Jerome after Far Side of Merdeka
Dumb: a monologue* by Zedeck Siew

The floor is a terrazzo expense. I press my cheek on the surface and close one eye: the dotted white glosses over. See, already one approaches, easily spotted in the shine: a single black ant, miniscule, lost and listless: easy prey. I give the ant a nudge with a finger and watch it run, following it with my other hand, my finger slightly lifted; I bring the finger down, barely touching the ant, staying down for a few seconds. When I lift it, the ant darts off, a little erratic. I am gentle with my finger, lingering; I enjoy the feel of the ant struggling under my fingertip; I apply just the slightest bit of pressure. The little ant flees, but now it is slower, in visible agony. I tilt my head and tap again. The ant writhes, crumpled, a single leg oblivious and still running; the ant spins in jerks, stuck on its juice, winding down, slower and slower, and finally stops.

I pick it off the floor. How many now - one, two, three ... Fifteen. Fifteen dead ants in a porcelain bowl. A sufficient number. I am a mythic horror: queens in their blind chambers warn the broods of Zedeck the Destroyer, fearing the day a sandal should push the mounds of their nests aside like so much sand, a stick dig into the tunnels, and when the mass swarms out, a twist of newspaper aflame burn them, burn them all.

"ZEDECK! Zedeck! Aiyah, where did you take that bowl? Not enough bowls! Come, come, bring here! Hurry up!"

I get up and push open the kitchen door. The cover of the rice pot rattles with steam. I offer her the bowl. She looks at it, looks me, and shakes her head. She rinses the bowl. What a pity. She is the one who considers it extra protein: ants in my soup or weevils in the rice.


Pictures featured in this series were taken throughout 9 hours in KL from 9pm on Sept 7, 2002 to 6am Sep 8, 2002 from the National Art Gallery to Jalan Alor to Changkat Bukit Bintang to Jalan Nagasari. [Click on pictures for full-sized images]
 * written as part of a writer's workshop organised by Instant Cafe Theatre
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