Incensed

By: Khairul Kamsani

Characters

Caller

Guo

Paul

Mithru

Azim

The stage is not lit except by a large stack of hell money on fire in the middle of the stage as the audience enters. (4m x 3m). Once the last audience member is seated, a phone rings three times before it is answered.

(Voice Over)

Guo:

Good morning, Sengkang Fire Post-

Caller:

Sengkang Fire Post dispatch one Red Rhino to Block 435, Hougang Boulevard, car park entrance. There is a fire well alight.

Guo:

Sorry… hold on, getting a pen… again please? Block… Eh, wait, wait. No ink. (Shouts off the speaker) Anybody got a pen?! …Ah… OK. 4…

Caller:

4…

Guo:

4…

Caller:

3, 5.

Guo:

3… 5.

Caller:

Hougang Boulevard.

Guo:

435 Hougang where? Sorry.

Caller:

(Annoyed) Boulevard!

Guo:

435, Hougang Boulevard?

Caller:

Yes!

Guo:

Case of?

Caller:

Fire well alight.

Guo:

(Shouts off the speaker) Shit, it's fire well alight!

Caller:

Who is responding?

Guo:

Ah, roger, roger. Red Rhino 342 responding.

Lights come on as 4 firemen enter. Paul, Mithru, Azim and Guo. They casually walk towards the fire knowing that it is contained and clearly an offering for the Hungry Ghost Month. Guo is carrying a fire extinguisher.

Mithru & Azim:

Walau ehhhh!

Mithru:

Guo! You said fire well alight!

Guo:

Ya what. That's what they say to me what.

Azim:

This one where got fire well alight?

Paul:

Well, technically it is.

Azim:

I thought like house on fire or something.

Mithru:

Have what, look inside; they put the paper house inside.

Guo:

So how this one?

Azim:

Ya, Cik Paul, how?

Paul:

Don't need to call me Cik, so weird to call ang moh Encik.

Mithru:

Then call you Uncle Paul ah?

Paul:

Paul can already.

Guo:

So Paul, how this one?

Paul:

Uhhh… I'm not very sure actually.

Azim:

Mithru, you free thinker right, put it out la, then can go back already.

Mithru:

Siao ah. Later at night we sleeping I suddenly floating how.

Azim:

I thought you say you not scared of ghost.

Mithru:

Yea cause I not so stupid to go disturb them.

Guo:

Uncle Paul, call Ops Center la.

Paul:

Don't call me uncle la!

Guo:

Then call you what.

Paul:

Paul la.

Guo:

Oh, ok. Paula, call Ops Center la. Ask them what to do.

Paul:

Paul. Lah. Not Paula la!

Guo:

Ok, ok.

Paul:

(To his radio) Red Rhino 342 to Ops Center, do you receive? (Pause) Ops Center, we are at incident location Block 435, Hougang Boulevard. It is a case of incense burning. It is not in the provided bins or cages, it is 3m x 4m at a height of about 1m. The whole thing is well alight on a grass patch.

(Waiting for a longer response) …Ops Center, how do would you want us to handle the fire?

(Pause) … Uhhh… Roger.

Mithru:

How?

Paul:

They told me that we have to wait here until it burns itself out.

Mithru & Azim:

Walau ehhh!

Guo:

Seriously ah?

Paul:

I wish I was joking. The police are here already, you guys wait here. Guo, follow me.

Paul walks offstage to rendezvous with the police. Guo follows.

Azim:

This looks like it's going to take ages!

Mithru:

Yeah, money remittance now very jam.

Azim:

…Eh, cannot make fun of people religion la.

Mithru:

Guo you religious meh?

Guo:

No ah.

Mithru:

(To Azim) Ah then?

Azim:

What if I was?

Mithru:

You were what? Religious?

Azim:

Yala then.

Mithru:

Even if you were, where got Malay pray like this one.

Azim:

Who said Malay cannot pray like this?

Mithru:

Who said can? You all Muslim do the standing, bend over and kneeling kind of praying one.

Azim:

So cause I'm Malay means I'm Muslim meh?

Mithru:

No meh?

Azim:

You Hindu not?

Mithru:

Christian la dey. Or at least I'm supposed to be la.

Azim:

How come not all Thambia Hindu then?

Mithru:

Of course la, where got such thing. My grandparents were Hindu but my dad wanted to marry a Christian Indian woman so he converted la.

Azim:

Ya, so just because my parents are Muslim doesn't mean that I'm Muslim right?

Mithru:

You not meh?

Azim:

I am lah.

Mithru:

Then what are you trying to say sia?

Azim:

I'm just saying, just because someone is of a certain race, don't automatically assume that they are a certain way. You got see Ang Moh Buddhist before right? Or an Indian Muslim.

Mithru:

No. But I got see a Rasta Indian! (Laughs)

Azim:

Lame…

Mithru:

Ok, ok I get it lah.

(Pause)

Azim:

What did you mean you're supposed to be Christian only?

Mithru:

My parents bring me to church, I go Bible studies, my house got all the quotes from the Bible all over the place and there is a big cross on my front door. So like that means Christian house mah.

Azim:

Then you? Not Christian?

Mithru:

I don't know, as much as my parents try to push the religion inside me, I just don't get it, you know?

Azim:

No.

Mithru:

You like to pray what, of course you get it.

Azim:

It's not about liking to pray. I don't pray actually.

Mithru:

So you don't practice?

Azim:

For me… I just think that as long as I personally have a connection to God, can already. Don't need to pray all the time la, bathe in holy water la, walk in the desert la, throw stone la, be forced to give money to people if I don't want to. If I really want to be charitable, I will do it one, but no money for myself people still expect me to give money to others. Walao eh.

Mithru:

Ok lah, quite similar to me la. I only go church actually to see girls only.

Azim:

Yala you, of course la!

Mithru:

Ehhhh (Laughs). But its where I found my girlfriend, so, good what. She's abit more Christian though. She will actually go there without fail every Sunday even if her parents don't drag her or even if I don't go.

Azim:

She go see other boys la!

Mithru:

Oi!

Azim:

Relax ah, play only.

Mithru:

Actually… Now that you say ah… I'll text her ah.

Azim:

Aiyoh, don't need so paranoid la, I was only joking.

Mithru:

(Taking out his phone and begins texting. Paul and Guo return.) I just wanna say hello la.

Azim:

Ok, ok. (To Paul) So Uncle Paul, how?

Guo:

This one not Uncle Paul. This one is Auntie Paula. (Both laugh)

Paul:

You have to stay here, the rest of us go back to post.

Azim:

Huh?! Seriously?!

Guo:

Yea. Come, Mithru, let's ciao.

They pretend to leave but turn around before they leave the stage

Azim:

Lame…

Paul:

You try call me Paula again la. (All laugh except Azim)

Guo:

Paul ah (Sounds like Paula), this one can actually put out right? It's not in the proper dustbin. It's so big and just out in the open like this. If this were anything else that was on fire, we would have put it out 10 minutes ago and ciao already.

Paul:

I wish it was so simple.

Guo:

It's actually very simple. The rules say, if never burn in the bin, it's considered littering!

Azim:

Chey, the Chinaman saying other people littering seh.

Guo:

Eh… You never litter before meh?

Azim:

My fault meh, your kind got bad reputation for littering? Your kind got any good reputation in the first place meh?

Guo:

Fuck you la.

Paul:

Oi! You want to fight, you wait until after duty. Now, we fight fire only. (Pause) Yes it is littering but this is a religious practice, if one of us takes an extinguisher to it, someone takes a picture or video of it, we kana stomp, the WHOLE of the organization kana. Then we kana fuck like nobody's business.

Azim:

So we really just wait?

Paul:

No choice, suck thumb lor.

They stand around the fire, staring into it for a minute, Mithru is still texting or playing a game on his phone. At the one minute mark, Azim takes his own phone out and plays 'Tear' by Red Hot Chili Peppers, he sings along, serenading the others turn by turn. After the first chorus, Mithru interrupts while the song is still playing.

Mithru:

Why your songs all so weird one?

Azim:

Where got weird?

Mithru:

What you singing sia, I don't understand.

Azim:

My fault meh your English fail?

Mithru:

Why can't you listen to normal music?

Azim:

This is normal music, why don't you try to listen before you judge.

Mithru:

I already heard you sing, enough for me to judge.

Paul:

You never heard of Red Hot Chili Peppers meh?

Mithru:

Got.

Paul:

You don't think they're good?

Mithru:

Nah, not very nice ah…

Paul:

Which album you listen to?

Mithru:

I only know one song.

Paul:

Huh? What song?

Mithru:

Dani California.

Paul:

Yea. You only know one song?

Mithru:

Ya.

Paul:

You heard it on MTV lah.

Mithru:

Of course, where else.

Paul:

So based off their one song that you managed to hear on mainstream TV, you decided that you don't like all their music because you don't like that one song?

Mithru:

…Yea. They're just songs… It's just one band. Relax la.

Paul:

No, cannot relax. It's not only that they are more than just songs or that they are just a band. This judgmental attitude to label the majority because of one sample is a problem you know.

Guo:

Sounds familiar to me.

Mithru:

I don't have time to listen to all their songs la actually, I prefer my kind of music cannot meh? You ask me if I know all Bullet for My Valentine songs then I can say I know.

Paul:

What kind of name is that?

Mithru:

Walao eh, see? You also judging right?

Paul:

Well it is quite a tasteless name…

Mithru:

What kind of name is Red Hot Chili Pepper? The band make good sambal is it?

Paul:

You do NOT insult one of the greatest bands in the world like that!

Mithru:

You've never even heard of BFMV before and you go and talk shit about the name.

Paul:

BMFV?

Mithru:

Bullet For My Valentine lah, walao.

Azim:

Guys chill la. I can sing BFMV also so things are fair.

Guo:

Please don't.

Azim:

Lame… (Long Pause. To Paul) Can we sit down?

Paul:

Cannot la.

Azim:

Tired sia, stand here all the way. All we're doing is watch this fire burn out.

Paul:

Exactly, it's not that hard. Just tahan abit. See (Gesturing to audience) everyone is watching us already, wondering what the hell are we doing just standing here.

Azim:

Ask them come put it out la.

Mithru:

Confirm nobody will want to; it's not their job mah.

Guo:

I dare you go try ask someone. Use this.

Paul:

(To the audience) Anybody wanna do the honors? We will teach you how to do it. Just come down.

Paul coaxes the audience a little longer. If someone does come down, continue here. If nobody does, refer to alternate ending [B].

Paul:

Great! Thank you sir/mam. Have you used an extinguisher before? Just pull this pin out, aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, press this lever and do a sweeping motion to put out the fire.

He demonstrates and then passes the extinguisher to the audience. Once the audience is done with the job, the crew applaud. Guo takes the extinguisher back from the audience member.

Paul:

(Giving a pat on the back to the volunteer) Great job.

As they are walking offstage.

Azim:

Thanks ah.

Mithru:

Thank you.

End.

Alternate Ending [B].

Azim:

Standard. Of course nobody dares.

Mithru:

You also don't dare.

Paul:

I'm calling the town council…

Azim:

For what?

Paul:

Get them to send down some of the Bangladeshi workers to keep an eye on it and clean it up when it's done. We've got better things to do than stand around here.

Azim:

Eh, Mithru, then you can stay here with them la. (Laughs)

Mithru:

Shaddap la.

Paul:

Ok, ok. Done already. Let's go.

They exit. End.