Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stillborn birthing Scene in AJCL

The Birthing Scene
Steven has always impressed me with his crying performances. I thought his crying performance in this epi birthing scene was superb as was Linda’s. To better appreciate Ah On’s emotions here, the kind of person Ah On is must be taken into consideration.

Background: the shaping of Ah On’s personality
Ah On faces personal pain and loss like the person he is:
-- A first born who is not only the oldest son but also the only male in a family of females.
---Obviously, because of the incidence of his birth order and gender, much is expected of him. However, the expectation of him is even greater than most, when at the tender age of 16, his father died an untimely death; at which time, he duly became the man of his family.

His early burden has hastened his maturity; over the years, he has learned that tears are not for him. When did Ah On ever cry in the whole series before this? Not even when he was forced to break up with Gaga. His heart might break but his tears will not flow, not even a drop until now.

There’s a Chinese saying that goes like this: A man will weep only when grieving deeply. (lit. translation: A man's tears not easily shed, only because he is not in the pit of sorrows yet.  男儿有泪不轻弹,只是未到伤心处)
~~~Epi 19 birth scene

In the scene, Ah On's controlled and contained emotions belied his heartbreak, his helplessness and fear.

Ah On’s heart is breaking but even then he will not allow his tears to flow unlike Gaga’s uncontrollable gushing of tears and wailing because of who he is; and he is, above all, a protector of his woman folks and a tower of strength to them. Faced with his wife’s anguish and pain, he readily slips into that mode duly projecting a brave face and front; as usual putting a loved one’s needs above his.

And so Ah On comforts Gaga with a smile… everything will be fine, you’ll see. Hoi Yin is only sleeping, so of course, she isn’t kicking you now.   But the fear in his eyes belied his outward calm and comforting words.

But heaven disposes; it is not to be...the baby has no heartbeats, so says the doctor.
Her ominous pronouncement takes a sec to sink in…

Gaga freaks out. Ah On instinctively tightens his cradling hold on his wife, and plants a consoling kiss on her head before retorting:

No heart beats, what does it mean; no heart beats? Ah On desperately holds on to reason. He is ever mindful of his wife’s anguish and fear; his own he will attend to later, much later; but for right now, his wife needs him and he must be there for her. He must control his emotions; he must be the man of strength.

The baby is dead

Upon hearing this, Gaga collapses and let out a heartrending wail of agony. Her loss is absolute; her mind is oblivious; she can only feel her own despair, nobody else. She sobs loudly and uncontrollably. Whereas Ah On is struck dumb and struck numb. His mind is in total denial; he strikes out in anger:

What do you mean? You said the baby was fine just now.
But there’s no refuting the reality. He could only cradle her in his arms; her keening piercing and devastating him. But his eyes remain dry. And there they hold each other, intertwined by grief and Gaga’s labor pains. He cradles her head tenderly, and plants kisses on her head…heartbroken.

In Ah On’s mind, he must be strong, he must protect, he must comfort, he must not cry for he can handle anything, anything except make things right again. And so he continues to cradle her, partly to comfort her and partly to seek comforting himself. He is one with her; he feels her pains. She screams out loud her grief and pain; he absorbs hers and adds them to his.

For at that very moment, he is helpless.. he is a protector who can’t protect.. not his wife, not his stillborn daughter. He, as a tower of strength, is crumbling… don’t know when his eyes glistened with tears; tears that trickle soundlessly down his face. None of those gushing torrents of tears or loud sobbing of anguish….his tears, so long banished over the years, therefore foreign, could only trickle drop by drop…relentlessly down his face.

He swipes his tears from his face upon stepping out into the waiting room, but disobediently, the tears sneak up on him when he lashes out at Vicky in a controlled, low voice. His daughter, whom they have named Hoi Yin, is dead. He finally erupts in rage; when spent, he collapses in despair. Now away from his wife, his agony comes in cresting waves drowning him completely…he sinks to his knees and huddles his upraised knees. His total devastation is complete.  Where is God?

note:  Steven's performance was so much more powerful and believable (based on Ah On's stoic personality) with these restrained emotional reactions. Bravo!


     Their apprehension
    Ah On comforting Gaga

     Ah On's disbelief; Gaga's instinctive maternal reaction.


      A teardrop for their stillborn daughter.
       Tears sneaking up on him. She's dead!
        Exhausted and bereft of internal strength, Ah On crumbles, and look to the wall for support.
      Ah On, no longer strong!

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