When she got hold of the arms of a maid from Myanmar dangling from the fifth floor of a Housing Board block in Bukit Panjang, Jane was certain about one thing: She was not going to let go.
The 24-year-old maid had locked herself by mistake in a room in a fifth-floor flat on Wednesday at about 8am. She tried to get out of the room by first crawling out of a window, and then using the ledge to find a way back into the flat.
Wanting to be identified only as Jane, the secretary, who rents a room in the same unit, was alerted to the maid's predicament earlier by a neighbour.
"I held on to her with all my might. She was bigger than me, but I kept telling myself not to let go," Jane said yesterday. She held on to the dangling maid for about 20 seconds before police and a neighbour helped pull her over the railings.
The rescue took about a minute but Jane, 35, said: "The image of the maid crying as I held onto her, I can't forget that. It was scary for her, but it was also traumatising for me."
The incident was captured on video by Madam Anita Sahari, 50, who was in her kitchen preparing lunch when she saw the maid.
"Even as I was recording the video, my hands were shaking," said the housewife.
In the video that went viral online, the barefooted maid is seen walking the length of the ledge while holding on to the wall and window grilles for support, and approaching Jane in the corridor.
Jane was alerted to the drama by a neighbour banging away on the front door.
The neighbour yelled, "Your maid is on the ledge", said Jane. "That was when I looked up and saw a hand outside the window."
She rushed to the window and tried to open the grilles, but they were locked.
Jane, who had been renting the room for about five months, said: "For a moment, she disappeared from my view and I thought she had fallen. So I ran out of the flat to check if I could see her from the corridor, and thankfully she was still there. She can't really speak English, so I was trying to signal to her to stop moving."
She added: "I normally leave home before 8am for work, so perhaps it was fate I woke up late that day."
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said no one was taken to the hospital.
The maid's employer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Raj, 54, an army regular, told The Straits Times he received a call after the incident, while he was on his way to work.
The maid had been with the family for about a month, but had worked for another employer for about seven months before that, he said.
"Fortunately, the tenant was home. If not, I wouldn't know how to answer to the maid's family," said Mr Raj, adding that the maid had a poor grasp of English and normally conversed with the family in Tamil.
He sent her back to the agency on Thursday morning, and he was told she returned to Myanmar the same day.
Mr Raj said the doorknob of the particular room the maid was locked in had been faulty for a while. "I have reminded her about it before. I don't know why she decided to endanger her own life. But luckily nobody got hurt."kepttellingmyself