Wednesday, 19 March 2014

'Life Sdn Bhd': A showcase of the female spirit

Abbernaa Kukanathan, the youngest cast member, recounts her Bharatanatyam classes with an inspiring and passionate dance teacher.

Abbernaa Kukanathan, the youngest cast member, recounts her Bharatanatyam classes with an inspiring and passionate dance teacher.

Life Sdn Bhd brought to light brave stories of empowerment.

THE title said it all. Things got personal. Too personal at certain junctures. The latest edition of Life Sdn Bhd (Life), which concluded on Sunday at KLPac in Kuala Lumpur, was an emotionally raw experience. Themed the Power Of Women, the 11th edition of Life, directed by Datuk Faridah Merican, was packed with its signature real life stories by real people. These “sharing sessions” began in 2004.

For nearly two hours last Thursday, stranger after stranger bared it all in front of even more strangers. And that was not a bad thing.

Sometimes, we are too coy a people, to say the least, and we need a nudge in the right direction to say what’s on our mind.

On stage at Life, we saw people letting it all go, stripping themselves of all the societal conditionings, and just sharing their life stories.

Yes, we needed such individuals, the brave and mighty – not in the conventional sense – to step up and speak.

Ching used to chase her schoolmates who made fun of her Tourette's syndrome around the school with a water bottle.
Ching used to chase her schoolmates who made fun of her Tourette’s syndrome around the school with a water bottle.

The stories shared by six women during Life ranged from the heart-warming to the heart-wrenching. You had stories about inspiring teachers, mums and grandmothers. However, the tragic stories were the most powerfully gripping.

One such story was shared by Khayma Balakrishnan. Her fairytale childhood turned into a nightmare what with physical and mental abuse by her family. Any child or teenager would have crumbled under the weight of such evil and succumbed to depression or even suicide. The 25-year-old Khayma almost did.

Through resilience and an inner power, Khayma picked herself up and took matters into her own hands. Not only has she completed her degree, she is currently pursuing her masters and is financially supported by none other than herself.

Another tragic tale with a triumphant twist was by Ho Lee Ching. From the age of nine, she has suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary movements and vocalisations called tics. This, of course, made her the school joke.

For the longest of time, no one knew what was wrong with her. In such situations, children at school can usually be mean.

But Ching was a resilient one. She shared that being active in sports and martial arts, she used to chase these name-callers around the school with a water bottle and hit them with it!

The inspiring part was to know that this 24-year-old young lady has embraced her condition and she is who she is now because of that. For Ching, life is the forward path.

To ease the intense atmosphere, Life, was also punctuated with a classical rendition of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida by the Power of Women String Quartet and an upbeat and catchy song called Mama Dah Marah by the all-male trio Lelaki 2.5, which drew much laughter from the audience.

At the heart of it, life is never easy, especially for women in this male-dominated world. They are looked down at, criticised, abused and not deemed as equals. However, women have always had a strength in spirit and have always defied gravity with their perseverance.

As one of the storytellers said, “the greatest pleasure in life is to be able to do what others say you can’t.”

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Life Sdn Bhd , KLPAC , The Power of Women , theatre , true stories


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