My Neighbor’s Slave

Headline News:

A New York socialite is on trial for allegedly keeping a woman

enslaved in her mansion for years.

How could such a thing happen?  Pretty easily, actually.

Some years ago, while my husband was in training on the East coast, we lived for several months with an older couple I’ll call Jane and Thomas.  They were nice enough people–except they were hoarders.  One day Jane told me they had almost adopted a little girl, an orphan from the Middle East.  Seems that their church sponsored a group of homeless waifs, brought them to the U.S., and were begging families to take them in.

“We took a 10-year-old girl,” Jane said.  “We planned to adopt her.  We gave her food and clothes better ones that she was used to.  She went to school down the street.”

I nodded.  It sounded good.

“Her job was to keep our house clean, do the laundry, and wash up after meals,” Jane said.  “I was just starting to teach her to cook, because that was her job, too.”  Jane quickly added, “Not grocery shopping, though.  I wouldn’t ever trust her with my money.  In fact, I didn’t want her outside at all.  She wasn’t any of the neighbor’ business.”

What?  Jane and Thomas weren’t adopting a child at all!  They were getting a servant. Who would work for free.  And be locked in the house so the neighbors couldn’t see.

Jane and Thomas wanted a slave!

And had the pastor of their church not finally stepped in, they would have one.

Poor Valsamma Mathai didn’t fare as well.  An undocumented immigrant from India, she spent over six years working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, keeping up the 26-bedroom mansion of New York socialite Annie George.  Valsamma slept in a walk-in closet.

“A servant!” Annie George keeps insisting. “She is a servant!”

No, Annie. She is a slave.

“Consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God as it is derogatory from our own honor or interest of happiness.”

John Adams

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. I love to write, and speak, about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Japan and South Korea, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with John Newton, 17th century slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland. In West Africa I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. I was struck dumb. From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Maybe you will choose to be a 21st century abolitionist too.
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Neighbor’s Slave

  1. Alice W. says:

    It is unfortunate that such things continue to happen in our Country that has such an abundance of most anything anyone could need or want, and lots of good things are litterly wasting away. I hope that things may some day become so that everyone and all Gods creatures can bask in this land of plenty and can enjoy an honest days earnings of everything for an honest days work. Oh Lord; “Let It Be”.

  2. kaystrom says:

    That day will come, Alice. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  3. B.J. Taylor says:

    Wow. Thanks for opening our eyes.

  4. kaystrom says:

    Amazing, isn’t it? Such a sad commentary…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *