15/10/2011 BY CIKGU MAIA
In “The Curse” by Lee Su Ann, Azreen takes time off from her studies in London, UK, to return to her village in one of the legendary islands of Langkawi. She returns to mourn the loss of her older sister, Madhuri. However she finds out via rumours and loud whispers that Madhuri was murdered.
At her village Azreen has to contend with a cold-hearted father and support an Alzheimer stricken mother. Azreen is subjected to negative comments and suspicion from her neighbours. She finds consolation in the company of the Old Lady, an outcast of the village. Although the grand Old Lady is educated and knowledgeable, the villagers shun her because she had murdered her abusive husband.
Azreen has to confront the mystery that shrouds her sister’s sudden death under suspicious circumstances. Her old classmate, Mohd. Asraf, refuses to reveal what he knows. A mysterious figure keeps on watching Azreen and strange things happen. Madhuri’s room is partially destroyed in a fire. A carcass of a chicken with a broken neck is thrown in front of her house. Many villagers fall sick for no apparent reason. The Old Lady is killed in a fire accidentally caused by an angry Mohd. Asraf.
Bit by bit, the mysterious death of Madhuri is revealed to Azreen.
Azreen hurriedly leaves her studies in England to return home after receiving news that her sister had died. Her coursemate, Julian Ng, tries to offer his sympathy and condolence but she was not in the mood to talk about the matter.
On the plane home, Azreen experiences flashbacks of her early days with Madhuri and how Madhuri was well-liked by people. Madhuri was beautiful and soft-spoken compared to Azreen, who was an obstinate child.
Back home, on an island south of Langkawi Island, Pn. Kamsiah was talking with her daughter Siti about their neighbour, Normala, who is spreading rumours that Madhuri was murdered and she spilt white blood. Datin Sharifah and her husband were ready to fetch their adopted daughter from the airport. They were trying their best not to talk about Madhuri’s death.
Mourners gather at Azreen’s house to pay their last respects to Madhuri before burial. The women folk gossip among themselves that Madhuri was murdered and she had put a curse on everyone on the island. Azreen arrives late to pay her last respects to her late sister. Azreen brings her sickly mother to the burial ground to bid farewell to Madhuri. She meets Mohd. Asraf and flashbacks of her schooling years fills the scene.
Azreen meets Asraf. She enquires about Madhuri’s death but is only given vague details of the incident. Normala, the rumour monger, spreads rumours about what had happened to Madhuri. Awang, the bomoh, makes an appearance as he dreams that a disaster is about to hit the village soon. Awang recalls the incident when he stole a chicken at Encik Mohan’s farm causing a bull to escape. Asraf was blamed for the fiasco but Azreen bravely took the blame on his behalf. Back to the present, Azreen looks for the Old Lady in the jungle to catch up on old times. The Old Lady discloses that Madhuri was murdered.
The Old Lady relates to Azreen that she saw Madhuri’s lifeless body and the wound on her. She suggests that Madhuri’s murder was covered up as investigation into her death would reveal more secrets. Puan Fatihah, the village headman’s wife recalls how her life changed forever when her husband, Haji Ghani, became attracted to Madhuri.
Azreen recaps how Madhuri tried to defend her from her father’s wrath for stealing mangosteen and the good times she spent with Madhuri. In a flashback, Azreen admitted her folly for letting the bull go in order to save Asraf from Encik Mohan and his son’s wrath. The escaped bull knocked into the...