Brielle P. Chor

Singapore

INFJ-A
She/Her
Cat lover
Fiction reader
Pianist
Dabbler in dance
Avid pencil sketcher
Literature!
Believer in cultural roots
Piquant tastes
Somewhat of a Math and Science geek

Joined in May 2020

Message to Readers

Final draft. Enjoy:))

Timeless Women

September 7, 2020

CHARACTERS

In 2015,

WOMAN, 42, looking somewhat older, black hair almost always in a bun.
YOUNG GIRL, 15, lean and with the same black hair.
OLD LADY, 71, pleasantly plump, hair mostly silvered.

The scene is the living room of a flat in an HDB building¹.



SCENE I

A soft, yellow light fades into the scene, illuminating a round dining table. A ceiling fan begins to spin slowly. There is only a quiet whirring audible. The year is 2015.

WOMAN [offstage]: Dinner!

WOMAN enters from the right side of the stage into the living room, carrying a dangerous amount of plates and bowls. She walks carefully, but with ease, towards the table, and sets them down. Without hesitation, she walks offstage again just when OLD LADY enters from the opposite side of the stage. WOMAN returns to the stage shortly with cutlery.

WOMAN [unnoticing]: DINNER TIME-----

OLD LADY [clicking her tongue]: Hao le, hao le, ting dao le la²! So loud, even the neighbours can hear… 

WOMAN [startled]: Ma³! Make a bit of noise can or not? Come in so soft like gui yi yang⁴.

OLD LADY [joking]: Maybe I am. Who knows?

WOMAN [scolding, serious]: Ma!

OLD LADY [chuckling]: Joking only. Why so serious, nyu er⁵?

WOMAN [mumbling, arranging the table]: Because it’s not funny… 

OLD LADY: What?

WOMAN [pause]: Nothing. Come, Ma, before the food turns cold.

OLD LADY takes her seat before the table, side facing the audience.

WOMAN [to herself]: Where is that girl… [louder] Eloise! ELOISE!

YOUNG GIRL [enters, languid]: Yes, Mom, dinner’s ready. I get it, and so do the neighbours.

OLD LADY lets out a small, triumphant laugh, and YOUNG GIRL grins cheekily.

WOMAN [still standing, hand on hips]: Well, maybe if you all weren’t so dilly-dally all the time, the neighbours would be spared.

YOUNG GIRL [playfully, whisper]: And so would we.

At this, OLD LADY breaks out in a light series of tickles, and her granddaughter joins in, taking her seat at the table. There is a delightful flourish between the two.

WOMAN [sighing, accepting defeat]: Children… 

WOMAN sits, and the three begin to eat. 

The yellow light dims to darkness.



SCENE II

A dim, yellow light fades into the scene again. A ceiling fan begins to spin but this time, the whirring is louder. The year is 2018.

WOMAN [offstage]: Dinner!

OLD LADY enters rather ponderously with a walking stick, while her free hand moves as if opposing a light fluid drag. She looks upwards at the ceiling fan, and stares.

OLD LADY [to herself]: Three years already, fan too old, mei li qi le⁶. [beat] Just like me… 

WOMAN enters with plates of food, hair visibly messier than before, but still contained.

WOMAN [glancing, concerned]: Ma, what is it?

OLD LADY: You must change the fan already. [points] Too old.

WOMAN [goes to her side, looks up]: Looks okay. Should be fine lah⁷!

OLD LADY [insistent]: Can hear the shrr shrr sound, still don’t want to change?

WOMAN: No need, Ma. It still works, and can save money, why not?

WOMAN returns to the table, arranging the dishes. OLD LADY remains and continues to stare at the fan, but then begins to stare straight at the audience.

OLD LADY [in a daze]: If she cannot let go of even an old fan, how will my nyu er let go of so much more? What if she can’t move on? [beat] She must move on… or else… [sudden determination, turns to WOMAN] Nyu er!

WOMAN [surprised, faces her]: Ma?

OLD LADY: Promise me you get new fan.

WOMAN [confused]: What?

OLD LADY: Promise me you get new fan!

WOMAN: But Ma, it still works just-----

OLD LADY [agitated]: No! You must get new fan!

WOMAN [anxious]: Ma, are you alright? Why-----

OLD LADY [small shout]: Da ying wo⁸!

WOMAN [pause]: Okay, okay, [coaxing] I promise, Ma. I’ll get a new fan when I find one.

OLD LADY stares, unconvinced.

WOMAN [reassuring]: I will, Ma. Wo da ying nin yi ding hui de⁹.

OLD LADY acquiesces, and takes her seat at the table with a little help from WOMAN.

WOMAN [concerned, but does not pursue]: I’ll go get Eloise.

WOMAN walks offstage, looking back at her mother before disappearing, and leaving OLD LADY on her own, who looks at the fan above her, and then at her hands. She sighs, tracing her palms and mumbles in an old dialect. She sighs and sighs, again and again. Then, she becomes quietly sober.

The yellow light dims to darkness.



SCENE III

A plain, white light fades into the scene. The same dining table is still present, but with its varnish scratched and worn out. The ceiling fan has been replaced by an air purifier that stands at the left side of the stage next to the table. It is quiet. The year is 2020.

WOMAN enters with just one dish. She sets it down on the table, and pauses. Her hair is let down in a ruffled mess. She sits, and glances at the air purifier.

WOMAN [ruefully]: Ma, I bought a new type of fan. It’s much more quiet. It doesn’t even make a sound. [beat] Not even a sound.

WOMAN is quiet. She gazes at her food blankly. Then, she begins to cry.

WOMAN [breaking down]: I bought a new fan… Ma. You told me to do it, and I did it, so why, Ma! [frustrated] I kept my promise. You persisted, I didn’t question. You had no right-----no right-----to leave just like that. You can’t just… laugh, and smile, and do what… children do, and then leave. [head in palms, whining now] Ma… I don’t want the fan… I don’t want it… Ma [silence, sobbing].

YOUNG GIRL enters, grown-up and 20.

WOMAN [snaps her head up, hopeful]: Ma?

YOUNG GIRL [pause, sympathetic]: Mom.

WOMAN, upon realisation, becomes disappointed and embarrassed. She wipes her face with her palms, and attempts composure.

WOMAN [unsteady]: I… thought you weren’t coming home for dinner.

YOUNG GIRL: We finished early… the project I mean, so I decided to… [faltering] umm, join you.

WOMAN does not reply.

YOUNG GIRL [sees the lack of food, begins to regret]: It’s alright if you didn’t cook enough food. I can just go out to get something, and-----

WOMAN [louder than expected]: NO! [then realises] I mean, I cooked a lot, and there’s extra rice… We can have dinner… together.

YOUNG GIRL is relieved, and seats herself at the table, albeit a little awkward. There is a moment of silence.

YOUNG GIRL [stuttering]: Umm, it’s alright to let it out, you know, Mom? I think Ah Ma¹⁰ wouldn’t mind. She’s still with us, just a little… [choosing carefully] quieter now.

WOMAN is silent. She stares at the air purifier. YOUNG GIRL takes both her hands.

YOUNG GIRL: I’ll be here for the both of us-----Ah Ma too------so you can always talk about it during dinner. Alright?

Still no reply.

YOUNG GIRL [uncertain hope]: Ma?

At this, WOMAN faces her daughter, still blank, but then smiles weakly. YOUNG GIRL returns it, relieved. They both have their dinner together as the lights morph to a soft, yellow hue. Everything is at peace.

[Silence; tableau]



END
¹ ‘HDB’ refers to Housing Development Board. In Singapore, this statutory board is responsible for public housing, namely buildings of flats, that is able to accommodate a massive number of people per building.
² ‘Alright, alright, I heard you already’ in Chinese.
³ ‘Mother’ in Chinese.
⁴ ‘resembling a ghost’ in Chinese.
⁵ ‘daughter’ in Chinese.
⁶ ‘no more strength anymore’ in Chinese.
⁷ ‘lah’ is a Singlish expression usually found at the end of statements to, in this case, act as a form of exclamation.
⁸ ‘Promise me’ in Chinese.
⁹ ‘I promise you I’ll definitely do it’ in Chinese.
¹⁰ ‘grandmother’ in Chinese.

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34 Comments
  • batman_is_a_cracker

    Q&A answers are out!
    https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/176155/version/350586


    4 months ago
  • mason wong

    congrats!!!!!!


    4 months ago
  • Bhavya's Treasure (Bewitching Tombstone #Queenie's Halloween)

    Everything was so beautiful especially the way light glides in the start and fades at the end! It's only three months since my grandma had left us forever... and I also keep finding her in the sweaters she knitted, in her plants, in the pickles she made and in me!
    Congrats dear!


    5 months ago
  • qiyan

    Congrats on winning the competition! Can I just say, this piece hit different - I loved the occasional lapses into Chinese and use of Singlish, and the scene of three generations/grandmother and mother/mother and daughter at the dinner table was something I could relate to. The pauses and stage directions were wonderfully employed and really helped to bring out the inner feelings of the characters. You've captured the Singaporean essence so beautifully - this was a poignant and touching piece, I cried while reading it :") Thank you for sharing!!


    5 months ago
  • løne wølf

    Congrats on winning! Your piece is amazing, and I love the Chinese and Singaporean references in your piece! So creative :)


    5 months ago
  • Maya'sTired

    Congratulations on winning the competition! This is such a touching piece


    5 months ago
  • luluwrites111

    Woah. I literally cried. This is gorgeous!


    5 months ago
  • WinterBerry

    Congratulations on winning the competition!!
    I really liked how realistic it felt, especially with the use of Chinese and Singlish terms. Great Job! :D


    5 months ago
  • joella

    congratulations!!!


    5 months ago
  • ava09

    Aw this is amazing..I'm crying :''( it's so beautiful. Keep writing...and you 100% deserved the win congrats! <3


    5 months ago
  • Charisse Marison

    You totally deserve the win. Congrats!
    This is so emotional and sweet! I could see this being performed somewhere! Great work!


    5 months ago
  • rosewater

    great job, congrats! i love the addition of Chinese and Singlish used to flesh out their cultural background. really happy to see a fellow singaporean here :)


    5 months ago
  • Arzu

    Congrats on winning! I love how easily the story flows and how real the characters feel.


    5 months ago
  • SunV

    Congrats on your big win!! The piece is truly amazing.


    5 months ago
  • Frankenstein (previously Fernweh #Queenie's Halloween)

    Congrats on winning the competition! Beautiful work!


    5 months ago
  • Sol noctis

    Heyo!!
    Congo!!!


    5 months ago
  • Briali Rain

    I love your script! Congrats on winning the playwrite competition, you deserve it!! May God bless your upcoming work :)


    5 months ago
  • avoiding the big bang

    congratulations - i'm so glad this won.


    5 months ago
  • sci-Fi

    Congrats!!!


    5 months ago
  • crow_e

    Congratulations! Love this piece


    5 months ago
  • And_The_Stars_Laughed

    Congratulations!! This piece is incredible!!!


    5 months ago
  • sherry171

    CONGRATULATIONS! In such simple lines you're able to paint a beautiful, heartfelt picture of Chinese-Singaporean culture and family. Keep writing - you're incredibly talented!!


    5 months ago
  • mason wong

    Congrats for winning


    5 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! I knew this piece was special!!


    5 months ago
  • delete

    WELL DONE, YOU! Such a fantastic effort and piece. I feel so proud that I was part of the people that gave you a peer review. You definitely deserved the win and this piece just screams you. Good job!


    5 months ago
  • addy_24

    Congratulations!


    5 months ago
  • chrysanthemums&ink

    congratulations on your win!


    5 months ago
  • sunny.v

    congrats!!! *confetti*


    5 months ago
  • Tushar Mandhan

    Congrats!!! well deserved<3<3


    5 months ago
  • mia_:)

    Congrats!!! *throws confetti in the air* :D


    5 months ago
  • Samina

    Congrats!! You deserved it...


    5 months ago
  • outoftheblue

    Congratulations! Just knew this one was going to win, you have a serious talent!


    5 months ago
  • poetri

    Congratulations! This is a very good play :)


    5 months ago
  • Deleted User

    Congratulations!


    5 months ago