Scorched

“Scorched” , a play by Montreal based writer Wajdi Mouawad tells the story of twins Janine and Simon, as they try to uncover the truth behind their mother’s years long silence.

I read the English version – the original, “Incendie”, is in French. It’s always interesting to see how the translator manages to capture the essence of a story in a different language especially in the case of this play where the power of words, whether spoken or written, is a particularly prominent theme . It is a story of love and war, the bonds of family and truth, no matter how dark. From broken promises to wills with odysseyan instructions, the play is unapologetic, earnest and surprisingly refreshing considering its heavy subject matter.

The narrative is almost dreamlike – time is fluid in this world with scenes happening simultaneously in the past and the present, its language poetic with an ending worthy of a Mexican soap opera sans the melodrama. Expect a few tears. “Scorched” is the second of four in Mouawad’s dramatic quarter set.

A few memorable quotes:

” I’m not the one who’s crying, your whole life is pouring down your cheeks”

“Take your youth and any possible happiness and leave the village. You are the bloom of this valley, Nawal. You are its sensuality and its smell. Take them with you and tear yourself away from here, the way we tear ourselves away from our mother’s womb.”

“There is nothing here for us. I get up in the morning and people say, “Sawda, there’s the sky,” but no one has anything to say about the sky. […] People show me the world but the world is mute. And life goes by and everything is murky. I saw the letters you engraved and I thought: that is a woman’s name. As if the stone had become transparent. One word and everything lights up.”

“Janine, Let me hear her silence.”

Night

She had made up her mind. She would sleep with him tonight. For no reason other than that it was a possibility. A course of action clearly in her grasp. An unthought thought she hadn’t considered lurked behind her resolve. A force slowly building. A gap between the desire and the attraction, both like magnets, moving towards each other via forces of nature already preordained.

His kiss surprised her, a mid sentence lurch towards her frame, planted on a chair half expectant half hesitant. Still there he was, in front of her, on his knees (her height – or lack thereof- always a challenge in such intimate gymnastics). She had willed it and it came to be. From the balcony to a couch, her mind everywhere but there.

It struck her quite suddenly.

How had she become an observer in her own life? Girl meets boy. Boy kisses girl. Girl kisses back. A scene she was too familiar with. Or so she believed. She didn’t remember the last time she had actually been in the moment, free from the weight of trying to pry into the mind of the other. Enjoyed the action for its own sake, in its entirety. Slowly she anchored herself to him, for the first time feeling his lips against hers. Not the idea of the lips, not what she thought they felt like, what they had spoken, would speak. Lips slightly parting hers, tongue tasting of cigarette and weed shadows, slightly sweet as it searched for hers, a nameless hunger. A warmth not hers yet not alien. His hand tracing her form, the soft wetness between her thighs, his growing hardness, Yin meets Yang. She was there. Completely. The sensation was foreign. Not pleasure. A baser, rawer force – the need to be part of a whole.

How to break her

Exist

hold the paintbrush firm and create the masterpiece

Promise her cooked dinners (no microwaved noodles – the works).

Be

talk to her

she yearns to be seen, heard, understood

to connect.

Come to her

cum into her, four, five, ten times

as many times as it takes to

turn her into soft clay.

Blow and bend her

make her stand tall

on your cracked glass floor.

Then one day

when she takes you into her mouth,

when her jaw hurts from

making you feel like a king,

when she gags as you moan in pleasure,

when she knows (or does she) that she’s all you want,

when you reach sweet sweet climax

expelling your seed into her,

swat her off you and laugh as you walk away.

That should do it.