Part I: Climbing Up - 1. Your Life Before Me
You were the daughter of a family that couldn’t afford to raise you above mere survival, and even resented your very existence as a burden, all the more being a disappointment as first-born because of your sex. A terribly sad scenario, unfortunately not at all uncommon.
Many poor families are loving and caring with their daughters, within their limited means, but you had the misfortune of having a lazy alcoholic for a father, a man who couldn’t keep a job for more than a few months at best, and a mother who had grown bitter from her misfortune. You had two younger brothers, who took whatever could be spared for their own upbringing, while you were reduced to nothing more than two working hands and the hope of a not-too-disadvantageous marriage.
I met your father at one of his odd, short-lasting jobs. He spent a couple of months sweeping the halls in the office where I worked. I’m very sociable so I naturally fell into conversation with him. He was sycophantic, hoping for a windfall—however small—in the place of hard work. He once asked me for a small loan on the lame, unconvincing pretence of sickness in the family. The situation was favourable for a foreign single resident in the city interested in taking you in as his only resident household servant, so that’s when I told him I needed indoor domestic service and he right away suggested you, despite your being a frail fourteen-year-old girl. Your age was unreliable, estimated by your mother, since your date of birth wasn’t registered nor given enough importance to be kept on any kind of record, not even a mental one.
We arranged for your father to bring you to my house. The advance I gave him financed a drinking bout that cost him the termination of his job due to next-day drunkenness. Of course he wouldn’t fail to deliver on his promise to me, since while you were a source of steady income, he’d have no need to work.
He was a callous man who took notice of you only to scold and beat you, and now showed total indifference to your parting. Your mother demonstrated so-far absent tender feelings when sending you off and shed a few tears. Even your brothers showed a softer side with hugs and farewells. It was sad, and as rough as your short life had been, you were naturally scared of the unknown. Of course you didn’t have a say in any of this.