Excerpt from Kinahasa

Kinahasa: Conspirators scene – three women plot against the governor.

 

PRYA

We kill the Governor (consternation from the others)

SAA

Kill him?

LANG

Kill the Governor of Kinahasa? (laughs sceptically)

SAA

Kill him?

LANG

We can’t kill people, especially bignoses.

SAA

I couldn’t kill him.

LANG

We’d never get away with it. He’s the biggest bignose of all.

PRYA

We half-kill the Governor. Of course, we don’t really kill him, only weaken him. We’ll poison him. Pretend it’s a love-potion.

SAA

Love-potion? Don’t involve me.

LANG

Which half are we going to poison? Remember, I have a professional interest (sniggers, Prya scowls).

PRYA

I’m serious. I – we, all of us – we’re caught between the Service and the Movement. We have to act.

SAA

Why?

LANG

How?

PRYA

The Governor won’t sit around, collecting butterflies. He’ll try crush the Movement – and then the Movement will crush us – for not acting in the first place.

LANG

He’s collecting a fine butterfly in Supailat.

SAA

Don’t talk of that

PRYA

(shakes head) The Movement must see us act or try to. Killing the biggest bignose of all. His private life will be convenient for us. (Enter Vee. The ladies stop talking)

VEE

May I join you ladies?

PRYA

No. Tell the girl to bring us coffee.

VEE

What are you talking about?

PRYA

Never mind. Send the girl with coffee.

VEE

What can she hear that I can’t hear?

PRYA

She only speaks Dyak. Just get the girl. (Exit Vee sulkily - the ladies resume talking.) My chaperone but uneducated. Intrusive, my dears. I can’t trust her – she steals my make-up.

SAA

I don’t want to punish him for Supailat. I don’t think of that sort of thing anymore.

LANG

Are you sure?

PRYA

The Movement is the future whether we like it or not. The bignoses are not our future.

LANG

I want my father avenged.

PRYA

The Bugis pirates killed your father, not the Governor. Don’t talk of revenge. We’re not involved in a family feud, we’re acting on principle. At least the Movement has principle. Where’s that girl!  (Enter Girl nervous, uncomprehending and silent.)

GIRL

Vant?

PRYA

Bring some coffee.

GIRL

Vhat?

PRYA

Coffee.

GIRL

Vant garfee?

PRYA

Coffee, girl!

GIRL

Vokay.  (Exits)

SAA

The Movement says we must liquidize all the big-noses.

PRYA

Liquidate.

SAA

I didn’t know what liquidize meant, Prya. We have to do something. The Movement wants to kill all Kinahasa in the Service. Officials, guards, servants, - you - the lot. Perhaps – me.

LANG

Why?

SAA

I have been linked with the Governor. I am a running cow. No, hog.

PRYA

Dog, dear, dog. Running dog.

SAA

It’s a running something. If we just kill the Governor, the Movement says we are only doing the Service a favour. The Movement says the Service, people like you, will seize the power and the wealth for themselves.

PRYA

(To Lang) We’ll poison him – sort of.  We’ll use your Supailat.

LANG

I don’t have control over her anymore. She might like him. We’d have to half explain it to her – and she never listens.

PRYA

We could find someone else. What about my new girl? You, Saa?

SAA

Sometimes I want him all-dead myself,  Prya.

PRYA

Just because he replaced you with Supailat.

SAA

(convincing herself) I once loved him but now I act for the Movement. My feelings don’t count, the Movement says. Yours too, Prya, I suppose. The Governor educated you. Sent you to college in Batavia. You’re not being very grateful.

PRYA

And you? You graduated from his bed.

SAA

I didn’t have your social advantages. I thought he might marry me.

PRYA

We’re talking now of a political necessity for the good of the Movement. (She looks around) For the good of us. Which is more important.

LANG

(laughs) Big noses don’t marry us.

PRYA

Not people like you.  For the sake of our liberties.

LANG

Which my father defended.

SAA

No, he didn’t. Your father defended his own business interests, your – place. We should fight for our freedoms, I suppose, for the good of the Movement. For all those rights and wrongs you learnt of in Batavia, Prya, whatever they are.

PRYA

The Governor sent me to be taught big-nose liberal Enlightenment and they taught me radical Revolution (laughs nervously again) Supailat gives us a chance to act for the Movement but the Movement frightens me. It won’t let us go. Anyway, we can pay the Governor back for his big-nose arrogance. They never show us respect. We have a chance now – it’s just like a practical joke (Enter Girl with jug and glasses. Pours one for Prya who drinks and spits out immediately.)

PRYA

This is soy sauce, you stupid girl.

Girl

Vhat?

PRYA

Soy sauce!

Girl

Vant boy?

PRYA

Soy sauce!

Girl

Vant vhat?

PRYA

Vee! Vee! (Enter Vee) You’ll have to get rid of her.  Show her the coffee.

VEE

It’s no good shouting at her. (Exit with Girl. The ladies resume.)

LANG

That girl’s new. I haven’t her see in town.

PRYA

She’s a savage from Borneo.

SAA

We don’t all graduate from your - place.

PRYA

Yes, Saa, we’ll half-kill him for our self-respect as individuals, as women. For the Movement.

LANG

(reflectively) The Governor killed my father.

PRYA

He did not.

LANG

He did indirectly. He took away government protection. The Bugis got him. My family -

PRYA

Forget your family, my dear, there’s more to the world than your family. This is not a feud.

LANG

My honour –

PRYA

Your honour, my dear? You run a, er, your, er, place. (laughs, change of tone) It’ll seem as if we have struck a blow for our respect and then the Movement will take over and protect us – I hope. Or better, The Governor – when he’s recovered – will squash the Movement and protect us. Or they’ll both kill each other off (but she doesn’t look convinced). Where’s that girl? Girl! (she enters with coffee and iced water and serves them slowly, getting in the way of the conversation. Lang shows some interest in her).

SAA

You are half a bignose yourself, Prya. Educated.  You work for them. In the Service. A deliberator.

PRYA

Collaborator. (mocks her obsessive gesture) I am rational, Saa. And honest. I do not dress up my personal feelings as a cause. You’ve turned your sexual resentment into politics. My conscience is clear. I owe no patronising man a debt.

SAA

The Movement says he’s wronged not just you and me but put himself against the course of – the course of mystery – no, history.  I don’t know any history so I don’t know which course. We must strike at him and expose the patient violence –

PRYA

Latent violence, Saa latent.

SAA

– whatever, in him and all big-noses. Kinahasa will purge itself – you know, like a laxative. The thousands that may die of diarrhoea will be martyrs to the movement’s cause and be happy, somewhere, but dead, of course.  History will syndicate us –

PRYA

Vindicate, vindicate

SAA

– whatever, us.  God perspires us. That’s what it says.

PRYA

Perspires?

SAA

Aspires us.

PRYA

Inspires us.

GIRL

(unconsciously puncturing her posture) Vant garfee?

PRYA

God inspires us! The Movement as religion! Everyone who wants to kill, finds divine inspiration.

LANG

Killing is bad for business. Religion is bad for business.

SAA

The Movement says violence will bring on a big mess, from which they can only win. A hundred big-noses rule Kinahasa and look down their big-noses at a million Kinahasans. The Movement wants to liquidize all hundred of them, a thousand of their deliberators. Thousands of other people, ordinary people, will die. It does not matter, the Movement says, there’s still a million Kinahasans left – and the big-noses have gone.  It is just Mathematics. But their sums don’t add up.

LANG

If the Movement wins I get no business. Why are we helping the Movement?

PRYA

The Movement is ugly but we should fight for the principles behind the Movement. The principle of freedom from arbitrary rule. The principle of freedom from foreign rule. The liberties of Kinahasans. The rights of the individual. (The Girl spills glass of water into her lap) You clumsy slut. (Girl tries to wipe her lap down. She pushes her away angrily. Girl exits.)

LANG

I have my right to defend my family’s honour.

 

(Girl re-enters, crouched low and  carrying mop, and proceeds to  crawl around their legs wiping the floor, occasionally poking them with the handle.)

PRYA

(laughs) Your honour, dear, again? What honour?

SAA

The Movement says it does not act for each of us by ourselves, it acts for one big, big idea. This big idea is greater than each of us and all of us put together. They say we’re not given life to be happy, painting our faces (looks at Prya) and (to Lang) having sex but to make this big idea come.(She unwittingly kicks Girl on the floor). But I miss the Governor and painting my face for him.

GIRL

(screams)Vouch! (they look at her briefly but otherwise ignore her)

LANG

The Movement sounds like the Bugis. What idea?

SAA

A pure Kinahasan society, with no more bignoses, like the old ways in the past when we all lived in the country. When we were all good and virtuous and didn’t have any sex. Once everyone is poor and good, and not very happy, we can start again and build New Kinahasa.

PRYA

It can’t happen overnight – thank goodness!

LANG

Who wants to be poor in the country?  We’ll all be bored stiff. Will we have good old bad ways as well as the good old good ways? (looks at girl who has popped up) Want a different kind of job?

SAA

In this New Kinahasa, the Movement says it will kill all the prosthetics.

LANG

Prosthetics?

PRYA

Prostitutes.

SAA

Them too.

LANG

I’ll be out of a job.

SAA

It will kill all unfaithful men.

PRYA

(laughs) There won’t be anybody left. Well, I suppose we want virtue.

LANG

Do we? It is our vices that bring us together (pinches girl’s behind).

GIRL

(squeals)

PRYA

Perhaps.  Girl, bring some more iced water.

GIRL

(stands up) Vather?

PRYA

Water, girl

GIRL

Vhat?

PRYA

Vee, Vee! Bring us iced water. (enter Vee) Get rid of this creature! Send her back. Get another one. (Girl weeps)

VEE

(comforting Girl) You shouldn’t shout at her. She doesn’t understand you. She gets confused. (Remains on stage, comforting Girl)

PRYA

Come, one of us must find Supailat  - and make her listen. The ladies stand up and start to move off.)

SAA

In the new Kinahasa, the Movement says that everyone will speak the same language.

LANG

They won’t want that.

SAA

The Movement says it’s not important what we want but its what we ought to want.

LANG

According to their idea. They’d be worse than bignoses and the Bugis put together.

SAA

According to what we really want, if we knew what we wanted. Everything else they want to liquidize.

PRYA

It’s easy for the Movement to destroy. It’s starting again that’s difficult. We have to pretend to act.

SAA

I suppose so.

LANG

Or just kill him properly. Or at least three-quarters or nine tenths.

SAA

No, don’t do that.

PRYA

We’re in the middle – we have to take the middle way.

SAA

I’m frightened.

PRYA

I’m frightened too. To Lang Take us to Supailat. You know her. We must act.

LANG

I suppose so.

 

Exeunt. Vee and girl stand for a moment, Vee clasping the girl. They then part and their roles are reversed. The girl is in command and Vee the subordinate. Vee makes gesture of submission.

GIRL

Bitches.

VEE

What now?

GIRL

The Movement takes over.

VEE

If we kill Prya, can I have her make-up?

GIRL

(looks at her)

VEE

Just her lipstick? She won’t need it. (girl stamps her foot, looks again, Vee hurriedly makes a gesture of submission).

VEE

She won’t need it when she’s dead.

GIRL

In free Kinahasa, there will be no question of lipstick.

VEE

What now?

GIRL

We can’t kill them yet. The Movement is not ready.

VEE

Tell Supailat?

GIRL

No, she’s useful.

VEE

She can poison him later.

GIRL

Yes.

VEE

So?

GIRL

Tell the Governor. (Vee makes gesture of obedience and departs. Girl stands for a moment alone.)

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