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Free Winnie

  • June 29, 2006
  • 15 Views

By Ruhayat X

“Apa erti semua tadi tu?” kata makcik yang telah mencegatkan dirinya bertentangan dengan aku tu. “Saya… tak berapa faham.”

Aku gunakan terma “makcik” tu in a loose sense, sebab sebenarnya kalau aku berselisih dengan dia di jalanan and I didn’t know she had a grown-up daughter, hiris pergelangan tangan aku takkan sangka dia dah separuh usia.

Anak perawannya tu, yang menemankan dia malam tu, baru habis ambik course finance, dan balik for good dari Australia. “Why?” adalah satu-satunya soalan yang pada aku appropriate setelah maklumat tu diterjahkan ke dalam consciousness aku. Kuala Lumpur, Sydney… Sydney, Kuala Lumpur… Hmm, pilihan yang sangat susah tu, babe. Not. Malangnya, bola tenis verbal yang aku lontarkan tu dibiarkannya saja terkulai dalam gelanggangnya. Dan dengan begitu aku masih lagi single.

Anyway. Makcik tu, entah kenapa, dia dengan selesanya menyusurkan dirinya hingga dia tegak berdiri depan aku. And she’s demanding to know what it all means.

She might as well have asked me what the meaning of life was. This is, after all, a play by Samuel Beckett that we were watching and talking about during the intermission. Meaning? Ada ke makna di bawah sebutir batu kerikil yang dibaham tengik mentari? Apa maknanya kalau kau cari juga makna di bawah batu tu?

Itu masalahnya dengan karya-karya pentas Samuel Beckett. Most of the time he writes what, on the surface, amounts to clever nonsense. It is meant to be an accurate representation of reality, in which more often than not things stand meaningless until we smart humans come along and imbue them with intention.

Macam puisi “Jabberwocky” si Lewis Carroll, hanya kanak-kanak saja sebenarnya yang mampu menghayati keindahannya dengan sesempurna-sempurnanya. Task yang sukar sekali untuk yang si adult, dengan mindanya yang merenyut mahu letak maksud pada setiap yang tersirat dan tersurat, kalau tidak kepalanya — dan dunianya — akan spontaneously self-combust.

Sukar sekali mahu tonton karya Beckett kalau itu niat dan natijah kamu. Tambah lagi dalam dunia pasca Roland Barthes ni, where the author lies dead on the floor, smoking gun in hand. Thank God for the garbage truck, I say, however mean that may be.

Happy Days adalah karya yang tuan tulisnya sendiri pernah describe as “a kind of profound frivolity”. This is supposedly his most cheerful work. Which immediately discourages you from thinking of Beckett on a miserable day. Biarlah para dentist saja dengan statistik suicide yang tertinggi antara kalangan profesional… tak payahlah kita tambahkan pula dengan peminat-peminat seni teater.

The play, directed by Chris Jacobs, presented by Masakini Theatre and Instant Cafe Theatre (Fri 23 Jun – Sat 1 Jul 2006, Panggung Bandaraya) is quite simply a pseudo-monologue. Made “pseudo” by the fact that there are actually two people in it, although 90 percent of the time only one of them is speaking. The other crawls around on stage a lot and mumbles toward the wall, away from the audience. Which, inadvertently in this case, adds to the profoundness, I suppose, even though in reality it was actually just annoying.

What makes the play enjoyable, pada aku, adalah persembahan Jo Kukathas yang memang deserving of a standing ovation. Malang sekali, malam tu cuma segenggam orang saja yang datang, jadi aku nak kasi dia standing ovation takut malu pulak. Jadi aku cuma tepuk tangan kuat-kuat at the end.

Jo was clearly in her element that night. Aku menangis, aku ketawa, aku kerut dahi bersama-sama dia, walaupun semuanya in spirit aje lah. But she gave a moving performance, I felt, and it underscores her as probably the best comedic talent we have.

Struktur play ni (sebab it doesn’t really have a plot as such) mudah aje: in the first part, when the curtain rises we find a woman (or what appears to be one) named Winnie (played by Jo Kukathas) buried to her hips in rock. But we soon learn that she was not placed there: she ostensibly grew out of the stone. In fact, it is a natural state for her and she thinks nothing of it.

Crawling around hidden from the audience most of the time in the rock formation is a man named Willie (played by Terence Swampillai). Mamat ni kerja dia asyik baca paper aje sepanjang hari and, as mentioned earlier, has a mumbling habit.

In the second half, kita dapati Winnie dahpun tertanam (atau batu tu yang cambah upwards to swallow her?) up to her chin, sementara Willie pulak finally manages to crawl, like some kind of giant deformed caterpillar, to the front of the rock shelf.

Along the way, Winnie gosok gigi, ponders the illegible scrawl on her toothbrush, and expounds her observations and philosophies on life. Much of what she says is incongruent with what we see before our eyes.

“Another heavenly day,” dia kata, dengan optimisnya, sedangkan dirinya tu terpacak separuh badan dalam tanah. Kemudian lagi, “Something of this is being heard, I am not merely talking to myself, that is in the wilderness… ” Tapi siapa yang ada di timbunan batu tu selain dia dan seorang mamat yang cuma asyik baca paper? And so on and so forth.

Jadinya, erti macamana yang kamu nak gali dari sesuatu yang absurd sebegini?

Tapi makcik tu masih juga mendesak, dan aku lihat keningnya berkerunyut-kerunyut. Out of human compassion, I reached out to her and tried to put her troubled thoughts to rest. Aku kasi dia satu daripada… seribu? Selaksa?… interpretasi that you can project ke atas drama ni.

Well, kata aku, kita boleh lihat play ni sebagai analogous kepada kewujudan kaum wanita dalam dunia cauvinis yang berputar atas hukum patriarki. The woman set in stone, kata aku, bolehlah kita andaikan sebagai wanita yang secara keseluruhannya terpaku ke bumi, mungkin oleh tangan jantan. Yang lebih menjahanamkan, bagi aku, mereka sendiri tak mahu melepaskan diri dari kubur yang perlahan-lahan menelan mereka tu.

And the fact that Winnie constantly looks to Willie for validation, sambung aku lagi, dengan lidah yang seperti disapu gris kereta, bolehlah kita umpamakan sebagai jerat yang kaum wanita sendiri jerut kepada tengkuk mereka dalam dunia kita ini.

That is, it is not so much that men who have imprisoned their women, but rather that the women themselves dengan relanya membiarkan diri mereka tertambat begitu. It is their way of imbuing meaning into their meaningless situations.

Aku tamatkan monolog aku with a satisfying full-stop. It was a good exposition. Or so I thought. Makcik tu, dia masih lagi terpinga-pinga. “I think I’ll just watch it to the end and then see if I can make sense of it,” dia kata. The best I could manage was a polite smile. Macamana nak perah makna dari batu?

“Entahlah, entahlah,” kata makcik tu. Sejurus lepas tu loceng dewan dibunyikan dan semua orangpun dengan tertib berbaris semula ka dalam.

“Entahlah, entahlah.” Huh. Maybe she did get it, after all.

Happy Days is running at Panggung Bandaraya, KL till Sat 1 July.

~~~

Ruhayat X would like it to be known that if you are that makcik, then you should have your daughter e-mail him pronto because he would still like to have his tennis ball back. Please.

First Published: 29.06.2006 on Kakiseni