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Off centre act one-play-annotated version 3


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For Literature Students

For Literature Students

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  • Hi Kuronekosan, i’m a fellow student who is studying Off Centre as a O lvl text. Thank you for your rich materials in helping me with my literature and english. Would you be able to enable download for the documents? Alternatively, u can email me the document, just comment on my wall. Thanks!(:
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  • 1. In preparations for the Preliminary and O Level Examinations 2009 OFF-CENTRE by HARESH SHARMA – THE NECESSARY STAGE Annotated by Yeo Yam Hwee Prologue USE OF SPACE/LOCATION When the audience enters the theatre, Vinod is The stage directions – two rooms side by side – serve sitting at the edge of the stage saying hello to various purposes. them. This goes on until everyone has settled down and the house lights fade. Juxtaposition of scenes – one reflects or comments on the other. Simultaneity – possibility of seeing two homes / rooms at the same time on stage How does this juxtaposition affect the audience? At which points of the play are these most effective? Two rooms side by side – the idea of symmetry, reflection, and also the comparison and the contrast. Juxtaposing spaces versus juxtaposing characters. STRUCTURE Time: The play takes place over ONE year. It begins at the Oasis Club function where Vinod and Saloma meet for the first time. It ends one year later at the same function where they will last see each other. One year later, they are also VERY DIFFERENT people. LANGUAGE The narrators use Singapore Standard English. Saloma uses colloquial English, and codeswitches in Bahasa Melayu and English. Vinod uses Singapore Standard English predominantly, but changes register when speaking with Saloma and Mr. Razali, sometimes even code switching. 1
  • 2. Vinod: [to audience] You know, I said “hi” to eighty- This is NOT the beginning of the play. This is NOT the seven people and only twelve said “hi” back to scene where Vinod and Saloma first meet. me. I guess it’s true. People can tell when someone is mentally ill. But you could have BUT we are introduced to the NARRATOR [Vinod]. said “hi” back to me. I was only trying to be According to Haresh Sharma, the playwright, the friendly, not mentally ill. But really, how do narrator represents the fractured psyche – which is you all tell? I look no different from any of related to the issue surrounding schizophrenia, mental you. I can talk with as much sense and illness and so on. nonsense – I can laugh and cry. Like you. I can stare at you like you stare at me…but Vinod and Saloma both have a relationship to their not too hard in case we start having a fight. narrators. The narrators are helpful – a friend to them. I can speak Singlish at home and then However, ultimately, Vinod’s narrator cannot help him complain to the papers that it’s bad for the anymore and “leaves”, while Saloma’s narrator stays by childr – like you. I can even spend $5 on taxi her side and assures her. to go to Yishun to try the $1 chicken rice. Like you. Then why am I labeled mad, siow, crazy, The narrators also function to express Vinod and mental, psycho, cuck-…and not you? Saloma’s INNER THOUGHTS to the audience; thus the narrators represent the characters, bridging the gap Vinod Vinod looked at the audience with between character and audience, leading to more [Narrrator]: uncertainty. He wondered if they liked him. understanding. [UNLIKE SALOMA, VINOD IS CONCERNED WITH HOW THE The narrative voices for both Vinod and Saloma convey AUDIENCE WOULD TAKE TO HIM: to us just how terribly hard these young people tried to WILL THEY LIKE HIM?  VINOD connect and how their various efforts and attempts were WANTS TO BE ACCEPTED BY THE rebuffed. Some of the narration makes for heart-rending AUDIENCE.] He had cracked a few jokes, listening/hearing/reading/watching, and as we move good ones too, which he had been practising along the play’s dark inevitable tragic end, we begin to for some time. But he also challenged them. become aware of just how much intensity there is in the And audiences do not like to be challenged. leading characters as well as in their dramatic He thought of Saloma. characterization. The play begins with Vinod talking to the audience. He talks to the audience quite a fair bit in the play. The audience in the theatre is in the majority. We can say that the audience represents the society. Vinod and Saloma – who represents the mental patients – are in the minority. The only thing is that the playwright is now giving Vinod and Saloma – the platform – the stage for them to bring their life stories out to the open. While the majority can be an oppressive force, the members are generally silent during the performance, although from time to time, they respond with sniffs and laughters to what is unfolding on the stage. Vinod and the audience (society) seems to have a love-hate relationship. Vinod wants society to accept him but at the same time, resents the treatment he has received when he becomes depressive and being labeled as a mental patient. Discrimination against mentally ill persons in Singapore? Really? Or does Vinod mean to be sarcastic? Vinod gets to the crux of the matter – what the play is all about – quickly. He jolts the audience into attention with his proclamation. The seed of Vinod’s tragedy has been laid very early in the play. He informs the reader / the audience quite clearly that what he does or does not do is a matter of choice; that he is in full control of his own attitude, behaviour towards himself and other people. At the moment, he resents the so-called normal people’s patronizing attitude towards the mentally-ill. Vinod choose to see the negative side of other people. He accentuates the negative with regards to people’s response to the mentally-ill and forms his resentment by focusing on the negative aspects of the Singaporean society. 2
  • 3. Saloma enters. Saloma Saloma meanwhile was ready to make her Vinod and Saloma are two sensitive young persons who [Narrator]: entrance. Vinod had told her to come in feel the burden of their environment and who live whenever she felt ready, but not before he had precariously on the edge of things. told a few jokes first. Saloma looked at the audience and felt a little faint. Main characters: Vinod and Saloma [1] Both have experience of suffering from a mental illness. [2] Both have experience of spending time in a mental institution. [3] Both have faced some form of discrimination – from family, friends, co-workers – in their attempts to reintegrate into society. However, they are both from very different backgrounds. Pause. Saloma: [to Vinod] Why are they looking at us? Saloma does not speak to the audience. She seeks solace and refuge in Vinod instead. Vinod: They rather look at us than at themselves. Vinod points out a basic flaw in all of us. We rarely cross-examine ourselves. By extension, society collectively is judgemental against people who are different from them. “Normal” people judge “deviants” because “normal” people are always larger in number. “Normal” people rarely look at themselves – they judge people who are different and label them without wanting to understand them or accept them. So even when mental patients exist, society choose to put a label on them and and shut them out of its vision or knowledge. Pause. Saloma: I want to go back. When things go wrong for her, she thinks only of retreating, crawling back to her shell. She probably hates being scrutinized by the audience (representing the society) or simply being in the limelight. Background music begins. Vinod: Wait. Why don’t you sing them a song? Why does Vinod do this to Saloma? Why does he draw the audience’s attention to Saloma who is uncomfortable with the audience? Saloma: No. Vinod: Aw, come on. Just a simple one. Simple. [to audience] Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Saloma!! They look at each other and laugh. Saloma This prologue is important because it brings out the runs offstage. Vinod looks at audience, difference in how the two main characters, Vinod and embarrassed. Saloma perceive SOCIETY, represented by the audience. While both are mental patients (whether they are ex- mental patients or recovering mental patients – they are still mental patients – so I will stick to mental patients), we can tell that Vinod wants to face the audience and wishes to be presentable and accepted by them while Saloma does not look at the audience and seems unprepared to be on stage and very uncomfortable to be examined by the audience. So while Vinod hopes to be accepted by the audience, Saloma appears bashful and self-conscious. That is the reason why, Vinod stays to continue to entertain the audience while “Saloma runs offstage”. Vinod: Er…ladies and gentlemen, please welcome… Boyz II Men? Act One / Scene 1 Textbook Pagination Guide: December. Oasis Club Function. Act One Sc. 1 – 06 - 13 3
  • 4. A four-men group sings (End of the Road by Sc. 2 - 14 - 19 Boyz II Men), with Vinod as one of the Sc. 3 – 20 - 36 back-up singers. But he does his routine in Sc. 4 - 37 – 41 a funnier way than the others. It is the Oasis Club End-of-Year Function. They first run into each other at the Oasis Club Saloma enters. Saloma and Vinod do not Function. know each other. Saloma watches. They According to Haresh Sharma’s notes – The Oasis Club is catch each other’s eyes. Vinod waves to her. an aftercare support group where members meet She is shocked and doesn’t acknowledge. occasionally to play games and so on. The members have They continue singing. He waves again. been discharged but REMEMBER: Oasis Club is a Other members get a bit annoyed. Halfway HALFWAY house – nobody fully recalls from mental through the song, he leaves and goes to her. illness. End of the Road by Boys II Men Girl you know we belong together I have no time for you to be playing With my heart like this You'll be mine forever baby, you just see We belong together And you know that I'm right Why do you play with my heart, Why do you play with my mind? Said we'd be forever Said it'd never die How could you love me and leave me And never say good-bye? When I can't sleep at night without holding you tight Girl, each time I try I just break down and cry Pain in my head oh I'd rather be dead Spinnin' around and around Although we've come to the End Of The Road Still I can't let you go It's unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you Come to the End of the Road Still I can't let you go It's unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you Girl, I know you really love me, You just don't realize You've never been there before It's only your first time Maybe I'll forgive you, hmm Maybe you'll try We should be happy together Forever, you and I Can you love me again like you loved me before This time I want you to love me much more This time instead just come to my bed And baby just don't let me, don't let me down Girl I'm here for you All those times of night when you just hurt me And just run out with that other fella Baby I knew about it, I just didn't care You just don't understand how much I love you do you? I'm here for you I'm not out to go out and cheat on you all night Just like you did baby but that's all right Hey, I love you anyway And I'm still gonna be here for you 'till my dying day baby Right now, I'm just in so much pain baby 4
  • 5. Coz you just won't come back to me Will you? Just come back to me (Lonely) Yes baby my heart is lonely (Lonely) My heart hurts baby (Lonely) Yes I feel pain too Baby please This time instead just come to my bed And baby just don't let me down Vinod: Hi. Pause Vinod: I saw you looking at me. You like my singing When Vinod tells Saloma in her face that “there is something is it? [no reply] My danc- My name is Vinod. different about” her, his remarks draw the audience’s [pause] You like my singi- [pause]. There’s attention to the shy and bashful Saloma. He also indicates to something different about you. [pause] Do you us that he is attracted to her. Not romantically but at least it like my singing? My danc- Excuse me. is a start. Vinod finds Saloma interesting. Vinod joins the other singers to take his bow. Then he immediately goes back to Saloma. Vinod: You’re very pretty. Vinod is attracted to Saloma. Saloma walks away. Saloma does not take it as a compliment. She avoids Vinod. Vinod: [to audience] What did I do? [he walks to Saloma] Hi. [silence] You are very pretty. [Saloma is about to walk away again] Eh, wait. I mean it. A lot of people here are quite…but you’re pretty. What are you suffering from? Saloma walks away. Vinod Vinod often had this problem. But he went How they become friends. [Narrator]: over to Saloma again and explained to her that he wasn’t going to harm her. After a while Saloma warmed up to him and told him her name. Vinod: Hah! As in P. Ramlee and Saloma. I never P. Ramlee and Saloma = Husband and wife. thought I’d ever hear that name again. Eh? Is she still alive? This is my second time at this P. Ramlee is Singapore and Malaysia's greatest ever Oasis Club function. It’s quite - The quiz is recording star. In the age of the 1950s crooners, he sung quite- But I know the answers so I win a lot of Malaysian folk repertroire with a dance hall orchestra and prizes. But it’s OK. It doesn’t mean anything. latin flavors. He revolutionised traditional Malay singing, You don’t talk very much, do you? [pause] beginning as a playback singer, before becoming a leading Say something. Come on, anything. [pause] actor during the 1950s. He appeared in some 63 films, Just say one word, just one word. singing more than 200 songs. Salmah Ismail was born on 23 January 1935 in Singapore. Some believed that her stage name SALOMA was given to her by Run Run Shaw of Shaw Bros when the film Salome which starred Rita Hayworth hit the Box Office. While others said it was coined by the 'love of her life' husband, P.Ramlee. As a child, she had dreams of becoming a big 'star' and it was no surprise that she was already a household name and a 'little singing sensation' at weddings, festive and family events barely at the age of 13. Saloma: What? Vinod: Very good. Now say two words. Vinod is playfully assertive. 5
  • 6. Saloma Saloma did not like the way Vinod was forcing Saloma finds Vinod too demonstrative. [Narrator]: her to speak. She was saying everything that Saloma is introverted while Vinod is extroverted. she wanted to say. It’s just that nobody could hear…except her. Vinod: Come on, two words. Saloma Five minutes passed. Patience. [Narrator]: Vinod: OK, one word. Saloma Ten minutes. Patience. [Narrator]: Vinod Vinod could not understand why this strange Vinod is attracted to Saloma’s shyness. [Narrator]: girl just could not speak. Never in his twenty- five years of living had he come across anyone Vinod is motivated to get closer to Saloma because he who was so shy. It became a challenge. He finds her refreshingly challenging. Her reticence became excited. [unwillingness to speak up] makes him excited. Vinod: OK, I’ll count to three and we both say the first word that comes to our minds. Ready? One, two, three! Dance! [Saloma remains silent] Vinod He became desperate. [Narrator]: Vinod: Say something and I’ll give you one dollar. Vinod He became pathetic. [Narrator]: Vinod: OK, seventeen dollars and …[counting] and sixty-five cents. Vinod gives up. Pause. Saloma: Schizophrenia. This is what Saloma is suffering from. Vinod: You spoke. You said it. I did it. I did it. Saloma takes the money from him and walks Do not misread Saloma here and also do not read too away. much into this action and then go on to claim that Saloma is moneyminded. Saloma is probably irritated by Vinod’s continual harassment. Vinod: Eh, wait. I don’t have any more money. [goes after her] Eh, Saloma…P. Ramlee… He catches up with her. Vinod: Er…sorry. Can I have some money back? She gives him everything. See, Saloma returns Vinod his money. Vinod: Oh, thanks. Saloma Saloma looked at Vinod and…and smiled. There is some kind of affinity or connection between the [Narrator]: What else could she do? She liked him. He two persons. Saloma actually likes him. was crazy. Saloma: My social worker said I must come here. Rose. Oasis Club Function is a place for mental patients to She always visit me. have a social get-together. Vinod: Hah? That’s good. Your social worker is very encouraging. Mine – Don’t want to talk about *Don’t be misled by Vinod’s side remarks here. Off her. It’s really a gamble you know. It’s- I was Centre is thematically not related to any gay or lesbianic fated to have a Lydia Sum type social worker. topics. THE COMMENTS passed by Vinod here is once 6
  • 7. She spends more time telling me her problems again Vinod’s way of telling people that he is better or then listening to mine. It’s OK. I’ve helped “far more normal” than people who are supposed to be her a lot. Now, she’s finally coming to terms qualified to help him recover from his depression. with her lesbianism. Saloma Saloma didn’t know what Vinod was talking [Narrator]: about. She didn’t know that everything Vinod When you like a person, you do not always RATIONALISE said had to be taken with a ton of salt. But she about what it is that you like about him or her. liked listening to him. She liked his voice. Vinod: Do you want to dance? Vinod also likes Saloma. He shows it by his action – his invitation to dance. Saloma: No. Vinod: Why? You don’t like to dance ah? [no reply] Vinod is eager to please Saloma. You like right? OK, never mind. Maybe later. Am I talking too much? [to audience] Am I talking too much? [to Saloma] Do you want a drink? [to audience] Do you want a -? What am I saying? Vinod Vinod and Saloma spent the rest of the evening Vinod talks and talks. [Narrator]: talking. Of course, it was Vinod who did most of the talking. Saloma Saloma listened. And listened. At times, she Saloma simply listens. [Narrator]: watched his lips move – the different shapes that it made. She watched his eyes. The sadness behind them. Vinod: And this scar, you see here? This one I got Vinod: Words are my weapon. Vinod is confrontational. when I was at WH. I was struggling and He knows it and he is telling us early in the play, even struggling and accidentally cut myself. But though he is merely here engaging in small talk with never mind. It looks quite macho right? Saloma. He clearly takes pride in this aspect of himself. People see they think I’m a gangster. But actually I’m not. I don’t like violence. Words are my weapon. Eh, like real. I like – Do you like poetry? Saloma: Yah. Vinod: Hah! Very good. What poem? Saloma: I don’t know. Vinod: Never mind lah. Just say. Pantun is it? Buah “There’s a jackfruit tree outside the fence. Please take a cempedak diluar pagar. Ambil galah tolong bamboo pole to hit the fruit.” jolokkan. Saloma: Kami budak baru belajar. Kalau boleh tolong “We are young and still learning. If can, please teach us.” tunjukkan. Vinod: Wah, very good. You are very poetic. You Although he says this to Saloma, he may not be must teach me some more. I can also teach wholeheartedly feeling so because Saloma does not respond you some of my favourite poems. to him as readily as he has earlier hoped for. Saloma: I must go home. Home is where Mak is. Saloma is home-orientated. This shows her attachment to her mother. It also shows up her lack of social connections with other people. Vinod: Huh? So soon ah? Can we dance first? Just one dance? Please… He invites her to the dance floor and tries to Little by little, with Vinod’s encouragement, Saloma gets make her dance. She dances a little. After a more comfortable with herself and other people in the Oasis while they stop. Club. Vinod: Wah, you’re a very good dancer. I’m sure you Vinod encourages Saloma. Even though Vinod enjoys can sing as well. Can you sing? Come on, taking control of people, he is at least, being friendly and sing a song… encouraging here towards Saloma. 7
  • 8. Saloma: I must go back. Saloma’s remark makes it plain to us that she wants to go home. While she is beginning to enjoy Vinod’s company, she is not entirely comfortable at the Oasis Club. Vinod: OK, OK. Next time OK? Saloma: Yah. Vinod: I’ll send you back. Saloma: Er…I take bus. Vinod: Can I call you afterwards: I don’t like to sleep. Symptomatic of a depressive. Vinod’s revelation – “I don’t Waste of- Can I call you? like to sleep”. Saloma No. Saloma wanted to say no. But it’s just a READ THE NARRATOR’S NOTES CAREFULLY: [Narrator]: phone call. And he had been very nice the whole evening. He wouldn’t be like Azman. WHEN SALOMA (the narrator) speaks to you, you take special note that at this point of time: • Saloma likes Vinod but she does not know him well enough to let him take her home. • Saloma gives away her contact number to Vinod because she thinks it is harmless to do so. • Saloma thinks that Vinod has been well-behaved the whole evening, unlike AZMAN. Vinod: Great. I know! We both exchange phone numbers. Then I’ll call you later. [makes a gesture] Friends? Saloma: Huh? Vinod: This is [gesture] friends. This is [gesture] “mousedeer” don’t friend. This is [gesture] love. See? Because it becomes a heart. And this is [gesture] sang kancil, and this is [gesture] snake…viper! Saloma: [gesture] Friends. Vinod: [gesture] Friends. OK, bye. He walks away. Saloma: Goodbye Vinod. They part and make their way to their rooms. Slowly the party ends. Act One / Scene 2 Textbook Pagination Guide: Later that night. Both Rooms. Act One Saloma walks into her room. She sees the Sc. 2 - 14 - 19 audience and turns away. Vinod enters his room and calls her on the phone. She picks up the phone. Saloma: Hello? Vinod: Hello? Saloma? It’s me, Vinod. It’s OK, right, I call you so late? Saloma: Yah. My mother always come back late. Vinod: You can call me anytime. I’ve got my own This is a little dated here. What Vinod means is that he phone. Even if three, four o’clock in the has a fixed line or extension land line of his own in his morning. Anytime you want to talk to anyone, own room. you can call me OK? 8
  • 9. Saloma He was being nice again. Why? What does he Saloma is comforted by the fact that Vinod is “nice” to her [Narrator]: want from Saloma? but at the same time, she is not entirely naïve about the blossoming friendship between them. It is very natural for her to wonder why Vinod is “being nice” to her. Not that she has had a lot to give away to Vinod but then, “what does he want from her”? Vinod Vinod still knew so little about Saloma. He [Narrator]: wanted to shower her with a barrage of Vinod is in a hurry to “know” Saloma. He wants to be her questions. So what does your mother do? friend, but the questions that he harbours about Saloma are What subjects did you take in school? What limited by his own personal and social experience. was your college like? Which college did you go to? Saloma: VITB. VITB stands for Vocational and Industrial Training Board. Vinod: VITB? Er, technical? Although Singapore made progress economically with an industrialization programme in the seventies, we are not exactly comfortable with people who were / are from the technical stream. Students who are from the technical stream are the ones who are rejected by the science and other streams. It seems to sound a death knell for the parents and those around these students. Saloma: Yah, I finish my ‘N’ level then I go VITB. Vinod: [to audience] ‘N’ level. So sad right? [ to Does Vinod feel sorry for Saloma because she is himself] And I thought my life was over when underachieving academically as a student? I didn’t get straight As for my ‘A’ levels. Is Vinod seeking comfort in the fact that Saloma is academically less capable than he is? This is an interesting response to himself. Is it a big letdown to discover that Saloma is actually an underachiever – someone quite academically inferior? Saloma: Vinod. Who you talking to? Vinod’s monologue must have been so obvious that Saloma thinks he could be daydreaming. Vinod: Huh? Myself. Saloma: Very bad, you know. I don’t talk to myself. Saloma does not understand that Vinod is thinking aloud Last time I talk to the voice. to himself. But the playwright cleverly uses this misunderstanding by Saloma to introduce to us Saloma’s personal affliction. Vinod: The voice? Oh!! The voices!! The voices of Vinod’s response is factual with regard to Saloma’s mental people saying bad things about you. It’s one of condition. His response is also a reflection of his the symptoms of schizophrenia. Actually the intelligence and it tells us that Vinod is quite knowledgeable voices are just figments of your imagination. with regard to mental illnesses. Saloma: Huh? Vinod: The voices, the so-called voices? Vinod takes the position of the outsider looking in – He tries to convince Saloma that the voices she hears is NOT REAL, but IMAGINED. Saloma: So-called? Vinod: You see Saloma, the voices are not real. It’s Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric illness that affects just an imaginary – how a person thinks, feels and behaves. The afflicted person has difficulty telling the difference between real and imagined experiences, to think logically, to express feelings or to behave appropriately. Symptoms: Schizophrenia is characterized by hallucinations, delusions and disorganized speech, thoughts and behaviour. These symptoms interfere with the person’s ability to function normally in life. When one has schizophrenia, one loses touch with reality. One simply cannot function, much less control it. Saloma: No, real! They talk to me. Saloma is not making things up. She is a mental patient who is suffering from schizophrenia. 9
  • 10. Vinod: Yah, no, you see, just because they talk to you Vinod tries to be helpful here but no amount of – explanation can help Saloma rationalize for herself that the voices she is hearing are not real. Saloma: - Real, I not bluffing. Saloma has nothing to “bluff” about. So do not misread her reply to Vinod. Vinod: No, I read this book, which has case studies of Vinod researches a lot into mental illnesses. actual – Saloma: You never hear before. You never hear The voices which Saloma hears are real to her even if before. [pause] Why you never listen to me? other people try to explain to her that she may have I-I never bluff. Vinod. You say I bluff. But imagined them. you never hear. I not mad. I never gila-gila talk to myself. I only talk to the voice. The Saloma believes regular medication will cure her.  voice inside my head. I lazy. I not strong. Got One IMPORTANT point to note: WHO CONVINCES devil inside my body. [yawn] I very sleepy. I HER? take medicine, so I very sleepy. My mother THERE IS NOTHING IN THE PLAY WHICH say don’t take, but I take. You must take also INFORMS US ABOUT THIS. OK? BUT EMILY HAS MENTIONED THE IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR MEDICATION to her at the halfway house. Vinod: Yah, I’ll take. You better sleep. Vinod “promises” Saloma that he will take his medication. Saloma: You also must sleep. Vinod: Er…yah. I will. Saloma, I’m sorry – Saloma: [yawn] Vinod, you listen to radio? Vinod: Yah. Saloma: You listen to Class 95 FM? Saloma makes the first move to attempt at building a shared space between them. She really likes Vinod. Vinod: Sometimes. Sometimes 98.7. Saloma: Class 95 FM got cash draw. Maybe can win DON’T MISREAD HERE: Just because Saloma talks money. Now the money is $1,685. If they call about “cash draw” and “money” when she mentions me I can win. $1,685. Remember OK? If radio station, “Class 95FM” does not make her a they call you, you also can win. Vinod, before “moneyface”. we sleep we listen to Class 95 FM OK? We listen to the same song, then we sleep. Saloma becomes a little more intimate with Vinod. Vinod: Yah, maybe I’ll dedicate a song to you. Vinod takes the opportunity to build a common space a step further. DON’T ASK WHY THEY DON’T USE THE INTERNET for chatting and so on. The internet only became widely used in the mid eighties. The play is set in the SEVENTIES. Saloma: Dedicate ah? No need. [pause] Vinod? Vinod: Yah? Saloma: The voice say I must bang my head on the Saloma is still troubled by her own condition. She seeks wall. The voice say I must jump down. [pause] reassurance from Vinod. In a way, Vinod as a person Vinod? You are not a voice right? and a friend, is a much needed diversion for Saloma. Vinod has an undeniable healing effect on Saloma. Vinod: I am not a voice Saloma. I’m Vinod. You Vinod is obliging and he is beginning to play the role of a listen to Class 95 FM OK? I’ll dedicate a comforting friend to Saloma. He tries to accommodate to special song to you. Saloma’s needs. Saloma: OK. Good night Vinod. Thank you. 10
  • 11. Saloma hangs up. As she goes about preparing for bed. Saloma [narrator] speaks. In the meantime, Vinod calls Class 95FM Saloma Saloma was tired. She had had a long day. Vinod has brought about change in Saloma’s life. [Narrator]: She was confused. What had happened? Who Saloma wants to share her simple needs with this new was this man who had interrupted the safe and found friend. She is confused and curious. Vinod is the quiet flow of her existence? She was curious. man “who has interrupted the safe and quiet flow of her How would this episode end? existence”. Saloma sleeps. DJ’s voice comes on. Vinod is listening. He is excited. DJ And I just got a call from a Vinod who would Vinod names Saloma as “his special friend”. [Voice like to dedicate a song to a special friend. Over]: Well, Saloma, I hope you’re listening because this song goes out specially to you… The song is played [Your Song by Elton John]. Elton John’s song is a love song. Pause. In the following speech, Vinod’s actions follow Vinod [narrator]. Elton John – Your Song It's a little bit funny this feeling inside I'm not one of those who can easily hide I don't have much money but boy if I did I'd buy a big house where we both could live If I was a sculptor, but then again, no Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show I know it's not much but it's the best I can do My gift is my song and this one's for you And you can tell everybody this is your song It may be quite simple but now that it's done I hope you don't mind I hope you don't mind that I put down in words How wonderful life is while you're in the world I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss Well a few of the verses well they've got me quite cross But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song It's for people like you that keep it turned on So excuse me forgetting but these things I do You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue Anyway the thing is what I really mean Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen Vinod Vinod couldn’t sleep. He was restless, as Vinod wonders if Saloma is “his centre”. [Narrator]: usual. He tried tai chi. That was what they told him at the hospital. To find his centre. Saloma. Saloma. Saloma. Vinod kept saying that name to himself. Why? Was she his centre? [pause] Vinod looked around his room, at his debating trophy for best speaker. [he takes trophy] He looked outside, at the sky. [he looks] And holding on to the window grills, he felt that all he needed was a steel mug [makes motion] to rattle against the grills. He thought of Saloma again and smiled. It was time for him to sleep. He went to get his medicine, [he does so] took out a capsule, [does so] swallowed it and went to sleep. Pause. Vinod throws the capsule away. Vinod: Sorry. Song increases in volume. Vinod goes to the Vinod cannot rid Saloma from his thoughts. window and makes the rattle motion. Lights slowly fade. 11
  • 12. Act One / Scene 3 Textbook Pagination Guide: Three months later [March]. Restaurant. Act One Lights come on. Sc. 3 – 20 - 36 Vinod Vinod and Saloma spent a lot of time together Vinod feels a sense of purpose when he is with Saloma. [Narrator]: in the following weeks. They watched movies He feels he is needed by Saloma. What he does not yet together, they are together. With Saloma realized is that, He too needs her. around, Vinod felt needed. Of course he refused to see that he too needed her. THINK DEEPER: Why does Vinod “feel needed” with Saloma around? ANSWER: This is because Saloma accepts his friendship and better yet, she seems to be enjoying his company. Saloma Vinod was comforting. He knew the right Saloma is “more afraid” because nobody has ever [Narrator]: words. His lips moved even more than ever, treated her that nicely the way Vinod is doing for her. with his poems, his jokes. He pampered her. Vinod treats her well but he is still a stranger to her. She When she didn’t like something, he would is “more afraid” also probably because: change it, he would take her away from it. • Vinod seems sad Saloma was afraid before. Now she was more • Vinod seems full of hidden emotions afraid. His eyes were still sad, still lying. She • Vinod seems like a stranger still didn’t know him. • She is not sure what she can give him back in return[?] Saloma and Vinod are at a restaurant. There The restaurant scene is an important scene. This is their 3rd are other people occupying different tables. month anniversary date. Saloma: Vinod. Today, I call Class 95 FM. Lunch Saloma makes a breakthrough – She has dedicated a song to date. I dedicate a song to you. Vinod. Radio Station Class 95 FM provides listening pleasure to its audience. More significantly, it has become a shared space for both Saloma and Vinod. How do they use it? They use it to dedicate songs to one another. Because it is a shared space between the two, it becomes a referral point which they can show appreciation and give thanks to one another. Vinod: Hah? Very good. See, I told you you don’t have to be afraid. They are very nice right? Saloma: Yah. Afterwards I will call again and dedicate. Saloma seems to have become addicted to dedicating songs And tomorrow, lunch date, I will call again… to Vinod. Vinod: Aiyoh, Saloma. I think the DJs will be quite Talking about 95FM becomes a conversation piece for both fed up with us. OK, next time we dedicate, we of them. Although it is about passive listening, the radio change our voice and our name. So, if Vincent station provides a reason for the timid and self-effacing dedicate to Sandy means I dedicate to you lah, Saloma to pick up her telephone and act with a sense of because V and S. OK? Then we can pretend to purpose and warmth to dedicate any song she wishes to be other people. Can change accent and all Vinod. She may be struggling with nervousness when that. meeting strangers but via the telephone, she can maintain a safe distance and need not expose herself to the disc jockeys she is talking to. Talking to real people, even from a distance, provides Saloma a change to interact with other human beings without having to reveal too much of herself is a much needed diversion for Saloma. It is an undemanding task which connects her with society. More importantly she is quick to get the drift of it and she actually wishes to do it again and again for Vinod. Saloma: I can dedicate also. Siti dedicate to… ‘V’ very This may seem like a childish or childlike exchange but it difficult. shows Saloma and Vinod attempting to make connection with one another. Vinod: No…can…Vincent, Vik…Van Heusen, Van Vinod is also eager to establish the connection – we can see Houten…anything also can. the promise of a budding relationship here. Saloma: This restaurant very nice. The three months have made Saloma more open to sharing opinions with another person. She is evidently becoming comfortable with Vinod. 12
  • 13. Vinod: Yah. It looks expensive right? But it’s not The relationship is on a stable footing. It is also the really. Anyway, this is our three-month playwright’s way of indicating to us the passage of time. anniversary so, never mind. Order whatever you want. I’ll have fish and chips. Waiter!! [to Saloma] You order OK? Waiter appears. The challenge arrives at their table in the form of a stranger. The appearance of the waiter at their table poses a challenge to Saloma which Vinod and the audience [representing society] take entirely for granted. Saloma’s fear or distrust of strangers is real and she will have to do something about it in order to work her way back to society. Waiter: Are you ready to order? Vinod: Saloma. Pause. Saloma is silent. There is a stranger in their midst. Waiter: Would you like to have a drink first? Pause. Saloma is still silent. Saloma is seriously afraid of talking to strangers. Saloma: I want…[pause] Is it fear or disgust which is hovering over Saloma? Vinod: I’d like to have ice lemon tea. Saloma: Same. Disgust[?] Fear [?] grips Saloma, when she is in the presence of a stranger. Vinod: Fish and chips. Can I have baked potatoes instead of fresh fries? Waiter: No problem. [to Saloma] And – Saloma: Same. Saloma finds safety in V inod. Waiter: Baked potato or French – Saloma: Same. Again she does the same thing. Waiter: You twin sister is it? An innocuous remark. Waiter and Vinod laugh. Notice that Saloma does not laugh because to her, it is not a funny remark. Vinod: Aiyah, Saloma, it’s just a joke. [to waiter] That’s all. We’re celebrating our third month anniversary. Saloma: He stare at me. Other people also. Saloma is afraid of making eye-contact with other people. She imagines beyond what that eye-contact made by the waiter actually means. When Saloma says “other people also stare at me”, she is obviously being self-conscious. But do not forget that she is a mental patient, so when people look at her, she imagines that they are scrutinizing her and passing judgement on her. She feels trapped, helpless and vulnerable. Vinod: No, they’re not. Vinod is trying to mediate. Saloma: I want to talk to other people, but very hard. She needs a lot of encouragement to “talk to other people” [slight pause] I’m not mad. because on her own, she finds it “very hard” to do so. Vinod: Of course you’re not mad. Don’t be crazy. Vinod attempts to be encouraging again. He tries hard to [slight pause] Wah, I saw the way the waiter help Saloma work her way back to being comfortable with looked at you just now. I think he’s interested. other people. We notice how weak Saloma is at this point of See lah, I cannot bring you out in public time in the play. She does not dare to look people in their anymore. Everybody wants you. eyes and cannot even speak up for herself in a social setting. She is also absolutely reliant on Vinod. It is entirely 13
  • 14. Vinod’s initiative to “bring her out in public”. Saloma: No. Saloma is skeptical even when Vinod is trying his best to help her overcome her fear. Vinod: Yes. Saloma: Why you disturb me? Saloma feels that Vinod does not take her seriously. Because she cannot overcome her fear of strangers [?], Vinod’s teasing, instead of soothing her nerves, might have produced the opposite effect. Vinod: No lah. Playing only. See, I can make you Vinod does not believe in taking medication. laugh. Three months ago, you couldn’t even say one word. Anyway, laughing is therapeutic. It’s better than taking those pills. Saloma: Must take. If not cannot become well. You Saloma’s reminder is important: She has reminded him time take or not Vinod? and again. Does Vinod take his medication? Vinod: Huh? Yah, yah, I’ll take, I’ll take. Aiyah, what do these psychiatrists know? Anyway, NOTE: Vinod is either stubborn or ignorant: A mental I’m well already. So, no need to take medicine patient does not fully recovered. So he still needs to take all the time. If not my hands will tremble. medication. He cannot claim that he is “well” and so there is Then nobody will talk to me. “no need to take medicine all the time”. Vinod does not take medication, at least, not on a regular basis. He claims that medication gives him side effects – “his hands will tremble”. What is the ultimate reason for Vinod NOT wanting to take his medication? Plausible explanations: • His self-confidence does not allow it because Vinod reasons “with his mind” that he has become better. • His ego does not allow it because he wants to get back to being normal again as quickly as possible. • He misinforms himself because he reads widely and might have probably decided that since different sources of advice may have different ideas on how to best deal with depression, he thinks it might be better for him to do it his own way[?] • He could have been through quite a great deal so perhaps he no longer wishes to listen or obey what the doctors, the psychiatrists, the therapists, the social workers, or even his parents tell him to do. Saloma: I will talk to you. Saloma believes this is what she will do for Vinod as his friend. Vinod: You are different. I’m referring to them. Vinod identifies himself with Saloma but he cares a lot for [points to audience] They see my hands the audience [representing “society”] too. He draws the line tremble, my eyes sleepy sleepy they will avoid to separate himself and Saloma from the members of the me. [to audience] I know you’re a bit audience. However, he still wishes that society would accept uncomfortable with this whole mental illness him. He tells the audience in no uncertain terms that: “I thing. Don’t worry, we won’t act weird or know that you are a bit uncomfortable with mental illness anything. We’re quiet normal actually. In fact but don’t worry, we won’t act weird.” This shows up his I’m just like the person sitting next to you. stance: He is not against the “normal people”. He is angry Ah…now scared already. with normal people but he does not want to be left out by society. He makes a lame attempt to inform society that he is “just like the person sitting next” to any one of them. He makes fun of normal people by teasing the members of the audience. Saloma: My hands also tremble, but I must still take. Saloma takes a rational approach for taking her medication. They don’t like never mind. Because Rose say Saloma does not care about being accepted by society or very important. If not I become sick. Emily otherwise, because she speaks her mind clearly on the need 14
  • 15. also say must take. to take regular medication – the society “don’t like never mind”. Rose and Emily both convince Saloma that having self- discipline to take medication regularly. Vinod: Emily? Dickinson? Vinod teases Saloma. Whether intentionally or otherwise, Vinod exudes knowledgeability. At the same time, we also know that Vinod’s knowledge is limited in some ways even though he claims to be well read. Saloma: Emily Gan. She is my friend. Sometimes she But Saloma never fails to bring him back on his feet. From telephone me, I telephone her. But we never Saloma, we learn about Emily Gan. Emily Gan is a mental go out. She stay at a halfway house because patient who lives in a halfway house because she has been her family go away never tell her. She is very deserted by her family. nice. She can read people’s mind. Saloma is sincere in her introduction of Emily Gan’s special ability to Vinod. She presents what she knows about her friend, simply and matter-of-factly to Vinod. Vinod: Read people’s mind? She’s a siow ting tong or what? Vinod mocks again. Saloma: She is very nice. You are siow ting tong. Saloma defends Emily Gan. Vinod: I am not. I am just ting tong. Vinod teases Saloma. Waiter enters and serves them main dish and Remember: Saloma is very tense here. drinks. Silence. Saloma is very tense. Vinod keeps saying thank you everytime waiter serves something. Waiter leaves. Vinod: [standing up] Here’s a toast! To us! [pause] You must say ‘to us” back. Saloma: To us. They are committed to seeing their friendship grow and development. Vinod: To our future. [motions her to say] They want to have a bright future as well. Saloma: To our future. Vinod: [carried away] TO WOODBRIDGE!! Vinod gets carried away. This is a sign of further problems to come. Everyone stares. Singaporeans are very senstitive to the word, “Woodbridge”. We can tell from here how much stigma is attached to mental patients. Saloma: Vinod! Saloma does not understand why there is a need for Vinod to toast “to Woodbridge”. As far as she is concerned, Woodbridge is taboo. Why does Vinod make light of the name and the subject matter linked to it? Vinod: [to audience] What did I do? Is Vinod genuinely unaware of what he has just done? Or is he simply confrontational? Saloma: Vinod, why you talk to them? They laugh Although Saloma is intellectually less capable than Vinod, because we are mental patient, off centre. she is not ignorant of what others think of mental patients. She is the one who first uses the phrase, “off centre”. Vinod: Off centre? Where did you pick that up from? This is an important question. It is also a symbolic question. This is because the phrase “off centre” is not a phrase which Saloma would have been familiar with. She picks it up from others. We know where she picks it up when she tells us next in her reply to Vinod. Saloma: [points to audience] They. The audience has a symbolic presence in the theatre. They 15
  • 16. represent the society at large. Saloma “points to the audience” - There is no indication that she “looks” at them. From here, we can read from her gesture, her disdain of the members of the public who label her as “off centre”. Since “off centre” is a somewhat sophisticated variant of “xiao ting tong” [Chinese Hokkien] and “gila” [Bahasa Melayu], we may safely say that it does not come from the uneducated segment of the public; its origins” the educated but ignorant members of the public. Why do I say that Saloma’s reply is full of significance? Her rely and her pointing - contains the playwright’s criticism of the educated segment of the Singaporean society. Vinod: [to audience] Did you use that word? [to Why does Vinod turn to the audience to seek clarification? Saloma] No, see, they said no. • He wants to know the truth. • He has faith in the audience  he has faith in society. He wants their acceptance that he and Saloma are still part of the society. • He does not want to believe that the phrase “off centre” is used on Saloma by members of the society. And then very quickly, Vinod turns back to Saloma and informs her that she is wrong about the society. Saloma: OK, not them, but their brother, their sister, Saloma does not face or look at the audience, she simply their children, father, mother, friend. Maybe says that the audience (a part of society) has connections they never say, but they also never scold with other related members of the Singaporean society. people who say. Saloma reveals to us what is so disagreeable and ugly about our society: “Maybe they never say, bu they also never scold people who say”. – THEIR INDIFFERENCE. REMEMBER: Indifference and neglect often do much more harm than outright dislike. To Saloma, the mentally afflicted are the oppressed lot. The larger society is quite an unforgiveable entity. She feels trapped. Vinod: Saloma, we are not off centre. We are very Either Vinod is trying to console Saloma or he is being centre. We are the core. We are right on confrontational here. He tries to challenge the masses, by target, on the dot, the arrow that slices the attempting to stand up against the prejudice of the masses. apple. Saloma: Merepek lah you. But naturally, Saloma take it as Vinod being himself and thinking and talking aloud here - Talk nonsense lah, you. Vinod: Eh, I never merepek. OK, I sometimes merepek. But this time, I’m serious. Saloma: OK, serious, but I still don’t want to talk to Saloma does not want to have anything to do with the them. audience. She does not like them. Vinod: Aiyah!!! Eh, you know, I think my life is Literature: Heart of Darkness is written by Joseph Conrad. finally beginning to take shape. You know just six months ago I was fired. This Mr. Chow Why is Vinod happy tonight? lah. But two months later I found a job. Proof- He has found a new job. He believes that work is “very reading. Work is very important you know. In important”. If we add two and two together, he is trying to Heart of Darkness – 20th century novel – it says say that his new job, proor-reading, is a very important job. that work gives a person reason to live. And I agree!! Do you? Saloma: Huh? Vinod: Do you think work gives a person reason to The profundity of Vinod’s outburst escapes Saloma. live? Vinod gives Saloma some food for thought here: “Do you 16
  • 17. think work gives a person reason to live?” Saloma: My mother say I cannot help her sell the food How does Saloma’s illness affect her relationship with her because if not people won’t buy. Your mother mother? Society does not accept ex-mental patients. Her let you work. Very good. mother thus does not let her help in her food stall. Mak also disallows her from going out to work. Saloma is envious of Vinod because she thinks that it is “very good” that Vinod’s mother let him work. Vinod: Let me work? Aiyah Saloma, my parents are Vinod on his parents – what he is saying here could be hoping I’ll get well tomorrow and then go either really what his parents are or his own abroad to study the next day, graduate on interpretation of his parents’ intentions. It is the first Friday, do my Masters on Saturday and start revelation by Vinod of what his parents want from him. work as Deputy Public Prosecutor on Monday. They’re very concerned, so I can rest on Vinod’s criticism of his parents: They try to run his life Sunday. for him. But at the same time, we have to understand something here: there is nothing wrong with parents “HOPING” that their children would do well in life. Saloma: Vinod, why you never go University? You are Saloma’s question is also the audience’s question. smart. You must go. Vinod: Aiyah, I’m too old to go to NUS. I’m twenty- Vinod at this point of time in the play is 25 years old. Truth five already. Anyway, I don’t like NUS. I is, he is not too old to enrol as a university freshman at 25. went there once after my army and told myself I’m never going back. The people there are so Vinod has strong views against the undergraduates at the competitive, so shallow, no brains, no soul. I NUS campus. But his views are subjective and skewed. think they will all graduate to become experts There is nothing wrong with graduates being competitive. at photostating. His comments smack of intellectual snobbery when he claims that the undergraduates are “so shallow, no brains, no soul. I think they will all graduate to become experts at photostating”. THINK FURTHER: If university undergraduates in Singapore are “so competitive, so shallow, no brains, no soul”, then these people, being the future elites of our society, what good could they bring to Singapore? They are supposed to be the success story of the Singapore education system. But are they really? Is there something wrong with meritocracy and the Singapore education system? But Vinod mocks the university students. He has made his point. But at the same time that he mocks them, is he also fearing them because he seems to realize that he can no longer compete with them on the same footing? Saloma: Vinod scared? Saloma is quite perceptive here. She senses Vinod being fearful. Vinod: Anyway, it’s OK, because I borrow and buy a Dismissal of Saloma’s concern may be seen as a confession lot of books, especially literature. here. Vinod changes the subject. Saloma: I also scared because sometimes I dream a lot This is an interesting piece of information which we should of animals talk to me and I cannot understand. take note. Saloma may be recovering but she is still a mental That day, I dream you talk to the animal. patient. Sometimes Emily also talk to the animal so I not scared. Vinod: Aiyoh, why your dream like Dr. Dolittle? Vinod reads but can he digest his load of reading? Reading a Anyway, eh, working as a proof-reader is lot does not mean he knows “so many things”. verrrrrry boring, but I get to read a lot. I know so many things. Ask me anything. Saloma: Anything? Saloma is skeptical but at the same time, she is also curious. Vinod: Anything. Vinod is an intellectual snob. 17
  • 18. Saloma: Why we are off centre? Saloma asks a very important but down-to-earth question. Why us? Vinod: Ask me another one…no, there is an answer. Vinod does not have the answer to Saloma’s question. He You see when we are on the conveyor belt in has the slightest clue. babyland, God gives us something special… blind, AIDS, hole-in-heart, short-sighted, Vinod’s first outburst against God. He is so angry that the schizophrenia, depression…actually, He’s not humour becomes lost in the analogy that he has painted. there standing at the conveyor belt. That’s too God seems so real because He is so careless and flawed. He tiring. His administrative assistant does it. seems so irresponsible that He deserves a severe spanking God works from His aircon room. And that’s for reproducing faulty offsprings. where He decides. And it’s not easy. But He does it well. And you know what I think? [whispers] I think it’s His admin assistant Vinod gets carried away. His dreams are bigger than the that’s corrupted…anyhow change, change. I realities of life. was supposed to be given a good voice…be a top singer. Instead He gave me a mental illness. Yours also is a mistake. You were supposed to be a doctor. Saloma: I don’t want to be a doctor. Scared of blood. I Saloma’s self-image is a small bird. supposed to be a bird. Diners laugh. Saloma reacts. The image of the bird is so UNEXPECTED. Vinod: Bird? Then I was supposed to be a statue. A Allusion to Ocar Wilde’s fairytale story of the Happy Prince. gold statue! Then when you are tired of flying Vinod feels like a protector. Vinod may be delusional but he around, you can rest on my shoulder. My is sincere to Saloma. He really wants to protect her. He is shoulders will be very big, like Arnold Arnold Schwarzenegger – the exterminator, the Robocop – Schwarzenegger. Then you can sing to me. the perfect protector. Laughter. Vinod: Yah, yah, you’re right. Then you don’t sing… Vinod wishes that Saloma only sing for him. you only sing to me. When you are on my shoulder… Saloma: [sad] But I will die. You cannot die. I want to Here is a hint: Saloma wants to be become independent and become statue. Very strong. strong someday. Vinod: Two statues…cannot. Who’s going to sing for Ominous statement here: Vinod is a far stronger character at us, who’s going to even care about us? We this point of time in the play. Only he can become the statue might as well be dead. and Saloma is to be the bird she is supposed to be contented with. Saloma Saloma was confused. Why must they both Saloma wants to be a statue, just like like Vinod. She does [Narrator]: die? not know why Vinod does not wish her to be a statue too. If a bird is weak and a statue is strong, why doesn’t Vinod want her to become a statue too? Saloma: No, no. We both become bird. Yah, both Saloma is willing to compromise by changing the script. She become bird. wishes both of them become “bird”. Vinod: No, we can’t. What if one of us gets caught A repetition here. It is quite clear that the relationship, if it is and forced to spend the rest of our lives at an going to be sustainable, will have to be an unequal one: one HDB void deck in a cage and forced to sing between the protector and the protected. and stop whenever the people feel like it? Cannot, cannot, cannot. Laughter. Saloma: Then how? Then how? We must…we must Vinod confuses Saloma. find something. We can change, I can become…can become…what? Vinod? Why We can only toast to our future but it is a very difficult thing they are laughing? Why? I want to become for us to make sense of it and also be decisive about it. something else. Can become what? Can become rain? Can become fire? Yah, fire. Saloma is very confused. Again, she withdraws inwards and No, fire will burn house. Can become what? decides to “go home”. Whenever she senses confusion, What Vinod? What? [pause] Vinod…we… difficulties or discomfort, her first reaction is “I want to go we… we cannot become anything. I .. I want home”. to go home. I want to go home. 18
  • 19. Vinod: Saloma it’s OK. We’re just talking nonsense. Vinod has gone overboard here. Vinod No, Vinod, you were talking nonsense. Deep down Vinod can sense that he is the one playing [Narrator]: Everything is a game, right? A joke? with Saloma’s thoughts and feelings. Vinod knows that he has frightened Saloma. An inner warning here for Vinod. Saloma: I want to go home. Saloma is traumatized by her experience at the restaurant iwht Vinod. Vinod: It’s alright Saloma. Saloma: Why they all here? Why they all laughing? As this is a highly emotional scene, the audience are bound Why they laugh at us? Why- to have responded with gasps of “wows” and “wahs’. Saloma hears these voices – either real or imagined. It does not matter to her because they are both the same to her. Vinod: -Saloma. Saloma: They talk about me. I can hear. They say I am Saloma is afraid and deeply confused. mad. They say you are a stupid mad girl. Shameful. My hands. Vinod, my hands. Why my hands like that? Why I cannot become bird? Why you cannot become statue? Bird won’t die right? Bird won’t die… Vinod: We’ll go back, OK? I’ll bring you home. Don’t worry, Saloma, don’t worry. Saloma: Tell them Vinod, tell them… don’t talk about Saloma is quite unsteady at this point of time. me…don’t say all the bad things. Vinod: OK, OK. [to audience] Stop it. Stop talking about her. [to Saloma] See, they’ve stopped. Stop already Saloma… Saloma: I never do. I never do anything. Azman… Whatever Saloma hears, she only hears dispproval and Azman is my neighbour. I never do anything. unpleasant things from the public / society. Mak, Saloma tak buat apa apa. Mak, jangan mak… Azman is the neighbour who approaches Saloma and tries to get physical with her when Saloma’s mother is away. This comment is made based on the account portrayed by Saloma to the audience. Is Azman the man who caused her “off centredness” or is he merely a trigger? Saloma Saloma! Saloma! The narrator tries to wake Saloma up from her struggles. [Narrator]: Vinod: It’s OK. It’s OK. Saloma: No, no, I don’t want to jump. I don’t want…I Saloma very obvious has had enough all the accusations am good. I never do. Don’t talk to me. Don’t hurled at her with regard to the unfortunate Azman incident. talk. I don’t want to hear. Why you disturb She is still suffering from it. This is a post-traumatic me? I don’t want. OK, OK, I will beat. [she experience. starts hitting herself on the head and body] I will beat. Vinod goes to stop her. Saloma: Jangan, jangan. Mak! Mak! Jangan. I don’t Quite obviously the unfortunate encounter with Azman want. Azman, I don’t want. Don’t touch me. I comes back to haunt her and she is forced to fight it. don’t want. Go back. My mother not home. I don’t want. My mother not home. Saloma loses self-control and Vinod is trying to contain her. Vinod: Saloma, it’s me, Vinod. Vinod. VINOD! Pause. Silence. Saloma: Vinod. 19
  • 20. Vinod: Yes, it’s me. Vinod. Pause. Saloma: Vinod. I must pray. My mother say I must Does Saloma believe in God? pray. Got devil inside my body. People don’t How influential is Mak to Saloma? Very influential  like me. Where is my God? My mother says I must pray. Mak is both religious and superstitious. Saloma Saloma is falling. Saloma needs religious support. [Narrator]: Vinod Vinod was pushing her. [Narrator]: Vinod: In the sky? It doesn’t matter, Saloma. God… Vinod’s outburst against God. God is not important. I’ll take care of you, OK? I am the statue remember? You can rest on my shoulder? God where got Arnold Vinod’s blasphemy against God. Schwarzenegger shoulder? And, and you can sing to me. You sing to God also no use. Vinod’s cynical attitude towards God and religion. Don’t know also whether He bothers to listen. He’s too busy lah Saloma…in the aircon room. He’s too busy. You cannot disturb people who are too busy. These people here are also very busy. You cannot disturb them. They have no time. Saloma: Why? Vinod: Because they are very busy… Vinod holds a preconceived notion with regards to what he can or cannot expect from other people. Saloma: Doing what? Vinod: Er…[gives audience a ‘help me with this’ look] Although humorous, it is nevertheless skepticism behind er… busy working…busy watching TV…er… everything that Vinod is saying here to Saloma. busy talking on the phone, busy…er… shopping, busy doing a lot of things. So cannot disturb. Vinod Vinod needed help. But they were laughing. The audience does not help / does not know how to help [Narrator]: Would they help? Vinod. Saloma: Why they come here? Saloma does not understand why the audience is here to oogle at her. Vinod: Er… they want to watch us sing and dance. Vinod keeps up with the encouragement because that is all he can do now, having run out of his wits and all. Saloma: They want to dance…they press button, we Saloma loses control of herself despite waking up from her dance, they press button we sing. OK, I sing, I traumatic experience. She surrenders herself to the scrutiny dance. [she sings and dances stupidly] See I of the audience. sing, I can dance, I can do anything. Vinod: No, no, Saloma… Saloma: I can do anything. Right? I can do anything. Where does Saloma get this idea of seeking refugee and They can put me inside the cage and put me at solace in a cage? the void deck. Does her dependence on her mother make her see life as either you are INSIDE or OUTSIDE the cage? Vinod: No, Saloma, they are not like that. They are Vinod tries in vain to contain Saloma. nice. Trust me. They are nice. Saloma: Nice. 20
  • 21. Vinod: Yah. Pause. Saloma: I want to close my eyes. Vinod: Do you want to sleep? Saloma: No, I want to close my eyes. Vinod: Do you want me to close my eyes as well? Saloma: If you want to close, close. Vinod: Er…OK, I’ll close. They both close their eyes. Vinod: Er…what are you thinking of? Saloma: Nothing. Vinod: Nothing? Saloma: Yah. Vinod: I can’t think of nothing. Can I think of something? Saloma: Can. Vinod: Anything? Saloma: Anything. Vinod: Anything at all? Books, work, family, Vinod’s list of things betrays his family background and literature… the things which hold dear to him. Saloma: Cannot talk. Vinod: Oh. Saloma: Think of music. Vinod: What music? Saloma: Class 95 FM. Vinod: What song? Saloma: Any song. Pause. Vinod: What song did you think of? Saloma: From a Distance. You? From a Distance by Bette Midler From a distance the world looks blue and green, And the snow-capped mountains white. From a distance the ocean meets the stream, And the eagle takes to flight. From a distance, there is harmony, And it echoes through the land. Its the voice of hope, its the voice of peace, Its the voice of every man. 21
  • 22. From a distance we all have enough, And no one is in need. And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease, No hungry mouths to feed. From a distance we are instruments Marching in a common band. Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace. Theyre the songs of every man. God is watching us. God is watching us. God is watching us from a distance. From a distance you look like my friend, Even though we are at war. From a distance I just cannot comprehend What all this fighting is for. From a distance there is harmony, And it echoes through the land. And its the hope of hopes, its the love of loves, Its the heart of every man. Its the hope of hopes, its the love of loves. This is the song of every man. And God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us from a distance. Oh, God is watching us, God is watching. God is watching us from a distance. Vinod: Humping Around. Humping Around by Bobby Brown When you trust someone and You know you're on their back You ain't got no Trusting about you And you claim that you Don't care what where I'm at You've given me reason To doubt you Say you trust someone Why you calling all around Think I've got some Dip on the side Girl, you don't trust no one And you're constantly in doubt You lose the game If you play that way Get up off my back Save a heart attack Ain't nobody humping around No matter what they say No, it ain't that way Ain't nobody humping around Come on, dance When you love someone and You want to love them right Got to get more Loving about you When you know that You're holding on too tight Soon they will be Leaving without you Say that you love someone 22
  • 23. Why you calling all my friends Thinking I've got Something to hide Girl, you don't love no one You don't know what love's about You lose the game if you If you play that way Girl, if you trust someone You don't call on everybody Ain't nobody fooling around And the more I think about it You lose all your clout and You lose the game, baby If you play that way When you love someone and You want to love them right Got to get more Loving about you When you know that You're holding on too tight Soon they will be Leaving without you Say that you love someone Why you calling all my friends Thinking I've got Something to hide Girl, you don't love no one You don't know what love's about You lose the game if you If you play that way My name is Brown That's what I'm called So don't try to step to me Wrong or you'll fall slow Cause I just Wanna kick soul to you Maybe, baby, take control of you Just like I told you I wanna roll on The tip that's moving Able to make you move and groove And leave you like Ooh, when I touch you Give you so much of the feeling Of the deck that I'm dealing When I rub you up and down Yo, Stylz, kick it Well, I know it's been awhile Since you heard a change in our style So what I've come to do is Kick you something fly and new A change, different From the typical A bit more than regular but Not like the other's original Cause originality and creativity 23
  • 24. Add it up together Equals the B.B.B. posse Yeah, we're in the house Yo, kick it! Girl, you said you love me And you said you trust me Why do you think I'm fooling around I can't stand the pressure You know I'm yours forever Ain't nobody, nobody Nobody humping around Throw your hands in the air Come on, come on Saloma: Class 95 FM not Perfect 10! Vinod: OK, OK, I’ll try again. Pause. Vinod: OK, what song? Saloma: I’ll Always Love You. You? I’ll Always Love You by Whitney Houston If I should stay, I would only be in your way. So I'll go, but I know I'll think of you ev'ry step of the way. And I will always love you. I will always love you. You, my darling you. Hmm. Bittersweet memories that is all I'm taking with me. So, goodbye. Please, don't cry. We both know I'm not what you, you need. And I will always love you. I will always love you. I hope life treats you kind And I hope you have all you've dreamed of. And I wish to you, joy and happiness. But above all this, I wish you love. And I will always love you. I will always love you. I will always love you. I will always love you. I will always love you. I, I will always love you. You, darling, I love you. Ooh, I'll always, I'll always love you. Vinod: Whole New World. Try again. Whole New World (Aladdin) I can show you the world Shining, shimmering, splendid Tell me, princess, now when did You last let your heart decide? I can open your eyes Take you wonder by wonder Over, sideways and under On a magic carpet ride 24
  • 25. A whole new world A new fantastic point of view No one to tell us no Or where to go Or say we're only dreaming A whole new world A dazzling place I never knew But when I'm way up here It's crystal clear That now I'm in a whole new world with you Now I'm in a whole new world with you Unbelievable sights Indescribable feeling Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling Through an endless diamond sky A whole new world Don't you dare close your eyes A hundred thousand things to see Hold your breath - it gets better I'm like a shooting star I've come so far I can't go back to where I used to be A whole new world Every turn a surprise With new horizons to pursue Every moment red-letter I'll chase them anywhere There's time to spare Let me share this whole new world with you A whole new world That's where we'll be A thrilling chase A wondrous place For you and me Pause. Vinod: OK, what song? Saloma: Somewhere Out There. You? Somewhere Out There (An American Tail) Somewhere out there, Beneath the pale moonlight, Someone's thinking of me, And loving me tonight. Somewhere out there, Someone's saying a prayer, That we'll find one another, In that big somewhere out there. And even though I know how very far apart we are, It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star, And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby, It helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky! Somewhere out there, If love can see us through, Then we'll be together, Somewhere out there, Out where dreams Come true... Vinod: Beauty and the Beast. Try again. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) Tale as old as time True as it can be 25
  • 26. Barely even friends Then somebody bends Unexpectedly Just a little change Small to say the least Both a little scared Neither one prepared Beauty and the Beast Ever just the same Ever a surprise Ever as before Ever just as sure As the sun will rise Tale as old as time Tune as old as song Bittersweet and strange Finding you can change Learning you were wrong Certain as the sun Rising in the east Tale as old as time Song as old as rhyme Beauty and the Beast Tale as old as time Song as old as rhyme Beauty and the Beast Pause. Song is softly played [If I Could by If I Could by Ray Charles Ray Charles] If I could I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes Give you courage in a world of compromise Yes, I would If I could I would teach you all the things I've never learned And I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned Yes, I would If I could I would try to shield your innocence from time But the part of life I gave you isn't mine I've watched you grow, so I could let you go If I could I would help you make it through the hungry years But I know that I could never cry your tears But I would If I could Yes, If I live In a time and place where you don't want to be You don't have to walk along this road with me My yesterday won't have to be your way If I knew I would try to change the world I brought you to And there isn't very much that I could do But I would If I could Oh baby Daddy wants to protect you And help my baby through the hungriest 'Cause your part of me And if you ever ever need Said a shoulder to cry on Or just someone to talk to I'll be there, I'll be there 26
  • 27. I didn't change your world But I would if I could Oh darling, I love you baby. Vinod: OK, what song? Song becomes louder. They both open their eyes and smile. They get up. Still smiling, they part. They go to their rooms. The song is still playing. Vinod is lip-synching. Saloma is dancing. Act One / Scene 4 Textbook Pagination Guide: Later that day. Saloma’s Room. Act One Mak enters. She goes straight to switch off the Sc. 4 - 37 – 41 radio. Music ends suddenly. Lights cut on Vinod’s room. Mak is carrying coal incense, with smoke. Saloma: Saloma! Kau gila ke? You’re mad, is it? Saloma goes to take her medicine. Mak: Saloma, kau buat apa tu? What are you doing? About MAK: She is “oppositional” but it does not mean that she is entirely negative. The playwright, Haresh Sharma has this to say about MAK: “We recognize her, know where she is coming from, as far as her daughter’s well-being is concerned. She wants to help her daughter but does not know how, as such helps ‘wrongly’”. She tells Saloma to stay at home and rest. She does not want Saloma to take regulat medication. She thinks that those are the best ways to help her daughter. She wonders what ‘curse’ has been put on her for her husband to be taken away from her, for her daughter to be ill and so on. While she is religious, she is also rather superstitious. Mak is a strong influence on Saloma and tried to take care of her daughter. However, there are also problems and she feels the STIGMA of her daughter’s illness sharply as she tries to live a “normal” life. Unlike Vinod’s parents who are NEVER PRESENT on the stage, MAK has made a considerable impression with her struggles as a mother and primary caretaker of a daughter with a mental illness. 1. How would you describe MAK? 2. How does Mak cope or try to do with her daughter’s illness? 3. Why does Mak resist when Saloma wants to go out and work? 4. Why does Mak “only know how to smile”? What is at stake for this character? 5. Why doesn’t Mak want Saloma to take her medicine? Saloma: Nak makan ubat. I eat medicine. Mak: Makan ubat! You better not eat that. You Eat medicine! understand or not? You eat the medicine you become worse. Saloma: Doctor say must eat. Saloma is rather patient with her mother. She has probably 27
  • 28. been saying this to her mother many times previously. Mak: Doctor say. Doctor suruh terjun pun terjun. Doctor aks you to jump also you will jump. Hah? Doctor say put your head inside jamban also you will put. Dengar cakap mak ni. Jamban = toilet Jangan makan ubat. You should listen to Ma. Don’t take the medicine. Saloma: Ubat bagus. Medicine is good. Mak: Bagus apa? What good? Saloma: Bagus badan. Doctor say Saloma got chemical Good for body. imbalance. Mak: Oh, dah pandai. Chemical. Chemical tu semua Oh, you’re now clever. What is chemical? All nonsense. apa? Huh? What is that? Semua merepek. Doctor bluff about chemical. Doctor bedek cakap chemical. You are lazy. Last time you not like this. Hah? Remember? Last time when you small? If last time you listen to me, listen to your teacher, study…then now, everything OK. Saloma: Doctor say – Mak: -I don’t want to hear doctor doctor. Mak is also quite a hardened character. Saloma: Saloma sick. Mak: You are not sick. You are not sick and you are You remember that. Enough! Don’t be stubborn. Listen to not mad OK? Kau ingat tu. Dah! Jangan me. We bless the house with incense ok? Hear that? It’s degil. Hah? Dengar cakap Mak ni. Keep all near prayer time. that. Keep, keep, keep. [Saloma keeps] Ah, see, good. OK, Saloma, today is Friday. Today what we do? Asap rumah kan? See, I put that there OK? Dengar tak? Nak dekat Azan. Saloma: Mak, Saloma nak kerja. Ma, Saloma wants to work. Mak: No. I tell you already. You cannot work. Last According Mak, this is the history of Saloma’s mental time, you three month stay inside Woodbridge. illness: Six month stay inside halfway house. You 3 months – Woodbridge come out, six month work. Still the same. 6 months – Halfway house Don’t work better. Stay at home. 6 months – work Still Saloma has not recovered. Saloma: I want to work. Rose also say. Rose is Saloma’s social worker. Mak: Rose, doctor, doctor, Rose! Then me? Hah? Mak is upset that Saloma does not obey her. Mak challenges Your mother no use. Can throw away. Buang Saloma to “throw [her/ her advice] into the drain”. dalam longkang. Saloma: But I like. Saloma does not push her agenda aggressively but at least, she is firm and tenacious. Mak: Why? I cannot find food. You just stay here. Relax at home. Relax kat rumah ni. Where you can find mother like me? Hah? Ask you stay at home. We know that Mak cares for her daughter and wants to No worry, no stress. Already outside got so protect her. She wants to contain Saloma within the confines much stress. People complain. And you? of the four walls and keep Saloma away from society. What Want to work. No, you just rest. Rest…rest. she does not seem to realize is that, should she succeed, then Saloma would have been deprived of the possibility of leading a “normal” life. Saloma: Rest. Mak: Saloma ingat tak? Remember last time you You wore the baju kurong. like to sing that song. Your hair long. Pakai 28
  • 29. baju kurung dengan mini telekong. [she sings] Remember? Saloma: Yah. Mak: Come, sing with me. [she sings, no response Look. All bones. from Saloma] Come, sing…[no response] Why listen to this rock music? Come…[pause] Be careful Saloma. You are weak. Tengkok lah. Tulang aja. People put The way Mak talks about other people  she has very little curse on you also you cannot fight. I tell good to say about other people. It is no wonder that Saloma you. You listen to radio, listen properly. becomes suspicious of “other people”. Kenapa dengar rock rock music ni? Saloma: Bukan rock. Mak: Last time you never hear this type of song. Remember? Enough. In a while, it will be prayer time. Ingat tak? Dah. Kejap lagi nak Azan. Saloma: Azman. Why does Saloma think of “AZMAN” here? Mak: Azan!!! Why you say that name? Hah? Why Saloma? WHY?!! Kenapa ni Saloma? Saloma: You angry. Mak: I am not angry. I talk, you don’t want to listen. What else do you want? Why? Why Saloma? Apa lagi Saloma nak? You think very easy? Your father die when You don’t pity me is it? you very small. You think I take money from people? Never, I never take. Try to think a Enough. Prayers. little bit. Think about me. You don’t have father like other people. Kau tak kasihan kan Mak is tired. Caregivers are often the neglected lot. mak ke? [prayer readings end. Azan music comes on] Dah Azan. [pause] You father die already. But you not yet die. I not yet die. [pause] So many months you never pray. You want to pray? [slight pause] If don’t want never mind. Saloma: I want. Mak: You want. You pray because you want. You are ready? Saloma: Yah. Mak: You take that [points to incense] and bring I have not finished blessing the house. around the house. Mak belum habis asapkan rumah. Then you go and wash. Today you start. We pray. OK? Today we pray. Class 95 music comes on [can be a continuation from earlier song]. Lights cross fade to Vinod. He is lip-synching, dancing. Pause. Lights come up on Saloma and Mak. They are in prayer garb. After a while, music ends. Lights fade. Act Two/ Scene 1 Textbook Pagination Guide: Past. NUS Arts Faculty. Act Two Lights come up on people walking to and fro. Sc. 1 – 44 – 53 Vinod enters. He is very hesitant and Sc. 2 – 54 – 62 intimidated. Sc. 3 – 63 – 76 Sc. 4 – 77 – 79 Vinod: Hi! I was wondering – Don’t forget that the stage directions say that “Vinod is 29
  • 30. VERY hesitant and intimidated.” The question we will have to ask ourselves here is: WHY? There are many reasons why VINOD shouldn’t be: [1] He is entering a realm which he is FAMILIAR with - The National University of Singapore - an institution of learning. [2] He is always an achiever in the realm of education. [3] He excels in his co-curricular activities too. [4] He has done really well to qualifty for a place in NUS. So, why is Vinod, “VERY hesitant and intimidated”. REMEMBER: We have to get back to VINOD’s fall from grace as an ace achiever in the educational rat race. THIS IS BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN IN DEPRESSION AND HE, IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, IS FORCED TO RELOOK HIS LIFE BY THE TURNS OF EVENTS WHICH COME AT HIM. IT IS THIS TURN OF CIRCUMSTANCES which has probably changed the way he looks at his “past excellence in academic and co-curricular achievements and “familiar settings” and “the promising future after his graduation”. SO: Could this be an explanation why he is REENTERING this familiar realm of a school (university is also a school basically) feeling “very hesitant and intimidated”? Can he keep up with the rest of his fellow undergraduates? Can he cope with the rigour of the demanding curriculum? Will his friends accept him? Can he put aside what he has been through and pretend that nothing traumatic has actually happened to him? Student - Er, sorry, I have to rush. There’s a queue. Students at the university have to rush. They are always One: queuing up for something. This rushing and queuing is symptomatic not only of student life at the university, it isalso symptomatic of our society. Vinod: Queue ah? For which [Student One walks out] The competitive rat race and the memory of it return to subject? Vinod. Vinod looks around at the notice boards. Vinod: Hi! Student Hi. Two: Vinod: I’m new here. Student So am I. Do you know where LT 9 is? There is always no time to stop and have a decent Two: conversation. Vinod: No. Charlie enters. Vinod: Excuse me… Charlie: Vinod? Charlie and Denise – “normal” young people, Vinod’s old friends, are sharply criticized in the play, through the scene with Charlie and Denise. Following his breakdown, Vinod’s school friends abandon him and drop out of contact. By 30
  • 31. chance he runs into some of his old friends as he tries to enrol at NUS. What follows is a scene showing the depth of Vinod’s sense of isolation and the prejudices his so-called “friends” harbour about him and his mental illness. Vinod: Charlie? Charlie: Yah! It’s you right? I thought…[stops Charlie is extremely surprised to see Vinod. He must himself] have heard about something bad which has happened to Vinod. Vinod: What? Charlie: No, nothing. [slight pause] So what are you Charlie is at a loss because he struggles to find things to doing here? [aside] Shit. say to Vinod. When he blares out “so what are you doing here?”, he feels that he has just said the wrong thing to Vinod. Vinod: I’m going to Arts. Charlie: Yah, your literature is always tops. Don’t From Charlie, we get a glimpse of what Vinod was like know how you do it. I still have your essays when he was a JC student. the others always photostat. Vinod: Is it? Charlie: Yah. There’s one poetry essay. That really Thomas Hardy: helped me for the A’s. Hardy, Keats, Yeats. 1840 – 1928 John Keats: 1795 - 1821 Vinod: Yeats. William Butler Yeats: 1865 – 1939 Charlie: Yah. Remember? Turning and turning in the Gyre = a circular movement or turn / a revolution widening gyre. The falcon…er… Vinod: Turning and turning in the widening gyre. Vinod in his element. The falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The complete poem is reproduced for reference below: THE SECOND COMING By William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand; A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 31
  • 32. Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? Charlie: Yah! [pause] You’re OK, right? Charlie is sincere but quite obviously does not know how to reconnect with Vinod. Vinod: Yah, of course. Why? Do I not look OK? Vinod becomes guarded when attention is directed back at him. Charlie: No, no. I didn’t mean that. I mean…you look Charlie does not know what to say to Vinod. fine. Vinod: Yah. Charlie: Yah, I didn’t mean anything. I’m sorry. Vinod’s attitude makes Charlie feel awkward. Vinod: You don’t have to apologise. Charlie: Yah. I’m sorry. [slight pause] So! Have you Charlie tries to shift the conversation to focus on kept in touch with anyone? somebody else. Vinod: No, not really. Two things here: It may be because Vinod does not have any real friends to turn to or he chooses to turn away from his friends altogether. Undeniably, there is the issue of personal pride. Will his friends see him differently? How much do they know? What have they been saying behind his back? So on and so forth. Charlie: I thought you were quite close to…what’s his Who is Johnson? name…Johnson. Vinod: I called him quite a few times but always not Johnson has never appeared in person in the play at all. We in. Busy I guess. catch a tiny glimpse of Vinod’s social life from this exchange at the mere mention of Johnson. Johnson has to be a close pal since Vinod tells Charlie that he has “called him quite a few times”. Charlie: Yah, these days…can’t find the time to do Charlie is surprised to see Vinod in person at the university anything. Especially today. Have to register campus but at least we know that he is trying to make an for this and that…go to the admin…a lot of effort to things… [1] hide his awkwardness [2] find suitable and innocuous topics which direct at himself, not at Vinod to talk about. Vinod: So, you have to go? Charlie: No, no. I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. I was Charlie is caught between going and staying. We don’t just saying that - know how close he has been previously with Vinod but most certainly, if we recall that Vinod used to be the elite student – winning awards for his academic and CCA achievements, he is likely to have an exclusive (or select) group of friends at school. So we can safely infer that Charlie is not “that unfamiliar” with Vinod. He knows enough of Vinod’s descent into depression but not motivated enough to want to find out why and what has happened then to Vinod. He certainly does not take any initiative to go seek Vinod out. Vinod: -It’s OK, Charlie. I understand. Is Vinod really calm and collected about Charlie’s loss for words? It is not difficult for us to see that it is fairly easy for Vinod to have read Charlie’s thoughts because Vinod is 32
  • 33. highly sensitized by now as to how people who know him from before think about his changed condition and judge him. Charlie: I’m sorry – What exactly is Charlie “sorry” for? Vinod: I understand. You don’t - What exactly does Vinod “understand”? Charlie: - I’m really sorry – Vinod: STOP APOLOGISING!!! [soft] Stop VINOD IS ANGRY FOR SEVERAL PLAUSIBLE apologizing. REASONS: Vinod has to be wondering why his old “friends”, including Charlie, are finding it so difficult even to stop, talk and hold a decent conversation with him. He wants to reconnect - his experience with Charlie here is symbolic – a mental patient seeking to reconnect with his old ways - to continue with a disrupted journey – it is going to be an uphill task. The link has been broken. He senses that Charlie is being overly considerate and civil towards him. [Even though we can tell that Charlie is not being condescending here; he is actually being nice and considerate.] Vinod is also angry here because he does not want to be the object of embarrassment. Why is Charlie derferring to him? Why can’t Charlie be himself? Denise enters. Denise: Hey Charlie, so kiasu, go and talk to – She sees it is Vinod. Denise: -Oh…hi! Er…Vinod right? Denise is also just as surprised as Charlie to see Vinod at NUS. Vinod: We were in the same class for two years Denise. Denise: Oh, yah. So, what are you doing here? Charlie: Denise, he’s going to Arts. Denise: Arts? I’m in Arts. Er… how exciting. What combination are you taking? Vinod: I’m not sure yet. I’m not even sure I’m going in. Denise: Oh. Is that what they recommended? They Denise is just being frank and honest about what she might be right, you know. You mustn’t stress knows of Vinod and his condition. yourself. Vinod: Denise, why do you keep looking at my watch? Is Vinod upset that he is not getting the full attention You want to know the time is it? from Denise? Denise: Er, no… Vinod: No more stitches. But still got scar. Want to Vinod is attempting to mock Denise. see? [pushes his hand in front of her] See can actually count the - Denise: No, no, it’s OK. I had stitches before. When I had my wisdom tooth removed. 33
  • 34. Vinod: Oh, poor thing. Does it still hurt? Denise: No, no, that was two years – Are you still debating? Vinod: Debate? Where? In Woodbridge is it? Mental Vinod is losing self-control here. Are the mentally ill illness is the direct result of a stressful really the true geniuses of society? education system. Proposition, Woodbridge Hospital. Opposition, Blah-JC. Or, or, the mentally ill are the true geniuses of society. Proposition…[slight pause] I’m sorry. Denise: No, no, we understand. Ha! Ha! You always REMEMBER: Denise tells us that Vinod “always had a had a good sense of humour. Right? Right? good sense of humour”. Vinod: I’m sure you have to go off. Denise: Yes. Charlie: No. Between Denise and Charlie, who do you think is the more tactful one? Assuming if they are speaking the truth. Charlie: Why don’t you go first? Denise: Er, yah, I’ve got a lecture. Philosophy. Er… are you doing philo… you know…if you decide to come here? Vinod: I love Philosophy. I think I’ll come to Arts just Vinod is taunting Denise because he senses Denise’s to take Philosophy. And you will be in third insincerity and fear of him. year right? I can get notes from you. You can be my tutor. We’ll spend everyday together… just like the old times. Isn’t that wonderful? Denise: Er…ha ha…yah. Pause. Vinod: [to Denise softly] Boo! Denise screams. Charlie laughs. Denise: Vinod, you’re really… She walks away. Charlie: OK, you made your point. [pausse] What happened? I heard all these stories. Vinod: What stories? [no reply] Charlie? Charlie: That you were possessed. That you owed This is what the rumour mill says of Vinod and his money lenders a lot of money or wanted to get dropping out of the school scene. out of the army… so you tried to commit suicide. Vinod: That’s all? Come on, you can do better than This is the one and only time that Vinod speaks up in that. What about someone put a curse on me: defence of his parents. But then again, it is also in What about my parents are also mad and it’s defence of himself against the rumour mongers. genetics right? What about- Charlie: -Vinod, give me a break OK – Vinod: -Give YOU a break? Give YOU a break? Vinod is unfair to Charlie. What does he expect Charlie Great Charlie, great! I bloody had to spend to do? Charlie is merely an ex-classmate and a friend. two months in the bloody Woodbridge What does he expect from him? Hospital and you want a break. Charlie: What do you want me to do? Tell me. You Everybody has his or her problems – normal people or want me to call you? How do I know whether mental patients. What Vinod needs is care, concern and 34
  • 35. you want a call from me? Or anyone of us? attention from his loved ones – his parents and friends. He Visit you? At home? At Woodbridge? And seems to have lost touch with his parents and his friends ever now I meet you and you look great. Really! since he becomes depressive. We must understand the And everything I say seems to be wrong. God. source of his resentment. Nobody actually takes the trouble Vinod, what? to find out what has actually happened to him. Vinod: Well, it would have helped if some of my Vinod is lonely and he needs his friends to be with him. friends called once in a while…if ONE of my Quite obviously, in his experience, his “friends” have all friends called. Johnson tells his family he’s not failed him when he has needed them most. in whenever I call. I know. Charlie: Johnson’s not like that. Vinod: Really? Is Denise like that? Bloody third year. Vinod gets abusive. Charlie: People just don’t know. Charlie makes a general statement here. But if we put things in perspective, we will realize that it is a fair comment. Vinod: What is there not to know? Don’t know what? This is rather uncalled for because unless one has a Huh? Don’t know how to talk? Don’t know relative or a friend who is afflicted with mental illness, how to say “Hi! Hi Buddy, hi friend”. very few people would have much knowledge with regard to such illnesses. So what Charlie says is quite relevant. Charlie: All this is so new. Why can’t things just be the Charlie does not think too hard. He just wants to get same? back to life and if possible, let things “just be the same”. Vinod: Things are not the same. Things can never be Is this comment true or false? We do not know exactly the same. No one is ever going to let me what happened to him in the recent past but does Vinod’s forget. No one. comment have any truth? What can we say about the feelings which is harbouring within Vinod? What has hardened him to lose hope on his friends? Charlie: But what was it? Was it the training? What is the cause of Vinod’s depression? Vinod: I don’t know. I wish I did. And all these Vinod needs an answer. He is befuddled by the mystery psychiatrists …”it’s multi-factorial”. Of which enshrouds his condition. He wants an answer course I know it’s bloody multi-factorial. But probably because before this happens, everything else in what percentage? How was the balance has an answer; life was definitely less complicated then. tipped? Charlie: But do you feel better now? It’s been what? So from Charlie we know that Vinod has been in his Two and a half years? present state for “two and a half years”. Vinod: Yah…when I was in BMT. See, I don’t mind Vinod finally comes clean with Charlie. It is not difficult talking about it, you know. I really don’t mind. to tell that Vinod has a strong personality even before he But I don’t want this “what are you doing here” breaks down mentally. He dictates, even now. It is easy shit OK? I don’t want this bloody “oh, it’s for observers to take note of this because it is always you. You’re alive”. easier to take note from the outside. Charlie: We don’t mean that. [pause] It’ll get better right? When you come in. it’ll be better. Vinod: You mean if. Charlie: I thought – Vinod: - Yah, but maybe this is a sign. Two steps into To be fair, we the readers should know that how Vinod is NUS and I already feel like shit. No, maybe feeling and talking about here has absolutely nothing to I’ll wait for a few years, until people don’t do with NUS. know who I am anymore. Charlie: Vinod. Vinod: It was really nice seeing you again. I mean it. You’re a nice guy. 35
  • 36. Charlie: Why don’t you – Vinod: Go, Charlie. The queue for the subjects must In NUS, and especially the Arts Faculty, the first year be a mile long by now. students will have to queue to sign up for their major and minor subjects which they wish to read, right at the beginning of the semestral year. The places are limited but the intake keeps on increasing. So undergraduates are resigned to queuing and sometimes, the waiting can take hours. Charlie: Maybe if – Vinod: -Go. [slight pause] Please. Go. Charlie: I’ll talk to you again soon. Take care alright? [ no reply] Alright? Vinod: Yah. Charlie exits. Pause. Vinod looks around. Vinod: Excuse me – Student - Sorry, I’m late for a lecture. Three: Student Three exits. Vinod: Excuse – Oh it’s you again. Student Yah, I still haven’t found LT 9. Do you know Two: where it is? Vinod: LT 9? Did you say LT 9? Student Yah. Two: Vinod: Forget LT9. Forget LT 10. Forget LT 11. Vinod’s self-destructive mood takes control of him. Who needs NUS? Who needs the Singapore education system? Life is too precious. Go to In the following poem, the words emphasize the delicate the beach. Go for a swim. Get your own balance between the destructive and the creative forces books. Teach yourself. Make a difference. that shape human existence. Fight against the system. Don’t succumb. Don’t be yet another one of thousands of For Everything There is a Season… moronic graduates. For everything there is a season, and A time for every matter under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and A time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to seek, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 2 While we find Vinod’s comments “exciting”, “long overdue” and “brave” and “how right he is!”, we also know that he has lost his self-composure here. 36
  • 37. Vinod alone, does not and cannot speak for the rest of humanity. Is Vinod too serious for his own good? Is it because he thinks he cannot make it or cannot make sense of what’s going on at NUS that he begrudges the rest who do? Student Don’t know say don’t know lah! Aiyer, siow Society has its own simple way of hitting back at people, Two: you know. the likes of Vinod. Lights off. Act Two / Scene 2 Textbook Pagination Guide: Past. Halfway House. Act Two Lights come up. Saloma is sitting alone. After Sc. 2 – 54 – 62 a while Emily enters. She is a chirpy young woman. Emily: Hi. Emily is a highly interesting character in the play. She is a larger-than-life character with grand ideas about herself and her capabilities. Perhaps this is a way of coping for her. She appears THREE times in the play: in the halfway house [IN THIS SCENE], in Vinod’s dream and later her death is reported in a newspaper article. Despite her suffering and tragic end, she is represented in a humorous way as a kind and wise character. Saloma: Hello. Emily: I’m Emily. What’s your name? The playwright, Haresh Sharma, suggests that we see Emily as the “metaphorical angel”. It is not difficult to see why. Emily tells Emily that she communicates with God. Emily has delusions of grandeur (she is loud and extremely confident in what she says and thinks she has done or capable of doing), but she is the mentally ill who helps and empowers others. She helps Saloma and Nirmala with her “maxims” – “We are strong, nothing can destroy us” and “They aer jealous because I am special”. Saloma: Saloma. Emily: You don’t have to be scared you know. This Emily encourages Saloma to get used to the environment of halfway house is quite good. the halfway house. Saloma: I want to go home. When Saloma is afraid, she always thinks of home. Emily: But you’ve only been here for two weeks. Emily doesn’t sound “mad” at all. She sounds normal and Don’t worry. You must be very good. Then logical. She comes across as being warm and friendly. Here they will let you work. Then on weekends, they she gives the timid Saloma a much needed boost of hope and will let you go back. confidence. Saloma: Hah? Emily: Yah…I know all these things. Saloma right? I PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Emily is NOT thirty-six years tell you Saloma – That’s a very nice name – I old. She is actually 17 years old. have been in and out of hospitals since I was so young. I still look young right? Actually I’m Emily’s condition is actually quite severe. She speaks thirty-six. I’ve seen so many psychiatrists, without having to stop and think. She does not bat her social workers and all that, I think I am eyelids. She is not lying. She is self-delusional. qualified also. So, what is your problem? Schizophrenia right? Saloma: Sometimes I can hear the voice. Saloma reveals to us what her problem is. Emily: Take the medicine and no more voices. I Somehow, whether it is something she repeats because she promise. So, are you still in school? really means it or something she says because she has heard it often enough from her doctors, Emily gives a definitively sound advice here to Saloma. 37
  • 38. If you were to recall that this is a flashback, it may then be quite ironic but nevertheless heartening that it is Emily Gan who has firmly planted the belief of regular medication in Saloma’s mind. Another thing about Emily is: She is not snobbish at all. She does not pick her audience or her subjects. If she is interested in you, she gets personal in her enquiries fairly quickly. That is how we feel her warmth towards Saloma. Saloma: VITB. I don’t like because they talk…they say In the seventies, there is this social stigma against VITB. bad things. They say I do bad things with my VITB had had to fight for its survival and name (notice here teacher. But I never do. I am rather hesitant to use the word, “reputation”). People then imagined that VITB was the “dumping ground” for students who could not do well academically and because there were practical considerations for Singapore to have a ready pool of technically-skilled workers in the country’s economic development (Singapore was in the peak of its industrialization programme in the seventies.), people took the inception of the VITB in their stride and tolerated its presence. Naturally, students who ended up in the VITB bore the brunt of skepticism, mockery and insults. VITB, in all honesty, was not that bad at all. The government was rather pleased with the VITB and in fact, our ITE can easily has its roots traced by to that very establishment in the seventies. What about the case of bullying in Saloma’s case? It was quite a commonplace occurrence. Saloma is timid and an underachiever at the regular school. She has to be quite pretty. So she is the natural subject of bullying and ridicule. Emily: Of course you didn’t do. Saloma, let me tell Emily’s catchphrase and statement of encouragement. you, anytime ah, anytime at all you think someone is saying bad things about you, be We cannot describe Emily’s character based on what she strong. Tell yourself, “Huh!! They are jealous says to Saloma. We know that she is mentally ill, not because I am special.” Can you say that? Just only that, she is quite seriously ill. She is so ill that she no try… longer appears to be so to the uninitiated. Saloma does not know that Emily is very ill. Fortunately, there is a streak of logicality and sanity in Emily’s madness. At least the Emily we know spouts wisdom. She is nothing but a pillar of strength, wisdom and encouragement to the people around her. Saloma does not realize, naturally, that Emily is not as important in the eyes of other people as she thinks she is. Saloma holds Emily up as an idol-like figure because we have to admit that Emily preps Saloma effectively to give her the confidence that Saloma is badly lacking. Saloma: They jealous… Emily: Because I am special. Saloma: Because I am special. Emily: The whole thing. They are jealous… Saloma: They are jealous… because I am special. Emily: One more time. Saloma: They are jealous because I am special. They Saloma finally gets the hang of it. are jealous beaucse I am special. Emily: Very good, Saloma. You know, that’s a very Emily is self-delusional and probably has a split personality. nice name. I think the next baby I deliver I will name – [gasp] I told you my secret. Saloma: Secret? It is not surprising for Saloma to take Emily seriously. It is ironic here because it is communication between and amongst the mentally ill that real (sincere and effective) communication actually takes place no matter how 38
  • 39. “defective”, normal people like us may find the participants and the content of their conversation to be. Nirmala, who has been sitting further away, rushes to them. Nirmala: Why you talk for so long?!! Huh?!! Huh?!! There is competition and jealousy. Nirmala here is fighting for Emily’s attention. Emily: Nirmala, what do you want? Don’t disturb us. Nirmala: What are you talking about?!! I took my medicine already. I didn’t flush it. I only flush yesterday!! Emily: OK, you took your medicine. Very good. You will get better soon…very soon. Have you met Saloma? Nirmala: Yes!! She is very quiet!! Don’t know how to talk!!! Emily: Nirmala, you must be patient. Saloma is new here. When you were new you were also very quiet. Huh? Remember? Nirmala: Yah. Emily: Then? Why you complain about her?! Nirmala: Sorry. Emily: Say sorry to her. Say to me for what? Nirmala: Sorry, Saloma. Emily: OK, Nirmala, you go and sit there. [pause] Emily gives Nirmala the care and attention she needs. Nirmala, look at me. [she touches Nirmala’s temple] Why are you scared? cannot go home. You must wait until Saturday. OK, tomorrow when I go to the day centre I will buy something for you. Now, you go and sit there and think of the trees. Remember the green trees you drew? They are beautiful right? Just like you. Nirmala goes back to sit down. Emily: OK, so what was I saying? Yes, my secret. Er, We laugh heartily about this “confession” because we know you don’t tell anyone, OK? [pause] I am that Emily could not possibly have delivered Lee Hsien actually a gynaecologist…doctor. And you Loong. Singapore is a meritocratic society. What kind of know what? I actually delivered Lee Hsien credentials does Emily really have as a gynaecologist? Loong. The day he was born, I told his mother. When we juxtapose Emily Gan (a seriously ill mental I said, Mrs Lee, this son of yours will be a very patient) and Lee Hsien Loong (the most powerful man in famous man. The whole family still sends me Singapore), we see an impossible combination. It is both cards for my birthday. You go to my unthinkable and hilarious. The two are poles apart: Lee hospital…everyone knows me, Emily Gan. stands for the rational and Emily, the irrational. Lee stands Just say my name. Emily Gan. I tell you for the stoicality and Emily for the infirmity of the mind. So another secret. I can read people’s mind and different, so funny when placed side by side. then to write reports. Your mind is very pure Saloma. Very pure. Saloma: My mother say I very stupid. Saloma is naïve but lovingly so. Emily: No, no, you are not stupid at all. I know. I can Emily, of course, cannot read Saloma’s mind. This does not read your mind. Your mother can read minds mean that she is lying. She merely believes she can do so. or not? Saloma: No. Emily: Then? Who you believe? 39
  • 40. Saloma: You. Emily: Good. You are very strong. Yah, you are very Emily affirms Saloma’s character, crazy though she may strong. Wah, I can see behind your eyes. You be. There is a sense of prescience here. are so strong, nothing can destroy you. Saloma: I am not strong. Emily: No, you are strong. Say it. I am strong. Emily keeps on encouraging Saloma to be strong. Her Nothing can destroy me. method is surprisingly simple and the effect is almost immediate. Saloma: I am strong. Nothing can … destroy me. Emily: Good. You know how I know? You see Emily is crazily singleminded. Saloma…very nice name...God spoke to me. And He said, I – I will be the leader. And I When Emily says, “God spoke to me”, we must take will bring peace…and harmony…I will speak heart about her actual mental state of mind. She is to every single Singaporean. Pure…I will seriously ill. Her claim becomes more and more make them pure. [pause] He spoke to me. unbelievable and ridiculous. We understand every word [pause] You can help me…yes…because you she says but when she makes tough proclamations like are already pure. these, she is clearly self-delusional. She probably does not know it. Also, what exactly does Emily mean when she claims that Saloma is “already pure”? Saloma’s mother enters. Mak: Saloma… Saloma: Mak. Emily: Your mother ah? Saloma: Yah. Emily: I talk to you later. Emily leaves. She joins Nirmala. Mak: So…how are you? Saloma: OK. Mak: OK? That’s all? Mak is anxious to see Saloma becoming better. Saloma: Better. Mak: This place is so difficult to find. Woodbridge was not so accessible in those days. Saloma: Mak stay here? Mak: Don’t be stupid. How I can stay here? You Don’t embarrass me. are so old already. Jangan malu mak. And why all these people look at me like that? Just now I spoke to the doctor. Saloma, listen to Mum. Huh? They are mad. Not me. [slight pause] Not you also. You don’t go and talk to them. You just stay here. Tadi, mak cakap dengan Mak is clearly aware of the stigma attached to her and her doctor. He said you can go back in three daughter if other people – relatives, friends, neighbours – months if you are OK. Then no need to stay were to find out that Saloma has been admitted to here for six months. He will test you, OK? So Woodbridge Hospital. when you see him I don’t want you to talk about all this voice voice. Saloma dengar cakap mak ni. Tell doctor everything OK. You are fine. You want to study. Can you say that? Saloma: I want to study. Saloma is merely blindly repeating what Mak has told her to do in front of the doctors. 40
  • 41. Mak: Good. And don’t take all this medicine. You Look! take, you see what you become? Tengok ah! You flush down the toilet OK? Mak, like most people, thinks that the medication prescribed by the doctors at mental institutions such as Woodbridge does not help to alleviate the mental condition of a patient. Mak, like most commonfolks, would rather err on the side of ignorance. Saloma: Mak, you can come and visit me? Or I can go Saloma is lonely and longs for Mak’s company. She also back on Saturday? misses home. Mak: We see how. I cannot come here all the time. …I get giddy, I want to vomit. I see all these people pening kepala mak. Nak muntah. Saloma: Mak marah Saloma. Maafkan Saloma mak. You’re angry with me. Forgive me Ma. Mak: Don’t talk about maaf. Don’t talk about angry. Surely I am angry. Hah? I have only one child and you must come out like this. Must be me. I think…what I do? Mak ingat…apa mak buat? All I wanted was a simple child. Simple and pure…and I will be Coincidentally, both Emily Gan and Mak use the word so proud of you. [sigh] Which devil I sleep “PURE”. But while Emily hails Saloma as being “already with? Which god I step on? Who? Who put pure”, Mak laments that Saloma isn’t what she has hoped this curse on me? Everyday I think about the for. In a sense, we can feel the strong opposing forces last time… when I was pregnant, I buy fulling Saloma literally apart. It adds on to the struggle that scissors, my mother shout at me. Now I suffer. Saloma takes on to come to terms with her schizophrenia and at the same time, adds pressure on to her because she is likely to be confounded by what her mother thinks of how and what Emily sees in her, if she were to take both these persons seriously. Saloma: Mak, I will be very good. I will tell the doctor I Saloma succumbs to pressure coming from her Mak. am OK. I will pray very hard. Mak: You don’t anyhow pray. If you pray wrongly, Mak has a strong influence on Saloma: You must only pray even worse! You must only pray if you are if you are clean. clean. Are you clean? Hah? Saloma: Yes. Mak: You better make sure ah, Saloma? You better make sure. She exits. Emily and Nirmala go to Saloma. Emily: Your mother talk a lot ah? Emily is trying to say that Mak has made a lot of demands on Saloma. Saloma: Yah. Emily: Don’t listen to anything she say! I can read her Emily acts as a counter-influence here. She explicitly tells mind. Not pure. Saloma not to obey her mother. She does not agree with Mak’s ideas. Saloma: I must listen to my mother. If not, she scold Saloma feels strongly about being an obedient daughter. me. That time I become angry. I break the glass. My mother say I am very bad. Emily: Saloma, what are you supposed to do when By saying so, Emily implies to Saloma that her own mother, people say bad things about you? Mak, should be seen as belonging with “other” people. Saloma: Er…you are jealous… Emily: Because? Nirmala: Because I am special. Emily Gan’s aphorism (a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation) or maxim (principle or rule of conduct) is not that difficult to learn and commit to memory. 41
  • 42. Emily: Don’t forget. Don’t ever forget that. OK, now This is quite ludicrous but we have to understand that Emily, I must go and write my report. If you need in her own dreamscape, probably, means what she says and help, anywhere you go, just ask for me. says what she means. Nobody negates her and she continues Everybody knows me, Emily Gan. Just say my to play the role she believes she truly is. name. Saloma / Emily Gan. Nirmala: Emily: Good. We will survive. Although the optimism which Emily is offering to Saloma an Nirmala here is an empty one, it is nevertheless, a sincere blessing from Emily. Pause. Lights fade. Act Two / Scene 3 Textbook Pagination Guide: Three months later [June]. Void Deck. Act Two When lights come on, Saloma and Vinod are in Sc. 3 – 63 – 76 their respective rooms. Saloma After what happened at the restaurant, Vinod [Narrator]: and Saloma stopped going for movies or to Saloma freaked out at the restaurant on a date with Vinod to restaurants. They met at Vinod’s void deck. mark their third month anniversary as friends. Saloma enjoyed meeting Vinod. It gave her something to do. Her mother did not allow her to work, and if not for Vinod, her time would be spent doing housework and staying in her Why she does not feel safe “standing along the corridor” of room, looking out of the window, at the her flat  Her encounter with Azman who has attempted to children playing downstairs. She used to stand befriend her but ends up outraging her modesty, and drives along the corridor, outside her flat and watch her crazy. them, but stopped after what happened. If she couldn’t even feel safe just outside her flat, where else could she go? Vinod For Vinod, Saloma had become the stray kitten Vinod takes it upon himself to be Saloma’s protector. [Narrator]: he found in the middle of the expressway. He Saloma is the “stray kitten” while Vinod is the protector. had to look after her, shield her from the cruel world. He had to make her laugh. He felt he had to make the whole world laugh. Why Vinod, why? They are at Vinod’s void deck. What is the meaning of “void”? “Void” means “a feeling of great sadness that you have when someone you love dies or when something is taken from you”. “Void” means “a situation in which something important or interesting is needed or wanted, but does not exist”. “Void” means “an empty area of space where nothing exists”. But we should be positive about the void deck. The void deck is an empty platform until it becomes a shared space between Vinod and Saloma. They give meaning and happiness and hope to an empty space. Vinod: Eh, Saloma, cannot…we can’t keep meeting at The void deck has unfortunate connotations, both serious my void deck or your void deck. Everything is and humorous. so void. Who are we trying to avoid? Aiyah. Although the connotation is negative, we should be I must teach you how to appreciate my sense of hopeful. Vinod and Saloma needs the void deck to humour. Anyway, cannot meet like this. resume and renew their connections with one another. People think we’re either trying to get ready for a wedding or a funeral. Although Vinod does not like the idea of meeting at the void deck, he is considerate towards Saloma because she needs the security and the obscuritiy. Saloma: But last time… Vinod: Aiyah, that was so long ago. Anyway, people Saloma is at the receiving end once again. This time the always look at me because I’m handsome… or maxim is contributed by Vinod: “As long as you lead a full 42
  • 43. maybe because I’m ugly. Whatever lah, as life, it doesn’t matter if it’s happy or sad, long or short.” long as I’m not plain like everyone else. DH Lawrence said that as long as you lead a full PRAY TELL: WHAT IS A “FULL” LIFE? life it doesn’t matter if it’s happy or sad, long or short. Saloma: I don’t want to meet outside. That time, at the She is greatly affected by the Golden Fork restaurant restaurant, they all laugh. incident. Vinod: This Golden Fork restaurant is very low class lah. The waiters, the other customers…all jealous! Saloma: They are jealous because we are special. Saloma’s first application of Emily Gan’s aphorism. Vinod: Wah…such strong words. Saloma: I am strong. Nothing can destroy me. She does it again. Vinod: WAH!!!!! [he whistles] Mr. Razali appears. Saloma looks at him as Mr. Razali, the guard makes his first appearance. though she has seen him before. According to Haresh Sharma, Mr. Razali is metaphorical “GOD”. As a mortal, he is the Security Guard. As a spiritual character, he is the GUARD, although mistaken as the “GUARDIAN”. Razali: Hello, hello. Vinod, apa macam? Two time, How are you? three time already I see you and she. Your girlfriend eh? Always talk talk enjoy enjoy saja eh, Vinod? Vinod: Cik Razali, I bual bual saja. Bergurau senda. I talk only. Just chatting. Saloma laughs. Razali: Vinod, your girlfriend cantik eh? Pretty; beautiful Vinod: We’re friends. Vinod insists here that Saloma is a female friend, not his girlfriend. Razali: Meet here good lah eh? Save money. Next When I’m sick, you two can look after me. time, kalau Bapak sakit, you dua dua boleh jaga Bapak. Vinod: No problem. Saloma, this is Mr. Razali. He started working here a few months ago. Razali: Anak tinggal mana? You can sense the tenderness which can be found in Mr. Razali’s language when he is speaking to Saloma. Not only that, the connection is effortless. The focus is immediate. Child, where do you live? Take note of the difference in tone and diction (choice of words) used by Razali when he turns to speak to Saloma. There is a tinge of tenderness here. Saloma: Hougang. Razali: Nama Saloma. Suara pun merdu. The name is Saloma. The voice is also sweet. [Saloma was a famous singer in the 1970s as explained above.] Vinod: Yah, Saloma, why don’t you sing for Mr. How we wish Vinod would stop telling Saloma what to do in Razali? Sing lah. front of a third party? Why does Vinod always do that? Where does he inherit this kind of behaviour from? From whom? Razali: Vinod, when she want to sing, she will sing. Enough. 43
  • 44. Inside her heart she is singing. I can hear. Dah. Cukup. Mr. Razali is strangely protective of Saloma. Whether meant to be a friendly or casual remark or one which is filled with some special meaning, Razali mentions that “inside her heart, she is singing and that he can hear”. This is quite profound. What is the role of Razali here? Saloma: Bapak boleh dengar? Father can hear? He smiles and walks away. Saloma: He say he can hear me sing. Saloma is happy that Mr. Razali says “he can hear her sing”. Vinod: He’s a bit strange. But he’s very nice, right? Vinod also compliments Razali but for a rather superficial My Malay improve because of him. reason. Saloma: He is very special. Saloma also thinks Mr. Razali is special. Vinod: Yah, but I never talk to him much. Never Razali lives in a different world. In the eyes of Vinod, mind. Now we can talk more. Some more his Razali is an elusive figure  “What does he do the whole work must be quite boring right? And he day?” doesn’t bring books to read. Ugh. What does he do the whole day? Saloma: He is the guard. His work. He must guard. Saloma’s reply is the exact reply which Mr. Razali later uses to correct Vinod’s misconception of his role as their guardian. So while Saloma seems to understand the limited role played by Mr. Razali as a guard, Vinod mistakens him as being more than that. Mr. Razali has no choice but to matter-of-factly correct him there and then. Vinod Vinod was about to take a big risk. Vinod may be loud and aggressive but he intends to be [Narrator]: considerate when he wishes to find out more about Saloma’s past. Vinod: What was it like for you…you know… in WH? Saloma Saloma knew Vinod would one day ask. She Saloma feels safe enough to talk about her Woodbridge [Narrator]: was glad it was today and not earlier. She experience with Vinod. spoke about Woodbridge openly…what she felt…how her hair had to be cut because she Saloma has attempted suicide once before. tried to strangle herself with it once. Vinod: But how do you kill yourself with hair? Is this a casual remark or a serious point for reflection Hmm…must try it one of these days. coming from Vinod? Is something morbid already forming in his mind even at this stage of the play? Being the intense character that Vinod is, it is interesting to note that although he just saying and thinking aloud what he has learnt from Saloma, we cannot dismiss the possibility that he has thought about taking his own life. Saloma Saloma didn’t mind the jokes. It was only Saloma takes it as a joke because “it is only Vinod”. [Narrator]: Vinod. Vinod It was Vinod’s turn. He made his speech, his NOTE HERE: Vinod compares “life in Woodbridge to [Narrator]: literary allusions. He compared life in every possible novel, short story or poem he has read”. Woodbridge to every possible novel, short story or poem he had read. And like a true best speaker, he was eloquent…too eloquent. Vinod: Do you still see a psychiatrist? Seeing a psychiatrist is an important routine of a mental patient’s rehabilitation process. Saloma: No. Vinod: How come? I thought must have follow up. There are many things that a young man like Vinod, who comes from a middle-upper-class background takes for granted. 44
  • 45. Saloma: I cannot pay. See doctor, but medicine, stay at Not everybody is born equal. Even amongst the mental Woodbridge…my mother pay a lot of money patients, there are those who can afford the consultation with already! the psychiatrists and those who cannot. This brief exchange between the two once again underlines the difference in the family backgrounds of the characters. Vinod lives in his world whereby he can afford to take many things for granted while Saloma simply cannot do the same. Vinod: Anyway, you’re not missing anything. My Vinod is skeptical about the professional help he is psychiatrist only sees me for five minutes. getting. How are you? Find thank you. Next! That’s why my parents also make me see a therapist. Wah! Like New York right? But no use lah. Vinod feels that he is being marginalized by society at Terrible, you know. He always force his views large. He explains to Saloma that his therapist (a on me. And where are his views influenced psychiatrist) instead of LISTENING TO HIM, has been from? [loud] The majority!! [soft] I’m a trying to force the views of “the majority” on me. minority person. You know what he said? Because of that, he does not think he is receiving the help You must study, get a job, be the best, make his parents think he is getting. a lot of money, but take it easy. Gimme a break! Between 70’s – 90’s, Singapore’s economy was booming and the government and private enterprises and schools were all promoting that in whatever Singaporeans did, they should strive to be No. 1 in the world. (Not so different from the present day.) Vinod has been a successful student in the academic rat race until he breaks down. He does not recover his zeal to strive for material success, excellence and practically change his course in the charting his future. What makes VInod break down? Why does he reject the past? Why does he turn his back from the majority view?  Hasn’t he benefited from the majority view previously? Saloma: Vinod, you smart. I am not smart. My best Not everybody has the same capacity to succeed only ‘N’ level. academically. Not everybody can do well in school or in their studies. Vinod: Yah! What can you do with ‘N’ level…even if We have discussed this before: you don’t have mental illness? The streaming of secondary school students into Normal Technical / Normal Academic / Express / Special / Gifted and so on has its practical values in terms of learning and teaching. However, this practice is also controversial because it is divisive in nature. A lot of senstitivy is needed in dealing with the issue. A tinge of snobbery here. But unfortunately, it is a belief commonly held by society at large. Being an “N” Level student has its baggage - there is a certain kind of derogatory labeling attached - you have to be academically slow or underperforming and so therefore by implication, you are less capable in your studies than the Express or Special or Gifted students. Saloma: Can become secretary. I am shy so cannot Saloma does not have much confidence in herself. Neither is become sales. Maybe I study some more. But she resourceful enough to seek out opportunities for herself study also expensive. to improve her life chances. She probably doesn’t think much about it but because she is having this conversation with Vinod, who thinks a lot more than the other people, she tries to be as honest as she can possibly get. Vinod: You can get a loan. You know, borrow money Vinod’s advice here is only applicable to those who has the form the bank. collaterals to back themselves up so that the bank may then consider giving the applicants any loan. In other words, his advice here is not applicable to people like Saloma whom society does not consider to have any potential to succeed in life. Saloma: Anybody can borrow? 45
  • 46. Vinod: Can...if you have a guarantor. I think it’s A stark difference in their respective family someone who earns more than $2000 a month. backgrounds. One is upper-middle class, the other one is Then you can take a study loan. lower-working class. Saloma: Cannot anyhow take loan. You can. I cannot!! Saloma does not have that many options as Vinod. She My mother sell mee rebus. I cannot take loan!! becomes quite agitated here for many plausible reasons: I cannot study!! • She suddenly realizes how helpless her situation is. • She feels she needs to impress upon Vinod that her family’s financial situation is way inferior to his. • She is embarrassed by her lack of means and resources. • She does not understand the relevance of Vinod’s suggestion to improve her life, at least not at the moment. Vinod: I’m sorry Saloma. I didn’t mean to- The advice does not work for Saloma. Saloma: - I want to go home. “Home” is the best refuge for Saloma. Vinod: Saloma, you can’t “I want to go home” Vinod also gives advice to Saloma. He wants her to consider everytime you don’t feel good. You have to conquering her insecurities by “confronting” them instead of confront it! turning away from them. Vinod This is Vinod talking. [Narrator]: Vinod: You have to go to the root of your problem, Vinod is talking shop here – using management jargon and analyse it… so on. He does not realize that such phrases like “root of your problem” and words like “analyse” confuse Saloma. Saloma: Vinod, you talk only you understand. Vinod: [to audience] You see lah. She’s trying to be The audience obviously knows that Saloma is speaking the funny with me. truth. Vinod, because he is the wise one, fails to see that Saloma needs time to understand his lingo. We know that Saloma is not “trying to be funny with him”. Saloma: Vinod! Vinod: What?! Saloma, you say you are strong. Vinod challenges Saloma to talk to the audience [face up to Nothing can destroy you. Good lah. Then why the challenges that society puts up] but he is obviously not don’t you talk to them? quite positive in his tone of voice. Saloma: I am strong. Saloma He didn’t understand. Why can’t he Saloma is very confused in the aggressive stance adopted by [Narrator]: understand? What can’t you understand? Vinod because Vinod is usually rather supportive and encouraging. He now appears to be pushing her out of her comfort zone, with little regard as to how nervous and helpless she is. Vinod Vinod knew he was pushing it. Why? Why Even Vinod is in a state of confusion himself. What exactly [Narrator]: did he want Saloma to talk to the audience so does he really want from Saloma? Does he really care for badly? What exactly does he want from them? the audience feelings at all? Or from her? Pause. Vinod: Friends? [makes gesture] Saloma: [makes gesture with both hands] Two friends. They exchange gestures. Vinod exits. Razali appears again. 46
  • 47. Razali: Anak. Razali, according to Haresh Sharma, the playwright, is one of the “metaphorical” characters he has planted in the play. As a mortal, he is a normal, almost run-of-the-mill type of middle-to-old age man who makes a living performing the mundane role of a security guard. As a spiritual character, Mr. Razali seems to fill the shoes of a father figure, particularly to Saloma. Here, he addresses, Saloma, simply but tenderly as “anak” - “my child” in Bahasa Melayu. Saloma: Bapak. “Bapak” Razali: Bapak beli epok epok. Go back eat. NOTE: Mr. Razali provides for Saloma, not for Vinod. Father buy epok epok. Saloma: OK. Pause. Razali: [takes out his hand] You see this? This is my Razali’s gestures is similar to that of a father here. He is hand. [points to the lines] My life, my work, behaving like a father to Saloma. money. No money. [he takes her hand] This is your hand. Your life, your work, your money. Razali sees hope and a future in Saloma. Saloma: When I Primary One, at school I take my Father is sick. Father must rest. When I come back, I will friend ruler. When he ask me, I say I never buy epok epok. We take taxi, go and eat seafood. take. Afternoon I go home, my mother say my father die. At night I dream. My father say he NOTE: what is so symbolic of Mr. Razali’s sharing with will come back. He say, “Bapak sakit. Bapak Saloma? What is so symbolic about Mr. Razali’s gift of epok mesti rehat. Nanti bapak balek, bapak beli epok? THINK. epok epok. Kita naik teksi, pergi makan seafood.” I must wait. [slight pause] This is my hand. This also my father’s hand. Razali: We go home. Razali exits. Vinod enters. Vinod: Good. [pause] For you. It’s a photo frame. Vinod presents a portrait of his glorious past to Saloma. You can put any photo you want. [pause] For you also. It’s a photo of me, at my peak… when I was top student, top debater, top everything. But not topless. I look quite good in my JC coat right? Now I don’t like to take photos anymore. Saloma: Yah. Vinod: Yah? Yah what? Saloma: Yah, I will bring camera. Vinod: Eh, did you read today’s newspaper? “EX- WOODBRIDGE PATIENT KILLS NEIGHBOUR”. I wonder if it’s anyone we know. Saloma: Why they write like that? Why they say ex- Woodbridge? Vinod: The newspaper is like that. They want people to read no matter what the consequence. It worked. I read. Saloma: They say people go Woodbridge kill. I never kill. Vinod: I hope not. Saloma: Vinod! 47
  • 48. Vinod: I know what you’re saying Saloma, but what can we do? Write a letter of complaint? Then they’ll print, “EX-WOODBRIDGE PATIENT WRITES LETTER OF COMPLAINT”. Then everybody read and say, “Wah!! They can write!” Saloma: I will write. Vinod: OK, you write. [slight pause] You know this is The void deck is their “haven” – their paradise. our haven. Saloma: Heaven? Haven = Heaven Vinod: No, haven. As in refuge, place of rest. Saloma: Heaven also can rest. Vinod: OK, OK, heaven. Aiyoh, [to audience] she’s very difficult ah? Heaven also can rest. Like that Woodbridge also can rest. Halfway house also can rest what. [to audience] Ha! I win. She thinks she can outsmart me. [to Saloma] The difference my dear Saloma is that Woodbridge and halfway house you have now freedom. You can’t go anywhere. Here, you can go- [realizes they can’t really] Saloma: Afterwards I will write letter. You help me OK, Vinod? Vinod: Do you want to go to a restaurant? Saloma: No. Vinod: McDonald’s? Saloma: No. Vinod: But we should try again right? Saloma: We sit here good. Nobody walk. Nobody talk. The void deck provides the peace and quiet which Saloma needs and finds comfort. Vinod: Yah, that’s because there’s nobody around. Saloma: Next time OK? Next time. [pause] This void deck good. Mine, downstairs got shop. Got bird shop also. Then I always see the bird inside the cage. Vinod: Eh, be careful you know. Pigeon shit can give you disease. Saloma: This one not pigeon. Colourful bird. Can sing. Saloma is a bird lover. Very nice. One time, when I Primary Six, one bird fly from the cage, come inside my room. Everybody look but cannot find. Vinod: What kind of a bird was it? Saloma: Don’t know. Got blue here and green and gold. Vinod: Peacock ah? Saloma: I don’t want to tell already. Vinod: OK, OK, sorry. Then the bird how? 48
  • 49. Saloma: I keep the bird. I never tell my mother. Three days. Then the bird fly away. Vinod: Why? It died is it? Saloma: No. The bird go back to the cage at the void deck. [pause] My void deck don’t have bapak. Here got bapak. Vinod: Aiyah, bapak, bapak. I think he’ll get a heart Vinod does not seem to think as highly of Mr. Razali as attack you know. Suddenly all these off centre Saloma. He actually teases Saloma [who is as off centre as people adopt him as official father. the other mental patients] for treating Mr. Razali as an “official father”. Saloma: Vinod, your father – Vinod: -Saloma, I’d rather not talk about my parents. The sad irony is while denying Mr. Razali, Vinod himself Their careers are going well. They are top does not turn to his own father and mother for comfort at people. So high you cannot see them anymore. all. He is detached from his parents. He does not seem to have anything to say about them because he tells Saloma matter-of-factly that he would “rather not talk about them”. Vinod’s revelation of his negative feelings against his parents  They are “so hight you cannot see them anymore”. Saloma: You never talk. Vinod: There’s nothing to say. Maybe I’m just being This is Vinod’s side of his parents’ story. We will have to spoilt. They’re nice. They’re educated, give him the benefit of the doubt because we haven’t intelligent, intellectual, pragmatic, upright… heard from his parents or anybody else who knows them. and cold. Very cold. [pause] It’s just different ways I guess. I’m the physical physical type. I Vinod’s parents – although they are never present on stage, like touch. You know…but they are very the influence and presence of Vinod’s parents are evident in formal. the way Vinod sees himself, his illness and his failure as a son. Hie is the son of highly successful parents who have high expectations of their son. However too much pressure to achieve and succeed triggered his breakdown. Saloma And of the first time Vinod spoke about his [Narrator]: parents. Saloma didn’t know that they were in such positions of power… that his father was a judge, his mother the chairperson of a corporation. She suddenly felt different. She felt she had known another person. And for the first time after four months she wondered again. Why her? What did she have that he wanted? Vinod Vinod was behaving off centre. He was Vinod confesses to Saloma that all that he ever wants from [Narrator]: speaking the truth. He told Saloma things he his father and mother is a simple hug which they are never told all the psychiatrists in Woodbridge, withholding from him. Adam Road or NUH. And as he talked he became angry. He became disturbed. He wanted to rush home and confront his parents. He had all his points thought out. Number one, number two, number three. He had all the elaborations planned. Part one a, part one b. He wanted a fight. He wanted a win. [pause] he wanted a hug. Razali appears. Saloma sees him but Vinod Why does Vinod blind to Mr. Razali’s presence? doesn’t. This is probably because his thoughts and feelings are too consumed with his parents and his anger and disappointment. Razali: [to Saloma] He wants a hug. Saloma: I will hug you. Vinod He wants someone… [Narrator]: 49
  • 50. Razali: …to tell him everything would be OK. Saloma: Everything will be OK. Saloma is there for Vinod when he needs the comforting. This is what a friend is for. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Vinod He wants – [Narrator]: Saloma: - Yes. Music comes on. Saloma goes to Vinod and holds him. Mr. Razali walks away. Lights slowly fade. Music continues. Act Two / Scene 4 Textbook Pagination Guide: Later that night. Both Rooms. Act Two When the lights come on, Saloma and Vinod Sc. 4 – 77 – 79 are sleeping in their own rooms. Although both Vinod and Saloma are “sleeping”, they do not Saloma is having a dream. sleep properly and “normally”. Their respective condition follow them in their sleep because Saloma’s sleep is interrupted by a dream - she is still thinking about writing the letter to the editor of the newspaper to clarify her stance as a mental patient and Vinod’s sleep cannot be sustained because he is suffering from Early Morning Awakening. Saloma: Vinod. Vinod…talk to the animals. You can REMEMBER: The stage directions inform us that Saloma is talk. I cannot talk. You can write. Write to having a dream - she is troubled, confused. She is searching the newspaper. Dear Sir, I am …dear Sir, I for context, words, guidance, and a Vinod who is not even read your newspaper…Vinod. Vinod, how to there in her dream. write? Vinod… Vinod suddenly wakes up. He is wide awake. Why does Razali appear in this scene? He is not in Vinod’s He just sits still. Razali appears. dreamscape because Vinod “suddenly wakes up” and stays “wide awake”. Razali: It’s called Early Morning Awakening. What is Early Morning Awakening? Sleep disturbances are common symptoms of depression. A “good night’s sleep” becomes virtually impossible. Many people complain of waking up in the middle of the night with their mind racing, wondering how they are going to overcome all of the obstacles before them. Others do little other than sleep but never feel rested. In both cases, the built up fatigue can aggravate every other aspect of depression. Further reading: Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or a disturbance in sleep quality that makes sleep seem inadequate or unrefreshing. People are sleepy and tired during the day and have trouble functioning. Doctors base the diagnosis on a detailed description of sleep habits and patterns and sometimes use testing in a sleep laboratory. If possible, the cause is corrected, sometimes with changes in lifestyle, but sleep aids may be needed. Insomnia is usually a symptom that can have many different causes: An irregular sleep-wake schedule Poor sleep habits (for example, drinking a caffeinated beverage in the afternoon or evening or exercising late at night) Physical disorders (such as those that cause pain or make people urinate more often) Use or withdrawal of a drug Drinking large amounts of alcohol in the evening Emotional problems, anxiety, and stress 50
  • 51. However, insomnia itself can be a disorder on its own. Some people have long-standing (chronic) insomnia that has little or no apparent relationship to any particular cause. Difficulty falling and staying asleep and waking up earlier than desired are common among young and old. About 10% of adults have chronic insomnia, and about 50% have insomnia sometimes. Because sleep patterns deteriorate as people age, older people are more likely to report insomnia than younger people. As people age, they tend to sleep less at night and to feel sleepier and to nap during the day. Stages 3 and 4 sleep, the periods of deep sleep that is most refreshing, become shorter and eventually disappear. Also, older people awaken more during all stages of sleep. Usually, these changes alone do not indicate a sleep disorder in the elderly. There are several types of insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia): Commonly, people have difficulty falling asleep when they cannot let their minds relax and they continue to think and worry. Sometimes the body is not ready for sleep at what is considered a usual time for sleep. That is, the body's internal clock is out of sync with the earth's cycle of light and dark. This problem (a type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder) is common among adolescents and young adults. Difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia): Older people are more likely to have difficulty staying asleep than are younger people. People with this type of insomnia fall asleep normally but wake up several hours later and cannot fall asleep again easily. Sometimes they drift in and out of a restless, unsatisfactory sleep. Early morning awakening: This type may be a sign of depression in people of any age. Saloma: Dear Sir, My name is Saloma. Saloma is still in her dream. Razali: You wake up at two, three in the morning and Both Vinod and Saloma are depressed. Why is Saloma’s feel very depressed. narrator [her inner voice] and Vinod’s narrator [his inner voice] not speaking to us and the audience? This is because both Saloma and Vinod are “sleeping” but “sleeping badly”. Saloma is in a dreamscape while Vinod is in a daze. Both Vinod and Saloma are depressed even in their state of rest. Saloma: You say Woodbridge people kill neighbour. Saloma is still bothered by the events of the day. Razali: You can’t sleep [Vinod tries to sleep but can’t] Vinod struggles to go to sleep. Saloma: But Vinod and I last time go Woodbridge. Both Saloma and Vinod have been to Woodbridge Hospital And we never kill anyone. before. Razali: You keep thinking and thinking. Vinod struggles with his thoughts even when he is supposed to be sleeping and resting. Saloma: Vinod is my friend. Razali: And nothing helps. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot sleep. Saloma: Please don’t say bad thing about mental patient. Razali: Your mind says it’s OK. It’s OK. Even when Vinod tries to rationalize using his head that he is all right, his condition is actually deteriorating. Saloma: You never hurt other people. Razali: Your heart hurts. Vinod is frightened. 51
  • 52. Saloma: We only hurt ourself. Razali: You want to die. [Vinod gets a bunch of pills] Razali foretells what is going to happen to Vinod. Razali becomes Vinod’s inner voice. Because of the recurrence of Early Morning Awakening, Vinod becomes increasingly insomniac. He thinks he would rather die. Saloma: Goodbye. Razali: You have to die. Razali tells us how it is all going to end for Vinod. Vinod thinks he has no choice but to die. Saloma: Thank you. Razali: You need a voice. A voice. Why does Razali say that? Does Vinod lost his voice? What happens when a person loses his or her voice? What happens when you lose your voice? Pause. Music stops. Saloma: Vinod, my spelling correct or not? Pause. Vinod: It’s fine, Saloma. [he puts down the pills] Vinod does not take his medication. He is prepared to die. Everything is fine. Lights slowly fade. Act Three / Scene 1 Textbook Pagination Guide: Past. Army Barracks. Act Three When lights come on, Vinod is at his barracks Sc 1- 82 - 89 at the army. He has just returned after being Sc 2- 90 - 93 away for about a month. His platoon mates Sc 3- 94 – 96 who were doing their own work suddenly fall silent. Vinod goes directly to his cupboard. Scene ONE: This is a flashback scene for Vinod in his When he opens it some things fall out. His encounter with people in the army. other platoon mates had put all their junk there. Vinod picks up the things. In the meantime, Scene TWO: This is a flashback scene for Saloma in her some of the platoon mates have gathered in the encounter with Azman, who has probably molested her. corner and appointed someone to talk to him. Fong goes to him. Fong: Er…Vinod. Vinod: Hi Fong. Fong: You’re…back already ah? Vinod: Yah. Fong: So how? BMT gong to finish already. From Fong, we know that Vinod has failed his BMT – Basic Military Training Course. Vinod: Don’t know. Fong: You’re going to recourse ah? Vinod: Don’t know. Fong: Tonight you sleeping here ah? Vinod: Yah. Fong: In this room ah? Vinod: Yah. 52
  • 53. Fong: You won’t…you won’t shout shout in the Vinod must have gone berserk in the dormitory previously. middle of the night right? We all damn scared. So now he has returned to the same bunk where the rest of his platoon mates are. Vinod: Use your ear plugs lah! Fong: Ha! Ha! Ear plugs. Like range. Vinod: If you want, you can burn joss stick, so that the devil won’t come to you. Fong: Oh, burn already. Because, after you…after Cuak – scared that time, next day they burn joss stick already. Burn paper also. Whole company you know. Sergeant Mok say one, not we all. Because that day, after you…after you…you know…at night that time, Loo… remember Loo? Always go toilet one. Yah, wah lau eh, he dream ah the rain fall all blood. Then we are doing training all blood fall on us. Terrible ah? Siow lah he. Yah, you better talk to your buddy. He damn cuak man. But OK lah. Army is like that. At least mine not boring. Sergeant Mok enters. Mok: Vinod, I want to talk to you. Vinod: Yes Sergeant. Pause. Mok: Fong! Waiting for Christmas is it? [Fong exits] Stupid! Er, not you. [pause] So, doctor said what? Vinod: Tomorrow I have to go to the medical centre. Mok: Tomorrow ah? OK, so today you stay at the Ops room. I don’t want you to stay here alone. You help the duty clerk or read book or something. Platoon Commander enters. Mok: Room. [they all stand at attention] Good afternoon sir! Vinod: Good afternoon sir. PC: So, you’re back. Good, good. Just in time for training. Mok: Sir, he got attend C. Rest in bunk. PC: Then, we can train in the bunk. Right, Vinod? We can train anywhere. Today you help the Armskote. Mok: Sir. Rifles. PC: He is a man. Are you a man or not Vinod? [no reply] Are you a man or not Vinod? Vinod: Yes sir. PC: You see Vinod. I have been with the SAF for a The platoon commander thinks Vinod is trying to pretend to long time. I have been the PC here and I have be mentally ill to get his way out of the army. seen many recruits. Every new batch they try their same old bag of tricks. Those who 53
  • 54. survive, some of them are rich businessmen now. You now that? Rich businessmen. Got BMW. Jaguar! And you know what? They still call me sir. Sir. Hello sir. How are you sir? Come to my wedding sir. Vinod: Yes sir. PC: Do you know how easy you have it? When I Bapoks – derogatory term for transvestites. was recruit, when I was at the SAF Boys School, the Army is not like this you know. The platoon commander spells out his expectations to Vinod Army is not like masak masak. The Army is and he demands that as an army recruit, Vinod should never for men! The Navy is for bapoks!! In the let his platoon commander and his platoon mates down. Army when you fight, you really fight. You don’t say cannot fight. You don’t let your buddy down, your platoon down, your company down. [pause] You don’t let your PC down. Vinod: Yes sir. PC: Because you see, when you let your PC down, The platoon commander does not believe that Vinod has a your PC is not too happy. This year we were genuine mental illness. in contention for best overall unit. Did you know that? Of course not right? You don’t care whether or not on July 1st, your camp gets best overall unit. [slight pause] Vinod, you want to bluff the doctor, your mother, father, uncle, auntie, CMPB all that I don’t care. But you cannot bluff me. You understand? You cannot bluff me. Vinod: Yes sir. PC: JC right? Very smart right? I didn’t go to all Mediocrity reigns supreme here. this JC, JC. I was in the SAF Boys School. But you see my English. My elocution. *Lest I be accused of being snobbish, let me explain to you Amazing right? You heard the word I used just what the SAF Boys School was all about. There is no more now? Contention. You heard that? SAF Boys School now but it was set up in the seventies because the government and the SAF thought it was a good way to attract underperforming secondary school students to have a second chance at completing at least their secondary education. The SAF provided an earn-as-you-learn scheme for young people who thought they could perhaps make a living by becoming regular soldiers. So once a young man signed up, he was enrolled into the army. He began as a recruit and worked his way up. The SAF Boys School is now defunct. There is no replacement school. Why does the platoon commander boast about himself, the SAF Boys School, his English and his “elocution”? Many reasons: • The PC probably feels intimidated by army recruits who come from junior colleges [in the seventies and eighties, when one is a JC student, one is considered to be somebody who has excelled in one’s studies  has a bright future ahead] Even now, a JC student is highly looked upon as compared to a poly student or an ITE student. The PC abuses Vinod to show him that he is the boss and Vinod has to obey him and take orders from him. • The PC’s own humble background as a SAF Boys School student gives him away. He probably feels socially and financially inferior to Vinod. Don’t forget, the PC has a record of 54
  • 55. Vinod’s family background. He probably knows that he is dealing with a recruit from a relatively well-to-do and important family. • The PC has probably worked his way up the ranks the hard way and so, he treats Vinod the only way he knows how. • The PC’s experience with errant recruits crowds his judgement with regard to Vinod’s condition. He thinks Vinod try to avoid serving the army by pretending to be sick. Vinod: Yes sir. PC: You people have been spoilt. Spoilt rotten by The PC’s chiding and mocking tone says it all with regard to your parents, your friends, your school. Then his treatment of BMT [Basic Military Training] recruits like when you come into the army, you freak out! Vinod who are underperforming under his charge. Vinod’s Why? You don’t like the food is it? Army underperformance will reflect on the PC’s performance in food not good enough for “Air” level is it? the eyes of his army superiors. Vinod: Yes sir. No sir. Vinod is confused with the PC’s doublespeak. PC: Then what is the problem? You don’t know Most people think that you can only qualified to be a man if how to say bad word is it? You know how to you can swear freely and openly and the army is such a place say bad word? for one to do so. The saying, “the army will make a man out of you” probably has something to do here with regard to the platoon commander’s mentality. Vinod: Yes sir. PC: You got balls or not? The platoon commander’s vulgar and uncouth challenge. Vinod: Yes sir. PC: I cannot hear you. Vinod: Yes sir! PC: Recruit, I cannot hear you. Vinod: Yes sir! PC: Yes sir what? Vinod: I have sir. PC: You have what? Vinod: I have balls sir. PC: I cannot hear you recruit. Vinod: I have balls sir! PC:: What? Vinod: I have balls sir! I HAVE BALLS SIR. I Vinod breaks down again. HAVE BALLS SIR. I HAVE BALLS SIR. I HAVE BALLS SIR… Mok: Sir… Vinod: I HAVE BALLS SIR. I HAVE BALLS SIR… Mok: Sir… PC: OK, Vinod that’s enough. Vinod: I HAVE BALLS SIR. I HAVE BALLS SIR… Sergeant Mok goes to Vinod and tries to 55
  • 56. silence him, with great difficulty. He fails. PC has to get involved. Finally Vinod is silenced. PC: You are a bloody bastard, you know that? What the platoon commander is doing here is rather Huh Vinod? You know that?! You are not fit damaging to Vinod and the image of the Singapore Armed to be in the army! You are not fit to fight for Forces. His verbal abuse is not helpful at all. Instead of your country!! You expect other people to fight communicating, he is actually adding on to Vinod’s for you is it? Is it?!! Just die lah. OK, Vinod? condition. Just die. [slight pause] Do it for your country. PC walks away. Silence. Mok: Never mind lah Vinod…army is like that. Most people accept what is being dished out to them. They Think of your friends suffering outside, accept because things are “like that”. training in the hot sun. You are NSF, you must thank God you can now escape training OK. Nearly dinner time already. You go and eat, and then you bring back some food for me. Lazy lah walk all the way to the cookhouse. Just tell the staff you taking for Sergeant Mok. OK? Vinod: Yes Sergeant. Vinod walks a little. Mok: Vinod. Don’t forget ah, you must still march. Attend C doesn’t mean no need to march. Sergeant Mok leaves. Vinod starts marching. Lights fade. Act Three / Scene 2 Textbook Pagination Guide: Past. Corridor. Act Three Lights come up. Saloma is at the corridor of Sc 2- 90 - 93 her flat. Azman walks to her. Azman: Hi. Saloma: Hello. Azman: I always see you standing here. Why? Got a lot of thing to see is it? Saloma: No, just stand only. Azman: I always see you. But shy lah want to talk. Now got chance. You study Sec Four ah? Saloma: VITB. Azman: Oh. I finish already. Not working. Later lah. Relax first. I always see you here. And then I think, what lah, this pretty girl always standing her. We all neighbour you know. Saloma: I know. Azman: Oh, you know. Neighbour must be friendly you know. I talk to you, you must talk to me. That’s why we all stay at HDB, so we can all talk, talk, relax together. You come my house, I come your house. Saloma: My mother say I cannot talk to you. Azman: Eh? Alamak, your mother boring lah. She see my face don’t like, she say you cannot talk to me. How can right? Tomorrow we go see 56
  • 57. show lah, then you tell me, you like me or don’t like. Want or not? Huh? Come lah, what show you want to see? Anything also can. Huh? No need to go nine o’clock show. Six o’clock also can. Huh? Want or not? Saloma: My mother say cannot. Azman: Your mother! Your mother in or not? [he peeps in] Saloma: No. Azman: Eh, your house got standard ah. You decorate ah? Saloma: You cannot go inside. Azman: Then you want to come to my house? Saloma: No. Azman: Come lah. We drink. You smoke or not? Saloma: No. Azman: Never mind, then we drink. My mother inside. No need so scared. Eh, my mother like, you know, when people come. She sure give you cake lah, biscuit lah, chocolate…sometimes present also she give. You want to see my mother? Saloma: I want to stand here. Azman: Come lah, little while only. Don’t worry. My mother inside. She got a lot of photo…on the wall, inside album. Like or not see photo? Saloma: I like. Azman: Wah, very hot ah stand outside here. He takes off his T-shirt. Azman: Come lah, go inside. Saloma: Don’t want. Azman: Don’t want to see photo? Mak; [voice] Saloma! Saloma! Somehow, upon hearing Mak’s voice, Saloma loses her footing and sense of judgement and follows Azman into his flat. Inside his flat, Azman probably must have done something to Saloma which freaks her out and traumatizes her. Saloma: Er…want. Azman: Then come [pause] Little while only. Come… Saloma follows Azman. They go off. Act Three / Scene 3 Textbook Pagination Guide: Past. Corridor/ Army Camp, Act Three And Present. Void Deck. Sc 3- 94 – 96 Vinod enters. 57
  • 58. Vinod: Saloma! Saloma enters. Vinod: Saloma, you’re right. We don’t have to go anywhere. We can just stay here. Forget the restaurants. Forget McDonald’s. Saloma: When I am with you, I am happy. Different characters begin to appear at different parts of the stage. Azman: [enters] Come lah, kita enjoy. Mok: [enters] Vinod! Three weeks in BMT also cannot take ah?! How can you lose your helmet? How to fight like that ?! Mak: [enters] Saloma! Mana budak tu? Where is that girl? Saloma: We are friends Vinod! [makes gesture] Best friends always. Fong: Vinod, we all BMT together, sleep together, bathe together…how can you sabo us like that? Mak: Saloma. Where are you? Mok: Vinod? Still not yet find ah? You die lah. I tell you. You die! Azman: Come, smoke lah. Vinod: This is our haven, heaven, halfway house… Vinod in the midst of all the voices and interruptions gives whatever! Who cares about the rest of the the void deck he shares with Saloma the thumbs-up. world? Saloma: We are strong. Nothing can destroy us! A robber enters and grabs Saloma. He has a The robber is a stab of reality for both Saloma and Vinod. knife. She screams. Azman: Eh, eh, relak ah! En…[he runs out] Mak: Saloma!!! What happen?!!! Saloma !!! Robber: Gimme your money! Quick! You shout I kill her! Saloma freezes. Saloma takes out money. Robber grabs her chain etc. Fong: Vinod! What are you doing?!! Why you just sit there?!! Robber: Eh, your boyfriend coward ah? Mok: Vinod! Waiting for Christmas is it? Saloma: Vinod! Robber: Eh, your boyfriend no balls ah? Vinod lets out a piercing scream. Vinod is traumatized by the robber’s insults. Fong: Sergeant! Sergeant! Vinod…he… SERGEANT!!! 58
  • 59. Robber gets scared and runs off. Saloma goes to Vinod. He stops screaming. Song starts [Song for you by Ray Charles]. Vinod and Saloma walk slowly to their own rooms. Saloma and Vinod’s actions are simultaneous. Saloma sits on the floor. Then she slowly gets up, looks outside the window. She takes her clothes and looks at them in front of the mirror. She dances slowly. Vinod looks around the room – at his books, then his trophy. He goes to his bed. He feels his bed, sits down. He gets up and dances. When Saloma goes to bed. Vinod is still dancing. Music ends. Lights slowly fade. Act Four / Scene 1 Textbook Pagination Guide: Later that night. Both Rooms. Act Four When lights come on, it s the middle of the Sc 1 – 100 - 104 night. Both Saloma and Vinod are asleep. Sc 2 – 105 – 107 Emily walks into Vinod’s room. She is dressed in a surgeon’s outfit, complete with gloves, face mask and surgeon’s cap. She takes off the face mask and speaks. Emily: Hello! Eh! Hello! [Vinod gets up suddenly] Remember that this is clearly a dreamscape – it is a dream Vinod right? scene. How on earth does Vinod dream of her is not something anybody can provide a plausible explanation. Remember: not all dreams can be interpretated. We may at most ask ourselves, why does Vinod dream of Emily whom he has never met before? The only impressions which he gets of Emily are formed through what Vinod has heard from Saloma. These have to be strong enough impressions which cause Vinod to “dream” of her. According to the playwright, Haresh Sharma, Vinod “conjures” Emily, yet “it is also her apparition that visits him”. Vinod: Yah. Emily: I’m Emily. Emily Gan. Vinod: Emily Gan? Emily: Yah! Emily Gan! You mean you never heard of me?! Vinod: What’s happening? Emily: What’s happening? I’m in your dream lah. Vinod conjures Emily. He allows her to come to form in his Then what? You think I just walk into your dream. room at three o’clock in the morning is it? Vinod: I’m just dreaming. Emily: That doesn’t mean this is not real. [slight pause] OK, listen, I only have five minutes, then I have to go. Vinod: Go where? Emily: Go and deliver a baby lah! You think I wear Emily is a mental patient who is seriously ill. According to 59
  • 60. this to sleep is it? [slight pause] Vinod – That’s Haresh Sharma, she is the metaphorical angel. a very nice name – Vinod, God spoke to me … He wants me to go to heaven. He needs me. Emily tells Vinod that she is leaving this world. He needs my help. So, after I deliver this last baby I’ll go. But before I go, I want to tell you that you have helped Saloma a lot. You have been there for her when no one else even gave a second look. [slight pause] You are so beautiful Vinod – Your mind, your heart, your soul. I know there is beauty in destruction. But trust me OK? Please say you will trust me. [slight pause] The robbery…use it to move… What is the significance of the robbery? Vinod is defeated to do. This country needs to be cleansed. . I by his inability to defend and protect Saloma and her money would do it, but now I can’t. [slight pause] and her chain. Start with one person. Talk to him, go into his heart. Then go to another person. Nirmala will do so too, and so will Saloma. We are special. Remember when you had your breakdown? What does Emily Gan what Vinod to do? We have come out of our body and gone back in. What we have experienced all these people have not. They need us. They don’t understand us, but they need us. [slight pause] Come. Vinod: Where are we going? Emily: Just come. Vinod: But I’m not dressed properly. Emily: There’s nothing I haven’t seen before. Come, I’m late already. They walk to Saloma’s room. Vinod: I’ve never see her room before. It’s very … neat. Are we going to wake her up? Emily: No. How many dreams you want me to be in? I’m only human. [slight pause] Look at her. Vinod: Why did you bring me here? Emily: That’s the problem with you, Vinod. I don’t know why I brought you here. And it doesn’t matter. Maybe tomorrow I’ll know. Maybe tomorrow you will know. But for now, just experience being here. [pause] OK, come, I’ll bring you back, then I’ll go. They go back to Vinod’s room. Emily: OK, do you have any questions? Vinod: Where do we go when we die? Emily: Ask me another one. [pause] Vinod, don’t talk about death. You still have a lot to do here. Vinod: But you are going to die. Emily: No! God has called me to join Him. Vinod: That’s just another way of saying you’re going to – Emily suddenly grabs Vinod by the collar and slaps him. 60
  • 61. Emily: - VINOD!!! You cannot use your mind to get yourself out of everything!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!! Where is your heart? Where?!! [Vinod points to it] GOOD! [softer] Now, use it before you forget how. She lets go. Emily: You see lah, now I have to wash my hands again. [slight pause] Any other questions? Vinod: No. Emily: OK, before I go, I just want you to remember Datta – GIVE three things. Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. Dayadhvam – SYMPATHISE Give, Sympathise. Control. To live is to give Damyata – CONTROL – no strings attached. Sympathise – not with yourself but with others…others who are blind. We must accept what life offers, but we must also take And in this country, there are many. Finally, control of its course. control. We must accept what life offers, but we must also take control of its course. [conspiratorial] Just between you and me, God doesn’t control everything. He creates, but he doesn’t control. He just sometimes help a bit here, a bit there. But otherwise, it’s in your hands. [pause] Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. Vinod: Give. Sympathise. Control. Emily stands in front of the mirror and adjusts her clothes. Emily: See lah. The baby is coming out and I’m admiring my designer surgery-wear. [slight pause] The baby…my last and most important one. [she takes a hanger] Can take? I need to pack. [she puts it down and takes another one] I prefer blue…baby blue. She makes a motion to go, then stops. She stands on top of a chair/bed, and faces Vinod. She looks at him, neatens his hair. Then she hugs him. Emily: I don’t want to see you for a long long time. Lights slowly fade. Act Four / Scene 2 Textbook Pagination Guide: The next day. Both Rooms. Act Four When lights come on, Vinod and Saloma are in Sc 2 – 105 – 107 their rooms. Vinod In the morning, Vinod woke up. For a while [Narrator]: he forgot…was last night the night he got best speaker? Was it the night he first came back from Woodbridge? Was it the night he first met Saloma? Then he remembered. And, as if in a trance, he went to his telephone and disconnected it. Then he went to his radio and unplugged it. He looked outside his window for a moment…at the people rushing for work. And as he turned, he saw his image in the mirror. He smiled, and smiled back. Saloma When Saloma woke up, she called Vinod and UPDATES: [Narrator]: was surprised to hear an engaged tone. She • So Saloma has written a letter to the Straits tried again. Still engaged. She flipped Times. 61
  • 62. through The Straits Times. Vinod had • Vinod has subscribed The Straits Times for subscribed it for her ever since she sent the Saloma. letter to the forum page. As she was turning • Emily Gan Siew Khim has committed suicide at the pages, her hand suddenly froze. When the age of 17 and “two months pregnant”. she finally turned the page, she smiled, for she saw her friend smiling at her. She read “Body of Emily Gan Siew Khim… found in SGH toilet…broken hanger lodged in her – 17 years old…two months pregnant.” Light fade. Act Four / Scene 3 Both Rooms. Lights come on. Vinod One week passed. Vinod hated the silence. Vinod isolates himself from others, including Saloma. [Narrator]: But all songs were noise. All sounds, hollow. Sometimes he would put on his army boots and look at himself in the mirror. Then he would jump, face down on his bed and holding his pillow as a rifle, he would move back and forth, while shooting at his enemies. Until his body became limp and he fell asleep. Saloma Two weeks passed. Saloma needed Vinod… Saloma misses Vinod. [Narrator]: his support. She needed him to tell her what to do. Where to go. His jokes, his lies… whatever. She didn’t care. She just needed him…at least once a day, everyday. Vinod Three weeks passed. Vinod’s parents grew The pressure is mounting for Vinod. Vinod’s relationship [Narrator]: more and more annoyed with their son’s with his parents has shown no sign of improvement. Their decision to shut out the world. They felt he expectations grow and grow. had taken advantage of their patience. He was well. All he needed was to further his Vinod has powerful parents who work very hard and quietly education, to get his degree. Unknown to him, behind the scene. They are absent from the play completely they applied to several universities. With his but their influence is felt through the way in which Vinod excellent ‘A’ level grades, they were sure he speaks about them. They are out of the play probably would be accepted without any problem. because they are so out of Vinod’s life. Or maybe Vinod has consciously chosen to shut them out totally from his life. Is it out of shame or guilt? Why does Vinod shut his parents out but sees Mr. Razali as his “guardian” and proclaims that he needs Mr. Razali’s protection? Why does he insist that he is Mr. Razali’s child and that Mr. Razali is his father? Saloma One morning, Saloma woke up and saw a small What is the significance of this narration? [Narrator]: bird hopping around in her room. It couldn’t fly properly. She was sure it had escaped from its cage downstairs and had hurt itself in the process. Slowly, she got up and walked into it. Frightened, the bird jumped onto the window grill and then onto the window. Saloma became frightened for the bird. If it fell from the window, it would die. She put her hand through the grill and tried to catch the small bird, but couldn’t. Suddenly, the bird made one final hop, missed the window grill and fell. Saloma became angry. Why didn’t it just stay in its cage where it belonged? Then all this wouldn’t have happened. [pause] Suddenly What has caused Saloma to have an “overwhelming urge to Saloma felt hungry. And she felt an go out” and what does this means? Does Saloma want to overwhelming urge to go out. remain a caged bird? Or does she wants to have wings so that she can fly? Lights fade. 62
  • 63. Act Five / Scene 1 Textbook Pagination Guide: September. Rooms/Void Deck. Act Five When lights come on, Vinod and Saloma are in their rooms. Vinod calls Saloma on the phone. Sc 1 – 110 - 124 Sc 2 – 125 – 127 Sc 3 – 128 – 133 Sc 4 – 134 – 138 Sc 5 – 139 – 141 Vinod: Saloma? Can we meet? Vinod longs for Saloma’s company. Saloma: Yes. Vinod: Now. Just come to my void deck. I’ll be there. They run down. They are now at Vinod’s void deck. Vinod: I’m sorry I didn’t call you. Saloma: Vinod, how are you? Vinod Vinod is fine. Vinod is always fine. What kind of a tone is this? Does the narrator imply that [Narrator]: Vinod puts up a pretense? A mask to face the world? To show the world how “normal” he is? NOBODY IS ALWAYS FINE. Saloma: I telephone you but always engage. [slight pause] You are OK, right? Vinod: Yah! I’m fine! Vinod hides all his problems within himself. Silence. Saloma: I go to police station. They still not yet catch Unlike Vinod who hides himself from the world, Saloma has the thief. been proactive in seeking redress. Vinod: You went to the police station? When? Saloma: Last week. I also apply for a job. At factory. Saloma tells us what she is going through. But I never get because I say I am ex-mental patient. I try three times. And yesterday, I telephone General Hospital. I want to be a nurse. Vinod Look Vinod, she’s doing something with her This is the narrator talking to Vinod and to the audience. In [Narrator]: life. Isn’t that great? essence, the narrator is prompting Vinod to take active note that Saloma is trying to forge a connection for herself by attempting to rejoin society. Vinod: Great! Saloma Nightingale. Who will faint Here Vinod the character is at divergent against Vinod the first? The person receiving the injection or the narrator. Then narrator says “it is a great thing to see Saloma person giving it? wanting do something with her life” but Vinod the character taunts Saloma as “Saloma Nightingale” and questions mercilessly her dream and ability to work as a nurse. Saloma: I want to help other people. ‘N’ Level can still N level is not the end of the road. become nurse. I talk to the …HR manager… she is very nice. Vinod: Did you tell her you are schizophrenic? It is quite cruel of Vinod to ask Saloma this question. Vinod Why was he hurting her like that? He thinks and feels that Saloma is drifting away from him. [Narrator]: Vinod: We made a promise. We promised to be there Vinod makes it very clear to Saloma about his feelings. for each other. You and me and this void deck. That’s all. We promised to forget everyone else. 63
  • 64. Saloma: Vinod, we cannot forget other people. We live There is now a reversal of thought here: While Vinod turns with other people. away from society and isolates himself, Saloma seeks to return to society so that she can work and live with other people. Vinod: Saloma, you were the one who didn’t want to Vinod rakes up the past to remind Saloma of her bashful go out to restaurants and movies. You were past. the one who wanted to only meet here. Saloma: Last time I scared. But it is wrong. [slight Saloma is the bird which has flown out of her cage. She is pause] Vinod, tomorrow we go out OK? I learning to grow her wings so that when she flies she does must go POSB. Because I must apply for not fall. She wants to learn to live outside her cage. Cash-on-Line card. Then I must go SGH to take application form. See, Vinod…I write She is planning to look for a job so that she can live and everything I must do. Number 1, number 2, work amongst the others in society. number 3 – Vinod: - what are you trying to do? What’s this? It is Vinod’s turn to be confused. POSB, nursing – Saloma: -I want to live like other - Vinod: - You can’t OK!! You can’t!! You’re trying to Before it has been MAK who has tried to stop Saloma from get your life together. You’re trying to be working. Now it is Vinod. normal. No more off centre. It’s now centre right? Centre!! Saloma: Yes, centre!! [Razali enters] Bapak. Saloma is moving from “off centre” to “centre”. Vinod: Where were you? Vinod’s tone is accusatory. Razali: Huh? Vinod: During the robbery! You are the guard. You Vinod is trying to shift the blame of the robbery to Razali. were supposed to guard us. How come you’re not around when we need you most? Saloma: Vinod. Razali: I go upstairs because got people complain – Vinod: - Yah, it’s always other people! You’re always Vinod accuses Razali of not protecting them when they are looking after other people! being robbed. Razali: You must look after yourself. Razali tells Vinod matter-of-factly that he has to look after himself and not rely on him. Vinod: I can’t! I need you to look after me! Vinod reveals that he needs protection by Razali. Razali: Cannot! I cannot always look after you. Vinod: You are the guardian! Guardian = God Razali: I am the guard!! [soft] I am the guard at the Razali’s reply is a slap on Vinod’s face; it brings him back to void deck. Dah. At night I go home. I got reality. wife. I got children. Vinod: We are your children. You’re not our father? Vinod is forced to face up to reality. Razali is not his father. Vinod goes to a corner. Saloma goes after him. Razali: Saloma! [she stops] Saloma: I must help him. Bapak…help him. Razali: I am going. Saloma: Going? Where? Razali: Home. I must start new work. Saloma: You are not coming back? [Razali starts Saloma feels betrayed by Razali too. walking away] Bapak. [he stops] Why? Why you rob us?[he walks away, exits. Pause] Vinod. Vinod, you think everything wrong. But God can help. God help me. 64
  • 65. Vinod: God is better at helping Himself… at our Vinod’s one-liner again. He is becoming more and more expense. self-righteous. Saloma: You never pray. You don’t know God. Saloma tries to help Vinod understand the importance of praying and the power of prayer. Vinod: Yes, you’re right. I don’t pray. Pray to who? Vinod’s outburst against God again. What God? When I was young, I prayed. I prayed to all the gods. I read books. I know REMEMBER Emily Gan’s warning to Vinod - Use your all the stories. Like Ganesh. Ganesh was heart before you lose it. Religion is a matter of faith. It asked by his mother , Parvathi, to guard the cannot be consciously reasoned. house because she was going to bathe. She told him not to let anyone in. And as he stood Vinod slashes out at the illogicality of religion. He tells outside the house, his father, Shiva, came Saloma that religion does not make sense. He does not home. But Ganesh refused to let him in. You believe in God. know why? Because his mother told him so. And you know what Shiva did? He was so angry he chopped off his son’s head. His own The Story of Ganesh - As told by Vinod. son! Of course Parvathi came out and became hysterical. Then Shiva had to go to the jungle to take the first head he saw to replace his son’s head. And he got an elephant’s head. Which is why Ganesh has the head of an elephant. And the elephant has one tusk broken. So whose fault it it? Poor Ganesh has to go round with an elephant’s head with one tusk broken and it’s because he listened to his mother. His father is to blame. His mother is to blame. And look at Sita. The poor woman was kidnapped, lived through an ordeal, was finally rescued by Hanuman and her husband expects her to stand trial to test her faithfulness The story of Rama and Sita - King Dasharatha of to him when they were separated. He should Ayodya in India was childless and made a special be shot! He should be shot! He wasn’t even sacrifice to the gods, hoping that they would give him man enough to rescue her himself. And she sons. Meanwhile the gods begged their lord Brahma to sacrificed herself. The ground opened ;up and help them against Ravana, the demon king. So Brahma swallowed her up. And look at Jesus Christ. asked the god Vishnu to vanquish the demon. Vishnu He was crucified. For what? For a bunch of agreed and was born, in his seventh incarnation, as ungrateful people!! It doesn’t make sense, Rama and his three brothers, Bharata, Lakshmana and Saloma. Religion just doesn’t make sense. Shatrughna. Unaware of their divinity, the brothers grew up as the sons of King Dasharatha and his three wives and married. Rama married Sita, an incarnation of Vishnu’s wife, Lakshmi, and was made his father’s heir. However, owing to the intrigues of one of his father’s wives, he left the city with Sita and Lakshmana, to live in the forest. There, they lived a quiet life for ten years, until one day Ravana tricked the brothers into leaving Sita alone and abducted her. Rama and Lakshmana, helped by Hanuman, general to the monkey king Sugriva, searched everywhere until Hanuman finally found her, shut up on the island of Lanka. With an army of monkeys and bears, Rama killed Ravana in a huge battle, was reunited with Sita, and returned to Ayodya where he became king and ruled for eleven thousand years. *There is a sad ending to the story of Rama and Sita: Rama rejected Sita after Hanuman rescued her because he thought that Ravana has raped her. Sita, unable to bear the slander, wanted to die but the gods would not allow it. They testisfied to her purity and told Rama that he was an avatar of Vishnu. Rama and Sita lived happily for 10,000 years until Rama, told that his subjects still considered Sita impure, sent her inot exile where she gave birth to his twin sons. Years later, rama saw his sons and asked Sita to come back. But her heart was broken and she sank into the arth. Rama ruled sadly for another 1,000 years before he also returned to the gods. Saloma: God can help us. What is the significance of Saloma’s one-liner reply to Vinod’s deluge of blasphemous accusations and searing anger. Knowledge about religion does not amount to faith. 65
  • 66. The path to building a connection with one’s faith and thus with God [not just the Christian God] is through one’s heart and not mind. Vinod attempts to reason his way[s] out with religion[s] and he has failed to uncover or discover anything close to enlightenment. Saloma, in her simplicity and her faith in God, simply surrender her body and soul to God. Vinod: Help us? Great! Did God help you when you Vinod thinks there is no God and there is no after-life. After were in Woodbridge? Don’t forget God put we die, that is the end of everything that is left of us. Void. you there in the first place. Do you know…do you know Saloma, that throughout the period Vinod seems to be using whatever he has with him here to when I was sick I kept asking for God to help fight against God. Saloma is merely an object for him to win me? Everyday, help me, help me. And you over if he can WIN his argument that God does not exist. In know what happened? It rained. It rained and a debate, the winning team prevails and moves on to the next rained and rained…I tell you Singapore round. Vinod, before his illness, has always been on the recorded the highest amount of rainfall in winning streak – he knows it and the world of academia February 1988. [slight pause] I want a God. which he excels in knows it – so he believes in using his gift Do you understand? But I can’t find one. of the gab, his knowledge, his intelligence to look for God. Maybe there’s a God in music…or in poetry. There is intense disappointment and anger not only with the Or maybe God is just Man’s creation because elusive God that Vinod is constantly seeking out but also we are afraid there’s no after-life. with himself. I think Vinod cannot believe that with his inborn capability and intelligence, and the knowledge and reasoning power he has amassed for himself, he cannot find GOD. When he fails, he turns against religion, he withdraws into himself and at this point of time, he attacks Saloma, a believer, questions her faith and attempts to take it away from her. Saloma: After we die, we go to God, to our family, in Saloma holds on to her faith. heaven. Vinod: Yah. Either that or we disintegrate and become Vinod makes a vulgar protestation here. fertilizer. We become shit!! Saloma: NO! You become shit!! I go to heaven!! I go This is the first time Saloma denounces Vinod. to heaven!!! Vinod Vinod looked at Saloma’s eyes and saw the Vinod’s world and Saloma’s world are now separate and [Narrator]: hurt inside her. He had abused her. He had poles apart – a world of God and a world without God. tried to destroy her faith in her own religion. Just because his faith had been destroyed. Just because he envied her. He was angry. He was angry with the whole world. And Saloma was part of that world. He walks away. Saloma: Vinod…Vinod. Vinod [walking to his room] Vinod continued Vinod turns away from Saloma. At this point of time, he [Narrator]: walking despite Saloma’s calls. All he knew does not need Saloma to contradict him in what he no longer was that he wanted to get away from her. He believes in. He also feels the betrayal. He is also probably wanted to get away from everyone. He wanted extremely disappointed and confused with his own failings. to be at the top of a building, not under it… He is supposed to be the protector, the statue but now he is somewhere he could breathe…somewhere he nothing. He is nothing but a weakling. could see the sky. Saloma Saloma wanted to run after Vinod, to stop him Saloma realizes that she cannot help Vinod at all. [Narrator]: and tell him she was there for him, that he didn’t have to be sad anymore, that everything would be fine, that – [pause. She starts to walk to her room]. As Saloma watched Vinod walk away, she thought of the songs and the dances and the poems and her mother and God…she thought of the Viper [makes gesture with one hand] and the sang kechil [makes gesture with the other hand], and realized…they were only two hands. 66
  • 67. Pause. Saloma Salomma looked around at the void deck. She Saloma is helpless. She is confused but she tells herself that [Narrator]: felt confused… she must not be. She has to be clearheaded so that she can help Vinod. Saloma: No, I am not confused. I must help Vinod. Saloma (the narrator) and Saloma are one and the same. They are united. This is a clear indication that Saloma’s action and thoughts are one and the same. She is mentally sound and stable. She is able to help Vinod if she is given the opportunity to do so. She goes to the public phone and calls Vinod. Lights come up on Vinod’s room. He’s there. He picks up the phone. Vinod: Hello. Saloma: Vinod. I am downstairs. Please come down. Vinod: Aiyah, Saloma go home, OK. Just go home. Vinod tells Saloma the bad news. He has lost his job becaue [pause] I lost my job. The boss found that I’m his boss finds out that he is a mental patient. an ex-patient. So he fired me. Saloma: How? Vinod: I don’t know. I don’t care anymore. Saloma: Never mind Vinod. You can get another job. I Saloma’s turn to throw in her encouragement and support. help you to look. Vinod: What’s the use Saloma? Sooner or later they’ll Vinod reminds her of the vicious cycle. He does not want to find out. If I join a company that hires ex- be denied the right to rejoin society but at the same time, he patients I don’t have much choice of jobs and I does not want to lie. When he does so, he lives in constant get paid less anyway…like that Mr. Chow. fear because the news travels fast in Singapore. And if I lie, then everyday I live in fear, wondering when the boss is going to find out. So, what do we do? Saloma: We can go out. We can find – Saloma has hope for her future. She thinks together with Vinod, they are able to discover their future. Vinod: -Well, thank you for including me in your busy schedule. I thought you had tons of things to do. I wouldn’t want to be in the way. Saloma: What do you want Vinod? Saloma is sincere in trying to help Vinod. Vinod: I want to be left along. Go, go to your bapak, Vinod no longer believe in the healing power of being with stay at the void deck. It’s your heaven right? Saloma at the void deck. The deck is now a VOID to him. If Saloma wishes to believe in “her heaven”, then he is prepared to let her have it. Vinod also disassociates himself from bapak. “Bapak” is now Saloma’s bapak. He is in effect telling us and Saloma that he does not care any more. Saloma: Vinod, the thief take my chain, my watch, my Saloma is prepared to put the robbery incident behind her money…never mind. All this not important. and move on in her life. Vinod: I know! Saloma, the robbery…its’ a sign. Vinod is the one who cannot forgive himself for his failing to Why us? Why not someone else? Don’t you stand up for himself and Saloma when the robber strikes. see? We’ve been robbed…out of everything. There’s nothing…we’re naked. Boom… HOW DOES VINOD SEE THE ROBBERY? boom… Unlike Saloma, who is prepared to put the robbery incident behind her and move on in her life, Vinod takes it very hard. He takes it that they [including Saloma] have been robbed “out of everything”. Saloma: Vinod… Vinod: Boom… Everything disappears. All hope is lost. Saloma: Vinod! 67
  • 68. Pause. Vinod: I didn’t do anything. Vinod thinks he is totally useless and worthless. Saloma: No, you are there. You are always there. Saloma wants Vinod to get back to his senses so that he can recoup his self-worth. Vinod: You are not there anymore. Vinod tells Saloma that he has lost her. Saloma: Vinod, you don’t want me to become better? Saloma asks a very important question. This is not exactly a [no reply] Vinod? question but a suspicion. Vinod: No. [pause] No, Saloma. I don’t. Vinod makes a confession – a terrible confession. He hangs up. Pause. She hangs up. Lights fade on her. Vinod looks at the audience. Vinod No, Saloma, I don’t. There, Vinod had said it. Vinod comes clean with his painful confession to Saloma. [Narrator]: He was happy. He turned on the music at full volume and jumped up and down and danced and danced [Vinod doesn’t move] and danced. [Vinod gets up and shrugs] He picks up his trophy. Best speaker. No less. [Vinod throws the trophy asde] Vinod: Get lost!! [pause. Then he points to someone Vinod in a state of hallucination. He is seriously delusional in the audience] Mr. Chow… is that you? It’s and confused. He has lost grip of himself. me, Vinod. You fired me remember? I found another job…but was fired there too. Mr. Chow, why are you ignoring me? Mr. Chow enters at another part of the stage. Mr. Chow is the first tormentor in Vinod’s hallucination. Chow: Vinod, you’re giving me a lot of problems. Some of the other people I can take, but you… Vinod; Remember, Mr. Chow when I went to see you Vinod reveals to the audience how he thinks he has been that time? [to audience] But he didn’t listen. unfairly treated by Mr. Chow. He wanted to sack me. Mr. Chow, tell them. Chow: You’re very disruptive. You can’t force the Mr. Chow accuses Vinod of instigating other workers to other patients, I mean workers, to do things become “disruptive” at his work place. they don’t want to do. Ah Seng enters at another part of the stage. Ah Seng is the second tormentor in Vinod’s hallucination. Ah Seng does not bother Vinod in the same manner which Mr. Chow has done. Ah Seng: Vinod, you talk to Mr. Chow. You can talk. Ah Seng begs Vinod to help the meek and the frightened We all cannot talk. You ask him lah why two workers. He begs Vinod to speak up for him and the other months already he never give money. Want to workers because these workers have been delayed payment buy kacang also cannot. by Mr. Chow. Vinod: Mr. Chow, do you know, some of the workers Vinod speaks up for Ah Seng and the other workers. He were really upset. You didn’t know because lends them his voice. He tries to communicate their you never talk to them. You never go out of concerns to Mr. Chow on their behalf. In a way, he has your office to say, “Hi, how are you doing?” become their spokesperson. Chow: I know they have problems. But I don’t like all Like any businessman, Mr. Chow, dislikes “representatives” this conspiracy. How do I know you’re telling like Vinod. Regardless of whether you like Mr. Chow or not, the truth? Don’t try to be funny. Don’t be a he thinks in a defensive mode. He manages the workers and troublemaker. Just do what you’re supposed to he would like to be thought of by his boss above him (or do. even if he is the big boss himself) to be doing a good job keeping his workers in order. He certainly thinks he does not need somebody like Vinod to step into his affair by telling him that his workers are unhappy with him. Naturally in the eyes of people like Mr. Chow, Vinod is nothing but trouble. Ah Seng: I scared to tell my social worker. She very There are many people like Ah Seng in our society. They 68
  • 69. fierce. Suay lah. I think I born that time are the ones who have lost their voice to speak up for raining. themselves. We empathise with them because they have no control over their lives even though we know that all they need to do is to muster their courage and learn to speak up. But because these kind of people are everywhere, their sheer number is overwhelming. Also it is hard to break the ice for everybody. Vinod: And you didn’t pay us for two months. That’s Vinod openly attacks Mr. Chow for his hypocrisy in helping not fair right? And you know, Mr. Chow, ex-mental patients. people were saying that you only hire ex- patients because you want to get some REMEMBER: [1] Although this is Vinod’s hallucination, Community Service Award. this scene is acting as a flashback for the audience to take a quick but necessary look at some of the significant events which have taken place when Vinod encounters other people in society. We may never have known but it is unlikely for Vinod to be bothered by events which he simply “invents” or “conjures” out of thin air to worsen his own situation. So we may safely assume that these are real events which have take place before. From these flashbacks, we will be able to gather more information to learn more about Vinod. Chow: Vinod, they should count their lucky stars that Vinod is sandwiched between Mr. Chow and people like Ah someone like me is even taking them in, giving Seng, but he is not even a judge or an arbitrator to decide them an opportunity. Who else would do that? who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Who else would hire a person who is fine today and has a breakdown tomorrow? Huh? You tell me. Ah Seng: Want to resign also cannot resign. Five times Ah Seng is nagging that he is caught in a Catch-22 situation. already I resign. Nobody want already. If he stays with Mr. Chow, he does not get pay. If he goes Smelly already. away, he is not gong to get a job. It is a vicious cycle for him. His situation can only get worse, which ever decision he makes. Chow: My company has a reputation to maintain. We Mr. Chow reveals his true self here. Although he does not have won awards at WITS, we have BEST and challenge Vinod’s accusation of his ulterior motive in hiring WISE classes. Our rate of productivity is ex-mental patients, he admits that his company does have “a totally in alignment with the government’s. reputation to maintain”. He seems to have committed to These people are a risk factor. But I take them memory a string of awards for his philanthrophic in because of the kindness of my heart. machinations such as “WITS”, “BEST” and “WISE”, and thinks that he takes in people like Vinod and Ah Seng out of sheer “kindness of his heart”. Ah Seng: Here good. Nobody disturb. Last time I work Ah Seng is unable to think clearly. He is rather got people disturb. People know we all mental muddleheaded. He is incapable of taking a stand and stick to case. I think maybe I must carry page or it. On the one hand, he complains about unfair treatment handphone. Then people won’t think I mental from Mr. Chow and on the other, he thinks that Mr. Chow case. has provided him with a better working environment than elsewhere. How is Vinod going to effectively help him to ask for his delayed payment from Mr. Chow? Vinod: Mr. Chow, you don’t understand. You kept Mr. Chow intimidates the workers. raising your voice. Remember? You said, “If they are not happy…” Chow: …ask them to come and see me. “If they are not happy, ask them to come and see me” is a delaying tactic. It is a management technique. Vinod: Mr. Chow, they’re very insecure about According to Vinod, Mr. Chow has been taking advantage of speaking openly. But do you know they work the meekness of his workers. When Mr. Chow tells them to harder than normal people? And the normal go and see him if they are not happy, he does not really people in the company got paid on time. expect that they would really do so. Vinod thinks Mr. Chow Someone had to represent them. mistreats these workers who are working “harder” than normal people and he wants to be their voice to speak up for their rights. Ah Seng: Talk for us lah. We talk, only saliva come out. Vinod keeps on hearing Ah Seng’s plea. [By the way, Ah Seng’s presence is a symbolic one. He represents the ex- mental patients who are working for Mr. Chow at his factory. Vinod: Mr. Chow. Mr. Chow! Vinod calls out to Mr. Chow because Mr. Chow ignores him. Ah Seng: Vinod! 69
  • 70. Lights fade on Ah Seng. Chow: Vinod, you want to be the saviour is it? You’re Mr. Chow decides to get rid of Vinod because he thinks he is not Jesus Christ you know? You’re just crazy, trying to cause trouble in his workplace. He can do so like the rest of them. Yes, I have decided. because apparently, he is the power to report on Vinod’s Maybe you’re not fully recovered yet. Maybe conduct, attitude and behaviour in his workplace. Who do you’re not ready to be integrated into the real you think the social worker would choose to believe? Mr. world. You can leave after lunch. I’ll explain Chow or Vinod? to your social worker. Vinod: Mr. Chow. Vinod turns away. Chow: Vinod. Vinod turns back. Vinod: Yes? Chow: Don’t …er…kill yourself. Mr. Chow wants to get rid of Vinod but at the same time, he does not want to face any consequences should Vinod take the dismissal too personally. It is quite real here that there are people like Mr. Chow who is doublefaced and not all together sincere in wanting to help mental patients return to society. People like Mr. Chow have more to lose if they successfully help to rehabilitate ex- mental patients back to society. If Mr. Chow manages to contain the mental patients and they, out of gratitude, work harder for him, Mr. Chow stands to gain. He has productivity at a bargain price in his factory and also wins goodwill due to publicity given to him by the media and official recognition in the form of national awards given out to him and his company by government bodies and related authorities. Mr. Chow exits. Vinod: [to audience] People never get a second Vinod’s long speech here is actually a brief information chance right? You’re all the same. You don’t report on the plight of mental patients in Singapore. want us to bring down your productivity level so you conveniently put a label on us… no insurance, no loans, no job. [slight pause] Let me give you some advice, next time you want to commit suicide, make sure you do it right. If you’re going to take pills, don’t be modest. Although suicide is a taboo subject, Vinod manages to Take them all – Panadol, pain killers… introduce a local perspective to adulterate the morbidity of personally, I feel it’s easier to jump. You can the idea. take your pick - Marine Parade for that beautiful sea view. Pasir Ris, if you want something more modern. Woodlands, if you want to jump across the causeway. Don’t forget your passport. If you want something more dramatic, then hang yourself in your room. Very easy. Use bedsheets. I think I’ll write a book. “Be the best you can…at suicide”. Chapter 1: the kiasu suicide. Get rope, bedsheets, poison, pills, gun, blades, knives…everything also must have. Chapter 2: the slow suicide – stay in Singapore. Chapter 3…hmm, oh, and the most dramatic death of all – slashing. Don’t slash veins. The blood only drips out. If you slash an artery, the blood spurts out. Next question…where are your arteries? [points] Here, carotid. Here…and don’t forget, don’t lock the door. So, in the morning, mummy dearest wakes up and 70
  • 71. screams…”MY BEDSHEETS!! Stains!!” [pause] Don’t worry Mum. No stain is too stubborn to wipe out. Lights cross fade to Saloma in her room. Act Five / Scene 2 Textbook Pagination Guide: October. Saloma’s Room. Act Five Mak enters. Sc 1 – 110 - 124 Sc 2 – 125 – 127 Sc 3 – 128 – 133 Sc 4 – 134 – 138 Sc 5 – 139 – 141 Mak: Saloma! Saloma! You got letter. Huh? Why? Kenapa ni? Saloma: I apply for job. Saloma informs Mak matter-of-factly. Mak: Job!! Mak kan kata…don’t work! Kenapa I already said… degil? Why so stubborn? Saloma: Mak, I feel better now. I want to work. Then I Saloma reasons with Mak. can give money to you. Mak: Give money to me for what? I don’t want. DON’T MISINTERPRET MAK’S INTENTION HERE: When Mak says she does want money from Saloma, she is not refusing to receive money from Saloma. It is her way of telling Saloma not to risk her mental health. This is how Mak shows Saloma that she loves her and does not want her to suffer any relapse. Saloma: I can buy things for the house. Mak, you However, Saloma wants to contribute to her family as well. always say the sofa very old already. When she makes reference to the family sofa, we can either take it that the sofa is actually “very old already” and needs replacement OR take in the bigger picture: this is how Saloma expresses her love in return to Mak. Mak: Never mind. Old, old. I also old. This is how Mak and Saloma connect with each other. By making reference to an inanimate object – not just any – but one in which they identify with and share intimately – they understand what the other party is trying to say. Mak is firm that Saloma should not work. Saloma: I am going to work. Saloma is quite sure that she is ready to go back to work. Mak: Saloma, nak kena rotan ke apa ni? Saloma, do you want me to cane you? Saloma: Mak nak rotan Saloma. You beat me…but I You want to cane me. still mental patient. Mak: Ah, tengok lah. You go and mix with mad Look. people, you also become mad. Mak kata budak I told you that boy [VINOD] is mad. tu gila. Saloma: He is not mad. Saloma defends Vinod. Mak: He is mad. He go Woodbridge. REMEMBER: Both Saloma and Vinod have experienced spending time at Woodbridge. Saloma: I also go Woodbridge – Saloma comes to terms with her past. Mak: - You are not mad – Mak is still in denial with regard to her daughter’s condition. Saloma: - And try to kill myself – She speaks openly about her past. Mak: - You are not mad – Mak, like most parents, may from time to time, either consciously or unconsciously, slips into inconsistency by exerscising double standards. When other people are admitted to Woodbridge, they must be mad. But when it comes to her daughter, she definitively defends that Saloma 71
  • 72. is “not mad”. Saloma: - And my hand tremble - She is not afraid to talk about her illness. Mak: - YOU ARE NOT MAD!!! YOU ARE MY Do you understand? DAUGHTER! You are mine. You are me. Saloma faham tak?! You are me…your face, Mak has to raise her voice because she thinks it is important your eyes, your hands…everything…ME! for her daughter to know that she does not see her any differently just because of her mental condition. Also, she wants her daughter to know that whatever the stakes may be, she will always be there for Saloma. This is her desperate expression of her love for her daughter. Saloma: You are not mad also. Saloma is grateful to her mother. She knows her mother loves her and cares for her very much. Pause. Mak: Everytime I close my eyes, I see you…that The untold story of the caregiver – the helplessness, the time, you run home, you shout, go inside your anguish, the despair and the isolation. She has nobody else room. Break everything. Bang your head on to turn to. She is a widow. She has no friends. She lives in the wall. Bang. Bang. Bang…until got a HDB estate and not a kampong. blood…and I stand. I look at you. And I think…if you die, I can rent your room. How Lest you accuse her of being practical-minded and even much one room in Hougang? 300? 400? thinking about how to make money with the empty room if [pause] Everybody say I am strong. See, her Saloma should die, please be reminded that Mak has to move husband die so young. Her daughter become on, no matter what happens to her daughter. mad. But she still so strong. Mak jaga Saloma. Mak jaga bapak Saloma. Siapa jaga On top of everything else, society judges a book by its cover, mak. Siapa? and a person by his or her outer appearance. We have no time to probe deeper, either because we have become more superficial or we have no time to be really concerned with other people. So Mak is more or less affected by what other people say or think of her even though these opinions, comments and remarks are likely to be superficial. But she is afraid for Saloma and for herself, but chiefly for her daughter. If she allows Saloma to go out to work and something untoward were to happen to her again, then what is going to happen to Saloma and her? Mak would rather Saloma stays at home and be safe. [I take care of you. I take care of your father. Who will take care of me? Who?] Saloma: Last time, you teach me the song, I learn, I …must follow tradition. sing. You say I must be good, mesti ikut adat. Next time, you cannot take care of yourself, I Saloma intends to be a good daughter and she expressedly must take care of you. [slight pause] I can still wants to take care of Mak when she becomes really too old learn. I can still take care of you. [pause] I to take care of herself. But she tells Mak that if she stays at want to live, Mak. But you say I must stay at home and cannot do anything, she will eventually lose her home, cannot go out, cannot do anything. You will to live or forget how to live and so she will“die” even if feel better, but I die. Mak would feel at peace with herself. Saloma does not want to “die” . Mak: This country no good. People no good. When Mak, in her own way, comments on the superficiality of our I sell food, I wear badge. Smile, I smile. I go society. She wants Saloma to really understand that nobody Woodbridge. Got poster. Smile. I smile. I really cares about them. Nobody cares if something see Woodbridge doctor. He say how many untoward were to happen to Saloma [if she doesn’t obey percent become better, how many percent don’t Mak and goes out to work]. People are polite, it is true but it become better. He smile. I smile. I see social is a pretentious but necessary thing to do, because everybody worker. She say how many percent must take does it and everybody looks civil and respectful. Everybody medicine only for few months, how many seems to be managing themselves well but nobody really percent must take always. If daughter mad, knows much about how everybody well is getting on with how many percent mother also mad. She life. We seem to be wearing masks so that our true feelings smile. I smile. I go home, I see the mirror. I become hidden. Because she faces people day in day out, smile. I cannot laugh. I cannot cry. Because I Mak feels that she is sick and tired of herself “smiling” to only know how to smile. I only know how to other people. She cannot express her real feelings – she smile. “cannot laugh’ and she “cannot cry”. She dislikes it but this is the way society has forced it down on her. In order to make a living for herself and her daughter, she has to put her personal feelings aside and wear a “smiley” face. She really does not know how much longer she can go on. 72
  • 73. THIS IS MY HAUNCH why Mak is saying all this to Saloma - Mak wants Saloma to know that she has to suppress a lot of personal feelings in order to keep up with what she has to do every day in order to support Saloma. She does not need to take on more than she has already been undertaking. All she needs is for Saloma to understand that society is not as kind as it seems to be. She does not need to see Saloma suffer like what she has to go through. She wants Saloma to listen to her and obey her. So although Saloma has firmed up her plans and made up her mind to go out to society to work, she faces a strong opposition from Mak. This is a dilemma which remains to be resolved. Should Saloma listen to her mother and stay at home indefinitely? OR Should she listen to herself and go out to work so that she can live again? Lights slowly fade. Act Five / Scene 3 Textbook Pagination Guide: December. Rooms / Void Deck. Act Five When lights come on, Saloma is in her room. Sc 1 – 110 - 124 Sc 2 – 125 – 127 Sc 3 – 128 – 133 Sc 4 – 134 – 138 Sc 5 – 139 – 141 Saloma For the next few weeks, Vinod would call Saloma faces another situation withVinod. We should be [Narrator]: Saloma, apologize, start a conversation and able to tell from Vinod’s inconsistent and violent actions that then get angry and shout at her. It seemed his condition has deteriorated. If he does not want to help there was no end. himself or even let Saloma help him, then he is really on the path to self-destruction. Saloma: But I still have to be there for him. Saloma is determined to help him in whatever way she can. Saloma Yes, Saloma you’re right. He needs your help. The narrator conveys her concern to Saloma. The narrator [Narrator]: But be careful. also expresses the audience’s concern. Saloma: I will. Saloma I’ll be there Saloma. Saloma will not lose control of herself. She is telling herself [Narrator]: that she will take care of herself while she is caring for Vinod. Saloma: I know. Vinod and Saloma are at the void deck. Vinod: Saloma, you’re late. Why are you always Vinod’s negative tone of voice. doing this? I mean, if you don’t want to see me, just say so. Saloma: Vinod, you take the medicine or not? Vinod: Oh, Saloma Nightingale is in action. You will Vinod mocks Saloma because he is severely depressive by get a National Day Efficiency Award. [slight now. He forgets completely that Saloma is kind to him and pause] Saloma, when I take medicine, I don’t she is a friend. The unkind things which he says about feel depressed because I basically don’t feel Saloma at her face: anything. You can’t think. You don’t know • Taunts her as “Saloma Nightingale”. where you are. The medicine only hides our • Mocks that she is going to receive a “National illness, but it doesn’t make it disappear. That’s Day Efficiency Award”. why you see people taking medicine for the rest of their lives. What we need is care and • Mocks that she “cannot think”  In effect [increase anger] support and love and all that rebuking Saloma for wasting time on herself and 73
  • 74. shit which nobody wants to talk about or show him. because…because we’re fucking Singaporeans and Asian societies can’t touch touch hug hug • Being cruel to Saloma  “the medicine only right?!! hides the illness, it does not make it disappear” *How does Vinod get this idea? Earlier on, he claims that he suffers from side effects – his hands wobble if he takes medication. Then he becomes increasingly cynical by avoiding and then totally rejecting medication. By way of reasoning, Vinod thinks that if medication does not work on him, then it cannot work on Saloma and any other mental patients. FACT: Medication on a regular basis holds the symptoms in check. Vinod resents the fact that once he has the symptoms, he will have to put up with medication for the rest of his life. He also resents the fact that he is being labeled unfavourably because of his illness. HOWEVER, there is also truth in Vinod’s anger. Mental patients need the care, support and love of their love ones. Are Singaporeans showing enough care, support and love for mental patients? NOT WHEN there is nobody in our family who is a mentally unstable. Why does Vinod use the pejorative word “fucking” on Singaporeans and Asian societies? Plausible explanations - Vinod thinks he has been badly treated by his parents, his friends and the society at large after he becomes depressive. His experience with Mr. Chow and subsequent employer[s] tell him that he is not given a fair deal at work. His friends shun him like plague. His life chances are destroyed. His future is practically gone with the wind. All these, he thinks is caused by the hypocrisy of the Singaporean and other Asian societies. Saloma: Vinod, you want love, but medicine also Saloma understands what is bothering Vinod. important. Medicine control the chemical. Vinod: No, Saloma, the medicine controls us!! Do you Vinod does not accept the fact that he is caught in Catch-22 understand? It’s a matter of choosing. Taking situation. control of your life, your mind and run the risk of getting a relapse, or no relapse and no *A Catch-22 situation is an impossible situation that you control over anything! cannot solve because you need to do one thing in order to do a second thing, but you cannot do the second thing until you have done the first. See, Vinod is very upset here because he feels “trapped”: If he wants to take “control” of his life and mind, he runs the risk of getting a relapse. If he gives up “control” of his life and mind by taking medicine, he is safe from getting a relapse but he loses his independence because he will become reliant on medication. That is the Catch-22 situation which he cannot get rid of. Saloma: No! If I become better, I don’t need to take Saloma does not read too much into Vinod’s concern. medicine. Vinod: We are never going to get better!! That’s the Vinod is angry because he knows that both he and Saloma point! If you believe one day you will stop “are never going to get better”, whether he is mistaken or taking medicine, then great. Good luck. Don’t otherwise. come back to me when you wake up from your dream. Ironically, Vinod is right about the need for the mental patients to take regular medication for the rest of their lives. Saloma: Then why you want to control me? Saloma feels the suffocation from Vinod’s unreasonable behaviour. Vinod: Huh? 74
  • 75. Saloma: My mother say I must do this. I follow. Rose Saloma vents her frustration too but in a more self-restrained say, Emily say. Doctor say…now, you also manner. Many people have told her many things about how say. Everybody want to help me. she should be dealing with her life. She is overwhelmed by the suggestions, advice and demands. She is also confused because “everybody want[s] to help her” but she does not feel right. She feels she needs to take control of her life by at least trying to take up a job again and become useful to society. Vinod: Yah, I’m helping, not controlling. Vinod does not realize that he is trying to influence Saloma to accept his thinking. He does not understand the power of his emotional blackmailing on Saloma. Saloma: You don’t want me to work. You don’t want Why does Saloma say to Vinod that “what we are doing is me to become better. You only want me to wrong”? What according to Saloma is “wrong”? stay here, at your void deck. Everyday, you can come down and play with me. Vinod, Saloma no longer sees their meeting at the void deck as what we are doing is wrong. Everyday we useful and relevant in helping them to become better or get meet here. well or solve their problems. Saloma is also seeing how skewed their relationship is developing: Vinod does not want her to work. Vinod wants her to remain the way she has always been. Vinod wants her to meet at the void. She no longer sees this meeting sessions the same way as she has done before. Vinod: It’s OK. As long as I have you, I don’t need EVER WONDER JUST HOW IMPORTANT SALOMA anything else. I don’t need my job, my IS TO VINOD? family, friends. Forget society. Saloma: When I die? Vinod: You won’t die. Saloma: If. Vinod: You won’t die!! Vinod Vinod! What are you doing to yours – [Narrator]: Vinod: -Go away! Saloma: Vinod, you always say we must live. This is Saloma is starting to question Vinod’s “wisdom” with regard not live. You always say life long or short to life and the choices that people make in life. never mind, must be full. Who? Vinod: DH Lawrence. Saloma: You know everything. You remember Saloma points out to Vinod that he regurgitate what he has everything. But you only say. You never read but he has never “listen” to himself and other people. listen. IN OTHER WORDS, he does not really understand what he is saying. Neither does he act upon what he is saying. Because if he spouts those lines of wisdom, surely he believes in them and would want to act according to what he believes? Vinod: I’ve had my full life OK? Saloma you don’t Yet Vinod still insists that he has “had a full life”. When he understand. Ever since I was born I was makes this point, he comes across as defensive probably destined to be the best. And I was. In school, because he feels so wronged by Saloma’s comments. at home…I was the best, the most competitive. Everyone was afraid of me. I loved it. The Naturally, Vinod is entitled to make such a claim for himself. competition made me go further and further. We are not judging him if we say that he may be mistaken. And now this has happened. And I don’t want We need to see for ourselves whether or not, he has indeed a to be part of the rat race anymore. But I don’t full life. It is no longer a matter of opinion because he is know how. Because I’m still a rat. [pause] pitting his argument against Saloma. What do you do with a mentally-ill rat? [pause] Everything is moving so fast, everything is Does Vinod really have a FULL life? always changing. If I can’t keep up, I might as NO. well not try right? 75
  • 76. WHY SO? • Nobody is destined to be the best. • Being “the best, the most competitive” and having “everyone afraid of him” do not constitute a FULL life. • Having once “loved” to compete academically does not make one’s life FULL. AND • Vinod contradicts himself by confessing that he is still a “RAT” even though he beats everybody else in the academic race. • Vinod acknowledges that he is a “mentally-ill” rat. • Vinod feels the stress because “everything is moving so fast and always changing” and there is a hint that he feels that he “can’t keep up”, so he is dropping out of the fast track of life. Saloma: Vinod, we cannot run, we can walk. You… Saloma thinks that there is no need to compete with other you don’t want to walk also! people in other do lead a decent life. Life is not a competition, it is a personal journey which we embark upon at our own time and pace. Saloma thinks that Vinod is not trying hard to understand what life entails. Vinod: I don’t know how to walk! I’ve only been Although Vinod says this about himself. It is actually a taught how to run. There is no in-between piece of social criticism level at all of us in Singapore. As Saloma. Don’t you see? There is no in- citizens of a nation, we have been taught to move ahead of between. [slight pause] It’s in our blood… other people, we must always RUN ahead, at least ONE or fighting to be the best, materialism…it’s TWO steps, so that we are always NUMBER ONE. There is genetic…we all have a chemical imbalance. no compromise. It is a national mission for us to continue with our economic growth and development. It is “genetic” because the core values are being taught to the younger generation. As a nation, Singaporeans are caught up in the economic rat race and we are obsessed with material success and economic gains. Saloma: Just now you say medicine no good. Medicine Is Saloma confused or influenced by Vinod? hide illness, but illness still there. If our life only we two, then illness also still there. We are still sick. We don’t know. We think got two sick people so both not sick. Vinod: Then we’ll get more sick people. We’ll start a support group. We’ll have a hotline. Then we’ll have - Saloma: - Then we have restaurant only for mental patient, HDB only for mental patient, school only for mental patient… Vinod: Yes. Yes! YES! And when any of them Vinod seeks “revenge”. [points to audience] comes to our restaurant, we’ll stare at them. We’ll point our finger at them and say, “Look at them – siow, cuckoo, off centre.” ALL of them, my parents, teachers, the army, JC, Mr. Chow… Vinod Vinod! Stop it!! Be strong!! Vinod, the narrator, notices that Vinod is slowly but [Narrator]: gradually falling apart. Vinod: [points to audience] Look Saloma, look… Vinod turns against and denounces the audience for thief fucking mad people…so many of them… first time. He attempts at teasing and scaring the audience! Don’t be scared of me. I’m just like but at the same time, tells them not to be scared of him. He the person sitting next to you. [he laughs] taunts them and mocks them. 76
  • 77. Saloma, do you know, just a hundred years ago, these people would burn us because we are mentally ill? Because they think we are the devil. Now they’re verrrry civilized. Never burn. Oh, or you want to burn is it? Vinod Go away, Vinod. Go away. Run away. Vinod, the narrator, is totally upset with Vinod. [Narrator]: Vinod: NO!! I want to burn!! LET’S BURNNNN. I Vinod seems to have lost control over himself and his AM THE DEVIL!! [he slaps Saloma] Yah, hit emotions. me back. Use your nails. [he laughs] Hit me, come on. [he grabs her] HIT ME!!! [Saloma is crying. Vinod pulls her hair] Pull my hair. Pull it! [he thrusts his hips at hers] You want that right? You like the way of the robber touched you? Come hit me. Saloma, hit me. I’m the robber. I’m the robber… Saloma is crying. Very slowly, she hits his shoulder. Then slightly more. And more. He becomes still. She continues hitting him as she cries. Lights slowly fade. Act Five / Scene 4 Textbook Pagination Guide: December. Two Rooms. Act Five Lights come on. Vinod and Saloma are in their Sc 1 – 110 - 124 rooms. They are on the phone. Sc 2 – 125 – 127 Sc 3 – 128 – 133 Sc 4 – 134 – 138 Sc 5 – 139 – 141 Vinod: [crying] Saloma…Saloma, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hit you and…hurt you…I hurt you. I said I wouldn’t…I’m sorry. I’m evil…don’t talk to me OK… I understand…Mr. Chow was right, I’m a troublemaker…I have no balls…I have no balls. Saloma: Vinod. Vinod, tomorrow we go and see doctor OK? Vinod: You’ve been very nice. My parents are Vinod feels trapped by his parents’ expectations. sending me away, Saloma. In January…I have to go to the States to study. I don’t want to go. They stabbed me. They stabbed me. Saloma: Vinod, they love you. They want you to study Saloma tries to be positive because she wants to encourage because you are smart. You go another Vinod. Saloma is also genuinely happy for Vinod. country good. You can make new friends. I work, save money, then I can visit you. I never take aeroplane before. Vinod: It’s very crammed… all the people…I can’t Vinod feels very pressurized. breathe. Saloma: Vinod, don’t be scared. You can talk to me. When you scared, you can telephone me. Vinod: Don’t take the plane. It will crash. Like the cage. Living in the cage. Saloma: No, Vinod, the aeroplane…like bird. You can fly. You are free. You will be happy. Vinod, you go there, after one day, you will forget me. Because got so many books, film poetry… 77
  • 78. Vinod: I will be free? Saloma: Yah. Vinod: I never wanted to hurt anyone you know Vinod for the first time, feels ashamed of facing the Saloma? You, my parents, my friends…them. audience. [points to audience] I can’t talk to them Saloma. Please…please apologize to them for me. Saloma: Next month, when we go Oasis Club party, we wear nice clothes. Then we sing and dance OK? You can meet your friends. They always ask why Vinod never come and play badminton, table tennis. No Vinod, no fun. Vinod: Yah, I’m a joker right? I took my medicine. I Vinod cares too much to be accepted by society. feel…I have very strange dreams. But my hands won’t tremble right? I can’t joke if my hands tremble. Then nobody will like me. Saloma: Vinod, tomorrow we go and see doctor OK? I also want to see. We go together OK? Saloma is holding back tears. Vinod: You want me to follow you? Saloma: Yah. Vinod: You scared is it? Saloma: Yah. Vinod: You don’t have to be scared. Instead, you make the doctor scared. You just say…”Doctor, I want you to be the father of my child.” Saloma laughs while holding back tears. Vinod: See, I can make you laugh. Then you say to the psychiatrist, “Doctor, if we have a child, then he will be mad, but at least he can treat himself.” Saloma laughs Vinod: Yah, we must all laugh. Right Saloma? We must always laugh. [slight pause] I must sleep now. Just now, I heard a dedication. Sheelamani dedicate to Veerasamy. S to V. Thank you Saloma. Maybe we can still win the cash draw. Then I’ll buy something special for you. Saloma: Vinod, if you cannot sleep, you call me OK? Vinod: Don’t worry, I’ll sleep. I’ll sleep. Does Vinod mean he is going to take a rest here OR does he mean he is going to rest permanently. They hang up. Lights fade on Saloma. Vinod Vinod, I’m going. Vinod, the narrator [the connection between Vinod and the [Narrator]: audience] is leaving Vinod. Vinod: No, please… Vinod I’m going Vinod. 78
  • 79. [Narrator]: Vinod: No, no, just try… Vinod Vinod called Saloma because he wanted her Vinod, the narrator informs Vinod that he is “beyond help”. [Narrator]: help. [Vinod goes to window and does rattling motion] See, Vinod, it’s too late. Vinod: No, again, try again. Vinod Vinod walked to the phone. [Vinod struggles [Narrator]: to walk to the phone] Vinod: Yes, yes…what’s next? Vinod He picked up the phone and called Saloma. [Narrator]: [Vinod struggles and dials] Good Vinod… good. Vinod: Hello? Is this Class 95 FM? Am I the ninth caller? [he laughs and hangs up] Vinod Vinod, I can’t help you anymore. [Narrator]: Vinod: Then fuck off! Pause. Vinod suddenly becomes tired. He looks at audience and manages a weak smile. Vinod: Ex-Woodbridge patient smiles at audience. Lights fade. Act Five / Scene 5 Textbook Pagination Guide: December. Oasis Club Function. Act Five When lights come on. It is the night of the Sc 1 – 110 - 124 Oasis Club party. Vinod and Saloma are Sc 2 – 125 – 127 elegantly dressed. They are at Vinod’s void Sc 3 – 128 – 133 deck. Sc 4 – 134 – 138 Sc 5 – 139 – 141 Saloma: Vinod, you look very nice. Vinod: I don’t want to go Saloma. Saloma: Vinod, we must go. You will feel better. Our They have been friends for a year now. one-year anniversary. Vinod: I don’t feel …my parents said…I Vinod is worse than ever before. Now he feels the can’t joke…I can’t… oppression. He feels pressurized. He no longer strings words together coherently. Saloma: Tonight we sing and dance. OK, Vinod? We only do that. Then tomorrow we go doctor. Last week you follow me but you never go inside. Tomorrow, I will follow you. Vinod: OK. Saloma: Promise. Vinod: Promise. We are friends right? Just as Saloma needs and cherishes Vinod as a friend, he cherishes her friendship too. Yah, friends. [slight pause] Come… Vinod: Wait. [slight pause] Can we…dance? I mean… Vinod harbours some kind of premonition that he might not now. In case we don’t get a chance later. get another chance to dance with Saloma. 79
  • 80. Saloma: What song? They smile, then interlock to dance. Vinod: Wait. I need to do something first. [turns to audience] I’m sorry. [slight pause] I’m very sorry. He goes back to Saloma. They dance. Lights Bow Down Mister by Boy George slowly fade. Music comes on. [Bow Down Mister by Boy George] Lights come on. From bombay to bangalore Guests enter. It is the Oasis Club party. There All the hindus know the score are a lot of people. If you wanna live some more Hare, hare, hare Vinod and Saloma enter. They see people they know. There is no dialogue, just music. Vinod If you do not take the vow is very, very down, almost afraid to You can eat the sacred cow acknowledge other people. Saloma keeps Youll get karma anyhow trying to cheer him. She gets Vinod to dance. Hare, hare, hare He doesn’t want to. Bow down mister A few people ask Vinod and Saloma to Hare rama, hare krishna dance. They pull Vinod and Saloma until Bow down mister they get separated. Saloma goes offstage We say radha syam with a couple of people. Vinod dances. He is weak. Suddenly Vinod panics. He looks Do the right thing with your hands for Saloma but can’t find her. He runs Lay down on the pleasing sands home. Whatever else your faith demands Hare, hare, hare Saloma enters and looks for Vinod, but can’t find him. She exits. From bombay to rajastan Nitai guara, radha syam Music is still playing. Vinod reaches home. Hare krishna hare ram He calls Saloma but there is no answer. He is Hare, hare, hare restless. He dances. As he does so, in a frenzy, he starts taking off his clothes and Bow down mister throwing things around, including the phone. Hare rama, hare krishna His dancing gets more frenzied. He is totally Bow down mister naked. Saloma reaches home and calls We say radha syam Vinod but can’t get through. Suddenly blood starts dripping from Vinod’s hands, Bow down mister down his body. He finally collapses just Hare rama, hare krishna when the song ends. Lights fade on Vinod. Bow down mister We say radha syam In the desert jahshamire They put kun in their hair At the westemers they stare Hare, hare, hare Paint a tilak on your brow Open like a lotus flower Its time to check your karma now Hare, hare, hare Bow down mister Hare rama, hare krishna Bow down mister We say radha syam Bow down mister Hare rama, hare krishna Bow down mister We say radha syam Bow down mister Hare rama, hare krishna Bow down mister We say radha syam 80
  • 81. Bow down mister We say radha syam Bow down mister We say radha syam Bow down mister Raise your head and lift your ands to the lord x4 Hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare Hare ram hare ram rama rama hare hare Hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare Hare ram hare ram rama rama hare hare Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Raise your head and lift your hands to the lord Hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare Hare ram hare ram rama rama hare hare Hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare Hare ram hare ram rama rama hare hare Hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare Hare ram hare ram rama rama hare hare Epilogue Textbook Pagination Guide: Saloma slowly gets up. Pause. She hangs up Epilogue: 144-145 the phone. Pause. Lights come up on Vinod’s room. He is not there. Saloma walks slowly to There is a dreamlike quality in this scene. Saloma cannot Vinod’s room. possibly be visiting Vinod’s room. But she needs to find him. She needs to be sure that she hasn’t lost him. As she speaks, she puts the receiver back, Everything may be too late but the fact remains that she looks at this books, picks up the trophy… misses him. Saloma: Vinod? Vinod? Where are you? Vinod, I Saloma misses Vinod. She may not be certain that Vinod never see your room before. It’s very nice. All has gone away but based on what she says here, she is your books…poetry…your trophy…Vinod, prepared to give up her future, her hopes, her wishes and you never see my room. Next time I show you, everything she has to get him to respond to her and come OK? I don’t want to work. No need. My back to him. She wants him to be with her. Is Saloma more mother is correct. We both don’t work OK? than just being a friend to Vinod? You take care of me. You are the statue. Your shoulder very strong. You must make me laugh. Vinod, don’t worry. God will take care of us. Yah, I promise. Vinod? Vinod? Yah, we can talk on the phone we can go out…your void deck, my void deck…everything so void. [slight laugh] I understand Vinod. I understand. We can sing, you can teach me poetry. I can sing to you. She sings [End of the Road by Boyz II Men]. End of the Road by Boyz II Men After a while, the phone rings. She rushes to (spoken) answer. It is the DJ. Girl you know we belong together I have no time for you to be playing With my heart like this You?ll be mine forever baby, you just see (verse) We belong together And you that I?m right Why do you play with my head, 81
  • 82. Hy do you play with my mind? Said we?d be forever Said it?d never die How could you love me and leave me And never say good-bye? Girl I can?t sleep at night without holding you tight Girl, each time I try I just break down and cry Pain in my head oh I?d rather be dead Spinnin? around and around Chorus: Although we?ve come to the end of the road Still I can?t let you go It?s unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you Come to the end of the road Still I can?t let you go It?s unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you Girl, I know you really love me, You just don?t realize You?ve never been there before It?s only your first time Maybe I?ll forgive you, hmm Maybe you?ll try We should be happy together Forever, you and i Girl, you love me again like you loved me before This time I want you to love me much more This time instead just come to my bed And baby just don?t let me, don?t let me down Chorus (spoken) Girl I?m here for you All those times of night when you just hurt me And just run out with that other fella Baby I knew about it, I just didn?t care You just don?t understand how much I love you do you? I?m here for you I?m not out to go out and cheat on you all night Just like you did baby but that?s all right Hey, I love you anyway And I?m still gonna be here for you ?till my dying day baby Right now, I?m just in so much pain baby Coz you just won?t come back to me Will you? just come back to me (lonely) Yes baby my heart is lonely (lonely) My heart hurts baby (lonely) Yes I feel pain too Baby please This time instead just come to my bed And baby just don?t let me go Chorus 82
  • 83. DJ[VO]: Hi, I’m calling from Class 95 FM. If you can guess our cash draw amount, you win it all. Saloma: $2180. [she then drops the phone]] Vinod, Saloma is lost for words. She feels Vinod is lost to her for Vinod, see I say must listen to Class 95 FM. some reasons. She needs to look for him. She looks for him Now we win a lot of money. I will buy things but deep down she understands that Vinod is not going to for you, OK? Because you always buy for me. come back to her. She loses herself a little – or perhaps little I will take the plane…I will- [pause. She by little – because Vinod has meant so much to her. looks at the audience] You…you know where is…Vinod? He leave the party just now. I… I As the playwright, Haresh Sharma, rightfully, points out, don’t know where…You don’t need to be Saloma only has a direct address to the audience ONCE, at scared of me. Because I am not scared of you. the epilogue of the play. TO HER, THE AUDIENCE IS A I am normal, you know. I am not off centre. I CRUEL SOCIETY THAT TAUNTS THEM, TAUNTS am like you. We all feel the same right? We PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT. all strong right? Nothing is going to destroy us. [slight pause] Vinod is going to come back right? [slight pause] No? Yah, I know. He fly away. If you see him, don’t catch him OK? Dah. Finish already. Everything is finish. You can go back. I know you very busy. Got a lot of work to do. So, you can go back. Saloma goes to the position where Vinod was Saloma sits at Vinod’s original position probably because sitting before the play started. House lights she misses him. She probably thinks this is the least she can come on. She sits there and says goodbye to do for him. the audience as they walk out. There is no curtain call. End. 83