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0035 English 3 All Foundation Programmes ONLINE NOTES
Chapter 2 The Short Stories
FOSEE , MULTIMEDIA UNIVERSITY (436821-T) MELAKA CAMPUS, JALAN AYER KEROH LAMA, 75450 MELAKA, MALAYSIA. Tel 606 252 3594 Fax 606 231 8799 URL: http://fosee.mmu.edu.my/~asd/
Check-in Surya Ramkumar “Good morning, Mrs Nair, how are you today? Shall I get you your usual?” It’s 5 am on a Monday morning, and I might be forgiven for wondering if she was going to pass me my usual ‘large cappuccino with extra sugar’. But no, the usual is an aisle seat by the emergency exit in the non-smoking section. Imke has the early shift on Monday mornings at the KLM counter. She has been there every Monday morning as far as I can remember, and can’t be blamed for not knowing that today is everything but the usual. In a few hours, I could be the first woman CEO of Biacorp, managing multi-billion dollar revenues and over 200,000 employees, or just as easily, be on the next flight home, after being fired from a company I had worked with for over twenty years. Imke takes less than a minute to look over my e-ticket and pass me my boarding pass. As I walk towards the boarding gate, still in a daze from not having had my early morning coffee, I instinctively look over my shoulder. I saw two loving faces, riddled with anxiety, praying that their only daughter would travel safely and wishing the very best for her, while trying very hard to keep up an encouraging smile. ************* It had been thirty years ago at the Chennai Airport, then known as the Madras Airport. I was barely fifteen and feeling uncomfortable in an oversized T-shirt and my first pair of denim pants. The journey had started from Wadakkanchery – a small village in India, half an hour away from the nearest big town. I had been accepted to one of the most prestigious junior colleges in Singapore and the glossy brochure that arrived with the acceptance letter had advised that I bring an assortment of notebooks, paper, pens, a few sets of uniforms, and all the books in the very long book list that had warranted a little booklet all of its own. Achan and Amma had been busying themselves for several weeks with all the tiny details, with love and care as only parents can give – Achan making many calls to several bookshops and more than a few trips to the city to get all the books. Amma trying to work her way down the list of things I had been asked to bring, all the while making her own additions to the list – new clothes in the latest styles she had heard from the city bride next door who had just moved in to her husband’s home in the village, food for the journey just in case I didn’t like the food served on the flight, home remedies for all imaginable and unimaginable ailments, and not to mention a large collection of picture of gods and goddesses that had always protected her family, and now will travel with her daughter to keep her safe and away from troubles of any sort. Then there were the ladoos, made by the old lady with the wrinkled face who lived next door, the fresh murukku that my aunt had brought all the way from her home that was almost a day’s bus-ride away, a huge packet of roasted cashew nuts from my high school English teacher and a can of salted mangoes that Amma had carefully kept aside last month in a large ceramic jar so it would be ready just in time to travel with me and brighten up the bland Chinese and Malay dishes I would soon be eating. They were all packed, unpacked, and then packed again into
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the huge brown suitcase, which was almost as tall as me. Everything had finally fit into it, Achan had picked up my tickets, the visa was stamped – and there was no turning back. Shamu, the help at the nearby grocery shop, had struggled to load my 40kg bag into the autorickshaw that took us to the roadside bus stop. It was just a long highway, the only one in the town that had no potholes, and had no markings whatsoever to show where the bus would stop. But Krishnan, the bus driver always stopped at the exact same spot, and everyone knew where the spot was. Everyone in Wadakkanchery, that is. Baijju, the autorickshaw driver insisted on waiting till the bus arrived and loading the huge suitcase onto the top of the bus. I tried to ignore the fellow passengers who were staring at us by now. In about 40 minutes, the bus arrived at Trichur’s “Shaktan Tampuran” bus stop – I wondered for a moment what Shaktan Tampuran, the mighty emperor that he was known to be, would have done if he had to leave his home and travel to a faraway land? Would he have killed all the butterflies that seemed to flutter madly in his stomach with one quick swipe of his sword, or would he have used his diplomacy to induce them into a temporary coma? His lofty statue offered me no answers, as my parents accompanied me to the Trichur railway station. Five inconsequential hours later, the Kanyakumari express arrived to take us to Madras. During the whole length of the journey, I didn’t say a word. Amma was still not very convinced that it was a great idea for me to go; I was but a little girl. Comforting words from Achan, followed by a stern look, made her decide not to say much more. I didn’t dare to open my mouth. I knew that I wanted to go. I badly wanted to see the world. To be out in the open and to be free. Yet, I didn’t trust myself not to say otherwise. To confess how truly scared I was and how, no matter what I did, the butterflies just wouldn’t stop fluttering. I stared hard at the Competition Success Review, still stuck at the first question in their IQ test. Twelve unforgiving long hours later, we were in Madras – the land of heat and dust. Just getting off the train makes you want to rush into the shower and stay under it forever. But then the water is so salty and hard, it will make you want to rush right out again. It was already late for bed, and we had a long day ahead. The soft couch at Hotel Riviera just couldn’t lull me into a slumber deep enough to forget my fears. I woke up in the middle of the night, with the moonlight shinning on the bed where my parents were sleeping, their peaceful faces veiling the unspoken misgivings. I sat up on the couch and stared at them for hours, wondering if they knew how much I would miss them. I could hardly resist the urge to sneak out of the hotel room and take the next train home. Thankfully, sleep had other plans for me and I drifted into a dreamless slumber. The morning passed in a rush. Breakfast, shower, prayers and a long cab ride later, we were finally at the Madras airport. The airport was a colossal mess. I had expected peace and calm - clean hallways and smart men in uniform. I might just as well have stepped into a fish market. We somehow managed to find two others who were traveling with me. Their city accents and smart clothes didn’t offer me much comfort. Worried that I might start to cry, I forced a smile and convinced my parents that everything would be alright. They asked me yet again about my
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Desperately looking for a last beacon of reassurance. Kan ik u helpen?” the KLM assistant’s voice startled me out of my daze. and frowned when I produced a letter permitting a student baggage allowance. she asked me if I was traveling with my parents. suddenly confident that I wouldn’t be taking the next flight home. After looking me up and down a few times. my ticket and the foreign currency that I had just obtained. “Nee. how sad some of our old classmates were when they didn’t get this scholarship and so on. but that you had to study the rule books as soon as you can or you might be fined for unknowingly breaking one of the umpteen rules. ****************** “Gooie Morgan. some name tags and my new boarding pass and proceeded to the boarding gate. I clutched my passport.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 passport. while trying hard to keep up an encouraging smile. dank u. and waving to our parents in the distance every once in a while. my ticket. how troublesome it was to find some of the text books. And I saw them – two loving faces. I glanced over my shoulder. She stared at my 40kg luggage with disbelief. it had ticked away and the hour was finally here. which colleges we were going to. 90 95 10 0 10 5 11 0 11 5 12 0 __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 4/35 . We swapped stories about how difficult our interviews were. exchanging little pieces of information about ourselves. Mevrouw. along with a strict warning to proceed to the boarding gate without any further delay. Despite all my attempts to make the clock stop. she handed me my boarding pass. riddled with anxiety. I made a mental note to procure one of those rule books as soon as the plane landed. Unconvinced by my answer and with the frown now permanently plastered on her face. I eagerly quipped that I was traveling with two friends. Sandeep told us that his cousin had been to Singapore last year and how everything was nice and clean.” I mumble and absently wave goodbye into the wide open space. which had over forty people ahead of me. I waited with my two fellow students. Farewells were never my thing – I rushed through them with a hurried hug and kiss. “Next please. praying that their only daughter would travel safely and wishing the very best for her.” came the impatient voice of the lady at the Air India checkin counter. Determined not to be scared any further by a grumpy old woman. It was time for us to proceed to the check-in queue.
PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 Her Three Days Sembene Ousmane __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 5/35 .
“Ah. “He gave them to you?” asked Noumbe. She was thin and of average height. and her far-away look ranged beyond the muddle of roofs. “Tell him I sent you.” “Yes”. helped by her youngest daughter.It was long time since she had felt such emotion. But it was true. who was having a good look at the ingredients. when she would have her husband. a little annoyed. She grasped the woman’s hands and passed it over the loins.” exclaimed Aida. I can see that you’re preparing a delicious dish. The child went off with the empty bottle and Noumbe got to her feet. The walls were covered with enlargements and photos of friends and strangers framed in passé-partout.” she answered. which was sparsely furnished. Noumbe?” asked Aida. She went into her one-room shack. whose words held a meaning that she could not elaborate on while the little girl was present. “It‘s my three days. and in one corner stood a table with pieces of china on display. It was a nice syrup that just slipped down. with lashes that were like frayed thread. Three days for her alone. the whites were the colour of old ivory. “I’m feeling in good form.” Noumbe said to the girl. Her daughter had return from her errand. there was a bed with a white cover. “Yes. her next-door neighbour. “Nothing. Mustapha to herself…. Noumbe was thinking of “her three days”.” said the woman. she replied. some tiled. I’ll pay for them as soon as your father is here midday.” A woman came across the compound to her. but she has been dosing herself for the past two days. “What’s the matter. but one pregnancy after another-and she had five children-and her heart trouble had aged her before her time. her eyes were like two buttonholes. and in her mind she could hear their faint rustling. who was sitting at the door of her room. mother.” She looked disapprovingly at the cut-up meat in the bottom of the bowl. And that morning. and went on cutting up the slice of raw meat. be careful what you say. its your three days.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 She raised her haggard face. I want to revive the feasts of the old days.” said Noumbe. and he’ll forget the cooking of his other wives. so that his palate will retain the taste of the dish for many moons. “Go and ask Laity to give you five francs’ worth of salt and twenty francs’ worth of oil.. others of thatch or galvanized-iron. in little clusters of fives and threes. When she came out again. She had her heart trouble and still felt some pain. She blinked. with some pride in her voice. she had got the children up early to give her room a thorough clean. She was not old. She went on: “You are looking fine enough to prevent a holy man from saying his prayers properly!” “Aida. she took the Moorish stove and set about lighting it.” “Ah-ha! So that his palate is eager for dishes to come.” she protested. Noumbe had plaited her hair and put henna on her hands and feet. the wide fronds of the twin coconut-palms were swaying slowly in the breeze. “Noumbe. taking more medicine than was prescribed. To have Mustapha! The thought comforted her. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 6/35 1 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 . and she felt the beneficial effects at once.
each went back to their family occupations. joined one another under the coconut palms and the sounds of their gossiping gradually increased. The morning passed at its usual pace. and the men began going back to work.he wouldn’t be much longer now. Musthapa would not leave before the Monday morning. The kids were playing around. All this time she had been hoping that he would come. Mustapha had not been to see her for fortnight. or to think her meaner. “Why shouldn’t it always be like that for every woman – to have husband of one’s own?” she wondered why not. souya dome! I hope you can say the same tomorrow morning……” The woman clapped her hands. Noumbe had joined in the laughter. In her mind. An hour passed. But for your backbone ) In a few moments. as if it were a signal or an invitation. the housewives busied themselves with the meal. and could hear their suggestive jokes. I worship you not for your beauty. When she went to the clinic for mothers and children are compelled her youngest daughter to stay at home. the shadow of the coconut palms and the people growing steadily shorter. Tomorrow this room will be……. so that—thus did her mind work—if her husband turned up the child could detain him until she returned. No one escaped it. but she has spent what little money she possessed in preparing for Mustapha.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 “Thieh. She did not want her husband to esteem her less that his other wives. other women came across.” Each woman contributed an earthy comment which set them to laughing hilariously. she could see Mustapha and his henchmen crowding into her room. they burst out laughing. Noumbe gave her children a quick meal and sent them out again. Then. She had thought about these three days in a thousand different ways. Then they remembered that had work to do. and their mother’s calls to them crossed in the air. She forgot her illness and her baby’s ailments. panting and perspiring. “If she had been a perfect wife…. She did not neglect her duty as a mother. Sopa nala dousa rafetail Sa yahi n’diguela. She ought to have gone to the clinic again this day. they improvised a wild dance to this chorus. Besides. At the end. In the compound. as they all knew. Soon the compound was empty of the male element. As midday approached. one of them stepped into Noumbe’s room and called the others. but her wifely duty came first—at certain times. already her “three days” fill her horizon. She sat waiting for Mustapha to arrive at any moment…. each one stood near her door. (worship of you is not for your beauty. another with a saucepan. the women. after a long siesta. one with metal jar. “Let’s take away the bed! Because tonight they’ll wreck it!” “She’s right.” She laughed to herself. she knew this boisterous “ragging” was the custom in the compound. She imagined what the next three days would be like. She had a heart condition and her husband had quite openly neglected her. and brought their amusement to an end. which they beat while the woman sang: Sope dousa rafetail. ready to welcome her man. she was an exceptional case. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 7/35 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 . if only for a moment.
for Mustapha. Now she fought back the pangs of hunger by telling herself that in the past Mustapha had a habit or arriving late. And the other wives knew it. Without admitting it o herself those moments (which had hung terribly heavy) had been very sweet. The additional pain did not prevent her heart from 11 functioning normally. I’ll give you what’s left. and pays for the relief by a redoubling of pain. She called her youngest daughter.” 11 The girl ran off and soon returned with her eldest brother. the other wives. All these bitter thoughts brought her up against reality. Dressed in her mauve velvet. She sulked as she waited. who had taken 0 two wives before her. very often 10 the thought of her coming disgrace had assailed her. had finally given up keeping a lookout. weary of eating. But all the time she was longing to go and find Mustapha. “Tell Mactar I want him. 5 “Go and fetch your father. and he wasn’t there. consoling herself with the thought that Mustapha would appear at any 95 moment. The thought of his being with one of the other wives. rather it was like a sick person whose sleep banishes pain but 0 who once awake again finds his suffering is as bad as ever. had just married another). Noumbe went and joined the group of women. knowing quite well that she was preventing Mustapha from carrying out 5 his marital duty elsewhere. Mustapha had not been near her for a fortnight.” “But I’ve been to the main square already. a pain of anguish. In those days. He had not found his father.” 120 The boy looked up at his mother.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 Noumbe. or kept him long into the night. It’s meat. Although those minutes had been sometimes shot through with doubts and fears (often. Perhaps he’s there now. Her hours alone with Mustapha were being snatched from her. go and have another look. they prolonged the sensual pleasure of anticipation. Now be quick. She took three spoonfuls of her medicine instead of the two prescribed. they had not been too hard to bear. and felt a little bit better in herself. Mactar. They were chattering about this and that.” Noumbe. one of them asked (just for the sake of asking). Mactar was back after 125 an hour.” It was scorching hot and the clouds were riding high. four months ago Mustapha had married a younger woman. has your uncle (darling) arrived?” “Not yet. then dropped his head again and reluctantly turned to go. He knows it’s my three days. another sometimes held him in her embrace a 10 whole day.” she replied. this lateness was pleasant. This sudden realization of the facts sent a pain to her heart. Then she began to reckon up the score. One washed his boubous¹ when it was another wife’s turn. in small ways. on the main square or at one of your other mothers’. “Where mother?” “Where? Oh. she had been on the watch since before midday. She realized that those demanding minutes were the price that she had to pay for Mustapha’s presence. who was feeding him and opening his waistcloth when she ought to __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 8/35 . She had eaten no solid food. “Oh.” “Well. against the veudieux. then hastened to add.” Noumbe told him.” She deliberately changed the conversation in order to avoid a long discussion about the 130 other three wives. She was being robbed of her three days. “When your father has finished eating. he won’t be long now.
Indeed. high above the tree-tops. She was tormenting herself with the thoughts passing through her mind. hadn’t she got herself into debt so that he would be more comfortable and have better meals at her place? And in the past. a dark starry night. feet and legs to make the henna more brilliant. so numbed Noumbe that it was impossible for her to react. questioning eyes wondered what was inside. the women withdrew to their rooms. They clamoured in vain for some of the meat. It did not taste very nice. Noumbe was stern and unyielding: “The meat is for your father. She knew how to make tasty little dishes for Mustapha which cost him nothing. unable to hide her pleasure and her hopes. She was facing the entrance to the compound and could see the other women’s husbands coming in. and sat down on the bench. wider and darker. The second then? Everyone knew she was out of favour with Mustapha. and she joined in the conversation of the women with childish enthusiasm. she’s quite old. The third wife was herself. the afternoon prayer. She took an active part in the talking and brought her wit into play. There were puckers of uncertainty and __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 9/35 135 140 145 150 155 160 165 170 175 180 . she washed herself again to get rid of the smell of cooking and touched up her toilette. When all the bad. One by one. Her heart was troubling her. the incense smelt strongly. like piles of rubbish on waste land swept by a flood. She told herself that Mustapha was bound to come to her this evening. when Mustapha sometimes arrived unexpectedly – this was soon after he had married her – hadn’t she hastened to make succulent dishes for him? All her friends knew this. she went and got some wood-ash which she mixed with water and drank. and the drink checked and soothed the burning within her for a while. filling the whole room. Where can he be? With the first wife? No. She intended to remain by her door. The certainty of his presence stripped her mind of the too cruel thought that the time of her disfavour was approaching. All this vivacity sprang from the joyful conviction that Mustapha would arrive this evening very hungry and be hers alone. but she alone knew and enjoyed the secret. He didn’t eat at midday. and the shadows of the trees grew longer. A comforting thought coursed through her and sent these aggressive and vindictive reflections to sleep. The idea that Mustapha might have been admitted to hospital or taken to a police station never entered her mind. drawing an agreeable strength from it. Her inside seemed to be on fire. the future seemed brighter. It was like something in a parcel. In the far distance. She never asked him for money. a long trail of dark-grey clouds tinged with red was hiding the sun. Noumbe cooked some rice for the children. and she had a fit of coughing. this thought has been as much burden to her as a heavy weight dragging a drowning man to the bottom. But for her there was none. Night fell. rubbing oil on her hands. unfavourable thoughts besetting her had been dispersed.” When she had fed the children. but it would make the medicine last longer. She began to feel tired again. in order to economize. who was enjoying those hours which were hers by right. was drawing near. The time for the tacousane. So he must be with the fourth. Knowing that she would not be going to the dispensary during her “three days”.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 be doing all that.
Noumbe inspected the bottle of medicine and saw that she had taken a lot of it. took a long time over dressing. ready to defend her man. “Why. Thus she would be the devoted wife. Amandou. When the children awoke they asked whether their father had come. to be so dressed up. as the saying goes. that the bowl containing the stew was still in the same place. They’re all the same. she stopped and mentally explored the town. Noumbe. rubbing it in. self-torture and the heavy minutes chaining him to the spot. her next-door neighbour. letting them all out except the youngest daughter. She kept putting back the time to go to bed. these men!” “He’ll be here this morning. she lay down on the bed fully dressed and alert. I see he hasn’t come yet. The children got the taste of their mother’s anger. Aida. well aware of this comedy that all the women played in turn. so the room was dimly lit. At each step Noumbe took. Then Aida realized what had happened and tried to rectify her mistake. “Im syer he will! I’m sure he will!” exclaimed Aida. having got up at once and appearing as elegant as if it were broad daylight. and this had left its mark on her already haggard face. a promising lad. but with an absurd stupid hope waits still longer. Noumbe hurried them up and sent the youngest girl to Liaty’s to buy five francs worth of ground coffee. wanting to conceal what an awful time she had spent. like a lover who does not give up waiting when the time of the rendezvous is long past. you must have got up bright and early this morning. “Mustapha is such a kind man. who was surprised to see her dressed in such a manner especially for a woman who was having her “three days”.” I shall wait for him. there were only three spoonfuls left. After that she felt calmer. Mactar. It had been a broken night’s sleep listening to harmless sounds which she had taken for Mustapha’s footsteps. Are you going off on a long journey?” It was Aida. She had even thought of making a gesture as she stood there. always ready to serve her husband. The youngest. she had bolted the door. She gave herself half a spoonful and made up for the rest with her mixture of ashes and water. But she fell asleep despite exerting great strength of mind to remain awake and saying repeatedly to herself. “Oh. and so noble in his attitude. Eventually she went indoors. was quick to spot that his mother had not made the bed.” Noumbe bridled. “If he weren’t he wouldn’t be my master.” said Noumbe. feeling flattered by __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 10/35 185 190 195 200 205 210 215 220 225 . Morning came but there was no Mustapha. The children’s breakfast was warmed-up rice and with a meager sprinkling of gravy from the previous day’s stew. But it was rather her own worth she was defending. prying into each house inhabited by one of the other wives. by a dish of rice. and the loaf of bread on the table was untouched. The oldest of them.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 doubt in the answers she gave herself. So that she would not be caught unawares by Mustapha nor lose the advantages which her make-up and good clothes gave her. She had turned down the lamp as far as possible. of passing her hands casually over her hips so that Mustapha would hear the clinging of the beads she had strung round her waist and be incited to look at her from head to foot.” To make sure that she would be standing there expectantly when he crossed the threshold.” added another woman. Then sahe gave them their wings .
to wear out the man and hand him over when he was incapable of performing his conjugal duties. was not without its underhand tricks that one wife played on another. because of her heart. and what a display of fine things she had. Noumbe. The news soon spread round the compound that Mustapha has slept elsewhere during Noumbe’s three days. alternating in a way that reminded her of the acrobatic feat of a man riding two speeding horses. They never came together. Polygamy has its laws. especially those who openly dared to play a dirty trick. The thought obsessed her. She had come to see if Mustapha was there. to praise her superior choice of household utensils. except to arouse a desire to escape from the circle of polygamy and to cause her to ask herself __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 11/35 230 235 240 245 250 255 260 265 270 . however. a cruel reminder of the perfidy of words and the hypocrisy of rivals. She consoled herself with the thought that Mustapha would find more things at her place. The man was whitewashed. she would buy some more when he arrived. At that time she has been the youngest wife. Every time she heard a man’s voice she straightened up quickly. When women criticized the practice of polygamy they always found that the wives were to blame. So Noumbe concluded that it was largely due to jealousy. all this was like a stab in cold blood. her taste in clothes. She wished she knew where he was…. Mustapha had not let a day pass without coming to see her. At about four o’clock Noumbe was surprised to see Mustapha’s second wife appear at the door.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 this description of Mustapha. He was a weakling who always ended by failing into the enticing traps set for him by woman. A sense of decency and common dignity restrained a wife from keeping the husband day and night when his whole person and everything connected with him belonged to another wife during “her three days”. The hours dragged by again. The game. She did not tell Noumbe the reason for her wishing to see Mustapha. and her eyes became glazed and searching. The latter’s presence now and remarks that she let drop made Noumbe realize that she was no longer the favourite. and all part of the world of women. Noumbe’s neighbour made common cause with her and turned to abusing Mustapha’s fourth wife.. despite being pressed. for instance. The other women pitied her. all of which could hardly fail to make the other think that Mustapha had been (and still was) very generous to her. Although not completely certain. During the rambling conversation her heart thumped ominously. and was pleased that the other wife could see how clean and tidy her room was. The bread had gone stale. Satisfied with this conclusion. The revelation. knowing that it was Noumbe’s “three days”. amiable tone and her visitor’s eagerness to inquire after her children’s health and her own. It was against all the rules for Mustapha to spend a night elsewhere. but the physical pain was separate from the mental one. This observation did not get her anywhere. she believed she had conceived her third child during this wife’s three days. Her heart was paining her more and more. which should be respected. the cleanliness of the room and the lingering fragrance of the incense. long hours of waiting which became harder to bear as the progressed. and the polite. she had usurped the second wife’s three days. Noumbe made some coffee-she never had any herself. but she bore up and held off taking any medicine. Noumbe remembered only too well that when she was newly married.
Try as you might to make everything nice and pleasant for him. had left them on one side and the venom of chagrin at having been mere playthings has entered their hearts. to saying what dignity remained to them by false words and gaining advantages at the expense of the other. just enough to stave off the pangs of hunger. and said without much conviction.” Neither of them would have lost face. so they clung to what was left to them. you old carcass. of course. It was Sunday morning and all the men were at home. you have to toe the line with the rest of us now. “The last morning of my three days. They quite understood. and she would rather have seen him hereto tell him what she had to say. that is to say. No one was taken in.” The second day passed like the first. that they could sink no lower . The other would have replied with a smile. They did not indulge in this game for the sake of it. neither could bring herself to further humiliation. Noumbe felt absolutely sure that Mustapha was with his latest wife. then the man. Aida went to Noumbe to console her. to set tongues wagging so that she would lose none of her respectability and rank. with burst of happy laughter and sounds of guttural voices. He’s slept with someone else – and he will again. The visit meant in fact: “You stole those days from me because I am older than you. then stood there thoughtfully for a few moments. and if mischief-makers told Noumbe that “their” husband had been to see her during Noumbe’s three days.” Noumbe pointed out. hard-eyed. She ate no proper food.” “Aida. some of them cradling their youngest in their arms. others playing with the older children. Each had been desired and spoiled for a time. Mustapha doesn’t work. She had come to get her own back. the card-players in another. that isn’t what I meant.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 – it was a moment of mental aberration really --. while the women busied themselves with the housework. to their way of thinking. certainly not themselves. it was all quite clear to them. By accepting in principle. but was more dreadful. She gave a __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 12/35 275 280 285 290 295 300 305 310 315 . To save face. There was a friendly atmosphere in the compound. The other wife casual added – before she forgot. Each knew that the other was lying. They were not lying. I just wondered if you had happened to meet him by chance. Now younger woman than you is avenging me. Noumbe was weaving her own waist-cloth of hypocrisy. This falseness contained all that remained of the flame of dignity. It’s Sunday today. they nosed about in one room and another. It was all to make the most of herself.“Why do we allow ourselves to men’s playthings?” The other wife complimented her and insisted that Noumbe’s children should go and spend a few days with her own children (in this she was sincere). so he’ll be here. It was all that remained to them. Noumbe almost propelled her to the door. as she said – that she wanted to see Mustapha. The draught-players had gathered in one pace. The other wife left. like a gorged vulture..” He’ll probably come today. I’ve only come here because its urgent. for it would be the final crushing blow. Men always seem to have something to do at the last minutes. Noumbe dared not ask her when she had last seen Mustapha. Noumbe shouldn’t think ill of her.” No.” And Noumbe would have looked embarrassed and put on an air of innocence. Noumbe understood the reason for the other’s visit.
had a bath and went on to the rest of her toilette. who readily lend her the money. She did her hair again. I think the least he could do is to be here – at night anyway. We found him with some of his friends at Voulimata’s (the fourth wife). that she would divorce him. she tried to hold them back. She had sat down outside the door. much to happy to bear a grudge against him. She had lain awake until dawn.” She borrowed a thousand franc from Aida. Her eyes were feverishly. and the other inhabitants avoided meeting her sorrowful gaze. He’s going to come.” A delicious warm feeling spread over her. She was quite satisfied with her appearance. then dressed in a white starched blouse and a hand-woven waist-cloth. The only means of getting her own back was to cook a big meal…. It was the way in which Aida had made the offer hat embarrassed her. she had started out and covered quite some distance before turning back. all the same. This is my last night. Of course she would like her to! Last night. Go and play somewhere else. She swept the room again. I might die…” “Do you want me to go and look for him?” “No. “No. to Mustapha’s fourth wife. She was eating her heart out. Her tears overflowed the brim of her eyes like a swollen river its banks. when everyone has gone to bed. “He was going to come. No one in the compound spoke to her for fear of hurting her feelings. She was happy. She did not want to abase her still further by going to claim a man who seemed to have no desire to see her.” Ever since Friday she had been harbouring spiteful words to throw in his face. Now she found it she would be useless to utter those words.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 cough. thinking all over and telling herself that her marriage to Mustapha was at an end. shut the doors and windows. But this morning there was a tiny flicker of hope in her heart. I’m not well!” She hurried off to the little Market nearby and bought a chicken and several other things. mother. He asked about you. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 13/35 320 325 330 335 340 345 350 355 360 . She finished preparing the meal. He would beat her of course…. But the waiting became prolonged. now that she knew he was coming – he might even be on the way with his henchmen.But never mind. and inspected her hands and feet. Instead she would do everything possible to make up for the lost days. “I’ve been waiting for him now for two days and nights! When it’s my three days. eyebrows and lashes.then he would stay in bed. facing the entrance to the compound.” Mustapha will come. The flame of her dignity had been fanned on the way. “Is he ill?” she asked them. The children returned from their errand. Here’s ten franc. joyfully bright as she carefully added seasoning to the dish she prepared. “Tell him that I must see him at once. The appetizing smell of her cooking was wafted out to the compound and its Sunday atmosphere. put antimony on her lower lip.” “And that’s all he said?” “Yes.” She had thought “yes”. but the heady scent of the incense escaped through the cracks between the planks. As she followed the advice to sent her children off again. but in vain. mother.” “Don’t come indoors.
and motioned to the two men to take the bench.” “Our wife isn’t very talkative this evening. it’s quite steady. She had not stirred.” went on Aida. like the seasons over monuments. He was clad entirely in white. one for each day. I’m sorry.” put in one of the men. “I’m quite well though. escorted by two of his lieutenants.” said Mustapha. Don’t you know it’s your three days?” “Oh. are we eating tonight or tomorrow?” “Did you leave something when you went out this morning?” “What? That is not the way to answer. He greeted the people still about an oily manner. I shouldn’t dare! What. “Every woman goes through it. Of course it’s not nice! But I don’t think he’ll be long now. we’ll be off. if not my worthy husband? Oh! I would never poke fun at you. “You mustn’t get worked up about it. uncle (darling).” Noumbe replied to his polite inquiry. “And the children?” “They’re well. After supper.” “Your heart isn’t playing you up now?” asked Mustapha. and then invited his companions into Noumbe’s hut. “Wait. I’m just asking……Isn’t it right?” Mustapha realized that Noumbe was mocking him and trying to humiliate him in front of his men.” “No. no lights came from her room.” “Who?” she asked. “God be praised. uncle. He went and sat down on the bed.” declared Aida as she entered the room.” “How are you?” inquired Mustapha when he had lit the lamp. Time passed over her. On the table were three plates in a row.” she answered. and turned to Noumbe. uncle. “You are making fun of me!” “Oh. “You do like your little joke. Her thin face seemed relaxed and the angry lines had disappeared. I’d quite forgotten.” Noumbe raised a moist face and bit her lips nervously.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 The sound of distance tom-tom was being carried on the wind. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 14/35 365 370 375 380 385 390 395 400 405 410 . the children had refrained from playing their noisy games. “Wife. where’s the lamp?” “Where you left it this morning when you went out. Aida saw that she had made up her mind not to say anything. I? And who would help me into Paradise. “God be praised! Mustapha. “No. not unkindly. into the compound walked Mustapha. praise be to God. “Wife. Twilight came and darkness fell. Everything was shrouded in darkness. “I’ve come to keep you company. neither in this world nor the next.” “Anyone would think so. What an unworthy wife I am!” she exclaimed looking straight at Mustapha. Noumbe was sitting on the foot of the bed – she had fled from the silence of the others. Just when adults were beginning to feel sleepy and going to bed.” said the man uncomfortable with Noumbe’s manner.
I’m out of my mind with joy at seeing you again. Noumbe deliberately knocked over one of the plates. They got her to take some of her mixture of ash and water… 415 420 425 430 435 __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 15/35 . “said one of his men. But whose fault is that uncle?” “And just what are these three plates for?” said Mustapha with annoyance. Is there anything here that interest you….PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 “You might have stood up when I came in. “Heaven preserve us from having only one wife. uncle forgive me. uncle forgive me…” Then she broke the other two plates. she bent double. She was groaning.” pronounced Mustapha as he left the compound. suddenly a pain stabbed at her heart. “What is the matter with her?” “Nothing…only her heart. “Now these hussies have got their associations. and as she fell to the floor gave a loud groan which roused the whole compound. I haven’t been to see her – only two days. the three men stood up. “Have you heard that at Bamako they passed a resolution condemning polygamy?” added the other. Or rather my three days.” Oh. “These three plates?” she looked at him a malicious smile on her lips.uncle?” As it moved by a common impulse. Aida and some of the women lifted Noumbe on to the bed.” “Oh. Nothing that would interest you. and she cries her eyes out.” “They can go out to work then. the silly woman.” gabbed Mustapha and went off. One of these days her jealousy will suffocate her. Her eyes had gone red. to begin with…. they think they’re going to run the country. Some women came hurrying in. Look what she’s done. “Nothing. Give her some ash and she’ll be all right.
was determined to marginalize her by shunting her off to less important projects and not looking after her interests during the annual appraisal exercise. on the other hand. living it up in Vancouver where she migrated. her calendar is always crowded with interesting appointments with chatty. has become more strident. the speed of her decisions and her strong presentation skills. I have reconciled myself to the unlikely prospects of noisy nuptials for Jasmine. am a widower who spends a good part of his days alone in a comfortable three-room flat in Marine Parade. Most importantly. she declared. Her boss. That was why the last round of appraisals. it was the best safeguard against loneliness. I had always thought that marriage for my only child Jasmine was a given. compared to Singaporean men who were graceless. guarded chauvinists with the charm of a flea. Jasmine has always been vocal. The last straw was when they promoted the nerdy colleague __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 16/35 1 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 . articulate and sporting. Of late. Apart from her familiar gripes about the dearth of interesting Singaporean men.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 Jasmine’s Father Paul Tan It’s such an irony. This was something she had often shared with me over an after-dinner glass of wine. Weekends are spent trekking some pristine patch of nature or learning the finer points of winetasting. I. I am perfectly content with this arrangement that affords me solitude and quiet reflection. Those guys are so with it. or at least its men. She increasingly chooses to interact with Canadian men. especially when one weighs in her passion for her newfound home and her friends there. I did not understand all her idioms. many of them trendy American phrases but listened intently anyway. her disdain for Singapore. especially in one’s twilight years. Jasmine today is still single at thirty-five. she believed. Not that I mind it now. she also felt passionately the need to get away from a system which she felt routinely discriminated against her. She labelled it The System . From what she tells me. He was threatened by her outspoken manner. was little more than an opportune moment for him to engage in character assassination. There is never enough time. she declared. it was protection against censure and unwanted speculation. marriage was not only to ensure one’s continued progeny. As with all my other siblings. inept management and prejudiced decision-making. effusive people.a sum of cold bureaucracy. a Chinese former government scholar. in her weekly communications. rather than men from the Asian community there.
I was concerned. where the atmosphere was one of placid diligence and civil discussion.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 seated across from her. My heart went out to my daughter. Even with her frustration. in a country distinguished by its sense of fair play and meritocracy? I was outraged as well. How could there be such blatantly unprofessional behaviour in a well-known company. They were so full of fierce convictions and rancorous blame. I was tending to my bonsai plants when Jasmine told me one Saturday morning that her application for a Canadian PR was successful. When did you? Why .” “Jas. I suspected that I did not figure in her plans for a different life abroad. and in my haste. especially when I reminisced about the musty but quiet staff room where I spent decades of my life. Perhaps that is a shortcoming on my part. which she already had precious little faith in. I had never been at the receiving end of such unjust treatment at work. I have. that on her last day. lopped off one of the miniature tree’s branches. I am not sure whether she actually did delete the files from her computer after her resignation. Perhaps I will ask her the next time she calls. with that resolute glint in the eye.and yes. I had been unaware that Jasmine had plans all along to leave for different pastures. being a father who was not good at picking up nuances and the subtle calibrations of gestures. “Yes. I heard you. derogatory epithets) benefit from the groundwork she had so diligently laid in place? The stories Jasmine told me frightened me. with its pretence and reluctance . I’ve already __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 17/35 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 .to recognize real ability. I was surprised. are you listening?” “Yes. Almost as if she read my mind. Obviously.because that Chinese guy was simply undeserving. she will expunge all those important files which she had been responsible for and expose her boss as an inefficient oaf who shirked responsibilities and was focused on hogging all the credit and limelight.?” “It’s a long story. have you thought through all the implications?” My tone was measured but at the back of mind. how can he be promoted when he clearly has less experience than I have? She insinuated that there was an element of sexism . her office appeared to be a dangerous minefield. It’s a sham and I don’t want to be part of it anymore. was irredeemable. I can only hope she did not. to say the least.Jasmine had a list of colourful. Why should the incompetent braggart (or politicking bastard or witless brown-noser . The System. “Damn!” “Dad. You know I’ve had enough of The System here. Jasmine told me then. she concluded.no. She fumed. she said. even racism involved . inability . wearing that familiar face of fierce determination.
It’ll only be a while before I get an offer.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 typed out my letter of resignation and will hand it to that moron in the office tomorrow. I should go now while I’m young. That canal has since been realigned and the land surrounding it is now home to a peach-coloured condominium with full-length tinted windows. I was mostly disappointed with her easy presumptuousness and a decision-process so apparently effortless I needed no consultation until the very end. And while you’re still relatively young too. I told her that though it was not easy for me to understand the desperate need to get away.” I put my shears down noisily . It was not anger really. We did not speak about her migration plans directly until one month before her departure when packing and other domestic arrangements intruded into our daily routines. I will continue the job search there. You know I wouldn’t go if you weren’t leading an independent life. even though it may have appeared that I flung down the shears in a rage. She would not be interested to know more and worse yet. I nodded. As she responded by elaborating on the opportunities abroad. Then I will step up my job hunt. I have lots of varsity friends and many contacts?” I mentioned the uncertain economy. I used to dream of my twilight years filled with grandchildren. Jasmine was not going to bow down. I have a favourite photograph of Jas as a girl of five or six. which she said had been taken into account. We had just come from her birthday celebration. By then I had prepared myself for the impending __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 18/35 90 95 10 0 10 5 11 0 . the unbearable weather.it made a startling sound in our verandah . Though I didn’t articulate it. her friends there. content to make sympathetic noises. as had been the case since her teens. It’s just PR you know. I have never pointed this out to Jas. I can come back anytime. I have already been in touch with on-line recruitment agencies and headhunters. a modest affair of dinner at one of the roadside hawker stalls beside a canal.and walked away wordlessly. the severely flawed system here. I saw no point in trying to dissuade her. pleasant strolls on the beach and the occasional leisurely adventure abroad. I fear she believes nostalgia is for the weak. I am sure by the time I leave in August I will have a concrete offer. In the worst case scenario. At that point. When Jasmine was a little girl and my wife was still alive. “Dad. You still lead an active lifestyle here. If consult was even an appropriate word to use. even if I am sure she remembers the happy moment. straddling a tricycle and wearing a ridiculously large party hat. which was summarily dismissed as well as the high tax rates in Canada. Once again.
with their new placid look. Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work. Now and again she would glance up at the clock. She laid aside her sewing. a strongish one for him. and the car door slamming. “Hullo darling. “Hullo darling. and he in the other. and the eyes. and soon she was back again in her chair with the sewing. soda water. On the sideboard behind her. LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER Roald Dahl The room was warm and clean. The drop of a head as she bent over her sewing was curiously tranquil. and went forward to kiss him as he came in. whiskey. she heard the tires on the gravel outside. two tall glasses. Fresh ice cubes in the Thermos bucket. punctually as always. and a few moments later. a weak one for herself.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 departure and living alone. and about everything she did. the mouth was soft.” he answered. the key turning in the lock. Then she walked over and made the drinks. opposite.” she said. She took his coat and hung it in the closer. When the clock said ten minutes to five. the two table lamps alight and the one by the empty chair opposite. merely to please herself with the thought that each minute gone by made it nearer the time when he would come. Her skin -for this was her sixth month with child-had acquired a wonderful translucent quality. the curtains drawn. the footsteps passing the window. There was a slow smiling air about her. she began to listen. stood up. seemed larger darker than before. holding the tall __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 19/35 1 5 10 15 . but without anxiety.
a little nod. She loved him for the way he sat loosely in a chair.” He didn’t answer. and then you can have it or not. She wasn’t really watching him. “I’ll get it!” she cried. “it’s still not too late. enjoying his company after the long hours alone in the house. “Sit down.” She stood up and placed her sewing on the table by the lamp. this was always a blissful time of day. and especially the way he remained silent about his tiredness. but she knew what he had done because she heard the ice cubes falling back against the bottom of the empty glass when he lowered his arm. “I think it’s a shame. and you can have it right here and not even move out of the chair. “Would you like me to get you some cheese? I haven’t made any supper because it’s Thursday.” “I don’t want it.” she said. was content to sit quietly. jumping up. sitting still with himself until the whiskey had taken some of it away.” she said. she heard the ice cubes clinking against the side of the glass. He paused a moment. “Just for a minute. but he made no sign. “I’ll get you some cheese and crackers first. and to feel-almost as a sunbather feels the sun .” she went on.” he said. rocking it so the ice cubes tinkled against the side. sit down. “Sit down. “I’m tired. She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man. they keep him walking about on his feet all day long. a smile. “Darling. “Darling. or moved slowly across the room with long strides.that warm male glow that came out of him to her when they were alone together.” Her eyes waited on him for an answer. and she could see little oily swirls in the liquid because it was so strong. for the way he came in a door. then he got up and went slowly over to fetch himself another. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 20/35 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 . “Tired darling?” “Yes.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 glass with both hands. as you like. She loved intent.” It wasn’t till then that she began to get frightened. When he came back. he did an unusual thing. bet each time he lifted the drink to his lips.” he said. far look in his eyes when they rested in her. leaning forward in the chair. “that when a policeman gets to be as senior as you.” he said. at least half of it left.” She watched him as he began to sip the dark yellow drink. There’s plenty of meat and stuff in the freezer. “Anyway.” he said. the funny shape of the mouth. She moved uneasily in her chair. “If you’re too tired to eat out. She knew he didn’t want to speak much until the first drink was finished. so she bent her head again and went on with her sewing.” she went on. shall I get your slippers?” “No.” he said.” And as he spoke.” “No. “But you must eat! I’ll fix it anyway. For her. on her side. the large eyes still watching his face. she noticed that the new drink was dark amber with the quantity of whiskey in it. and she. He lifted his glass and drained it in one swallow although there was still half of it.
“So there it is. leaving the chin and mouth in shadow. It occurred to her that perhaps he hadn’t even spoken. and she stopped. and as she went through the living room. but not turning round. holding the thin bone-end of it with both her hands. She noticed there was a little muscle moving near the corner of his left eye. Of course I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after.” he said. watching him all the time with those large. “And I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you. to reject it all. watching him with a kind of dazed horror as he went further and further away from her with each word. She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.” At that point. gently swaying. the light switch. And he told her.” Her first instinct was not to believe any of it. I hope not anyway.” She lowered herself back slowly into the chair. and she say very still through it all. and looked at it. bewildered eyes. and this time he didn’t stop her.” she managed to whisper. “But I’ve thought about it a good deal and I’ve decided the only thing to do is tell you right away. When she walked across the room she couldn’t feel her feet touching the floor. that she herself had imagined the whole thing. A leg of lamb. “This is going to be a bit of a shock to you. when she sort of woke up again. hearing her. “Listen. “I’ll get the supper. so she took off the paper and looked at it again. frowning.” “What is it.except a slight nausea and a desire to vomit. Maybe. I’m going out. darling? What’s the matter?” He had now become absolutely motionless. they would have lamb for supper. She stepped back a pace.” he said. the hand inside the cabinet taking hold of the first object it met.” he said. Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head. She carried it upstairs. “Don’t make supper for me. It wouldn’t be very good for my job. Everything was automatic now-down the steps to the cellar. four or five minutes at most. But there needn’t really be any fuss.” he added. “I’ve got something to tell you. bet there simply wasn’t any other way. I hope you won’t blame me too much. and the funny thing was that he remained standing there for at least four or five seconds. “Sit down.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 “Go on. Then he crashed to __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 21/35 70 75 80 85 90 95 10 0 10 5 . She couldn’t feel anything at all. waiting. She lifted it out. He had finished the second drink and was staring down into the glass. she saw him standing over by the window with his back to her. I’m afraid. “For God’s sake. she might find none of it had ever happened. then later. the deep freeze. All right then. if she went about her business and acted as though she hadn’t been listening.” he said. and he kept his head down so that the light from the lamp beside him fell across the upper part of his face. It didn’t take long. It was wrapped in paper.
It made no difference to her. “Hullo Sam. Yes. it would be a relief.” “Perfect. She carried the meat into the kitchen. that’ll be fine. “Why.” “Then how about meat. As the wife of a detective. the small table overturning. And she certainly wasn’t prepared to take a chance. Mrs. she told herself. Maloney?” “No. now.” the grocer said.” she said. In fact. what about the child? What were the laws about murderers with unborn children? Did they kill then both-mother and child? Or did they wait until the tenth month? What did they do Mary Maloney didn’t know. I got a nice leg of lamb from the freezer. still holding the ridiculous piece of meat tight with both hands. “Patrick’s decided he’s tired and doesn’t want to eat out tonight. the noise. Sam. placed it in a pan. Sam. how clear her mind became all of a sudden. down the garden. She began thinking very fast. Sam. Then she ran downstairs. Mrs.” That was better. you know. It came out rather peculiar. The voice sounded peculiar too. tidied her hair. All right. and I think a can of peas. It was extraordinary. helped bring her out of her shock. She tried again. but I’m taking a chance on it this time. she knew quite well what the penalty would be. She tried a smile.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 the carpet. and shoved it inside. Then she washed her hands and ran upstairs to the bedroom. The violence of the crash. How are you?” “I want some potatoes please.” “I don’t know much like cooking it frozen. She rehearsed it several times more. “We usually go out Thursdays. thanks. smiling at the man behind the counter. I’ve got meat. turned the oven on high. touched up her lops and face. On the other hand. Two of those. You want these Idaho potatoes?” “Oh yes. She sat down before the mirror. She came out slowly. It wasn’t six o’clock yet and the lights were still on in the grocery shop. Both the smile and the voice were coming out better now. and went out the back door.” she told him. “How about afterwards? What you going to give him for afterwards?” “Well-what would you suggest. aloud.” __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 22/35 11 0 11 5 120 125 130 135 140 145 150 . So I’ve killed him.” she said brightly. “I don’t believe it makes any difference. good evening.” “Oh. Sam?” The man glanced around his shop. You think it’ll be all right?” “Personally. looking at her pleasantly. Yes. into the street.” “Anything else?” The grocer cocked his head on one side. “How about a nice big slice of cheesecake? I know he likes that.” she said brightly. “He loves it. “I want some potatoes please. and now he’s caught me without any vegetables in the house. feeling cold and surprised. Maloney. and she stood for a while blinking at the body. That was fine. took her coat.” The man turned and reached up behind him on the shelf for the peas. and I think a can of peas. “Hullo Sam.
who was called O’Malley. she told herself. Do everything right and natural. What happened?” Briefly. “How are you. and when the man at the other end answered. she put on her brightest smile and said. All the old love and longing for him welled up inside her. darling?” She put the parcel down on the table and went through into the living room. she was returning home to her husband and he was waiting for his supper. Soon. or tragic. when she entered the house. other men began to come into the house. Keep things absolutely natural and there’ll be no need for any acting at all. and she must cook it good. she wasn’t expecting to find anything. so tired he hadn’t wanted to go out for supper. She told how she’d put __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 23/35 155 160 165 170 175 180 185 190 195 . “I’m afraid he is. one of whom she know by name. Sam. She knows the number of the police station. or terrible. And thank you.” And now.” “You mean Patrick Maloney’s dead?” “I think so. and the detectives kept asking her a lot of questions. Maloney. and when she saw him lying there on the floor with his legs doubled up and one arm twisted back underneath his body. crying and talking. she happened to find anything unusual. and when she opened the front door. Therefore.” she sobbed. kneeling by the body. A few minutes later she got up and went to the phone. While she was talking. and if. She told her story again. Noonan discovered a small patch of congealed blood on the dead man’s head. Later. Mrs. it really was rather a shock. she told her story about going out to the grocer and coming back to find him on the floor. First a doctor. Patrick Maloney. and began to cry her heart out. then went over to join the other one.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 And when it was all wrapped and she had paid. That’s the way. “Thank you. She was just going home with the vegetables. Goodnight. Mrs. Maloney. “He’s lying on the floor and I think he’s dead. and she ran over to him. He showed it to O’ Malley who got up at once and hurried to the phone. she was humming a little tune to herself and smiling. she told herself as she hurried back. when she entered the kitchen by the back door. and a man who know about fingerprints. then two detectives. There was a great deal of whispering and muttering beside the corpse. The car came very quickly. she cried to him.” “Goodnight.” the man said. She know them both-she know nearly all the man at that precinct-and she fell right into a chair. and make it as tasty as possible because the poor man was tired. when Patrick had come in. “Quick! Come quick! Patrick’s dead!” “Who’s speaking?” “Mrs. It was easy. all she was doing now. this time right from the beginning. Mrs. “Patrick!” she called. knelt down beside him. But they always treated her kindly.” “Be right over. and he was tired. two policemen walked in. “Is he dead?” she cried. a police photographer arrived and took pictures. then naturally it would be a shock and she’d become frantic with grief and horror. and she was sewing. Patrick Maloney going home with the vegetables on Thursday evening to cook supper for her husband. Mind you. No acting was necessary.
and you’ve got the man. She’d like to stay right where she was. had been killed by a blow on the back of the head administered with a heavy blunt instrument. or to his own wife who would take care of her and put her up for the night.very cheerful. The search went on. she said. he told her.. and through her sobbing she heard a few of the whispered phrases-”. But there might be some things like that in the garage. peas.” After a while. Did she know. for example.. in this chair. “Would you mind giving me a drink?” “Sure I’ll give you a drink. Then the fingerprint man went away.and how she’d slopped out to the grocer for vegetables.” she said. The two detectives remained.” He handed her the glass. he asked. and come back to find him lying on the floor.wanted to give him a good supper…. They didn’t have any heavy metal vases. and he turned and whispered something to the other detective who immediately went outside into the street. It began to get late. and Jack Noonan asked if she wouldn’t rather go somewhere else. one of the detectives came up and sat beside her....acted quite normal. to her sister’s house perhaps. You’ve been very good to me. cooking”. and sometimes she saw a flash of a torch through a chink in the curtains. she said. “Why don’t you have one yourself.. Would they mind awfully of she stayed just where she was until she felt better. Sometimes Jack Noonan spoke at her gently as he passed by. It might make me feel better. The murderer may have taken it with him. and so did the two policemen.” Later.impossible that she. she said. “Jack. Then hadn’t she better lie down on the bed? Jack Noonan asked. the photographer and the doctor departed and two other men came in and took the corpse away on a stretcher. In fifteen minutes he was back with a page of notes. she would move. “It’s the old story.” __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 24/35 200 205 210 215 220 225 230 235 240 245 . But just a small one.” she said. They were exceptionally nice to her.. of anything in the house that could’ve been used as the weapon? Would she mind having a look around to see if anything was missing-a very big spanner. or a heavy metal vase. You mean this whiskey?” “Yes please. when she felt better. perhaps. A little later. No.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 the meat in the oven-”it’s there now. searching the house. Occasionally one of the detectives asked her another question.” he said. Please do. The four men searching the rooms seemed to be growing weary. she really didn’t. She didn’t feel too good at the moment. So they left her there while they went about their business.. but on the other hand he may have thrown it away or hidden it somewhere on the premises. She knew that there were other policemen in the garden all around the house. She didn’t feel she could move even a yard at the moment. the next tome Sergeant Noonan went by..cheesecake. “Or a big spanner?” She didn’t think they had a big spanner. and there was more whispering. She told him.. “Get the weapon. “You must be awfully tired. Her husband. They were looking for the weapon. “Which grocer?” one of the detectives asked.. a trifle exasperated. She could hear their footsteps on the gravel outside. No. nearly nine she noticed by the clock on the mantle. almost certainly a large piece of metal..
“Yes?” “Would you do me a small favor-you and these others?” “We can try. It’ll be cooked just right by now. “Please eat it. “So it is!” “I better turn it off for you. “The doc says his skull was smashed all to pieces just like from a sledgehammer.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 “Well. and in the end they were persuaded to go into the kitchen and help themselves. their voices thick and sloppy because their mouths were full of meat. “Have some more.” When the sergeant returned the second time. Give me some more. dark tearful eyes. Jack?” And in the other room.” one of them was saying. “Here you all are.” “Probably right under our very noses. Thank you so much. Maloney. hadn’t I?” “Will you do that. Be doing her a favor. certainly not what’s been in the house when he was here.” he answered. They stood around rather awkwardly with the drinks in their hands. I think it’s right here on the premises. “Please. Personally I couldn’t tough a thing. Charlie?” “No. You know that oven of yours is still on. Then you can go on with your work again afterwards. Better not finish it. come out quickly and said. But it’s all right for you.” “That’s why it ought to be easy to find.” “Well. and the meat still inside. and helping to catch the man who killed him.” she begged. if I allowed you to remain in his house without offering you decent hospitality.” “That’s the hell of a big club the gut must’ve used to hit poor Patrick. trying to say consoling things to her. but they were clearly hungry.” “Oh dear me!” she cried. God bless his soul. Why don’t you eat up that lamb that’s in the oven.” “Exactly what I say.” she said. she looked at him with her large.” There was a good deal of hesitating among the four policemen.” she said. “Jack Noonan. Mrs.” “Okay then. and I know Patrick would never forgive me. “Look. listening to them speaking among themselves. and good friends of dear Patrick’s too. “It’s not strictly allowed.” “Whoever done it. uncomfortable in her presence.” One of them belched. The woman stayed where she was. You must be terrible hungry by now because it’s long past your suppertime. they’re not going to be carrying a thing like that around with them longer than they need. “Personally. What you think. Maloney. Mary Maloney began to giggle.” “Wouldn’t dream of it. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 25/35 250 255 260 265 270 275 280 285 290 . Sergeant Noonan wandered into the kitchen.” One by one the others came in and were persuaded to take a little nip of whiskey.” “She wants us to finish it. but I might take just a drop to keep me going. Mrs. She said so. It’d be a favor to me if you’d eat it up. Jack.” Sergeant Noonan said.
She was delicately balancing two huge basins on her head. though. Long past subuh time. already the first slant of sunlight was filtering through the eaves of the blinds in the market. That particular morning. or the myriad Kelantan breakfast tepung.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 295 Mariah Che Husna Azhari It was seven in the morning on a typical day in the small village town of Molo. They were definitely waiting for something to appear. however. The hub of activity was now the market square where men congregate to have breakfast. All eyes were transfixed on a figure coming through the entrance. was a bit late for breakfast. her hips swaying gaily to and fro with the rhythm of the __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 26/35 1 5 10 15 .m. Seven a. It was the figure of a woman. roti canai. there was much excitement. most of the men were not eating their breakfast but instead their gaze was fixed on the main entrance to the square. The main trunk road from Pasir Puteh to Kota Bharu was already choked with the bicycle traffic from school children wending their way to the three main schools in the village. the mosque was empty. The men were getting restless. Breakfast could be the various nasi. Very soon after.
very black eyes appeared to glow. That particular gyrating seemed to mesmerise the men and glue them to their places. nasi belauk and nasi dagang. guaranteed to be greeted by a well-turned-out wife. This was not to imply that she was not decorous in her manners… on the contrary. The Imam liked his nasi belauk and his wife took great care in its preparation. There had been many suitors after her husband’s untimely demise. but Mariah had seemed singularly uninterested. It would not have mattered either way in Kelantan. so we will never be able to confirm this allegation. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 27/35 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 . One could always call at the Imam’s house at any time of the day. a two-metre traditional head and body cover much favoured by the working womenfolk of Kelantan. Mariah always had on a short kebaya which accentuated her wellproportioned curves. It was the only flaw in an otherwise perfect marriage. her complexion fair and her very dark. not gracefully but sensuously. but her husband had passed away soon after. Note that I didn’t say either divorced or widowed. the Imam was with the men. muttering about the Imam’s lateness for breakfast. who was the guardian of modesty and propriety and enforcer of stringent mores. she was very much so… but men seem to want to partake of her nasi more because of her unmarried state. The Imam’s wife was somewhat assisted in this respect by not having grubby children who would mess things up. Rumour had it (started by women folk) that her nasi weren’t much to crow about. The Kota Bharu Nickies or the more modern women prefer either a sliver of a scarf or go bare-headed. falling on Mariah’s nasi belauk with much relish. This rumour was never corroborated by medical evidence. Mariah was a nasi seller in Molo. hot tepung and fragrant surroundings. The Imam’s wife was pottering about in her spotless kitchen. Her culinary skills were not her only attribute. Every morning at seven sharp she would walk past the market entrance into the village square and mesmerise the men with her swaying hips as well as her nasi: nasi kerabu. To do so would be to incur the wrath of the village Imam. her housekeeping was also a model to be followed by other womenfolk in the village. Mariah would easily pass for a beauty in her late twenties. Fifteen years after her husband’s death. There was much to mesmerise as far as Mariah was concerned. Many a nasi belauk breakfast remained cold and uneaten in the houses as men ignored their wives' cooking and paid tribute to Mariah's instead. which would make her fortyish. The most important thing was she was not with a husband. but in Molo one does not go about without a kain lepas. but it was a combination of Mariah’s swaying as well as her easy smile that made all the men flock to the village square. His wife’s own nasi belauk was still waiting for him on his kitchen table under the tudung saji. in fact the nasi seller in Molo. She was without a husband.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 balancing. getting very cold indeed. Her face was unlined. Mariah had been married once. Mariah also had another asset. No. Rumour too (also spread by the womenfolk) had it that it was our Mariah who drove her husband to an early grave. As a concession to propriety she used to cover her head and part of her torso with a kain lepas. for that was the name of the lady with the two basins on her head. Mariah was tall and well-proportioned and moved gracefully. On that particular morning.
PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 Quarrelsome couples who called at the Imam’s place for arbitration would be sobered by the domestic serenity of the Imam’s abode. Besides. “Who do you mean. one of the local women leaders. Their own domestic atmospheres were just not congenial enough for peace.” (Cik Yam readily agreed). it was not considered proper for the Imam’s wife to be caught gossiping. Cik Yam knew about most village matters. It was a delegation of womenfolk from the village headed by Cik Gu Nab. Cik Gu Nab continued: “Cik Yam. They were unexpected but not unwelcome. The Imam’s wife Cik Yam listened attentively. So it couldn’t have been the kain lepas. “Mariah has been enticing our men to abandon their homes for her kedai merpati. of course. commenting first on Cik Yam’s exquisitely appliquéd safrah before launching into the matter at hand. we mean Mariah. we feel very bad about having to come to you. Why. Cik Gu Nab made small talk for a while.” continued Cik Gu Nab. Cik Yam. the Imam would have reminded Cik Yam to pay her a visit. hang their heads in shame and make new resolutions. the nasi seller! Don’t tell me you don’t know what she’s been up to!” Cik Gu Nab looked peeved at Cik Yam’s ignorance of important village matters. trying to put the matter across as delicately as possible. thought Cik Yam. the problem now is that one of our own sisters is not doing her own thing at all. Cik Gu Nab?” Cik Yam asked. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 28/35 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 10 0 10 5 . “No. I mean we reckon she has put something in her nasi. We don’t like to backbite our own sister” Cik Gu Nab cleared her throat and looked at the others for assent. Cik Yam wiped her hands and bade the visitors in. I am sure for one she cannot beat your nasi belauk. wondering what this meandering of Cik Gu Nab’s was leading up to. You know her nasi cannot be that special. we mean our sisters no harm.” Cik Gu Nab paused for breath. “Cik Yam. each woman to their own rizq. there were salutations from the front door. “Why. but not quick enough. The matter at hand turned out to be none other than Mariah. Having got it in the form of gravely nodding heads. “Cik Yam.” began Cik Gu Nab. “But why do all these men seem hell-bent on eating breakfast at her place? I reckon. But enough said about the Imam’s exemplary household. What can Mariah possibly be up to. They would all gape enviously at the surroundings and forget to quarrel. “er. it would seem. If she hadn’t been so. Mariah was apt to go around in her short and loud kebaya. but instead meddling with other people’s”. more important events were unfolding. In fact. but promptly quarrel again as soon as they got home. I don’t know. She was always too busy with housework to gossip. Cik Gu Nab was known to favour a touch of melodrama and to use it to maximum effect always. As we often say. in fact we are very happy if each one of us goes about doing her own thing. They would listen attentively to the Imam’s sermon and exhortations to peace.…this troublemaker?”. Cik Gu Nab. What has she been up to?” Cik Yam smiled sweetly. As the Imam’s wife was vigorously scrubbing at an already spotless sink. She was a teacher at a local primary school. but she was always properly covered by her kain lepas.
” replied Cik Yam. But then. Perhaps that ‘something’ you alleged she put in the nasi is just plain skill. still Cik Yam was being very malicious. The Imam picked up the tudung saji for his lunch. as always he would look around at his empty house and let out a sigh. bearing children was a woman’s job. she thought. would never dream of having breakfast anywhere but at home. I had to learn of it through someone else too!” Cik Yam threw the tudung saji on the floor. narrowly missing the Imam’s foot. she took of his kuffiyah and gave him a clean sarong to change into. but she did not flinch. “Why. Cik Yam took the opportunity to confront him. “I didn’t say ‘it’ enticed all the men. Why couldn’t his wife bear children like other women? Some women. thought the Imam. yes. Cik Yam. Cik Gu Nab! God forbid!” Cik Yam considered her next words carefully. it never occurred to him he could be the culprit in his wife’s supposed inability to bear children. Only then did Cik Yam sit down to think of a way to settle the issue with the Imam. for instance. Like all men of his generation. it was not her forte. Replete with Cik Yam’s tepung and fortified with the latest gossip. incidentally. Speaking of which. My Cik Gu Leh (Cik Gu Nab’s husband). I have to prove that my nasi belauk is still edible compared to Mariah’s especially since the whole village saw you eating away.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 “I can’t believe that. you know. It must have been one of the womenfolk. served them her beautiful tepung and indulged in the social niceties required. the ladies then left. quick as lightning. but she quickly regained enough composure to smile at the rest of the delegates.” Cik Gu Nab started. have the fecundity of rabbits. After all. She was unnerved. some don’t. Cik Gu Nab. and if she didn’t there was something wrong with her. Cik Gu Nab stood and left in a huff. behaving as if your wife has never prepared nasi belauk for you! And Abang. Yam?” asked the Imam. it’s under the tudung saji. How did she know I had breakfast at Mariah’s. Some men do get easily enticed. Allah knows. Cik Gu Nab’s last retort was as good as a slap on the face. it seemed. She felt she was being reproached. but not his wife. Cik Yam. then ran sobbing to their bedroom. but much to his surprise it turned out to be the morning’s nasi belauk. There was not a living man in Molo who did not envy him for having such a devoted wife. Cik Yam was there to greet him. "We cannot accuse Mariah of something so grave without any concrete evidence. __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 29/35 11 0 11 5 12 0 12 5 13 0 13 5 14 0 14 . Cik Yam went a deep shade of crimson. The Imam looked at his wife with obvious pride. What the hell is happening. That’s terribly unfair. that she was going to make sure of! The Imam went about his usual business and came home at 12:30 to have his lunch. She did not like this allusion to her cooking skills either. surely. Abang. “I thought you would still like to finish off my nasi belauk after you breakfasted at Mariah’s. “Is lunch ready. was a seasoned politician. Fertility had nothing to do with men. In a pointed rebuff. she did not even say a proper farewell. He was not going to escape unscathed. I saw the sainted Tok Imam himself having breakfast at Mariah’s” Having delivered this stinging repartee. Certainly. The words stung her. As far as he was concerned. He was stunned into silence for a good few minutes.
but no more. I want no one else. How full of hope he was! How sweet were the days as they passed for the __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 30/35 5 15 0 15 5 16 0 16 5 17 0 17 5 18 0 . but so too did his love for the Sheikh’s daughter grow. the Imam. especially to the ladies. The Imam kept the burning secret to himself. but really Cik Gu Leh is no authority on the subject as his wife Cik Gu Nab. was sent to Pattani. And he had done so only at that Cik Gu Leh’ insistence. What a woman she is! The Imam became transported to another time. He had no stamina for the arduous task of being a scholar. The Imam saw her tresses in their full silken glory. the Sheikh was entrusting more and more of his duties to his model pupil. He is grooming me to take his place and to be his son-in-law. His manners were extremely correct. Cik Gu Leh had been extolling the virtues of Mariah’s nasi belauk. Even his housemates never knew of this love. He took a drink of water and reflected upon the event. performing prayers and sometimes even paying courtesy calls on the Sheikh’s behalf. moping for his mother and his friends rather than studying. He feigned indelicate health. He was punctilious in the performance of his duties. The Imam begged to be excused. The Imam’s behaviour was nothing but exemplary.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 “Oh …women! They are so impossible. as he had expected. The white of her skin on her bare throat was blinding. The Imam was miserable in Pattani. “I love her and I shall make her mine. But Allah is great and the Imam’s misery was soon alleviated. It was throbbing as hard as his heart. It was around two or three in the afternoon when there were not many people about. panting and breathless. At the thought of Mariah the Imam smiled dreamily to himself. the Sheikh was the last person to know. It was the only time he had ever gone to Mariah’s. The thing that did surprise him was Mariah herself. It did not surprise him in the least. as everybody knew.” muttered the Imam in vexation. The Imam. The Imam saw from a distance a young lady drawing water from the well. why do they have to go around making life difficult for men? Beats the hell out of me.” he said to himself. The Imam was conducting kulliyahs. as hot and feverish as his passion. the Imam took his water pot to go to the communal well for his ablutions. It is true that as the years passed the Imam grew to love the Deen and the Sheikh. The nasi belauk was. thought the Imam. under protest and under duress. Then he learnt that the object of his ardour was the daughter of the Sheikh himself. full of other plans. So finally. He felt his head.” he vowed. the Imam relented. his youth… When the Imam was a young man of fifteen his father had voiced his wish for his son to be sent to Pattani in Southern Thailand to learn under the tutelage of a well-known Sheikh. but his father had decreed. One day when he had been in Pattani about three month. passable. The Imam had protested. He ran trembling to his hut. In the Imam’s final year. He had always nursed a secret ambition for his son to be the scholar he could not be and in doing so exculpate himself. The Sheikh thought that the Imam stayed for the love of the Deen. If the Imam was consumed with love. His father had spent a few years there himself but had not progressed very much. but Cik Gu Leh was most persistent. The Imam stopped in his tracks. was a hopeless cook. Who could that beautiful creature be? “I love her. then took full flight. Perhaps she thought there was no one about so her head was not covered.
The days passed. He came out but went in again. Abase Yourself to the One You Love. He left the table. The Imam was punctual in his prayers and diligent in his duties. “Let me find refuge there. why do you have to look like her from your toes right up to your eyebrows! It’s a test. “Save me. His world crashed around him. After the afternoon prayer the Imam stayed long in prostration. Cik Yam. O Passion. By Allah! It’s a test.” The Imam kept repeating this litany as if in prayer. was an accomplished cook as well as being modest and extremely virtuous. the Imam __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 31/35 18 5 19 0 19 5 20 0 20 5 21 0 21 5 22 0 . Pattani was nothing but a cauldron of smouldering embers. He had not thought again of the Sheikh’s daughter for a long time… that is. He dallied in the mosque.” What had his Sheikh always said in times like this? He quickly recollected. “I have dispensed with thee. but the Imam gently refused. or it is by might and it is attached to Kingdom If you’re in your immunity. Finally he went in and fell into a troubled sleep. it protects us and if you’re in the sea.” The Imam became very frightened. His mother understood the grieving and in a few months found him Cik Yam. O God. or the Knowledge of Man. the Passion of My Youth? Oh Mariah. The Sheikh did broach the subject of his daughter to him but only to invite him to his daughter’s wedding to a cousin. There is no kindness in my wound Either it is by abasement and it is attached to passion. He remembered a verse from his Pattani days… O lady of excess who strips away my acts of devotion in every state. something which he had never done before. The Imam came home grieving to Kelantan. Things appeared normal. If it were not for the agony of having to see his beloved as somebody else’s wife. but she was not the Sheikh’s daughter. took his ablutions and quickly went to the mosque.” he though. but he had to go. She had been an obedient and excellent wife. The Imam had been happy with Cik Yam and gradually as he grew older the hurt had eased. It was either from Fusus Al-Hakam. he would have stayed. until that morning. The Imam packed his books and bade good-bye to his Sheikh. The Imam was shattered. He was really very fond of the old man and also very grateful for the tutelage. “Why do you have to be so like her… my long-lost love.. passion is not easy. though no raving beauty. by the fate of God.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 Imam! How he patiently waited for the day when the Sheikh would broach the subject to him but it was not to be. when. but his heart was in turmoil. I have divorced thee thrice. Passion is Not Easy. Cik Gu Leh had dragged him to Mariah’s kedai merpati… “Oh Mariah…” sighed the Imam. Indeed. The Sheikh begged him to stay to look after his mosque for him. you come in the boat.
but the men in the kedai merpati attributed that to extreme modesty.” supplicated the Imam silently. women and perfume? There you are! Proof. Immediately as if released by a valve the Imam’s hot tears fell on Cik Yam’s sarong. It was too colossal for him to handle. The Imam would take the nasi belauk without averting his gaze from the plate in accordance with the Quranic injunction for men to lower their gazes. At least. asking God for succour. He would tremble slightly. but it certainly seemed apt now. for men are weak. And yet he felt elated. “not used to the company of women.” Cik Yam whispered to the Imam. a part of a grand design by God to heal his heart. oh God. spooning nasi belauk into his mouth.. He believed it was fated. the Imam went to his bedroom. His heart ached with the pent-up longing for the Sheikh’s daughter. He spent the nights in supplication. Fifteen years of marital bliss had left its mark. Cik Gu Leh would be his emissary. At these words the Imam felt himself choke. “The Imam is an extremely modest man. nursing a cup of coffee with Cik Gu Leh. Mariah saw nothing amiss. He told Cik Yam of his unrequited love for the Sheikh’s daughter.” Every time he took the nasi belauk from Mariah he would feel a pang of guilt. prayers. the village Imam. “Forgive me. but on the account of a woman? Can a beautiful alluring woman be a part of a healing process? It seemed so profane to the Imam. Cik Yam was sitting on the bed waiting for him to finish. that was how it looked on the surface.” thought the other men. He was frightened of the emotions stirred up by his unintentional meeting with Mariah. He knelt by the bed and kissed Cik Yam’s hands. Love and understanding shone through Cik Yam’s also tear-filled eyes. but every time somehow. That was the time the Imam would use to steal long lingering glances at Mariah.. He told Cik Yam of his pain and longing. The Imam kissed Cik Yam’s knees and then placed his head on Cik Yam’s lap. how he had fought his emotions and how he had lost. The Imam tried to go home to Cik Yam after subuh prayers. befitting his station and stature. in spite of himself. Cik Yam stroked his head lovingly. It had to be on a Thursday night. He was. my husband. Cik Yam was surprised by this reverent show of affection but did not say anything. He begged Cik Yam’s forgiveness. Cik Yam waited. Cik Yam lifted the Imam’s head and looked at him questioningly. Things would never be the same again for the Imam. exoneration for the Imam. but he steeled himself. “Tell me what grieves you. the eve of Friday. The Imam chose the occasion well.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 could not be certain. Cik Yam felt the hot tears on her skin as it seeped through the sarong. She treated the Imam with reverence and courtesy. After prayers and long supplication. Oh Mariah!. He felt resolved to do what he had to do. after all. She served him the choicest morsels on her best cutlery. But why should a woman be more profane than a man? Did not the Prophet himself say that three things are pleasing to him. remembering his wife’s nasi belauk under the tudung saji. He then told Cik Yam of Mariah. kissed the hem of Cik Yam’s sarong and asked for her __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 32/35 22 5 23 0 23 5 24 0 24 5 25 0 25 5 26 . he would be by Cik Gu Leh’s side going to Mariah’s for breakfast. and I will make it better for you. After the nasi belauk the Imam would still tarry.
When Cik Gu Leh. Cik Yam became a paragon of virtue. something that everybody definitely agreed upon and that was … Cik Yam would certainly be found sheltering in the shade of the Umbrella of Siti Fatimah (the Prophet’s daughter) on the Day of Judgement. would that they were as strong as Cik Yam! But what of Mariah. Word got around the village that the Imam was taking a second wife.” voices trailed away. who couldn’t even fry an egg properly? Why her? The loving devoted wife. happening to her? Please God. on the other hand. Finally the Imam managed to capture her in his embrace and placated her with promises of his love and continuing devotion. neither their wives nor their budgets were accommodating enough. The Imam was the man to marry. I will care for you. The Imam was not on her list of prospective suitor. Nothing can change that. if she would ever wish to marry. Thus the night passed and in the morning with the first rays of sunlight. Initially. on condition of equality. came to her house asking for her hand. then said “Yes”. on Cik Yam’s feet. Mariah only dithered for a day. serenely unaffected. wondered what Quranic ayats the Imam blew on Cik Yam’s face to subdue her. but sadly. with her nasi belauk selling until the very day she married the Imam. A man of religion would be the only person worth marrying after all those years of self-imposed celibacy. She wondered why the __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 33/35 0 26 5 27 0 27 5 28 0 28 5 29 0 29 5 . let it not be true. Yam” … he said in between kisses on Cik Yam’s forehead. she had thought Cik Gu Leh had come on his own behalf: Cik Gu Leh had been most partial to her nasi. the Imam’s emissary. But Cik Gu Leh had come for the Imam. she had been surprised. the whole town of Molo was rife with speculations. “I love you and will always love you. the model housewife? Why? Why? Despair and humiliation all came and passed through Cik Yam’s heart. in the final act of submission. Three days after this even. The Imam had breakfast at home with Cik Yam and he himself spooned the nasi belauk into Cik Yam’s mouth. “Mashallah!” they all whispered reverently in awe of Cik Yam’s virtue and steadfastness. the object of all this commotion? She continued. “O wretched. It was difficult for everyone to agree upon one common reason. She threw herself on the bed and wept piteously. Cik Yam said “Yes” to the Imam’s request. Women wondered how she could have easily succumbed to the whole arrangement. and that person was none other than Mariah! “Isn’t that rather odd?” gossiped the villagers. Why couldn’t it have happened to that lazy Cik Gu Nab. Perhaps he knew something they didn’t. wretched self!” By then Cik Yam was racked by despairing sobs. she prayed. The men in the village were all excitedly handling this issue in their own ways. however. Can that dreaded thing most feared by women be real.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 permission to take Mariah as his second wife! Cik Yam jumped up as if struck by a bolt of lightning. but she pushed him away. There was. They had all at some time or other in their lives fantasised about having second wives. The men. The Imam tried to hold her. hands and finally. “The Imam and Cik Yam have been married for fifteen years and Cik Yam is a model of virtue. Yam. I will always be your husband. to say the least. Cik Gu Nab had even begun sending threatening messages.” “Then of course Cik Yam is childless….
30 0 30 5 31 0 31 5 32 0 32 5 33 0 33 5 __________________________________________________________________________________ ILMU 34/35 . giving him permission to enter. Mariah quickly averted her eyes from his piercing gaze and looked demurely at her hennaed hand. the Imam managed a hoarse “Thank you. ready to again begin life anew as a married woman. at least they harbour no ill feelings towards me.” Mariah’s wedding surpassed even her own expectations. Truly Cik Yam was an angel. Mariah was. She took out her savings from nasi belauk selling and prepared a bridal chamber grander than that of her first wedding. Mariah found herself alone in the bridal chamber. and she replied. organised the wedding with particular zealousness. slightly in awe of the pious Cik Yam. Mariah felt like a harlot in her short orange kebaya. Mariah had her wedding finery tailored in Kota Bharu. The Imam was dressed in a white jubah and white serban.” she noted. sitting beside the robed Cik Yam. in deference to the stature of the new husband-to-be.” before Mariah’s perfume completely enveloped him and his senses. took Mariah’s hand in his own and kissed it fervently and long. Her relatives. to willingly share her husband with her. looking resplendent. “Well. she sighed with obvious relief that it was all over. Guests streamed into the house compound from sunrise till sundown. no less. The Imam saluted at the door. “So be it. He came forward. well-built and with measured movements. for Your Bounty. his dream realised. with the guests finally departed. Cik Yam had been kind to her and allayed her fears. heaping compliments upon her and congratulating her. Cik Yam was a model wife. Mariah noticed that the serban was held in place with the ends fashionably tied back. Her first husband had not been an Imam. untutored in religion. inhaling the heady scent of Mariah’s Tabu perfume. in fact. Mariah the blousy lady.PEN0035 English 3 Chapter 2 Imam had ever considered marrying her. After the isha’ prayers. His eyes closed. She suddenly realised how physically attractive the Imam was: tall.” sighed Mariah. there had been no need for such fuss. in fact untutored in everything except nasi belauk selling! “It’s all Allah’s decree. In an uncharacteristic show of flamboyance and extravagance. God.
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