Lights turned up to reveal Chorus standing to the right of the door. One leaf of which is ajar to suggest an opening to a cave. The time is late afternoon.
CHORUS LEADER (An elder)
I feel almost shamed in not holding back my tears
seeing the woman in silent procession with the Tuanku’s men
coming up the slope to this cleft, this gaping mouth
in the face of the precipice to her bridal chamber.
The groom that awaits her there is unending night
whose whispers in her ear will be the hissing of eyeless snakes.
She should not go alone like this but with her groom by her,
with troops of sisters in train, chatting and laughing
in a noisy festive procession threading its way
through wave on crashing wave of thunder
breaking from an ensemble of gendang to the bridal dais.
She should not go alone into that black mouth
to stumble about in its airless darkness among stones.
As Chorus speaks Anike attended by guards enters from the left
and climbs up the steps to the central door and stands before it..
Stay here a while, and let me feel the sun and this breeze
blowing the call of hornbills from across the valley.
Let this be a little of the day I take into the dark.
Speaks to herself.
I am fearful, and yet, I should not be, for surely
I will find Sirat however wide the eternal gloom
in which I will wander, and I will to say to him,
‘I have come blameless, I have not laid blame on our house,
I have done my utmost for my brother that he be not shamed.’
CHORUS (An elder)
In place of floral showers, we only have praise for her.
In place of open eulogies, we have only covert prayers.
But all this is of no comfort to her, no help in her hour
of sharp though redeeming distress as she gives herself
over to darkness, for yet she does not go as a willing bride
to be bedded in forgetful possession by maggots.
She must be fearful, but she is not pushed stumbling
or dragged by her arms crying into that black devouring hole.
She goes like a bride who must not be seen
to be in too unseemly haste going to her groom.
I have seen no other woman go like her to embrace death.
ANIKE (Addressing those present.)
Be my witness, you elders, though to the world
you must remain dumb. Keep it close to your hearts
that I am blameless, I brought no dishonour on my house.
What I did for my brother was no crime, no sin.
On that, the gods will judge me in the other world.
Keep in your hearts what you witness here today,
and speak out only at the hour of your own ends
so that the truth will find its way to light
when men live unoppressed and are free to speak.
Maniaka enters from the left.
I see there is much talk and covert lamentation here.
If crying can put off death, men will shed tears
till their eyes shrivel into hard, blind stones,
and their tears running dry, give way to blood.
(To Guards) Why have you not thrown her yet into the cave?
Proceed at once. Let her in, and place there on the floor
those baskets of fruit, and dried meat, and the water jar.
May she have long life subsisting on what I provide.
Let me go then. I am grown weary of bitter words,
weary of Tuanku’s rages that so frighten these men.
I am weary of all the fearful watchfulness we must keep
that no word we utter, no word spoken against us,
will bring disaster upon us and ruin upon our houses.
I accept the night. In it is ease for my weariness.
CHORUS ((A hanger-on) For Maniaka to hear)
Love and honour deserve our praise.
But the law must be upheld. It must prevail.
Anike has made her choice. She flouted the law.
That she chose to undermine Tuanku’s authority,
she must then bear the mortal consequences of her choice.
I have upheld a higher law. By that Maniaka will be judged.
His self-serving law will not prevail against heaven.
He will bear the eternal consequences of his choice.
Enough! Guards, what are you waiting for?
Have you become stiff corpses yourselves?
Move, or I will give every man of you much cause for regret.
That is the voice of one who speaks for the dead,
for it is the dead I leave behind when I leave the day.
(To guuards) Come, I no longer desire to be of this world.
As Anike enters the open doorway, the lights are gradually dimmed
to suggest a great gloom has overtaken the scene. The sound of low distant thunder is heard.
CHORUS (An elder)
All we who are left behind, we truly are the dead.
We were made to see one guilty of love and the duty
of honour thrown into the solvent darkness
where all who are caught vanish with no trace,
and we did not speak. We all have died for our silence.
He looks about.
This is not day but the deepening night of a netherworld
we have, out of our deadly silence, made for ourselves.
There is the thunder and a rising breeze
out of the disturbed inmost maw of hell.
The gods are aroused They are here to harrow
these regions as we lose our way into our new-found darkness.
All look about with increasing alarm.