In April this year, I had the great honour of winning second prize at a Shakespeare-themed writing competition. It was organised by the British Council in conjunction with a monthly writing group that I am part of, called Writing the City.
Thanks to my friends who came to support me at the prize-giving ceremony, which was oh so posh! What with the British High Commissioner, British Council Director and Minister of Culture in attendance. The prize was Costa Coffee vouchers, cookies, a notebook and a tumbler (not so posh, but I love all kinds of coffee).
The rules were that we had to adapt any Shakespeare play into contemporary Singapore, all under 650 words. Naturally, my inspiration came from Macbeth, the only Shakespeare play that I know well. Below is my story – I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Curry of the Day
Mazrin washed her hands in the kitchen sink and rubbed at the edges of her wedding band. It was the one place where spots liked to get stuck in, so she made sure to clean it thoroughly. Remembering the eight steps to Keeping Your Hands Clean in their restaurant, she went to work on the forward motion, backward motion, between the fingers, the back of palms, around the wrist and not forgetting the thumb.
The circle around her eyes seemed darker, as dark as her wavy black hair, and underneath the strobe of white light she looked pale and undernourished. Her ghastly look was caused by none other than Imran, who had kept her up for weeks as she went through the plan with him over and over. But in the end, it was she who put the cleaver to Daim’s neck, and much to her annoyance she found that human meat was much more difficult to cut than lamb or beef.
Nasi sudah menjadi bubur, she whispered. What’s done cannot be undone. When Atuk handed over his murtabah special recipe since 1907 to his grandchildren, she had not expected Imran’s cousin, Daim, to be a part of the picture.
The other thing she did not expect was for Daim to have so much blood. If only this was Hari Raya Korban, she could at least pretend it was a sembelih ritual. And in their case, it was one that would bring them great fortune, the removal of the majority shareholder.
Will these hands never be clean?
She turned off the cold tap and left the hot water to run. Mazrin rubbed at the skin between her fingers until it was sore.
What have you done?
It was Imran. She had never seen Imran weep in all their 15 years of marriage. Not like that, huddled in the corner of the kitchen floor, wet with water, soap and blood.
Help me, Imran.
The freezer stood at the back of the kitchen, and it was large enough for extra bags of meat. Over the course of the week, Daim would be disposed of, part by part. Some would be taken out together with the early morning truck, others brought across the Causeway from their restaurant in Woodlands.
But for tomorrow, insyallah, Mazrin would cook the daging special, the curry of the day.