Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Adapted script of Mathilukal (Walls) for performance
(The entire play is played out on two sides of a wall in prison with a woman on one side and a man on another.)
Narayani- When will I see the outside world? All I can do is sit here and pluck the grass in this jail hoping that one day I will be out of here.
(Sound of whistling.)
Narayani- Who is it?
Basheer- It’s me.
N- Did you whistle?
N- What is your name?
B- Basheer. What is your name?
N- (Looks around) Narayani.
B- Nice name. How old are you?
B- Nice age.
N- (Looks around) Who did you kill and come here?
B- I didn’t kill anyone. I’m here because I am a freedom fighter. The government found something wrong in what I wrote.
N- Oh. So, you are a writer?
N- People say that you can’t trust writers.
B- Who said so? I am not like that. You can trust me. Tell me. How long have you been here?
N- One year.
B- I also have been here for a year. So we came about the same time to this jail. Who did you kill Narayani?
N- I didn’t kill anyone. But I slashed someone with a knife.
B- Narayani. Tell me your story.
N- Why? You want to write a novel or what?
B- No. I want to save it in my heart.
N- Then I will tell you.
N- My father and mother have four children. Three sons and one daughter. My brothers got married and left. I stayed as a burden with my parents. One day they made me marry a drunkard. Are you listening?
B- Tell me.
N- One day my husband drank too much and went somewhere. What could I do? I should also live, isn’t it? I still wonder what kind of a man he is to go just like that.
B- What a man indeed. If it was me, I would have hugged you and stayed in the house.
N- Don’t lie.
B- No, it’s true. Then say. What happened afterwards?
N- What else? I started going for work. My boss had an eye on me. One day he came and caught my hand. I took a knife and slashed his hand.
B- If I would have seen him, I would have killed him.
N- Don’t strangle him from here. (Laughs) Nothing will happen to him. (Pause) Will you give me a rose plant?
B- How did you know that there is a rose plant here?
N- Oh. It is a jail no. Everyone knows everything. There are no secrets here. (Pause) Will you give me a rose plant? Will you? Won’t you give me a rose plant?
B- Narayani, I will give you all the plants in this world.
N- Aiyo. I want only one.
B- Narayani, stay right here. I will bring. (Pause) Narayani, Narayani. (She hides) Narayani.
B- Where were you when I called? (She runs to the wall)
N- I was behind this wall.
N- I was hiding here.
B- You naughty girl.
N- Did you bring the rose plant? Did you. ……….Oyi……..writer.
N- Why are you silent?
B- Why did you call so lovingly?
N- If I would have called lovingly.
B- Yes, if you would have?
N- If I would have called lovingly, God would have come in front of me.
B- (Laughs). God won’t come in front of anyone. God is near us. God is love, light……Catch this rose.
N- Wait. Put it high.
B- Okay. Catch it. Catch. (Throws) (Catches)
B- Did you get it?
N- Yes. (Holds it close to her.) Why were you quiet?
B- I was thinking about you and holding you.
N- Where on the wall? (Laughs)
B- I held every rose and petal and thought of you.
N- God, I feel like crying.
N- I am going to keep each rose in a special place.
B- Where. In your hair? Those roses are special. It has my love. Be careful with them.
N- I will.
B- Remove the knot and dig a hole.
N- Let me search for a pot. (Searches and finds) Pot is ready.
B- Put the roses in the name of God in it. Put some water. Say good morning to it every morning. And ask when it will give you a flower.
N- When will you give me a flower? Won’t people think I am mad? I have to go now. When I come again I will put a stick on the other side of the wall. You should come. Don’t forget.
(Both go off stage and come back.)
(Narayani throws sticks and gets angry. She then sits on the floor. After a pause Basheer speaks.)
B- Narayani. Narayani.
N- What do you want?
B- Are you angry?
N- What else? My hand is paining after throwing so many sticks.
B- I will massage them.
N- Then massage. (Saying this she stands close to the wall) I am close to the wall.
B- I am stroking the wall. Narayani, what did you do with the rose?
N- Why do you want to know?
B- Did you throw it away?
N- If I did?
B- That was my heart. (Music)
B- Then Narayani. How many women are there?
N- Only me.
B- Tell the truth. How many are there?
N- Quite a bit. All are old women.
B- How many?
B- How many young and how many old women?
N- 86 old women and 1 young woman.
N- Then. (Laughs) Aiye. How do you look?
B- I am brown skinned, have a long nose and am slightly balded. I have big eyes.
N- (Laughs) Even I have big eyes. What about your chest?
B- I have a broad chest.
N- Even I have a broad chest.
B- Can you smell me?
N- No. The darned wall.
B- Shall I put something on your side?
B- Catch (Throws a packet) Did you get it?
N- Yes. I got it. Chips. Shall I give to everyone here?
B- Yes. Give to everyone in our name.
N- Will you love me?
B- Yes. Why do you doubt?
N- There are many women here. Beautiful women. I am not so beautiful.
B- I am also not handsome.
N- Have you loved anyone?
B- Yes. So many.
N- Hmm. Womaniser.
B- It’s not like that. I didn’t say that they loved me. It was one sided.
N- Oh. I got scared for a moment.
B- But why should you get scared?
N- That you don’t need to know.
N- Listen. Is Narayani one among the countless women?
B- Narayani, you represent all women. I love you like my life.
N- You are lying. Can’t trust writers. You will tell everyone you see the same thing.
B- No. I only have my Narayani.
N- I don’t have anyone. Don’t promise me things. I want to see you.
B- I also want to see you.
N- I haven’t seen you and yet I feel I know you more than anyone I have seen.
B- All this while I wanted to escape from here. But now I don’t want to go anywhere. There is a jail outside these walls. I don’t want to go anywhere.
N- You are just saying this to please me. If freed, anyone will go from here.
B- Tell me now, how do we meet?
N- There is one way. I will try to come to the jail dispensary.
B- I will run to you when I see you.
N- How will you recognize me? Aah. There is a black mark on my left hand. (Jumps to show)
B- I will have a red rose with me.
N- Will you miss me?
B- I will remember you when I see the walls of this world.
N- Can I cry?
B- Not now. Cry later. When are you coming to the dispensary?
N- Tomorrow 10 in the morning. I have something urgent to tell you.
B- What is it?
N- I will tell you tomorrow.
N- (Runs around and throws sticks. Holds the wall and throws sticks.) Basheer. Writer. My love.
Voice- Yesterday they released a prisoner. A writer. They released him.
N- You are lying. Go away. Come Basheer.
Voice- They have released him.
N- (Cries. Holds the wall.) My God. You made me alone again. No. He will come. He said he will come to the dispensary. My black mark. (Throws sticks.) Come. (Wipes tears.) Didn’t you ask about the red rose. Whether I threw it? It is inside me, in my soul. Can you hear me?
Pictures credit- Deepak