Night Market for Brojo

Picture4Night Market for Brojo
By Dhianita Kusuma Pertiwi
Translated by Bryan Stubbles

Volume 7, Issue 3 (Spring 2019)

A pasar malam is literally a “night market,” a cross between an open-air market and a county fair. All sorts of toys, food, and games and rides that children love are available there. It still exists, though in the past it was primarily a place where poor Indonesian families could shop and enjoy themselves. 

The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) was the second-largest political party in the country in 1965. After the mysterious murder of several generals were blamed on Communists, the government and its supporters went on a witch hunt and slaughtered a huge number of people. Wikipedia gives an estimate of 500,000-3,000,000 dead. The actual number will likely never be known. Many others were imprisoned, including the author’s grandfather, who spent thirteen years in prison. Dhianita Kusuma Pertiwi is active in groups demanding redress from the Indonesian government. These prisoners were only released due to international pressure. The families of the victims still face stigma and emotional and psychological scars from more than fifty years ago.

The women’s auxiliary of the PKI was called Gerwani. Gerwani members were also killed and many were raped in prison. In the play, Brojo’s mother is a member of Gerwani, and what happens to her sets everything in motion. The play spans the years from the persecution until the twenty-first century.

Deep in his heart, Brojo still misses his mother, who frequently asked him to go to night market. However, until his old age, Brojo is unable to go to the night market and find a happy life, despite his financial success. Brojo’s separation from his mother during the killings affects the way he perceives the world and interacts with others. 

The play is in Indonesian, but the author is ethnic Javanese. The play uses Javanese kinship terms as well as certain cultural terms that are difficult to translate. Slametan is a Javanese Muslim feast combined with rituals. There is a specific one for the seventh month of pregnancy. One character mentions their mother didn’t do this ceremony. It is a big deal.

The cloth that Brojo requests is for kain kafan, essentially what an English-speaking reader would consider as a burial shroud, made from two pieces of cloth.

Most people refer to adult Brojo as tuan, literally “lord” (a sign of respect). The play translates this as “sir” and “you” depending on context. On a minor point, the Indonesian ya corresponds to the English “yes,” but sometimes it’s “yeah” in the play because the sounds are more similar.

As for formatting, Indonesian plays follow a slightly different format when dividing a story into acts and scenes. What an American author may label as a “scene” has been labelled as an “act” by the author, per Indonesian custom. The translation keeps this format. Often, Indonesian plays will give extended stage directions where American plays would put parentheticals. The translation moves many of the Indonesian “parentheticals” to American stage directions.

— Dhianita Kusuma Pertiwi & Bryan Stubbles

Dhianita Kusuma Pertiwi is an Indonesia-based writer, designer, and researcher. Born as the granddaughter of a former New Order political prisoner, she has a deep interest in issues of human rights violations in Indonesia; especially what happened during the New Order regime. Mass human rights violations in that period have become the main theme for several of her works, both literary and non-literary. She also participates in several non-governmental organizations connected with the effort to gain government redress for the victims and survivors of that tragedy. Buku Harian Keluarga Kiri (A Leftist Family Diary) is her first novel and several of her plays have been performed. She maintains a blog at where she discusses Indonesian history, society and politics.

Bryan Stubbles is an American playwright and translator. His work has been produced in London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and even Taos, New Mexico and Provo, Utah, among other places. His Liberia-set thriller Death Sings in the Shadows is published by Broadway Play Publishing and he has a couple short works in Smith & Kraus’ Best 10 Minute Plays series. His blog Unknown Playwrights profiles playwrights not named “Shakespeare.” His latest play is about cannibal pumpkins. His hobbies include: history, languages, music, cooking, hiking and avoiding food poisoning.

Below: An actual Indonesian night market (pasar malam) 

 

Night Market for Brojo

Synopsis: His mother’s disappearance in his youth haunts Brojo through the years.

Characters:

Brojo’s father: 30s+. A peddler of snacks. 

Brojo: (M) At various ages in the play, including 8, late 40s and late 50s. Casting very flexible.

Sarjono: Brojo’s uncle. 

May: Brojo’s wife. 

Brojo’s mother: Appears only in silhouette. An ideal made from childhood memories.

Susilo: (M) Personal aide to the adult Brojo. In his 40s and 50s.

Courier: (any gender) Courier and messenger hired by the adult Brojo.

 

Note: All characters are Javanese.

Double and triple-casting possible and encouraged.

Time: 1960s/1990s/2010s

Setting: Brojo’s childhood home, his adult home, a hospital room.

BROJO’S WAIT

ACT I

SCENE 1

A simple living room. A wooden table is located in the middle of the room, and four rattan chairs are arranged around the table. An ashtray, a pack of cigarettes, and a lighter are on the table.

BROJO’S FATHER and BROJO sit in the middle chairs in the living room. BROJO’S FATHER SMOKES while relaxing. BROJO, Still eight years of age, crosses his feet on the table.

BROJO: Dad, where’d Mom go?

BROJO’S FATHER: Spending the night at your aunt’s house.

BROJO: Why didn’t she invite me?

BROJO’S FATHER: Who knows? Your mother also went alone there. Maybe there’s something she needed to discuss with your aunt.

BROJO: How many days will she be there?

BROJO’S FATHER: I also don’t know. Maybe you already miss her?

BROJO: Yeah. (acting cute) You never tell me bedtime stories.

BROJO’S FATHER: (speechless) Let’s drop you off in your room.

BROJO: (standing up) It’s okay, I’ll go straight to sleep.

EXIT BROJO.

BROJO’S FATHER sits quietly while taking a smoke. An empty stare.

Several moments later a KNOCK at the door.

SARJONO: (off-stage) Sir…

BROJO’S FATHER: Come in. It’s unlocked.

SARJONO ENTERS the room. HE’S BROJO’S FATHER’S younger brother-in-law. HE sits facing BROJO’S FATHER.

SARJONO: How is it, brother, is there any news?

BROJO’S FATHER shakes his head weakly.

BROJO’S FATHER: Not yet. It’s been two nights and I don’t know where my wife has been taken to.

SARJONO: Did you try asking?

BROJO’S FATHER: Who should I ask?

SARJONO: Simon the soldier must know where Mrs. Sul is now.

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah. But Simon is also new here, we don’t know what he’s like. It’ll make things worse if it turns out he has the same duties as them.

SARJONO: What is it they’re actually looking for??

BROJO’S FATHER: Who really knows? Brojo’s mom is just an ordinary member of Gerwani, she’s not always active to follow gatherings.

SARJONO: I’m scared, brother.

BROJO’S FATHER: The important thing is to take care of your wife and child, and help me take care of Brojo.

HE puts out the cigarette in the ashtray.

SARJONO: Is Brojo asleep, brother?

BROJO’S FATHER: He just went to sleep.

SARJONO: Is he looking for his mom?

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah. He’s still not fussy like that, but he claims to miss his mom. That’s what my mind is now.

SARJONO: What do you tell him, brother?

BROJO’S FATHER: I say his mom is spending the night at your house.

SARJONO: It’ll calm him down for a bit.

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah, but I can’t keep on lying. He’ll get bigger and bigger, and in addition if the news spreads, he’ll hear gossip from his friends at school.

THEY’re both quiet.

BROJO’S FATHER: Help me…

SARJONO: Gladly, brother, Minah and I will do the most we can.

BLACKOUT

 ACT II

SCENE 1

BROJO sits on the living room floor, busy doing a task. Then BROJO’S FATHER ENTERS carrying a bag full of market snacks. HE walks to BROJO.

BROJO’S FATHER: Here, I got you some snacks from the market.

HE gives the bag to BROJO, then sits in one of the chairs and lights a cigarette.

BROJO takes the bag from his FATHER.

BROJO: Are you selling now, Dad?

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah, your mom asked me to keep the store open before she left.

BROJO: Dad?

BROJO’S FATHER: What, son?

BROJO: Mom joined Gerwani, right?

BROJO’S FATHER: (hesitant) Yeah…

BROJO: Does mom have a heart?

BROJO’S FATHER: What do you mean heart?

BROJO: The heart to cut up the bodies of the generals killed at Lubang Buaya.

BROJO’S FATHER: Who said that?

BROJO: My history teacher. He explained what Gerwani was, and also said if one of our mothers doesn’t come home for several weeks, it is likely that she belongs to Gerwani member and has been arrested.

BROJO’S FATHER: Then, do you think Mother should be arrested?

BROJO: (shaking his head) No.

BROJO’S FATHER: Why?

BROJO: During the Lubang Buaya incident, Mother was at home, so it was impossible for her to do as my teacher said. So it’s true Mother was arrested, Dad?

BROJO’S FATHER: Yes. She was arrested a week ago.

BROJO: So Mother isn’t sleeping at Aunt Min’s house?

BROJO’S FATHER: No.

BROJO: Where’s Mom now, Dad?

BROJO’S FATHER: I also don’t know, son. Nobody gives any news, whether she’s in jail or how, I also don’t know much.

BROJO: We also don’t know when Mom’ll come back?

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah, we don’t know. Sorry.

BROJO: I’m already big, Dad. Don’t worry. We wait until Mom comes back.

BLACKOUT

ACT III

SCENE 1

BROJO’S FATHER and SARJONO sit in the living room. BROJO’S FATHER looks worried.

SARJONO: How does he know, Brother?

BROJO’S FATHER: He said the history teacher at school told it in the class. I can’t stop thinking of the type of history they’re giving to our kids.

SARJONO: How’re things with Brojo?

BROJO’S FATHER: He seems to persevere and accept the situation, but he really likes to shut himself up in his room. I can’t do anything.

SARJONO: Take him walking for a while later Sunday, so you can get him to talk more.

BROJO’S FATHER: Where?

SARJONO: Someplace cheap, maybe the night market.

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah, good idea. (smiling) He often went there with his mother before.

SARJONO: Try to entertain him a bit there.

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah. I hope he wants to go with me.

SARJONO: Why, Brother?

BROJO’S FATHER: Brojo was always very close with his mother, he went everywhere with his mother. He says he misses his mom’s stories before sleeping.

SARJONO: Then this is the right time to get closer to him.

BROJO’S FATHER: Yeah, you’re right. Fine, I’ll tell him.

SARJONO: I must go, Brother. (standing) I’ll come here often to keep you company.

BROJO’S FATHER: (standing) Yeah, thanks.

SARJONO EXITS the house. BROJO’S FATHER waits in the room, then walks to Brojo’s room.

ACT III

SCENE 2

BROJO’S room. A small, dim room. A futon couch in the corner, a wardrobe next to the futon, and a desk near the door.

BROJO is reading on top of the futon. Someone knocks on the door.

BROJO’S FATHER: Son…

BROJO stands and opens the door.

BROJO: Yeah, Dad?

ENTER BROJO’S FATHER.

BROJO’S FATHER: What’re you doing?

BROJO: Reading, Dad, there’s a quiz tomorrow.

BROJO’S FATHER: Don’t you like the night market?

BROJO: Yeah, Dad. I liked going there with Mom.

BROJO’S FATHER: Let’s go to the night market next Sunday. It’ll be just the two of us. It’s been a long time since you’ve been to the night market, you just study in your room.

BROJO: (quiet) Sorry, Dad. I’m waiting for Mom to go to the night market.

BROJO’S FATHER: Will you really wait for your mother?

BROJO: Yes, Dad.

Sleepy.

BROJO’S FATHER: But nobody knows when she’ll be back.

BROJO: I know. But I really want to go there with Mom. I’m going to wait until Mom comes back and we’ll go to the night market, just the two of us.

Awkward silence.

BROJO’S FATHER: Fine, if it’s like that. (quiet) Have you eaten?

BROJO: Yes, Dad.

BROJO’S FATHER: Fine, keep studying. I have to take inventory.

BROJO: Sure, Dad.

BROJO’S DAD EXITS.

BROJO: I want to go to the cheap night market where everyone is happy, but only with Mom.

BLACKOUT

ACT IV

SCENE 1

BROJO’s FATHER sits on a sofa with a sad expression.

BROJO’S FATHER: The incident turned out to really change everything, whether one was directly involved or not. Me, my wife and my child are just ordinary people who actually don’t know about the real incident, who gave the order, who got the order, who was killed and who did the killing. But we were also affected, see how our family began to fall apart.

(standing) Now I no longer know what I can do to comforting Brojo. His mother belongs to Gerwani, a thing that was previously normal but now needs to be eradicated.

(angry) I want to know what that history teacher said about Gerwani, and especially about my wife. How could they say my wife is a wicked murderer?

(walking back and forth) Actually, what was wrong with me until Brojo refused my invitation to go to the night market? During this time, I was not very close to him, but it was also beyond my control. Then how long will we wait? No one knows for sure when the innocent will be released and if they’ll be alive. How long will you wait so you can go to the night market again with your mother, son?

Will you also leave me later?

(crying) And let me grow old here alone? Bear the fate of being ridiculed as the husband of an inhuman Gerwani member, and dying in loneliness? Is that what you want, son?

Or maybe that decision is the best for you, and to stay far away from your father, just go. So I don’t have to feel ashamed of all these things…so I don’t have to wait to sell all the merchandise just to eat good food. Go find entertainment from the lights scattered on the night market as you wish. And leave me here—(harsh smile)—imprisoned in an invisible jail, waiting, waiting for you to talk to me.

Cries.

BLACKOUT

BROJO’S SEARCH

ACT I

PROLOGUE: Off-stage, the sounds of the bustling night market; sounds of children laughing, playing, and merchants offering their wares.

SCENE 1

YOUNG BROJO: (voiceover) I want to go to the cheap night market where everyone is happy, but only with Mom.

Brojo’s living room. A space with the following furniture: sofa, table, a rack consisting of a glass display and a photo of Brojo and his wife, May.

BROJO is sitting on the sofa. He is a man of nearly 50 years of age, he’s wearing brand name casual clothes.

BROJO: The night market. Why is the night market cheap but makes people happy? We don’t need to bring a thick wallet to ride an exciting ride, like the lofty amusement parks. The food sold there is also very cheap, sometimes it’s possible to use credit if you know the seller. If you want to ride the windmill until it feels like you’re drunk or eat cotton candy until you get diarrhea, it’s no problem.

Of course, I miss going to the night market. But I have dignity. Because I’m already successful, Brojo’s rich, I’m not the son of an itinerant grocer. Rich people don’t go to the night market. If I go there, people will think I’m being poor and thirsty for entertainment. If I obey my heart, I can buy a karaoke or movie theatre to use it to satisfy myself and my wife. But those things will only make everyone know of my enormous wealth.

When was the last time I went to the night market? It feels like it’s hard to remember because it’s been so long. Ah, never mind; don’t let anyone know I’m still looking for the night market. 

MAY, Brojo’s wife, ENTERS the room. SHE’s much younger than BROJO, with an attractive, made-up face. The clothes she’s wearing also looks expensive. SHE walks casually but her gaze is sharp and her gestures alert.

MAY: Night market again?

BROJO: Huh, May?!

MAY: You weren’t talking to yourself just now?

BROJO: What?

BROJO: (voiceover) Never mind, Roh, you trust me. We just elope, leave this village and forget all our identities. If we need, we can change our names just to make them sound more urban.

MAY: You remember? Although finally only me who changed my nickname from Maesaroh to May, and you keep your name.

BROJO: I just miss it.

MAY: Do you miss your mother, too?

BROJO silent. MAY sits next to BROJO and acts friendly.

MAY: Listen, honey, I don’t want to argue right now, but lately you prefer to stay home, you even only go to the office two or three days a week. At home you just sit around, no longer caring for the bird. I’ve asked you to go out together, but you always make excuses. So I go out with friends often, rather than walk alone. Aren’t you happy living with me?

BROJO: It’s not like that, May, but…yeah, that, I miss the village with the night market…and I miss Mom.

MAY: Forget it, honey, your mother’s never coming back. I’m not even sure they’re still alive now, chances are they’ve been tortured since their arrest. Now isn’t the time to wait.

BROJO: Then what should I do?

MAY: Yeah, just forget everything. We’re already rich, You have proven your words and promises when you held me without our parents knowing. What more are you looking for? I’ll tell you what’s important for us now.

BROJO: What?

MAY: We must always be circumspect in telling stories about our past to other people including our hired help. Don’t let it slip that we were in a difficult time when we were kids, especially don’t let them know that our parents have a dark history.

BROJO smiles weakly.

MAY: We must always remember that we are only children from wealthy families and all of their property belongs to us after they die.

BROJO is quiet and nods slowly. MAY kisses BROJO’s cheek.

BLACKOUT.

ACT II

SCENE 1

A silhouette of LITTLE BROJO with his MOTHER in the middle of the night market.

LITTLE BROJO: Mom, you’re happy to go here?

BROJO’S MOTHER: Yes, since I was little I liked going to the night market.

LITTLE BROJO: Later, when I’m old, there’ll still be the night market?

BROJO’S MOTHER: I don’t know, now it’s rather difficult to find the night market than before. But the important thing is that you’ll have to find the real night market.

LITTLE BROJO: What’s that?

BROJO’S MOTHER: A simple life that makes you happy, son. like a night market that can provide happiness at a cheap price for those of us who just barely live.

The sound of their talking is drowned among the boisterous crowd.

BROJO walks to the living room, then sits on the sofa.

BROJO: Sus, Susilo!

SUSILO ENTERS in hurry to BROJO. SUSILO is BROJO’s personal aide, a man in his late forties, he looks neat and acts politely.

SUSILO: Yes, sir?

BROJO: Are there any letters today?

SUSILO: There is, sir. One.

BROJO: From who?

SUSILO: I forgot, sir. Not an oficial letter. In an envelope that’s usually sold at the store.

BROJO: (frowning) Please bring it here, Sus.

SUSILO: Yes, sir.

EXIT SUSILO. HE returns with a letter in his hand.

SUSILO: Here, sir.

HE gives the letter to BROJO.

BROJO: Yeah, thanks, Sus.

BROJO opens the envelope, then takes out what’s inside and reads it:

BROJO: If this letter is actually read by a man who was born and grew up with the name Brojo, then it is not in vain that I write it and ride a bicycle to the post office to send it. This is your father who wrote it himself. Your father whom you left while you wandered, and I lived alone at home until your mother finally came home. Yes, your mother is now at home, even though she isn’t as healthy as she used to be and every day she keeps thinking about you. She’s just like you were when you missed your mother; In silence, you miss each other.

I often hear from people at the market that you’ve become a rich trader. Of course, I’m very thankful, that you can escape from the shackles of poverty which we used to live in together. I’m afraid to find your house to knock on the door, because maybe my feet are too dirty for slick and clean tile. I’m even scared to ask you to come here to see your mother, because maybe your busy life as a rich person won’t allow you to meet people like me.

Brojo, are you still waiting for your mother to take you to the night market?

Your mother often cries at night, and there isn’t anything that can make her happy besides you. In tears she said she was proud to have a child who’s successful like you, however she’s worried if it’s still appropriate to be called a mother. I’m just a lucky person, dear, she says. I can survive with all the physical torture as well as the harsh words that prison officials always gave me. And the spirit of my life is none other than our child, I know Brojo still misses me. That’s what your mother says to me almost every night.

Your mother did not know that I had found your address and wrote a letter on this shabby paper. I’m certainly hoping and waiting for just a reply from you.

However, as your own father, I feel that I’m not worth your reply anymore. Enjoy your life, Brojo. Maybe this is your time to enjoy the night market that you made yourself with your hands.

BROJO is quiet and looks with a blank expression.

BROJO: It turns out that mother is still alive, and she returned home safely. I want to meet her, but how? May could be furious if she finds out that I went back to my village, because I always forbade her to go there. I also could not invite Susilo because I already lied to him that I was a direct descendant of a conglomerate family. If Susilo knew what his employer was like, he might not believe it and leave here.

I have to find a reason strong enough to cover the purpose of my departure.

(thinking)

Ah, just say there is a sudden business outside the city.

BLACKOUT

ACT III

SCENE 1

MAY ENTERS the room, SHE’s wearing fashionable clothes and has a handbag. SHE sits and looks at her surroundings.

MAY: Why is it so quiet? Sus!

ENTER SUSILO to MAY.

MAY: Where’d Brojo go?

SUSILO: Err, he left the city, Ma’am.

MAY: When did he leave? It seems he was still at home this morning, right?

SUSILO: Yes, this morning he got a letter, it said there was some business outside the city. And he left right away.

MAY: You don’t know where?

SUSILO: No, Mister Brojo didn’t say.

MAY: (gloomy) Hmmm. That’s all, Sus. Oh, he didn’t say for how many days?

SUSILO: No, Ma’am.

MAY: Okay, if that’s the case.

EXIT SUSILO slowly.

MAY: I’m often worried about Brojo. These days he always looks anxious, thinking a lot. He seems to be thinking about something to do with his father in the village, or he misses his mother who vanished somewhere in the jungle. Yes, maybe he misses them, I also miss my parents. But we have promised to forget everything and play our new role as rich people.

Behind her there’s a silhouette displayed of BROJO with MAY as teenagers, preparing to leave the village.

BROJO: (voice-over) Do you still want to wait for your mom?

MAY: (voice-over) It’s not that, but my sister…

BROJO: (voice-over) Your sister is already big, she can find her own life. We also have to find our own decent life on our own. Do you want to be rich?

MAY: (voice-over) I want it, but…

BROJO: (voice-over) Fine, you think carefully first. What is clear, after we leave here, we build a new family and build our dreams together. We forget everything here, leave our identity, change our names if we have to. But I also can’t wait long, next week we have to leave home.

MAY: (voice-over) Why so fast?

BROJO: (voice-over) What more are you looking for?

MAY silent for a moment.

MAY: (voice-over) Fine. I’ll follow you.

The silhouette finishes.

MAY: Luckily we really are rich, even though we had to work terribly hard and hustle when we moved to the city. But the important thing now is that our ideals have been realized.. But Brojo is now sick, so I often worry that he’ll suddenly relapse because of thinking too much. It’s useless to be rich but not enjoy it. He rarely leaves without telling me, even if only by telephone. Hmm, I hope he’s fine.

BLACKOUT

ACT IV

SCENE 1

BROJO sits in the guest chair with a sad face. ENTER MAY.

MAY: Apparently your mom is still alive?

BROJO: (surprised) Where did you hear that?

MAY: From your father. Is there some sudden business in our village?

BROJO: What do you mean, May?

MAY: Stop. Don’t avoid it, Brojo! You really aren’t good at lying, especially to your wife. You should’ve burnt the letter from your father, instead of putting it on your desk carelessly.

BROJO: Oh, fine. I just got back from the village.

MAY: How’s your mother?

BROJO: There’s not much to be done, she’s very happy when I visit. But her eyes are often empty, sometimes she’s not aware of my existence. It’s no longer possible to take her to the night market under such circumstances.

MAY: (low tone) Do you know my mom’s circumstances?

BROJO: I asked your father, he said your mother didn’t come back. She died in her cell.

MAY: (quiet) I knew she wouldn’t come back, so I never had the desire to look for her again. Since giving birth to my sister she is often sick, people say it’s because she didn’t perform the seventh-month prayer ceremonies when she was pregnant with my sister. I wasn’t sure from the start that she could survive in such a situation.

BROJO: Sorry I…

MAY: Don’t worry. Truth be told, I’m also relieved.

BROJO: What do you mean?

MAY: I’m relieved you met your parents. At least you won’t think about them anymore. What do you want to find now? You’re rich, you have a loyal wife, it turns out your mom is still alive. You’re a lucky man, Brojo.

BROJO: There’s one more thing I’m looking for, May.

MAY: What? A young wife?

BROJO: I’m looking for the night market my mother talked about.

MAY: What’s that?

BROJO: A happy simple life. Like a night market that can provide happiness at a cheap price.

MAY: (snorting) I’m not following you this time. I’m finished with all this.

SHE stands up and EXITS. BROJO sees her leave.

BROJO: To Hell with it all! After all this, I’m looking for simplicity!

BLACKOUT

BROJO’S BURIAL

ACT I

A hospital room. A bed on the right side of the stage, a guest chair and small table on the right side. The room is all white and filled with luxurious amenities. The room’s door is on the left of the stage.

BROJO, a conglomerate owner in his late fifties, is a patient receiving treatment in the room. HE often coughs and lays on the bed.

HE coughs really hard, drinks from a glass of water then sits on the bed.

BROJO: It turns out growing old feels like this; no longer being able to drink a lot, smoking two or three cigarettes a day and coughing overnight.

(clears throat)

Old, sick, too. I can only eat tasteless food. I can no longer order fast food from a fancy restaurant that is usually delivered to the house. Ah yes! My house is my palace. It must now look like a quiet palace; without the king and queen living there. There are only helpers who never get bored to sweep the floor and clean up stuff.

SUSILO, BROJO’S personal assistant, a man in his late 40s, looking neat and behaving politely, ENTERS the room carrying a package of fruit.

HE stands in front of the door.

SUSILO: Good morning, sir.

BROJO: (coughing) Good morning, Sus. Sit down.

SUSILO puts the package on the table.

SUSILO: These are from the missus.

HE sits. BROJO peeks inside the box.

BROJO: Did May go back home?

SUSILO: Not yet. All night the missus called the house. She asked me to bring some fruit for you, Sir. She said she has one week left in Singapore.

BROJO: (nodding) Yeah, of course. May always wanted to take part in a world class fashion show. I’m sure she doesn’t want to leave that event for even one minute.

(cough)

Even though her husband is dying.

BROJO laughs bitterly.

SUSILO: Don’t talk like that, sir. You have to think that you’ll recover quickly. How are you now?

BROJO: No idea, Sus. I feel every day that nothing changes with me.

HE coughs hard and long.

SUSILO: It all comes back to your mind. I once took care of my mother who was seriously ill. In addition to medicine that she had to take, many believe she recovered because of her thoughts.

BROJO: I’m not certain, Sus. There are many who say that rich people are great and not to think too much. You need this, you need that, just swipe a credit card. But in fact, I have to think about how to look after the palace and its contents.

(clearing throat)

Sus, who knows that I’m being treated at the hospital?

SUSILO: Yesterday two people came to the house claiming to be your nieces.

BROJO: Tsk. Tsk. How many months has it been since I’ve seen them? Did any of them talk to you?

SUSILO: Just light chatter, sir.

BROJO: No, I don’t believe it. There must be something important for them to come to the house after such a long time.

SUSILO: I can’t tell you now, actually I planned to tell you after you got better.

BROJO: No, Sus. Tell me now. You’re the only one I can trust in my life now.

SUSILO: Well, they asked how much you’re worth, and how much inheritance they’ll get.

BROJO: (a pitiful smile and a gentle laugh) The same as before, there’s nothing to change.

SUSILO: What do you mean, sir?

BROJO: You know, Sus, the wealth of our family is like a dynastic treasure that has been passed down for generations. This wealth seems to never run out because each of us has never failed in business, so we continue to grow this family’s wealth.

BROJO coughs hard then takes a drink.

SUSILO: Do I need to peel the fruit, sir?

BROJO strokes his chest while waving to SUSILO, refusing the offer.

BROJO: Later, Sus. Now let me continue my story so that you can understand how my family is.

SUSILO: Go ahead, sir.

BROJO: It’s normal that when a family member is seriously ill, the relatives will gather to discuss the inheritance.

SUSILO: (shaking his head frantically, then silent) Umm… actually they also talked about the will, Sir.

BROJO: Of course! That’s our family tradition. A will isn’t something taboo and to be feared. I’ll write it tonight.

SUSILO: But, sir…

BROJO: But what? Is it not certain I’ll die soon? Of course, no one knows for sure about human life. But that’s the way our family tradition is, like every one of us is ready for death.

BLACKOUT

ACT II

Hospital room. Brojo sits on the bed and writes his will.

BROJO: Damn! Even until now I still have to pretend. The two people Susilo mentioned must have been the children of Bangun, my strongest rival. How can he still remember the promise of inheritance?

(sighs)

In order not to run so badly I have to arrange it as neatly as possible, I won’t let the cat out of the bag even until my death.

ENTER a COURIER carrying a burial sheet and gives it to BROJO. HE is a secret messenger paid by BROJO, a young man who moves quickly.

BROJO: Is the size according to my request?

COURIER: Yes. Is there anything else you need?

BROJO: Tomorrow bring me batik fabric the same size as this burial sheet.

COURIER: Yes. Anything else, sir?

BROJO: Bring something to sew with. That’s all.

COURIER: Yes, sir.

The COURIER EXITS the room. BROJO inspects the fabric and puts it in the desk drawer, then he writes more.

BROJO: I thought at that time he was just joking about the inheritance. It turns out he’s really a bastard. Already rich, he still wants to ask about the inheritance for his children. But if I don’t give it to him, he’ll make trouble, he can sue. Don’t you dare come to my burial!

BLACKOUT

ACT III

Hospital room. BROJO sits on the bed, reading the will.

BROJO: Ah, the flow of money is always the same. Get inheritance, use it for business development, land, houses, cars, traveling abroad, food and wine parties,

(coughing hard)

And finally, to pay for hospital fees. Everything about matter and wealth, what else can be inherited in this family besides money?

SUSILO: Sir?

BROJO: Enter, Sus.

SUSILO ENTERS slowly and sits.

BROJO: Sus, I want you to be my witness.

SUSILO: Witness what, sir?

BROJO: My witness to sign the will I’ve drawn up. That this is really me who wrote and signed it.

SUSILO: Yes, sir.

BROJO: (signing the will) Come back tomorrow and I’ll give you this will along with my request.

SUSILO: What should I bring?

BROJO: (coughs) You don’t need to bring anything, Sus. Come back tomorrow.

SUSILO: (standing) Yes, sir. I’ll be back tomorrow.

EXIT SUSILO

BROJO: Hey, come in.

The COURIER ENTERS quickly.

BROJO: Susilo almost caught you. Didn’t I tell you to come at night?

COURIER: Sorry, sir. My son asked me to take him to the night market later.

Quiet.

COURIER: Umm…here, sir.

HE hands the cloth to BROJO, who takes it.

COURIER: Is there anything else you need?

BROJO: No.

Quiet.

COURIER: Umm… I think I can leave now.

HE bows.

BROJO: Do you often go with your wife and child?

COURIER: Every so often, sir. Umm…but we usually don’t go very far, just to the night market or the swimming pool. The important thing is it’s cheap and everyone’s happy, sir.

BROJO: Fine. Go back home.

COURIER: Yes, sir.

EXIT COURIER. BROJO stares at the COURIER leaving and looks pensive, then he inspects the cloth and needle. He takes the burial sheet out of the drawer and begins sewing.

BROJO: The important thing is it’s cheap and everyone’s happy.

BLACKOUT

ACT IV

Hospital room. BROJO sits on the bed and SUSILO on the chair.

SUSILO: The task you mentioned yesterday, what is it, sir?

BROJO: Oh, yeah.

HE takes out the burial sheet and the batik that has already been sewn together from the drawer and gives them to SUSILO.

SUSILO: What’s the meaning of this, sir?

BROJO: I want you to open my storage locker. There is one suitcase that I planned to use to celebrate our wedding anniversary on a private island in Europe. Take out the money, burn it and wrap the ashes with the cloth and bury it in the back garden.

(coughing)

Do you understand, Sus?

SUSILO: I understand sir, but what does it all mean?

BROJO: Just do it, Sus. Right after you do everything, you can read the will to my family who are thirsty for that inheritance.

(coughing)

Do it now, Sus!

SUSILO: Umm…Fine, sir.

SUSILO stands and EXITS.

The light in the hospital goes out.

The ground in the backyard of Brojo’s house has been dug out.

ENTER SUSILO carrying ashes wrapped in the cloth. HE stops, faces the audience and pulls out a bunch of money from his pocket.

SUSILO: He won’t know about it.

HE laughs a little and slyly puts it in a bag.

HE buries the bag of ashes.

BLACKOUT

ACT V

A burial. A basket of flowers has been placed on the side of a tomb. MOURNERS stand around, pray and spread flowers. One by one the mourners EXIT. BROJO ENTERS onto the stage with the COURIER, using a stick and walks with a little limp. THEY stand beside the tomb.

BROJO: Sus, after all this time I thought I could trust you.

(taking and sprinkling flowers)

It turns out that everything is fake. Nothing is really pure and clean. There are always lies in every corner of the story or life. Maybe it’s still better if the lie can make you happy

(smiles, to COURIER)

Hey, I want to go to the cheap night market and everyone is happy.

COURIER: Yes, sir.

BLACKOUT

The end.

2 thoughts on “Night Market for Brojo

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