Saturday, January 29, 2005

A verandah in Penang.

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
There I was, perched on a waist-high wall that separated the verandah of our hotel room from the garden that led to the sea.

Behind me, the night, and the distant applause of waves.

My husband was clicking away at the camera. I, on the other hand, was not even aware of his presence, my mind so wrapped up with the opening scene of "Gubra", swimming around in my soul...

A handsome young bilal is in haste. It is nearly dawn, and he does not want to be late for his call of the azan at the surau.

His pretty young wife follows him around the house, and finally to the front doorstep. She is carrying with her a cup of coffee and a biscuit. She wants him to take a gulp and a bite before leaving. She is persistent. After putting on his shoes, he does as he is told, kisses her on the forehead, wishes her salaam, pinches her butt causing her to yelp, and leaves.

On his way, he passes some dark alleys. His quick footsteps break the silence of pre-dawn. A dog barks in the distance, somewhere in the night.

Just ahead of the bilal's path, along a disconcertingly quiet back alley, two women step out from the back entrance of an old motel. They are both wearing fish-net stockings and stilletoes, very short skirts, see-through white blouses that betray the presence of black brassieres underneath, big hair, and very red lipstick.

Just as they cross paths, the older of the two women says to the bilal, "Lambat hari ni Pak Bilal?"

"Itulah," he replied, "anak saya demam batuk-batuk malam semalam, jadi saya terpaksa gilir-gilir berjaga dengan orang rumah saya..."

It becomes instantly clear in the course of their brief discourse that the bilal and the whores are good friends.

So tell me. Does that opening scene sound reasonably compelling to you? Or not, perhaps? Pray tell.