While some people may start thinking about the times they spent with their own ma jie, this is just nostalgia. No longer do we see women in white clothes and black pants with their hair braided. Crowding Central and Causeway Bay every Sunday are the foreign domestic helpers, who have taken ma jie's place in our society.
The images of helpers buzzing around the house, taking care of housework, lugging bagfuls of groceries home, picking up children after school, walking the family dog all remain the same, but can they truly be substitutes for ma jie?
I think not. Today, foreign domestic helpers give us the satisfaction of living a life free of chores and errands, but not the mutual trust and sincere friendship offered by ma jie.
The difference lies in the degree of selflessness. Serving a family was a lifelong dedication for a ma jie. It was not a job, but part of their lives, caring for their charges without grumbling and making countless sacrifices. Their devotion and faithfulness won respect and trust from their employers.
Today, a maid is just a maid. Rarely would any family consider their helper one of their own.
There is merely a contractual and financial bonding between the two parties.
A Simple Life portrays the filial piety and the care Roger showed to Tao Jie when she was old. You could hardly imagine this happening to a foreign domestic helper today.
Maybe if more of Hong Kong's 300,000 foreign helpers had the same kind of ambition ma jie had, then there would be one more reason, other than the law, for Hong Kong citizens to defend their right to stay - the sentimental value, a core value instilled in every Chinese.