This is the third section of the solo performance show "Lies My Father Told Me" that premiered at the 2006 Rogue Performance Festival.Click below for the parts you missed:IntroductionPart 1Part 2So, sit back and take it in.The final installment will be posted April 14.
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Malaya was part of the British Colonial Empire. The world that Somerset Maugham had written about still existed when Harold was growing up. The white British Tuan consisted mainly of government administrators, soldiers and planters. The planters would still dress for dinner and swat mosquitoes while sipping on gin and tonics and stengahs on the verandah in the evenings. Dinner was then usually served by their local servants dressed in starched whites. Mind you, this was just a few years away from the end of a 200 year colonial rule… they just didn’t know it at the time.
They had it good with their expat only dances, tombolas, affairs and other fun activities. One of of these fun activities was hunting in the jungle. Where the colonial masters engaged in trophy hunting… the locals preferred food hunting… usually wild boars or deer.
In order to quell the possibility of an internal uprising it was very difficult for a local to get a gun license. So, when Harold was issued a much converted license he took up the sport of hunting. How did he get one? Straight out of High School he secured a government job in the Department of Forestry where a hunting rifle was standard issue. He was one of the special few and his name was added to a short list of locals… outside of the armed forces allowed to carry a gun.
But I digress… Harold was all of 19 years old at the time. So, with the fire of youth coursing through his veins he went out into the jungle every few weeks or so hunting for wild boar…. Usually with another mate from work named Chin and an aborigine guide named Mat.
Now Harold and Chin had been unlucky in their last 3 attempts at hunting wild boar and were being scoffed at the office and ridiculed at home. So, they were determined for a “sure thing” and emphatically communicated this to Mat over drinks at the Colisum Cafe. After much deliberation and a small bribe of cigarettes Mat agreed to provide them with the sure thing.
On the day of the much anticipated hunting trip, Mat lead Harold and Chin deep into the jungle… the boys with their Government Issue rifles and Mat with his weapon of choice… a blowpipe. As they walked through the steamy jungle Mat told them that he would take them to a salt lick. Think of a salt lick as a … sort of jungle vitamin bar where animals came to get their mineral supplements from. Sometimes it was a small pond… usually just a muddy area smack dab in the middle of the jungle.
Mat first lead them to a jungle stream. Both Harold and Chin were instructed to bathe in it. Then they were informed that this was their last chance to relieve themselves for the next 24 hours. Harold and Chin didn’t really need to go. Mat refused to accept this. Both men ventured a little down stream and tried… nothing. They came back to Mat and told him so. Mat walked along the banks of the stream… plucked the leaves off 3 different bushes and gave it to them.
“Chew on this.
They did. Within 3 minutes… they suddenly really needed to go. Within half an hour… any possible human waste in their systems was completely expunged… which frankly left them a little lightheaded.
Mat smiled, raised his blowpipe to his mouth … aimed at the trees and phut
! Keeping his focus on the trees he took out another dart… dipped it into a small bamboo vial that held the sap of the Ipoh tree… loaded it into his blowpipe and once again… phut
! Within seconds a squirrel fell to the ground... shortly after, another squirrel. After a meal of roasted squirrels, and as the sun was low in the sky it was time to head across the stream into the jungle.
Within an hour they approached the lick … which in this case was just a muddy patch. They were strictly instructed to grab some of the mud and rub it all over themselves. This was to mask the human odor while they were in the area. They then climbed up the biggest tree next to the lick and each of them situated themselves on the hugh boughs that hung 20 feet over the lick. Mat had determined that the big leaves of the tree were sufficient camouflage. From this point the rule was… lean up against the trunk, get comfortable… not a move or sound until you were sure of a kill.
After several hours the only thing that came by was a fox. Well, they were after big game... at the very least a Wild Boar… not some puny fox. So, they watched it lick the mud and saunter back into the dark of the jungle.
In the dark of night the shafts of moonbeams provided enough illumination over the lick for them to see quite well. They decided to take turns to keep watch.
Sometime during the night, Mat stirred the boys and pointed to his ear. The boys became suddenly aware that all the usual jungle noises had ceased. He then pointed to the south side of the lick. Harold and Chin squinted to see the slow graceful silent saunter of a tiger approaching. They looked at each other with a mixture of elation and fear… the sight of this magnificent creature was both beautiful and terrifying. Bringing back a tiger would surely raise their esteem among their work mates and families.
The tiger dropped it’s head to lick at the mud. Then it stopped and looked straight ahead… something else was approaching. The boys heard a rustling behind them. They turned to look and it was an elephant. The tiger took a few steps back and growled. The elephant answered with a trumpet.
Both animals began circling the patch of mud facing off for first dibs to the rights of the lick. Each animal determined in asserting their dominance on the other. Both using their massive vocal force to tell the other to piss off!
The growls and trumpets began to take a more and more violent and otherworldly pitch.
The guys pressed themselves up against the trunk as the vibrations of these fierce sounds reverberated through their bodies. This face-off of nature was playing out less than 20 feet below them. What seemed like the safety of a towering height now felt way too close for comfort. This combined screech of nature kept rising and rising to a fevered pitch... then, it suddenly stopped. All that could be heard was a popping sound. Both animals scurried into the dark safety of the jungle.
Mat and Chin looked around to see where this popping sound was coming from. Finally they looked at Harold. His white shorts were wet and stained yellow. A stream of pee ran down his legs and was dripping on the huge leaves on it’s way to the ground. These two mighty beasts were silenced by this sound of dripping piss on leaves.
Mat finally broke the silence.
“This place is no good now for the next 4 weeks. Until the scent of your kenching disappears … the animals will not come back.
Harold had literally pissed that hunting trip away.
This was one of the stories that had me fascinated as a boy… especially with blowpipes. Several weeks after my birthday picnic I casually mentioned the blowpipe again.
“Dad, can we go out today to buy a blowpipe?
He mussed the hair on my head.
“It’s getting long
He said, then summoned me to fetch a pair of scissors and proceeded to cut a lock of hair off my head which he carefully put in an envelope.
“Young man, it’s time to go to the barbershop.
And off we went to the barbershop and he didn’t mention the blowpipe at all. Perhaps I was being too subtle.
THE FINAL SECTION WILL BE POSTED APRIL 14.CLICK HERE FOR PART 4Excerpt from "Lies My Father Told Me" copyright 2006 Marcel Nunis.
Permission to use any part of this excerpt can be aquired by e-mailing the playwright at email@example.com