We went to see Platform65’s Rites & Regulations, a well-conceptualized and creatively staged doublebill of funeral-themed plays aWake (by Lin Mingyu) and Mok Cui Yin’s adaptation of Kuo Pao Kun’s The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole. The production was at 5 Foot Way Inn on Aliwal Street, and once it was over we decided to go to good ol’ Zam Zam for our murtabak fix.
Discussing the plays as we walked to Zam Zam along North Bridge Road, I admitted that my reaction to a particular situation which arose in aWake was not very compassionate. “The void deck was booked months ago for the Malay wedding!” I ranted. “If this Chinese family just went and started setting up for a funeral without even checking whether the space was available, then too bad for them!”
Alec then observed that, regardless of how crystal clear it may seem to people detached from the situation, he thought the reasons for the Chinese family’s refusal to yield up the space had been quite realistically portrayed as arising from a mixture of grief, fear and superstition.
As one might often do in a conversation as a way of expressing one’s point, Alec chose at this point to speak from the perspective of the Chinese family i.e. speaking in the first person as if he were part of the Chinese family.
Which is how, in the midst of channelling a distressed old Chinese lady who doesn’t want to move the funeral site because her mother’s ghost will get lost, Alec exclaimed “I don’t care about the Malay family!” Right next to an elderly Malay gentleman in traditional baju. Just outside the Sultan Mosque.