O: A woman who liked to date

Pablo: The poet who only speaks in rhyme

Ruth: A psychotic old friend of O’s

Brave Lion: The corporate stooge

Parmveer Singh Bhatia: The gentlemanly scholar

The Husband: The man who O ends up with










Act 1

Scene 1

O sits in her living room, on a couch, flipping through a photo album. There are three screens behind her and a fourth of the same dimensions which is an entrance from the back of the stage. The three screens are fashioned after doors. The front portion of the stage is a balcony which only has an easy chair where O is sitting with her cup of tea and an album. She’s wearing a cotton night-gown. She looks a bit dejected, slightly melancholy. She’s just had a fight with husband.

O (Muttering to herself): What an old fart… If only he was half the man that… (affectionately stroking the picture on her lap).  Arthritic Neanderthal….Where’s the romance? Where’s the affection? All I’m doing is cleaning up his shit from morning till night.

The husband’s voice booms from behind the stage.

HUSBAND: I heard that.

O: I’ll remember to whisper next time.

HUSBAND: No don’t. How will I hear all the good things you say about me then?

O: You say it as if there are good things to say.

HUSBAND: You wouldn’t be thumbing down that decaying album if there weren’t.

O: That was a different place, a different time… (softly, so her husband doesn’t hear her), a different person.

HUSBAND (somewhat pitifully): I’m an old man now O. Have some heart.

O (reminiscing with a sigh): I used to have a lot of it when I was young. (Chuckling) I had a condition.

HUSBAND: O my dear, don’t be an ‘o’ nerous bitch. Come sit with me.

O (flippantly): Go away. Don’t repeat those tired O jokes now. Your ‘o’cean has dried up, you’ve become ‘o’bnoxious and unless you want the ‘o’pen door of my kindness to dis(ho)nourably close, leave me alone with my memories for some time.

The husband’s frustrated mutterings fade away and the focus is on O.

O: Hmm… I can remember that time so clearly. Pablo and I, against the world. Why did we drift apart?

The lights fade away as O sinks back to her reverie.




Act 2

Scene 1

The left portion of the stage  is a bachelorette pad tastefully done up with the quirkiest knick knacks. Pablo is sitting in a lounge chair by the window. It’s a glorious day and he is admiring a bunch of jacarandas floating in a vase.. A jungle green creeper has taken over parts of the space and sunlight slinks into the house from any opening it can find. Pablo has a worn book on his lap which he occasionally reads and contemplates holding the jacaranda bunch in both his palms. O is smoking a cigarette on the low-seated bed. The covers are pulled up to her neck. Pablo is on the left cornerof the stage and O is sitting slightly to the right with her head turned towards Pablo. The middle potion has a sette, a fridge and mini bar (or other adornments of a living room). The right portion is a dining area. Initially only the left is lit up.

O (Taking a long drag and starting her sentence precisely after her blow is complete): What are you thinking?

PABLO: As such, not much…

O: You must be thinking something.

PABLO: This jacarandas you know, remind me of Sao Paulo

O: They’re beautiful aren’t they?


Quite so.

(abruptly letting the bunch go)

I don’t like how they smell though.

O: Whaaat?! They smell divine.


Some old memories linger on like this perfume

A whiff is all it takes to exhume

Those events long buried, but olfactory

reminiscences  end up being refractory

O: Was it that bad? That it needed you to forget to remember.

PABLO: Perhaps.

O (encouragingly): But it’s over now. You’re back. And you’re with me.

PABLO (Turning around excitedly facing O):

Yesss, I know darling.

You can’t imagine how happy I am to be

Here, this place is so full of profundity.

And you are like the centre of this verse,

this petite universe.

O (affectionately): I know dear. I’ll put you right. I’ll fix you.

PABLO (hunting agitatedly for something beneath the covers):

The loveliest lines just crossed my mind.

I have to write them down but I can’t find

That damned pen! Quick! Before it flies away

Where is it? Where is it I say?!

O (joining him in the hunt, muttering): It was right here somewhere. Where’d it go?

PABLO (exasperated):

Fuck it…

(wide eyed, an idea striking him) I know what we can do.

Let me recite it to you.

We can both memorize it. OOO (clapping)

O (a little unsure): Ohk, I guess.

PABLO (seating her on the divan,clasping her hands in his own, slowly, poetically, reciting):

(As he recites, song starts playing, with specific phrases, highlighted, rising above the recorded song)

When I saw you standing there
I about fell off my chair
When you moved
your mouth to speak
I felt the blood go to my feet

Now it took time for me to know
What you tried so not to show
Something in my soul just cried
I see the want in your blue eyes

Chorus :
Baby, I’d love you to want me
The way that I want you
The way that it should be
Baby, you’d love me to want you
The way that I want to
If you’d only let it be

There is a pause, when both wait for the poem to sink in.

O: That was lovely.

PABLO: Thank you.

O: Will you tell me about it?

PABLO: It was painful, don’t doubt it.

O (earnestly): I won’t, I promise.

As Pablo starts speaking, he loses himself in his memories and his enthusiasm for O has abruptly disappeared. O takes out a bottle of wine from her refrigerator and two wine glasses standing in a tastefully done up mini-bar. She fills the glasses and takes them and the bottle to the sofa. She seats herself very close to him almost on his lap. This distance increases through the course of the scene. Although O is trying to be physically affectionate, there is awkwardness in how their hands and legs are intertwined. Pablo is in turn wooden in his body language and extremely demonstrative in his demeanour.


She was a broken woman, she was so…tender

And she thought I could mend her.

O (with ill-concealed awe): How did you meet her? …You were the heartthrob of the college. I had such a huge crush on you. Everyone did.

PABLO: Hmmm…

O: And then you just disappeared. We thought it was part of your magic. That something as…magnificent as your intellect was never meant to last in our presence.

PABLO (wearing the praise lightly, almost ignorant of it):


It was never meant to last…

O: I was surprised when I saw you after three years. I didn’t think we’d end up together.


Hmmm… I guess it was destiny

and you were meant to meet me

I needed you and plus

You’re my muse, my canvas.

O: Haha. You don’t mean that.

PABLO (growing serious, decisively):

You are…

So far….

You want to know?

What happened so long ago?

O: Yes baby.


I met this woman in Cameroon.

She was married to an Arabic goon

She had two kids, the girl was sixteen

The younger boy had just turned thirteen

O: Uh huh


As things happened around the world

On foreign lands, capitalists flags unfurled

As the towers bit the humble dust

And definitions of what was just

Changed, twisted according to

Who you bowed in supplication to

This guy turned radical. And not just religiously

Spiritually, mentally, physically, sexually

She bore the brunt of his aggression.

And not just her, so did the son.

O: How bad was it?


She had to run away. She took her kids and also

bag, baggage, her life, to Sao Paulo

where she got a new job and a new identity.

She was working in the university

and wanted me to come to her

and share her sorrows that November

O: And you went…

PABLO(somewhat defensive about his decision):

It was hard, I couldn’t say no

I had to; I had no choice but to go

There was this magnetic pull.

She was so scarred, it was almost beautiful.

I didn’t have plans to stay on though.

I’d taken the winter hols off, O,

to visit her. I would’ve come and gone

Unfortunately as you know, that stretched on…

O: For three years?



I spent the last nine months in a drab,

impersonal, West Coast, rehab.

O (completely absorbed): What did she do to you?


I was everything to her, she depended on me.

Her mind, her soul were latched, virally

She was alive only when I was with her, a wreck otherwise.

There were times she would grab me between her thighs

and shout at me in Arabic, as if those words

emblazoned in her mind needed to burst

out of her for her mind to be silent

as if her peace could come only if she was violent.

O: Violent? She hurt… hit you?


Many times. And it only got worse.

She hit me compulsively. She cursed.

Earlier it had been casual, an act of lusty experience.

Later…whenever she thought I couldn’t understand her. Or if she sensed

I wasn’t looking into her eyes when she spoke.

She made us exchange vials of our blood and broke

them thinking I got them from a med

Or if she thought I was being aggressive in bed.

O: Oh my God, why did she want blood?

PABLO (He puts his arms around his legs as he says this):

As some sort of contract, a kind of surety.

With that amount of hurt and resentment and complexity.

it was so hard being with her. So hard feeling.

It was as if she was hiding in some corner but not healing.

Hiding from the shadows of her hatred towards everyone.

And I was her toy who she needed to clutch on to, her companion

O: How did you end up in rehab?


After a year with her I was already pretty derailed.

And this is when she got leukaemia and her liver failed

Her nature had manifested itself in her blood.

And her liver had drowned in the alcoholic flood

She wanted me to stay with her and take care of her,

more spiritually than physically.  To suffer.

Also she’d found out that her husband had been looking afar.

She grew paranoid. I used to sit with her for hours

reciting poetry to soothe her. I couldn’t look her in the eye though.

I’d lost my will. She probably realized that but instead of letting me go,

clutched on to me. I left her finally in her last stage.

Her children told me to go and save myself from her craze.

O (even-voiced): So you left?


Not immediately. You know how art was patronized

The Great Artists were commissioned by kings and colonized

the cities of Paris, Vienna, Venice- they came in hordes

encouraged in the Romantic and Victorian eras by nobles and lords.

I saw her as my patron, the savior of my art.

She’d already put enough grief in my heart

to make me whole as an artist and I thought

she’d leave me something as a token for what

I’d sacrficed for her for those two years.

She had a huge estate and she knew I was in arrears.

O: Oh…mm…so you…mm…waited?


For a while. I left before.

When I couldn’t take it anymore.

She died a month later.

Perhaps I should have waited

O: I’m sorry baby.

PABLO (lighting up):

But it’s all alright now.

I have you. (admiring her) Wow.

O: You do have me baby.


And we’ll create the most beautiful verses there are.

You can be my jacaranda, my tended roses, my wild flower

my tight verse, my light rhyme, my gentle digress,

my broken heart, my rehab, my Spain, my Brazil, my U.S.

O (tittering): I’m just going to be on your side watching you make magic.


No no, you must be in the middle.

Being my conscience, guiding my pen, solving my riddles.

O: If you say so darling…But don’t you think you’re putting too much of your hopes on me? I told you about my condition, didn’t I..


What condition, may I….?

O: I can’t be loyal to you.



O (with a certain flair):

I have three hearts or more like three separate beating hearts in one space. It’s called Tricardiosis. (diva-ishly) I like to ‘try’ out people from time to time.


And you can’t love me

with all three hearts synchronously?

O: Going by my track record, I don’t think so. But there is so much to you Pablo. Maybe all three of my hearts will, in fact, beat in sync for you. But I don’t know. I can’t say.


Let’s not think about that. I need you now.

If you are with me here, then how,

can it mean that just a third of you, dear,

and no more is yearning to be here?

O: Is that really so? It might just be that I am here because I can’t be elsewhere. And a third of me is all yours, all hundred per cent. And the other two third is just dormant. Can’t that be so?


So really what you are saying to me

is that you can never love me wholly?

O: I can. I do. Right now, I am completely in love with you. There is no one else in my mind. But will it stay that way?


I’ll make it, I’ll find a way.

O: I know you can baby. I’m just afraid of myself.


This delicate insecurity, these creases, these

fractures- this is what I love about you. Please,

I don’t think I can ever leave you. And you

Can’t leave me. We can create this world anew

with my words. Come let’s make love

and make poetry with you below and me above…

O (hesitantly): But I don’t know any…


It’s ok. Can you recall

the one I read that day, the small

one? Recite that one doll.

O: Oh alright.

Slowly, haltingly

Somewhere within your loving look I sense,
Without the least intention to deceive,
Without suspicion, without evidence,
Somewhere within your heart the heart to leave

She recites and makes a mistake. Pablo gently pats her on her cheek.


You poor thing.

Not like that, begin

Like this, and let’s sing


Both of them read out the lines together, slowly and happily. The lights fade away.



















Act 3

Scene 1

The scene starts from the same pose from where the last one left off. The room looks decrepit and gloomy. It’s autumn now. The jacarandas in the vase have withered. The decor in the room is such that the same objects, arranged in a different way, look sinister. For example, a tribal mask with a smile has light reflected on it in a way that it looks vicious. Or a small Mughal window which was closed and looked like it would open to the sunlight is now completely open with a black space inside. There are various dubious looking characters lying across the room either sprawled asleep or smoking/smoking up or talking with an unnaturally high pitched exuberance, each not listening to the other. In the middle, on the same couch as before, Pablo and O are sitting straight, reciting poetry. There is a maniacal look on Pablo’s face and a scared, tired look on O’s. She is wearing a short flowery dress but her dishevelled hair and smudged make up are evidences that all, in fact, is not well in paradise. There is a woman with a pronounced limp but very attractive otherwise, younger than O, who is evidently crazy, playing with her pills, flitting from one end of the other of the front portion of the stage. She too, is wearing attractive summery clothes. O is eyeing her warily.

During this entire scene, O is changing the paraphernalia and the furniture in a way that it starts resembling a corporate household- wrought iron, modern art, lots of blacks and greys and whites. She does this in an obsessive compulsive way, neither bringing attention to herself nor giving up her pursuit.

PABLO (very loud, almost shouting and enacting):

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-season’d showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then better’d that the world may see my pleasure:
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starved for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

O, half sobbing, half murmuring, repeats each line as he finishes but is drowned by his brutish voice.

There is a pause after the sonnet with Pablo and O being in mock master-slave pose and the light capturing the manic look on Pablo’s face and the defeated look on O’s. As the stage lights up, O raises herself from her crouched posture.

O (pleading): Can we stop now? I can’t remember any more. I can’t recite any more. I can’t understand what I’m saying.


But why? There’s much to improve.

We were just getting into the groove.

Shakespeare is so vigorous, so bold.

We should read more before we fold.

O: No no no. Please no. No more for today. I’m too tired. And there’s so much to do. I have to clean up. There’s so much to clean up.


Fine, whatever, I’ll let it be.

Get me a steaming coffee.

Domestic nonsensicality!

O: Please Pablo. There’s nothing in the house. There’s no food. No money. I haven’t been out for days. I feel like I’m draining out of myself and into your poems. I don’t feel any joy. I just feel like a hare being chased by these hounds. Shakespeare and Tyson and Pope and holding the searchlights and their lines are running after me, gaining ground every moment, snarling and yapping these aesthetic lines till they finally pin me down to the ground and tear out every lyric I have. I need a break. Please.


It’s ok, I get it, I understand. You should get your strength back. We’ll start again in the evening. I think we’re on to something big.

O: No I meant…never mind.

He skulks off to a corner. O starts setting the room in order.

O: Who are these people? Do I know any of them? When did they come here?

She nudges one with her toe. He briefly stirs, mumbles something and then goes back to sleep.

O (Looking around): There’s so much filth here. I have to clean up, I have to get rid of this dirt. There’s so much dirt.

She starts coughing clutching her right breast.

O: Ahhh. My…Fuck…Oh my God…Can’t …breathe…can’t. My heart. My heart.

She steadies herself and stumbles to a stool still clutching her chest. She’s pain stricken. Ruth has been tracking her activities from a corner carefully. She now approaches her tepidly

RUTH: Are you alright?

O (still struggling): What does it look like?

RUTH: I dunno. Are you or aren’t you fine? You looked bad a few moments back.

O: Never been better. I think I just popped an artery.

RUTH: Oh congratulations. That sounds like fun.

O: Of course. Couldn’t you see me writhe on the ground with pleasure?

RUTH: Oh that’s what it was!

O: No you idiot. I was dying in pain.

RUTH (subdued): Oh. I don’t quite understand.

O (irritably): I have a condition- Trycard…Bicardiosis. I have a tendency to say bye.

RUTH (flustered): Oh..I see. Does that hurt?

O (melancholy): Losing a third of your heart…yes…it does hurt. But I can’t help it. It’s a condition.

RUTH: I’m sorry.

O: It’s ok. Don’t be sorry for my heart. It’s got a lot of space yet.

RUTH: No. It’s not that. I think I burnt your rug in the kitchen.

O (staring wide eyed for a moment and then rushing towards the exit): You blithering idiot. You dumbfuck. What the hell man..what the hell. Where am I? What is this place?

Ruth listens to O rant for a while and then settles into the sofa/pillows. O returns incensed.

O: Who sent you here? Tell me. Who? Who’s sent you to burn my house?

RUTH: I think it was Vindhya.

O: What? Who?

RUTH: Vindhya.

O: Who’s that?

RUTH: The one who sent me to burn your house. (She starts laughing)

O (stares at her with amazement and then joins in): How have you been, best friend?

RUTH (mildly): Terrible, terrible…

O: Why what happened?

Ruth occasionally pops a pill inside her mouth from an innocuous looking bottle.

RUTH (dramatically): I think I’m losing it. I can’t process anything clearly any more. Everything around me is breaking apart.

O: What is?

RUTH (She takes O’s hands in her own): There was this guy I was dating. Greek. His name is Titan. I met him at a party.

O looks suspiciously down at her watch.

RUTH: It was at the Taj. Some fashion designer I’ve helped. She’s Fab..ulous. I’ve sketched out a few designs she’s using in the <insert name of city where the play is being performed> fashion week.

There is a pause when both are looking at each other. O turns her head back slowly and looks at the photo of the Taj behind her, the dress she’s wearing and then the audience.

O: Of course dear. So what happened with this Titan guy? Did your rhythms not match?

RUTH: We were great at start. We were the rage at the parties. Made heads turn. People were always asking me which country I was from.

O: Bangladesh?

RUTH (bristling): I guess I have that Brazilian vibe.

O (under her breath): Third world….?

RUTH: And he was just the darling everyone wanted to be with but I had.

O: I didn’t see him on your Facebook account.

RUTH: He’s not into social networking. It’s not his thing. His philosophy is to make a personal impression. His hypnotic eyes are all that it takes. You can’t resist him.

O: That’s a great story. But where’s the twist? Where’s the tragic turn in the tale?

RUTH: My parents went ballistic when they heard about it. My dad was anyway on pills for that disease he has- pashminialrugorshawl. “Only fourteen reported cases.” is what the doctor told us. And my mom’s interior decoration business was also failing. And on top of that my brother had joined this band. Called…(a quick glance around the room)…four guys and a flat. He was giving everyone grief.

O: Oh that band! I think I’ve heard them. Highway songs right?

RUTH (a bit flustered): Ya that one. I haven’t heard much of them though….So anyway. My parents wanted to get me hitched right there and then. They got all melodramatic.  Got a priest, red sari, varmala, the whole ensemble. They even got hold of a few relatives I’d never seen before. And a groom. What was his name again? Oh yes…<insert name of guest of honour/director/writer/head of institution>.

O: What then?

RUTH: Titan and I ran for it. We took the 10:10 from VT to come here. Jacaranda express. It was hilarious. Running away like that with the folks holding a thali and garland on top of a hill. I thought it was perfect. Eloping to lead a new life…

O: But for the alien invasion.

RUTH: What?

O: Nothing. Go on.

RUTH: We were on the train, laughing and joking about all this. I was a bit scared of course. My parents would’ve been livid. We slept off sitting, in the general compartment. When I woke up he was gone. Not a trace. No letter. No belongings, nothing. I tried calling him, the bitch operator kept saying that the number is incorrect.

O: Can I see it?

RUTH (handing over the phone): Sure.

O (evenly): It has nine digits.

RUTH: Maybe I erased a digit when I was calling him.

O: Which one? It’s just a string of 96s.

RUTH: Uhhh…Ya. I don’t know… (snatching the phone).  So I came here. I knew you’d love to have me.

O: Who wouldn’t? Where would you get such an idea?

RUTH: I’m thinking I’ll just recover from all this for a couple of weeks here.

O: I really don’t think I can have you Ruth. Look at this place. There are already the two of us and these people keep coming and going. It’s a mess. I’m not sure I can make room for you.

RUTH: Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll help you out. You won’t have to lift a finger. And I’ll just find a corner for myself. That corner in fact.

She points to one corner, tries to stand and falls down unceremoniously.

O (Rushing to her side): Are you ok? What have you been popping in your mouth all this while?

RUTH (dreamily): Oh just these pills the doctor gave. He’s such a nice one. I lie on his couch all day long and keep jabbering. And he listens to me patiently. Sometimes he’s not even there.

O: Fuck fuck fuck! Give me that, you. (Snatching the bottle) Go and sit in that corner. And don’t you move till I tell you to. Go!

Ruth guiltily slinks off to where Pablo is sitting. Meanwhile O exits from the right.

RUTH: So you’re Pablo?


No I’m a lost bard.

I’m lost in this sea of mattresses and pillows and cushions and sheets and rugs and blinds and lard.

I’m swimming to stay afloat but all this cloth, like quicksand

is pulling me under with its invisible hand.

RUTH: Maybe you should get a boat. I hear you can get a nice little steamer hereabouts.



Yes and some milk and pi cubes of sugar and creamer.

Nothing light, nothing dense

All the sugar that’s needed to divide the diameter and the circumference.

RUTH: What are you cooking? A meal for me? I am hungry, I must admit. I can have all those nice things you were talking about- sugar, spice and everything nice.


I’m cooking a little kid.

I think it’ll come out green and pink and blue when I open the lid

I might need to marinade him for some time though.

Maybe I should sprinkle a little bordeaux

RUTH: Yes, that would be lovely.


And then maybe I should pinch him with a vice

and poke little holes in him so that all the spice

and the pain seeps through and becomes

a part of his muscles and meat and lungs.

RUTH: Ummm… Sounds delicious. Just like what we have at home.

PABLO: Home?

RUTH: Yes, home.

Both of them start meditating with legs folded, in the lotus position, repeating the Sanskrit chant.

Your Ad Here