These past two months was a hectic time for me. Work was uncommonly stressful, I got sick, the kids took turns getting sick, our little household had a yaya turnover, my finances took a nose dive—all upheavals and high drama. For some days there, I felt like I was hanging on by a thread, all the while watching the strands slowly unravel.
I scrambled to resolve all those things, and while some of these predicaments miraculously resolved themselves (optimists can will things into becoming), it was the yaya situation that really did me in. Backgrounder: I have two rambunctious boys, aged 3 and 1. Each of them has a yaya, since I am a working mom and I know toddlers are not to be trifled with.
Yaya Ying is Jethro’s yaya; she has a tiny frame, arched brows, and is a haughty mestiza. Jeremy’s Yaya Viv is 38 years old, big boned with wavy hair and a strong grip. In her wake faucets break off, kitchen knives chip, hinges hang loose. Despite this shortcoming though, she is reasonably efficient, she does not shy away from the multitude of house chores and is patient with Jeremy most of the time.
But one night, Yaya Viv woke me up with frantic knocks on my bedroom door. I rushed to open it, and there she stood, her eyes wild, clutching her blanket. She said she thinks she’s being possessed. Not dreaming, not having a nightmare, but possessed. Okaaay. A thousand alarm bells went off in my head, all chiming, ‘psy-cho, psy-cho, psy-cho, psy-cho.’ Yaya Viv said she heard strange voices coming out of her mouth—first the voice of a man, then a little girl’s, then an old woman’s. She mumbled something about a black spirit hovering in the ceiling of her room, which is down the short hall, from the bedroom where the kids, Yaya Ying, and I slept.
I quickly analyze this situation: it is 2 in the morning; I have two young kids and an elderly yaya. God, we are no match for this Amazon! What if, in her ‘possessed’ state she strangles us all to death? Yaya Ying, who is way older (but who stopped counting at age 36) offers to ‘pray over’ Yaya Viv, so that the black spirit won’t come back. An exorcism, under my own house, no less. I say OK, go ahead with the pray over, and they go to the other room.
I sit on my bed next to my sleeping son, watching the baby curled up in his crib across the room. My heart still hasn’t slowed down, and malevolent scenarios would not stop playing in my mind’s eye. Why do these things happen to me? I’m a single parent trying my darndest to raise two kids, why the hell should I have to contend with Linda Blair?
A few minutes later, I check on the two yayas and Yaya Viv says the prayers are helping, but that the spirit was still in the room. I sigh. My instinct tells me I better not let this woman out of my sight if I hope to survive this night. Against my will I tell her she should sleep with us in my bedroom so that we can look after her. She agrees, almost too readily, I think.
She maneuvers her mattress into the room, and I lock the door. As we re-arrange crib and beddings to accommodate her, Yaya Viv tells me that the black spirit is now outside the door, but that it can’t get in. Great. No going to the bathroom for me, then. I tell them to pray again, and we all settle down to sleep. I was glad the boys just snored blissfully through out all this drama. The yayas were fast asleep in a few minutes, Yaya Viv snoring loudly, black spirit be damned. I, however, fearing a re-issue of The Exorcist, did not get a wink of sleep until morning.
And that’s why this month, on top of everything else, I am training two new replacement yayas, both age 18, armed with with police clearances, certifiably sane, and most importantly—with no history of demonic possession.