A play by Manav Kaul
(The play is divided between two spots. One is on a park bench and the other is in the drawing room of a middle class family)
(As light fades in, one can see the silhouette of a man in the dimness, waving about. Music starts)
( The man is playing all by himself before the bench)
( He is asleep on the bench)
( He is seen dancing )
( Poonam lifts the gifts, the bouquet and other stuff and is seeing off her guests at the main door and one hears her voice outside)
Shukla : So Tiwariji please come again…..yes ….yes….I’ll inform Bhagwan…..oh! Bhabhiji! Namaskar!
( Shukla comes in. Shukla and Poonam both look worried when he suddenly bursts out laughing.)
Poonam : Why are you laughing?
Shukla : Think about it Bhabhi. After all the effort we put in for that idiot!. We secretly gathered all his bank colleagues to give him a surprise…..and….. he the swine gives us a surprise by not showing up!
Poonam : Where could he be ?
Shukla : Yeah... where could he have gone? All his friends were right here. ……Bhabhi…hope there isn’t any hanky panky going on…
Poonam : Oh No! When does he get time off from counting notes. At night, his fingers keep working even in his asleep. He licks his finger and keeps counting notes. I said now there are machines to count notes …and he replies, if machines even count notes, what will I do?…… Till he doesn’t finish counting notes, he feels he hasn’t got any work done... and today… you ruined your whole day too..
Shukla : It’s just a day spent for friend.. no problem at all.
Poonam: You must be getting late ……he must be on his way.
Shukla : Who is waiting for me anyway… I just go down, open the shop’s shutter and spread out to sleep. Bhabhi…..I am getting a bit worried. It’s getting quite late now. ..the idiot was absent on his own birthday. I don’t remember him doing this ever before.
Poonam : Well, for the past few months he has been coming home a little late …but never this late. I always thought he went to your shop downstairs. But he was telling me about a park close to his office, where he goes and spends time… It feels good, he says.
Shukla : Oh….that’s strange. The creep never told me
Poonam : In fact….for the last few days…he has been looking particularly happy
Shukla : Look, I had got this for the jerk …..imported…thought we’d drink together and chat about our golden future. It’s ok Bhabhi. I’ll leave now. I’ll go and drink alone. Just give me a glass.
( Bhagwan comes in)
Bhagwan : If you are going to take the glass also from here, you might as well drink here too
Shukla : You…swine.. Where were you Bhagwan? Your birthday just ended five minutes back. Never mind…. Happy birthday. I was so worried about you.
Bhagwan : Where is the stuff?
Shukla : The stuff is here. But first go and meet your wife. She is very furious.
(Bhagwan goes to Poonam… Poonam tries to open a box, she can’t manage)
Bhagwan : Arre.. not opening?
Poonam : Do you know how many people had come? Your whole bank was here. No body ate anything. All the food is left untouched…..now for the whole week, I’ll heat it and feed you leftovers.
Bhagwan : Oh…if there were going to be so many, shouldn’t you have told me?
Shukla : Do you know what surprise means?
( Suddenly the box opens)
Bhagwan : There, it opened by itself. Where is Pinky?
Poonam : She’s got collage in the morning. She waited and waited and fell asleep. Do you know what time it is?
Bhagwan : Gosh! I didn’t realize it.
Poonam : Where were you, if I may ask?
Bhagwan : Oh.. I went to the park. I lost track of the time. You know… today in the park..
Poonam : I don’t want to know what happened in the park. I am exhausted. Bhaisaab….there is water, soda and all inside. Please help yourself. I am going to bed.
( Poonam leaves. As Bhagwan moves forward to take the glass from Shukla, Poonam comes back. Bhagwan quickly returns the glass)
……I forgot to say….wish you a very happy birthday…..
Bhagwan : Are you angry?
Poonam: Do you care? (Poonam exits)
Bhagwan : Ha ha……Shukla…..today I am very happy. I never had a birthday celebration like this before.
Shukla : Here you are..cheers! Do you know how hard Bhabhi worked today….. I left my shop in the hands of my staff today….went to the houses of all your friends ..told them about the party today… all the poor sods landed up. Only you were missing.
Bhagwan: No wonder.. I was curious about how they all found out
Shukla : Didn’t I just tell you….I informed all of them.
Bhagwan : No…to those kids….
Shukla : Kids…..? Whose?
Bhagwan : Park….kids in the park…
Shukla : What’s this park business, now?
Bhagwan : The park near the office.. the tiny one.. a few kids come there to play every evening. Just seeing them play, washes off the day’s fatigue. I have even made friends with those kids. I taught them all those games I used to play as a kid, and today they all even celebrated my birthday. I kept asking them how they knew… but they didn’t tell me anything.
Shukla : Whose kids are they?
Bhagwan : No idea. By the way….even Uncle came to meet me today.
Shukla : Uncle? You have an uncle here?
Bhagwan: No. he’s not my uncle. He is just Uncle. But how did he come there?
Shukla : Listen Brother…I am a bit high. I do not understand a word of what you are saying. What Uncle? What kids? ….Now forget all that… Like every year, this time too I got you some good booze. Didn’t I?
Bhagwan : Yes. You did.
Shukla : And like every year, this year too, we will talk about our beautiful future..won’t we?
Bhagwan : Yes. We will…..but this time, you start first.
Shukla : Arre ...what can I say….you always get me into a corner… no buddy…
Bhagwan: Shukla…..stop grumbling. Just start.
Shukla : Alright…so I begin… look there ...the shop…..is it there?
Bhagwan : Yes. The shop.
Shukla : Then…..two shops.
Bhagwan : Two shops. …then?
Shukla : Then….three shops.
Bhagwan : Yes three……then?
Shukla.: Yes, yes, what else... my future is quite clear-cut. Now am selling a few clothes, later I’ll be selling more clothes. Okay. I’m done, now your turn.. And yes….start from Pinky’s wedding.. it will be great fun.
Bhagwan : No. I’ll start before that, from home. This house will be mine in two years.
Shukla : Done..
Bhagwan : Then Pinky’s wedding
Shukla : That’s done too…! What fun! Then…
Bhagwan : Billu would have become an engineer in a few years.
Shukla : He is already making a building. He is making a bridge too…
Bhagwan: Then his marriage…
Shukla : A grand wedding.
Bhagwan : By then pinky would have had kids.
Shukla : Lots!
Bhagwan : Then Billu’s kids
Shukla : Wow! That was fun….!
Bhagwan : Then we will raise them….. and if we’re still alive, we’ll give them a lot of love and also get them married.
Shukla: We will Bhagwan.. we will
Bhagwan : And we are still around, we will have the pleasure of seeing their kids too ….and then…
Shukla : Yes… then?
Bhagwan : Then…..then what? What else?
Shukla : Then fun! Loads of fun! …But the difference is that is that today your heart was not in it… do you remember how much we had enjoyed it the last time? What happened to you Bhagwan?
Bhagwan : Nothing….Shukla. today I remembered a very strange incident. My school was across the river. I would take a small ferry to the other side everyday. I was good friends with the boatman. Once on my way to school on the boat, we saw that, instead of rowing, he was shooing away a bird with his oar… but it would fly right back and perch at the same spot.. The boatman started getting increasingly angry.. We were all scared because the boat was rocking wildly. I shouted…’Arre…what are you doing? Are you planning to sink the boats?’. He replied ‘No sir. This bird has got used to a free ride across the river’. We all laughed. Many days later, we saw the boatman and the bird sitting with their faces turned the other way, as they were angry with each other. Then, after a few days, we see the boat man was continuously talking to the bird…. He would laugh one moment and yell the next.. Everyone started saying that he had gone mad. I couldn’t stop myself, and went on to ask him,. ‘What are you doing? Have you gone mad? You are taking to a bird?’ And he retorted, ‘I think all of you have gone mad. This bird wants to talk to all of you. Why don’t you folks talk to it? We were thinking he was mad, and he was thinking the same about us.
Shukla : So what happened to him?
Bhagwan : When the word spread, people stopped travelling in his boat. For some time he would row the boat all alone. Later I heard that people had stoned him and driven him away from village.
Shukla : That’s it…..
Bhagwan : Yes….that’s it.
Shukla : Arre, isn’t that a rather strange tale?
Bhagwan: I remember all this when I sit on that, when I sit on that park bench. And then those kids come by. But you don’t know Shukla…today after so many years…I danced..
Shukla : You danced ?
Bhagwan : Yes. And it was fun. What was that tune….( Bhagwan starts humming a strange and starts dancing At first Shukla does not find it odd. Then he starts getting worried and then he gets frightened)
Shukla : Very good ! That was fun! Come here now…. Listen to me, come here… that’s enough now.. Bhagwan….sit down! What are you doing pal, listen.. sit down…..Bhagwan…..I am getting uncomfortable….Bhagwan….Bhagwan….have you gone mad?
(Bhagwan is sitting on the park bench, and seems to be talking to someone)
Bhagwan : Inside the water was clean... Pure cold water. …..like in a well. Like when we are born….as we grow…we started chucking in toys into our well, then words, books, people’s expectations as heavy as stones….and lots of moulds of the way to live like humans, and when there is no space for water in our well…. we say… this is quite normal!
( Pinky comes in with tea. Poonam , Shukla and Saurabh are seated)
Poonam : Please have some tea. Sorry, he had some urgent work come up on his birthday. He came home very late. Even we were very worried. Now it’s fine. Even we are meeting only today...after that day.
Shukla : Bhabhi, he knows everything. He is here to tell you something.
Saurabh : Actually ….( Saurabh looks towards Pinky)
Poonam : Pinky…. go inside….. yes…please go on...
Saurabh : Yes…sir is my senior. I have come with this letter from the bank. I didn’t have the courage to come alone…..so I requested Shuklaji to accompany me….sir has been suspended from work…
Poonam : Why?! Why has he been suspended? He goes to work everyday. All these years he has devoted to the bank….and now….suddenly…
Saurabh : He has not been coming to the bank for nearly month….that’s why I had to personally deliver this letter.
Poonam : But every morning…I would pack his tiffin… why has he been sacked?
Saurabh : Sir had actually started giving away money.
Shukla : Meaning… he was not distributing it……just to one…
Poonam : Who to?
Saurabh : Bhagwan sir…?
Poonam : He is not home. Tell me…
Saurabh : An old woman would come every month to collect her pension. Who knows why, Bhagwan sir started giving her 500 rupees extra. The manager asked him how did such a mistake happen. And sir said it was not a mistake….he did it deliberately. The manager asked – did she demand it? Sir said she hadn’t. Then there was a huge argument. When we tried reason with sir, he told us that he heard her ‘anguish’ (Saurabh wants to laughs but and suppresses it)…..Sorry…..and then, sir started muttering strangely like a mad man…I mean……I am not saying this ….but people in the bank were saying that giving away money like that is a sign of lunacy.. no?
Poonam : He is not mad…..!
Out of habit...I fumble for my future
in the lines on my palm
A something is hidden somewhere kind of miracle…..
Like a little cloud that always walks along
In the blaze of the sun, this little cloud is of no help
Like a spot on the palm….it just stays idle….
A spot is lucky
And it will bring gain.
And that’s why I cherish this little cloud.
Then I wish to go some place
Where the rain is born.
Where the clouds are dispersed
But maybe it’s too late
The thumb of my faith has become so stiff
That it refuses to bend to anyone else’s belief
And then I think of those fate lines
That vanished somewhere mid-way
In the hope of ‘He will one day live out my destiny’
They lay on my palm for a long time.
What was their destiny?
What new worlds awaited,
On the other side of these doors…
That I was never able to open…..
Then I saw something strange….
I saw… the lines on my palm had expanded…suddenly…
Now what are these lines?
Do these also have their own destiny? Their own doors?
No….they have nothing
Much later I understood, they mean nothing.
These are lines of silence.
Silence- of those lines that had risen up on my palms…
But I was never able to open their doors…
I’ve seen the truth….
Whenever a line has vanished from my palm
I’ve felt its silence on my brow
I feel it is this silence that ages it
feel this is the same silence that ages us
The day there is no space on the brow…
This silence will descend on to the face…..
And we will grow old
(Pinky is seated outside. Shukla emerges out from inside.)
Shukla : He is asleep. Where is Bhabhi?
Pinky : She has gone to make a phone call. Where was papa all week? Where did you find him?
Shukla : I don’t know where he was for a week…. I just found him in the park. He was sleeping on the bench.
Pinky: Meaning… he was in the park all of last week!?
Shukla : No….I had gone there earlier.. I don’t know where he was all these days…child….could you get me some water..
Pinky : I never told Ma. Or she would have panicked, but Uncle, Papa spoke to me a lot.
Shukla : What? What did he say?
Pinky : Anything. Stories, incidents. I could not understand much, but I loved listening to him talk. He was a little scared….when I asked him what the matter was…he said, ‘Enlightenment has happened to me.’
Shukla : Enlightenment ? What is that?
Pinky : No idea… and then he said… ‘I find everything around me very new….washed clean. I am living all over again, like a child I am going to become a child.’ So I asked him ‘What are you now?’ And he said – ‘Right now I am a lion and before that I was a camel’..
Shukla : What happened to him? How did this happen?...Did he ever tell you why he was anxious?
Pinky : He is not anxious. He is just scared. ….he is afraid….and that’s probably why he didn’t come home all these days.
Shukla : You should have told us all this before ……Scared of what? Of whom?
Pinky : Scared of contentment….
Shukla : Contentment?
Pinky : Yes…fear of becoming content …..Papa was saying that he felt content. A state that eliminates all purpose, all desires. He was saying….. ‘there is no purpose left ….except one…..just one desire….that I have to return to this house….everyday….to my family….to my daughter…..and he is afraid of losing even this purpose.
Shukla : I can’t understand any of this ….what else was he saying?
Pinky : And he would tell stories… from his childhood….from here and there….about Uncle…
Shukla : Who…who is this Uncle? He was saying that Uncle had come to meet him. Do you know where he lives?
Pinky : He lives here? I didn’t know that..
Poonam : Arre.. where is he?
Shukla : He is inside… sleeping …….let him sleep…..the doctor says he badly need rest
Poonam : I’ll just go in and check on him. ( Poonam goes inside)
Shukla : Does your mother know anything about this Uncle?
Pinky : She has never spoken to me about it.
( Poonam returns)
Poonam : Oh God! Just make him well. I don’t want anything more. Here….take this prasad. I made an offering for him. Everything will be alright. He came back home on his own didn’t he?
Shukla : No. He was asleep in the park. He was in a deep slumber. I tried hard to wake him up…then sprinkled water….but he still didn’t get up? I was really scared, with the help of some people, I tool him to the doctor. It was only after that , that he came to his senses.
Poonam : The doctor…..what did he say?
Shukla : He caught the doctor by the neck, and I don’t know what he was saying.. I couldn’t understand a word. He needed to be sedated to get all the tests done...the doctor only said to let him rest.
Poonam: Even I went to the park yesterday…….to search for him……he had told me it was a beautiful park…..but it looks like a ruin. There is a bench lying there. A couple of broken swings…and that’s it…
Shukla : And Bhabhi…..those people who helped me take him to the doctor were saying that this park has been shut for years now…. only he goes here….and keeps sitting on the bench. People have seen him muttering to himself…….or dancing….
Poonam: And the kids….?
Shukla: Or he would wave a newspaper in the air
Poonam: The kids….?
Shukla : Bhabhi….no kids go there to play
Poonam : Oh God! (She closes her eyes, she takes a deep breath and calms herself) Just last year, we went on a holiday, .do you remember Pinky….there were these mountains, a lot of snow.. Billu was there too. We made these four huge snowballs, made eyes out of marbles… Billu made one…Pinky another….and me. Pinky….go get that photo we clicked there..
Pinky : Ma……
Poonam : Go get the photo… Beta!
Shukla : Go Child …( Pinky goes inside) . Bhabhi…Bhabhi………who did you call?
Poonam: Ah yes, I called Billu, but he never has time. I even called up his brother, thinking maybe he went to his village. His brother told me that when he was twelve or thirteen years old, for some reason, his father had beaten him up and he had left home. No one knows where he was for two years. And when they found him…..it took another year to get him to utter a single word .. I tell you… it is all because of evil spirits.
Shukla : Bhabhi…all this is pointless talk… Bhagwan will be fine.
( From inside, the voice of Pinky’s screech is heard. She comes out running)
Pinky : Mummy……
Poonam : What happened….?
Pinky: Papa……Papa was not asleep…he was sitting up on the bed….I asked him ‘Are you ok? What happened?’ And he pounced on me and snatched the photo album from my hands and …( the sound of Bhagwan’s cough is heard. And he enters looking at the album….his head feels heavy. Every one is scared. Bhagwan comes straight to Poonam.)
Bhagwan : Poonam…..what day is it…..what is the date…( Poonam starts crying out of fear)….What happened Poonam….( Bhagwan sees the album again and starts smiling)
Bhagwan: All this is so beautiful….it’s lovely….( he throws the album on the floor) But what are we to do with all this beauty… sometimes, I remember my most beautiful dream….even my most beautiful dream….was not at all very beautiful ….even my dreams are like plucking lots of joys out of a little happiness.. Like a bird pecking on its food…..but when it finds a whole piece of bread….it doesn’t eat the whole piece….it starts pecking little pieces of bread from that big piece. From a whole big sky, we still peck our little share of sky. If we want to, we can see a big beautiful sky, but to be able to live, we only get the piece of sky, that we have learnt to pick out from the window of our home. ( Bhagwan starts laughing)
Shukla : Bhagwan…….( Shukla shouts. Poonam stops him)….Bhabhi…let me talk to him. This drama of his has been going on for many days now.. ( Shukla comes up to Bhagwan and starts talking in gibberish)
Shukla : + : : = “ ‘; _) %*&^*&^$^%%**&*& +++++/+/+///
Bhagwan : What are all of you saying? …..Pinky came inside and I didn’t know what she was saying….( Shukla again tries to say something when Bhagwan interrupts) What….what’s it?
Shukla : Bhabhi….I don’t know what he is saying. What language is this…..I can’t understand anything….what happened? ( He shakes Bhagwan)
Poonam : Bhaisaab…..please wait…..I’ll speak to him.
Bhagwan : What is all this……. Poonam….
Poonam : $%#$^%&^^&^****__+++++( Poonam starts to cry even as she says this)
Shukla : (starts to shout)
Bhagwan : I am not mad
Shukla : $%#^%%&^*&&(*&…..
Bhagwan : I am not mad……….
Shukla : $%#^%%&^*&&(*&…..
Bhagwan : I am not mad……….
SCENE – 6
Poonam : Namaskar……Doctor saab……I am Poonam…..his wife. Yes….he is a little better than before….he sleeps soundly. Till he doesn’t speak….he seems quite alright. But what do I tell you… he either has brain fever, or he is possessed by an evil spirit. Yea…..I believe in them…. I believe in everything. If someone tells me that rubbing my nose here a hundred times will cure my husband, I am willing to do it.. It’s been a whole year….and I am sick and tired of going from one doctor to another. Enough….it’s enough…..I can’t bear it anymore….please forgive me doctor….but will everything be alright…
Shukla : Namaskar…..my name is P.P.Shukla. I have a small cloth store here, below his house. My friendship with him goes back a long way. I’ve known him even before he got married. What happened…….sir…..only god knows… only god… I felt that there was something wrong somewhere. One day he came to me and said, ‘Shukla tell me something’. I said, ‘ask’…And he ‘When birds are born, do they buy their nests and trees, and do they select their gods?’ I said I didn’t think so. Then he said, if they carried all these burdens, they would never be able to fly… and he went away laughing. Now you tell me…….a person with a family, wife and kids….a decent job in a bank……does such talk suit him? Now nobody even understands what he says and what not.
Pinky : I am Pinky…my brother’s name is Billu. Papa loved me a lot……I mean he loves me… Yes….I did try to talk to him alone a couple of times….but…once he gave me a piece of paper and gestured for me to read it. When I opened that piece of paper, there were doodles on it.. they were strange. I am scared... I am scared of my own father.
Saurabh : Yes.. I know a lot of loonies like this. In the lot of them lose it…. Pardon me Doctor saab, you know better.. but tell me, in old age, can oldies utter anything but groans? Now with every such groan, if you start distributing money, the bank will be empty in two days. You can’t trust these mad people. In our village there was a mad man. He once broke a man’s head. …imagine! Let me tell you one thing, Doctor saab...there is no cure for these crazies…. It’s just a waste of time.
( Bhagwan comes in and behind him comes Mohan the beggar.)
Bhagwan : Poonam…..( then to Mohan)..come ….come on in.
Mohan : What boss……this is your house, right? …or we will both get thrashed.
Bhagwan : This is really my house. Poonam…Poonam….
Mohan: Who is Poonam?
Bhagwan: She is my wife…. Didn’t I tell you?
Mohan: No, I was asking….where is Poonam?
Bhagwan : She must have gone somewhere. Arre, you come inside.
Mohan: No. I am a beggar. I know my place. I am fine here.
Bhagwan : Ok… fine. I will just look inside and come back
( Bhagwan’s voice is heard from inside. He is asking Pinky something. Pinky comes out scared and Bhagwan follows her)
Bhagwan: Listen child………where is your mother? ….What happened to you…..ok look at me…Ma.. Ma…
Pinky : $#@$^%$^%%^%%>...”_-_--‘’
Bhagwan: Listen …what are you saying?!
Mohan : Should I tell you… should I……Ma has gone to bring some Baba……I am really scared…papa…papa…
Pinky : @!##@$#%$%&^>
Mohan : Who is this? This is some beggar. Papa…..you have brought this beggar….
Bhagwan : He understands what I say. I just wanted to let you know that I will get cured by myself. Come here…….Mohan….can you just tell her that…
Pinky : #$%%&^%&^%&^%&^&^&……….
Mohan : Papa, you have really gone mad. You stay away from me…
Bhagwan : Please listen to me child…
Pinky : %$^%^&(**(*(()()^$#$^%%&^^*….( Pinky runs out of the house)
Bhagwan: Pinky….where did she go? What was she saying?
Mohan : I am going to come back with Ma………ma…..ma….
Bhagwan : Why didn’t you stop her?
Mohan : She was so frightened (he starts laughing)
Bhagwan : Why are you laughing?
Mohan : Your game is up….my friend… I thought you were fooling me….what are you going to do now?
Bhagwan : I don’t know……I only know this much….that I want to return.
Mohan : Return? You are right here…
Bhagwan : That is what I want to explain my family.. that I am fighting to be here. And I want that…when Poonam comes back here…I want you to tell her once that I am trying….You saw, didn’t you, that they are nut understanding what I say?….And if they think this is some illness … only I can cure it.
Mohan : Look. I will try….but I don’t know whether or nor they will understand my words. By the way…what happened to you? Pardon me, it is making me laugh, but I really want to know.
Bhagwan : You know something…..as a child…I would sing a hymn with my father. ‘O Shankar mere….Kab honge darshan tere’….my father would sing this song with so much involvement and devotion….Everyday I would think that if I were Shankar, I would definitely have appeared to my father…and then what would my father have done…..And this thought got stuck in my head. Really…what would my father have done? I kept thinking of this for many months and roamed around with my father and finally, one day I asked him…. ‘father what would you do?’ He ignored the question.. But I wanted an answer. So, when ever he would be in front of me I would ask him ‘What would you do?’. One day he got really angry and beat me up… a lot…but the question still remained unanswered. So after a few days I ran away from home. Then I don’t remember what happened. My family tells me that I was missing for two years and later I was admitted to a mental hospital for a while, and they say, that I had forgotten everything…meaning, I had become alright.
Mohan : Were you alright then….?
Bhagwan : After we sweep the house, we feel it’s totally clean. But actually, the dirt is all right there, outside the house and in hiding in corners, lying in wait
Mohan: Listen pal, I will try my best to explain your family… I have seen that nobody is listening to you…but then even can’t understand, what to tell them… I mean…..what do I tell them, what’s the matter with you?
Bhagwan: ‘Does the world ever come up to you and say –look here I am’…( Ramana Maharishi)…I don’t remember when and where I heard this line, ….which, like the dirt in the house….is lying in wait outside just my door for a who knows how long One day, when I was going home, soaked in sweat, without a thought in my head, just like an empty well….it felt like somebody had turned me numb…. Then, at that very moment, this line grabbed me tight.. ‘Does the world ever come up to you and say – look here I am’….That was the first time I went and sat down on that park bench. After a while, I stopped sweating. I straightened my shoulders and opened out my arms as if I had just spotted a long lost friend and wanted to embrace him. Just then felt as is someone came to sit beside me, he suddenly moved close to me and whispered in my ear ‘Does the world ever come up to you and say – look here I am’…and I started trying to reply..that day …the next day….for weeks…months …and then I started feeling everything around me was washed clean. As if someone had scrubbed everything hard with soap……the roads…the garbage cab...all the animals….that furrows under the eyes of that cobbler sitting in the corner….the whole city…..everybody….and then I started to see those lines…
Mohan : Lines..?
Bhagwan : Lines…..like those on the palm….and those on your brow …..there were lined just like those on the ground….like a pathway had opened up.
Mohan : Meaning?
Bhagwan : Like in this house…..can’t you see these lines?
Mohan No……where are they?
Bhagwan : Right now they have gone a bit blurred, because from a while now, I have been crossing my lines.. and why the whole house is upset. …the lines of our lives, of our movements are spread all over the town….like your lines….no….I didn’t see your lines….Mohan….
Mohan: You didn’t see ……because I never move. I sleep at the spot where I do my business. People like us have to sit so much at one spot so that people begin to feel that we have sprouted there and will, one day, seep in there …wait…how do you know my name is Mohan? I have never told anyone my name till date.
Bhagwan: I even know the name of that little bird that’s chirping outside. Nowadays I am a little angry with it….that’s why see how it’s trying to pacify me.
Mohan : Your wife hasn’t returned yet?
Bhagwan : She must be on her way.
Mohan: Listen…..for some time I haven’t been able to tell this to anyone….now that you are listening to me….can I tell you something?
Bhagwan: Go on
Mohan: The food that I eat…sometimes people’s leftovers …or often scraped from somewhere, while eating…I always wonder if the taste I get while eating it is the same as the taste the others get, or am I tasting some other flavour? I always slurp my food with. Even now, see…my mouth is watering.
Bhagwan : Can you tell me exactly, what taste you get?
Mohan: Yes..this …this one…I just had it now….wait…yes …this….this one….oh…
Bhagwan: You can’t tell… No one can tell. I also have the same problem…..the taste I get from my food…..I am unable to describe to anyone
( Mohan starts singing a song. From behind an old man (baba) can be seen walking in, sprinkling something along the way. He goes in. Pinky and Poonam come.)
Poonam : Who is this, Pinky?
Pinky : Didn’t I tell you that Papa got some beggar home…
Bhagwan : Mohan….my wife is here…..tell her all that I told you……quick..
Mohan : Ok ….I’ll try…( Mohan goes near Poonam) ….uh….uh….uh…
( Mohan comes back to Bhagwan)…didn’t I tell you…these people won’t understand what I’m saying.
Bhagwan: Why won’t they understand….? You speak……you tell them
Mohan : uh…..uh….uh….
Baba : Throw this dumb fellow outside! ( Poonam and Pinky drag Mohan outside but he runs and comes back inside again. Poonam and Pinky, catch hold of him again and throw him out.)
Here Bhagwan and Baba are left alone. Bhagwan wants to get away from Baba out of fear. Baba grabs him by the hair and drags him around the house, chanting mantras. He sprinkles something on him, drags him to the centre of the stage, and slaps him. By then Pinky and Poonam come inside.)
Pinky : Papa…
( There is a black out. The sound of slaps is heard. The lights are back. Bhagwan is lying there unconscious while Baba, Pinky and Poonam are standing behind)
Baba : Now leave him here alone, all night. Lock the door from outside. He’ll be fine by morning. Come along now
Poonam : Beta….get the key…
(Pinky brings the key. Everyone leaves. Black out. Then the lights come on. Bhagwan gets up moaning goes towards the wing and sits down there. Suddenly there is a strong light from the wing falls on Bhagwan’s face. Like the sun has risen. Just then Bhagwan sees Chacha Chaudhury there. )
Bhagwan : Uncle.. Chachajii….
Uncle: Those who are dancing are always though of as mad by those who can’t hear the music ( Nietzsche)
Bhagwan : I want to come back. Uncle….I am not the same...I no longer want to know everything….It was a pleasure earlier….not now….Everything is slipping out of my hands. I can’t bear it.
Uncle : When you had run away after that beating from your father, what were you? Then you were a camel….a camel…..that was wandering aimlessly in the desert bent double with the burden of its own soul…till now…. You have only just been transformed and can stand straight… Now you are a lion that wants to rule in the same desert. God says – you must do this. The lion says – won’t do it. For you…all the values and boundaries are without context. You want to rewrite everything afresh, and in the process of this re-writing, you will soon undergo another transformation…..and you will become an infant… a child...and that’s what is necessary…that is the new beginning, which is also what you desire. (Nietzsche)
Bhagwan : Did I really want to achieve this? Then why do I see everyone weeping and beating me up….
Uncle : Now that is guilt…when everyone in the village was stoning the boatman and driving him out of the village… you too had a stone in your hands.
Bhagwan : Yes….but I did not throw it at him.
Uncle : You didn’t throw it at him ,but you did not save him either. And now when you yourself are talking to a bird…how can you stop those stones that are seen in other people’s hands.
Bhagwan : Can’t I stop all this……how did all this suddenly happen?
Uncle : All this did not happen suddenly….I have been with you since your childhood and did you ever think why you named your kids Billu and Pinky? Weren’t these your favorite characters from comic books?
Bhagwan : No… I liked Sabu the most… Where is Sabu…..Uncle…didn’t you bring Sabu with you?
Uncle : I have brought him along...he is waiting outside.
Bhagwan : Sabu…..Sabu……( Bhagwan goes outside. He tries to open the door but it is locked from outside. Bhagwan comes back.) Please call him in, I want to meet him.
Uncle : He wants to meet you too. But what to do…..you have made your house so tiny….that Sabu cannot come in here. But as soon as you become an infant, he will come inside…..not just him….everything will come inside.
Bhagwan : Uncle….cant we get both these pleasure together?
Uncle: You are talking like humans now
Bhagwan : I feel like I am swimming in the river against a strong current. I keep swimming and swimming but never seem to reach anywhere…..and if I stop swimming, then I’m afraid the river will carry me along. What do I do now….why is all this so difficult?
Uncle : It is all very easy. In this world….life is as simple as that of a bird. But we have created so many tales and fables on ‘How to live’ that it now feels that only a Buddha can live like this. We cannot manage it… whereas a bird just lives like it has to.
Bhagwan: But who am I……and what am I searching for?
Uncle : You are not searching for anything. You have just discovered that you have been separated from your home…from yourself…from your being….and you just want to return home…and you are walking in that direction.
Bhagwan: Have you seen god?
Uncle : You need to ask if you have seen god. This is your enlightenment , you already know this .
Bhagwan : Have I seen god?
Uncle : I have not seen god…..but yes….I have had a dream
Bhagwan: Yes….in that dream, I saw a pond … covered with moss…( Ramakrishna Paramahamsa)
Uncle : At that moment, there came a gust of wind, and slowly the moss started to move to one side
Bhagwan : And then I saw blue water.
Uncle : So I thought this blue water is the truth….it is god.., and then another gust of wind blew the moss right back over the pond
Bhagwan : Then I this must have been Maya… an illusion.
Uncle: That is the truth…..that is also illusion…. Both cannot live without each other. Ha ha ha..
Bhagwan: Ha…ha…ha….Uncle…..come, let’s go and sit in the park. I have so much to tell you.
Uncle : No. I’ll leave now. You rest…..you need rest.
Bhagwan : Now when will you come and meet me again?
Uncle : When you call me…..
Bhagwan : Why don’t you stay with me ….. here in this house?
Uncle : Didn’t I tell you, when you become a child….not just me, everybody….the whole world will start living with you. ( Uncle starts to leave). Does the world ever come to you and say – look, here I am?
Bhagwan: Uncle. Yes it does say, but now I don’t want to hear it. What will I do with the whole sky….when I haven’t even learnt to fly in it…I only want to live as much of the sky as I can see from the little window in my house.
Uncle: So fine…..consider this to be our last meeting.
( Uncle leaves humming a song, and Bhagwan also starts singing the same song and then slowly he starts dancing. Bhagwan’s song and dance start getting scary when it ends with his scream) FADE OUT
SCENE – 8
( Bhagwan is seen sitting in the park, defeated)
I thought it was golden, it turned out to be black
Just then a wave of sleep came by
And I turned it golden again
Now….for fear of the morning…
I am sitting up in my sleep
Either I wake and find it black
Or I let it remain golden forever….
.. and never awaken,
SCENE – 9
( Bhagwan is seen sitting and working with a lot of papers and his behaviour seems so normal, that is abnormal. Pinky is getting ready to go out.)
Pinky : Ma…hurry up… I’m getting late for college…..and Papa….you haven’t left yet. Shuklaji must be waiting.
Bhagwan : I was just going through the accounts of his shop…I didn’t realize how time flew
Pinky : Did you forget to take your medicine again?
Bhagwan: Did I forget?.( Poonam enters)
Pinky : Did you take your medicine?
Bhagwan : I’ll just take it
Poonam : Oh… haven’t you left yet?
Bhagwan : Okay, it’s just done… done.
Pinky : Ma…come on…I am getting late!
Poonam : Come…shut the door when you leave. I have a key with me. (just then the bell rings and Pinky goes to answer it)
Pinky : Ma…….
Poonam : Who is it?
Pinky : Him….
Poonam : Who… who is it?
Pinky : That beggar is here…
Bhagwan : Who? …..I….I….want to meet him. Shall I.. now am totally alright.
Poonam : But please so to the shop fast. I’ll inform Shuklaji. Don’t forget to take your medicine . Pinky…..come on..
Pinky : Ma….?
Poonam : Nothing will happen……you come along.( both of them leave) Go on, he is sitting inside.
( Mohan comes inside and hugs Bhagwan and offers him a gift)
Mohan : uh….a…a..a….
Bhagwan : Now I can’t understand what you are saying. Now you are just a mute beggar for me.
Mohan : uh…a….aa…aa….
Bhagwan : No Mohan……Isn’t your name Mohan?... I remember this only because I haven’t taken my medicine as yet.
Mohan : (What’s this medicine) aa…a..a…..aa…
Bhagwan : I don’t know. Didn’t I tell you that I wanted to return? After a lot of effort when I still wasn’t able to return, I took the easy way out. I thought I’d die. I got these pills with great difficulty. As soon as I swallowed them, I started feeling drowsy. One hand got numb, my head started getting heavy. Just then someone came up to me and said ‘You are standing in the middle of the road. Please come this way’. I thanked him.. He left without saying anything. And then I saw that I understood everything….and everyone understood what I was saying. That’s it. I was cured. I still don’t sleep too well, this hand stays slightly numb, my head constantly feels heavy……they say I am getting better….now I am normal.
( Mohan takes the medicines in his hands and gestures towards Bhagwan)
This …..this is actually a broom….that I need to sweep my house with everyday……so like everybody else’s my house stays clean too.
( Mohan tries to drag Bhagwan to the other side and gestures while dancing that he should go towards the direction of enlightenment. Bhagwan moves back )
Bhagwan : Why do I need enlightenment…what use is the whole truth to me….if I am to be on this side of life….then I can make do with very little …a little truth…a little happiness…a few dreams. If you need it all then you have to go to the other side….completely. To stay on this side and talk of that side, is also a fallacy……it’s like fooling yourself….I don’t want to make a fool of myself anymore.
Mohan : ( He wants to break the bottles of medicine) aa….aaa…..aaa..!!
Bhagwan : No…please…...I beg of you ..( Mohan puts the medicines back)
Bhagwan : Mohan…..now I am a unit….not of this world….I don’t want to have anything to do with this world. I am like one unit of this world that we have created, of this society, and I have to live like a pinch of salt in food… Not more. Not less. Just enough to lend a kind of flavour to the food… always
(Bhagwan tries to take his medicine. Mohan stops him and asks permission to leave. He leaves the gift on the table and goes away. Bhagwan takes his medicine. He picks up all his papers and starts to leave. Just then he hears the chirping of a bird and he stops to look back)
Are you angry? Forgive me…I’ll never be able to understand you now.