Here's a picture of my grandmother, Dorothy Nixon, the subject of my eplay Looking for Mrs. Peel that I have never seen before. I just received it by the magic of the Internet.
I have but one picture of her, in old age.
My play is about culture and generation clash and about the Double Tenth Incident at Changi Prison in 1942-6
My grandmother is one of three (or four) women who survived the infamous WWII Torture Incident. She left behind 'notes' which I fashioned into a play, after doing a great deal of research myself.
Long after I finished the play in 2005, the Malaysia Straits Times came online and I read some articles about Dorothy's work as Selangor's official Cricket Scorer. (Dorothy is more famous for being a librarian in Kuala Lumpur.)
One article calls my grandmother "the grand dame of Malaysian cricket" and has her presenting The Dorothy Nixon trophy for best cricketeer to someone in 1962. The other snippet has one of Australia's top cricket commentators meeting with two of Malaysia's cricketing personalities, one of whom is my grandmother.
In the pictures my grandmother looks very young to me, but she isn't! She is about my age, 53 (I'm a little older.) But do you agree? There's a girlish look about her. Ironic, considering that this pic was taken in 1948, only a few years after she was released from Changi, where she had almost died, many times.
Always a cigarette in her hand. Well, that never changed. In my play Looking for Mrs. Peel, there's an ashtray incident that takes play in 1967, based on real life. Here's how I describe her, through the eyes of a adolescent girl who knows nothing about her grandmother's past, and could care less:
Voice Over: Bakelite ashtray in her left hand, Rothman’s unfiltered in her right, the cranky old crone paces up and down our cramped apartment , absurdly overdressed for late July in black stretch pants and a thick brown turtleneck sweater. Her boobs sag almost to her knees like two spent balloons and her bum is wide and flat like a giant burnt pancake.She shuffles past the dining room where I sit cross-legged on my cot stroking my library books: Ring of Bright Water, Born Free, King of the Wind and Silent Spring, all about animals,all borrowed from the NDG Library for boys and girls, all books I've taken out many times before, and listening to music on my brother's battered Realtone transistor radio.