Thursday, October 13, 2011

SPM 2011 The Curse - Lee Su Ann

1. Important Event
2. Memorable / Unforgettable Event

THE CURSE (NOVEL)

AN UNFORGETTABLE EVENT

In the novel ‘The Curse’ by Lee Su Ann, an unforgettable event is when Puan Fatihah fainted out of shock when she sees a silhouette of a Pontianak that looks like Madhuri appearing from behind a pile of tree trunks.

Firstly, this is an unforgettable event because it makes me sympathise Puan Fatihah. I find it sad that Puan Fatihah is a victim of her own belief in the supernatural. Prior to the encounter with the Pontianak, she has gone to seek out the bomoh to get a charm to win back her husband’s affections. She is superstitious enough to resort to such a desperate act. It is her superstition that makes her believe what she sees as a ‘ghost’ and that is why she faints from utter shock. What is so ironic is that she has thrown away the first charm which is a small piece of paper with written incantation into the river. The result is her husband has taken the younger woman, Madhuri as his second wife and she has only herself to blame. Now that his younger wife is dead, she must win back her husband’s affections with the help of Awang, the bomoh.

Secondly, I feel sorry for Puan Fatihah because she is so pathetic. She cannot bear her husband a child and always feels insecure as she has no power to keep him all to herself. I can understand her pain of insecurity as she looks at the mirror each day and sees her aging face. She is haunted by “the deepening lines, the crow's feet, the sagging skin and double chin.” Which man can still stay in love with a face like that? Her insensitive husband has spurned her and laughs at her insecurities. Her declining beauty has caused her to feel envy towards Madhuri and to be angry at her husband. This is really pathetic.

Thirdly, I find this incident memorable / unforgettable because it reminds me of how fragile a woman can be. Puan Fatihah has tried to be strong and put up a great pretence of liking the second wife, Madhuri. She has actually succeeded in deceiving everyone in the village and even Madhuri herself. Madhuri, in her last letter to Azreen has told her sister that Puan Fatihah is such a kind and understanding lady whom she looks up to as an elder sister. Madhuri sees her as “such a dear sweet woman” and is not sure whether she can emulate her goodness as a person and a wife. Poor Fatihah! She has suppressed her emotions and has to endure the fights she and her husband have been having lately over trivial matters. She cannot get his attention when Madhuri was alive and she still cannot get his attention after she was dead. She was so emotionally fragile that it was not surprising she fainted when she came face to face with a ‘ghostly figure’ who has reached out her hands to touch her. I would not forget this incident as it has taught me not to believe in superstitions nor resort to solving problems by using supernatural methods. All of us have problems and we must not let them overwhelm us.


AN IMPORTANT EVENT / INCIDENT

In the novel ‘The Curse’ by Lee Su Ann, an important event is the outbreak of the fire which results in the Old Lady’s death.

Firstly, it is an important event because after this event, it creates a domino effect on a number of other events which in turn helps Azreen to finally solve the mystery behind her sister’s murder. The fire enrages Azreen and ‘like a wildcat’, she confronts Mohd Asraf. He apologises and admits that he had been too grief-stricken to be rational when he has lost two important people in his life – his secret lover, Madhuri and his grandmother, Nek. After the fire which kills the Old Lady who is trapped in the fire, Awang, the bomoh informs Azreen that Madhuri is not her biological sister. The secret about Madhuri’s identity is finally disclosed by Azreen’s father who reveals that Madhuri is actually an abandoned baby whom Saleh pick up from the paddy field. Moreover, the village Pontianak is actually Madhuri’s biological mother who returns to the village to seek revenge over her daughter’s death. According to Awang, the ‘ghostly figure’ is also the “vengeful spirit” that has killed Azreen’s chicken.

Secondly, it is an important event because we are finally shown the reason for Madhuri’s murder and the culprit. When Azreen confronts her father, Encik Saleh defiantly confesses that he had accidentally murdered Madhuri after learning that Madhuri, a married woman, commits an adultery when she secretly sees another man. It is probably out of shame, the angry father who is embarrassed of Madhuri’s unethical behaviour which he thinks has brought shame to the family, confronts Madhuri and during the struggle, Madhuri falls to the ground and her head knocks over the latex cup which stains her clothes. A distraught Azreen flees after hearing the shocking news while Encik Saleh comes face-to-face with the shadowy woman – Madhuri’s mother who nears him with a parang in her hand. Saleh collapses and dies of a heart attack. With this, peace is restored in the village when the spirit of Madhuri’s mother disappears after bidding farewell to Azreen who leaves Langkawi to return to London.

Thirdly, the fire at the Old Lady’s house is the climax of the novel. From that point onwards, events dramatically unfold and Azreen gets to the bottom of the mystery. Azreen puts the pieces of facts here and there together and begins to understand the reasons behind the cover-up of Madhuri’s murder by her husband, Haji Ghani. Most importantly, we are also exposed to the crime of the villagers who are willing to do anything including planning an attack on the innocent and harmless Old Lady just because of superstition. Under the instigation of Puan Normala, the villagers are convinced to believe that the Old Lady possesses a special power to turn people into rats and squirrels, so the latter is accused to be an evil witch who brings all the misfortunes and bad omen to the village. In fact, when the rain continues to pour for more than four days, causing the town to be flooded, the Old Lady is blamed to have put the curse on the village. From this event, we can see how gullible the villagers are to believe the vicious rumours spread by the village gossiper, Puan Normala. She does not seem to care about the destruction she causes. Her irrational behaviour thus destroys the reputations of victims such as the Old Lady even in the eyes of children. At the same time, through this event too that we see the purity of the Old Lady’s heart. Despite being ostracised by the villagers, the Old Lady bears no grudges and is still willing to help people like Asraf’s Nek. More importantly, the Old Lady at the point of her death before the burning house collapses on her, she reminds Azreen to forgive all the villagers who have wronged her.

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