country. Another manicurist shared that she had the same experience, as she left her baby behind when he was only 40 days old. The conversation then wandered into a comparison of the cheapest way to call home, and I was left alone with my own thoughts.
Sometimes people carry out their daily activities while harboring quiet tragedy, and it takes unguarded moments like this to allow others a glimpse into their private struggles. In these migrant mothers’ efforts to provide more for their dearest, they ironically have to suffer estrangement from them, as well as the dreariness of working long hours in a strange land.