Scene 2

The lights gradually flicker and fade and shift to the middle of the stage where O is looking in their direction. She is unkempt, wearing pyjamas and a loose t-shirt. With her hair in a perfunctory knot. She’s clearly not interested in dressing up or looking good. An indefinite amount of time has passed since Ruth’s arrival. Ruth looks and behaves the same. The spotlight shifts to O who has been observing them while trying to put the house in order.

O: I can’t see anything. I’m on a beach. I can just hear waves of poetry breaking on the sand. An endless number of haikus testing the sand and retreating in disappointment or fear. A few cantos brave enough to reach my feet and then the tidal sonnets threatening to submerge me in their currents. I need to run back.

Ruth leaves Pablo’s side as the chants subside and joins O in her ruminations.

RUTH: How much time has it been since you met Pablo. A month? A millennium?

O: I can’t quite remember. I can’t quite remember who I am. Who I was. Look at me. This hair. Thin. This skin. Spotted.These limbs.Tired.These eyes. Glazed. This mind. Numb. Where am I?

RUTH: On this island of insanity. Who are these people? Do I know any of them?

O: They are my friends aren’t they? Why can’t I recognize them then? What day is it? Do I have to go for work? Do I have work? Do I have money?

RUTH: But these people love you. Pablo loves you. Or do they? Does he? Does he love you? Do you love yourself? Or have you forgotten? Have you forgotten the quest?

O: Yes, the quest. The solitary quest which is never solitary. The quest to get used to touch and smell and taste and sound. And to live and love the contradictions of the choices you’ve made. The quest to find a cure for my condition. My literally heart-shattering condition.

RUTH: The condition which will leave you hollowed but unquenchable. Like a vessel without a bottom. A function of the tragedies you see and which you are forced to make your own. Nothing but a collector of tragedies.

O: There must be a way out.

RUTH: The way out is the easiest.

O: The easiest…

The lights briefly go out and the focus shifts to the entrance to the room. Brave Lion knocks and enters. He sees everyone prone on the floor, including O who is awake but sobbing quietly and ignores him, and Ruth who is simply watching O. He walks past her to where Pablo is seated. Pablo is reading a book and smiles at the intruder.As the focus shifts to Pablo and Brave Lion, O and Ruth exit from the right.

PABLO: Who are you?

BRAVE LION: You know me.


Do I, come near?

You do look familiar.

BRAVE LION: I’m Brave Lion. BITS, IIM, McKinsey.


I’m sorry to hear it.

How did you bear it?

BRAVE LION: Ha. Wouldn’t you like to know?


I don’t really care about things so inane.

I’m on a high, I’m on a higher plane.

BRAVE LION: Riding Maslow’s need pyramid are we? You should be careful not to end up inside it.


Well at least I won’t be the drone

trudging up the steps with the stones.

BRAVE LION: You do see the world in iambic pentameter don’t you. Anyway, O wants me around. I want to be here for her. She seems shaken up.


She’s metamorphosing.

She has to answer the questions she herself is posing.

She has to see this through, feel this pain

Don’t treat her blossoming with corporate disdain

BRAVE LION: I’ll risk it. What she needs now is not a load of botanical rhyme. She needs support. Stability.


What’s stability going to get her through?

Where has it got you?

BRAVE LION: It’s saved me from you for sure. Look at me. I’m complete. I have it all. I have what it takes.

PABLO: It takes for what?


For not being washed up like you are. For an early retirement and tending to cabbages in a farm, if I fancy. For being able to keep myself in the lap of luxury.


Is that what you wanted, without a doubt?

When you started out?

BRAVE LION: Does it matter? Why do you presume you have it all figured out right now? That this is what you should be doing? For all the forks and random chance thrown at you, why does the most fantastic idea seem like the most sensible? You know what it is? It’s escapism. It’s running from the burden of providing for others. You still have time. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that being a rebel is the same as having a cause.


Sharp words from a man who has sold

his soul to shiny objects and glittering gold.

BRAVE LION: I don’t want to debate this with a punk like you.  You’re lucky to be having this conversation with me. You’re nothing more than a wisp of air from the past for me. I’m just telling you to recognize that O’s in grief and that I can make her feel better.


Be my guest. There’s no harm.

If you care, go ahead. Work your little material charm.

Spray some glitter and gloss

in this gloomy room. There’s no loss.

BL puts a hand on his shoulder, sighs and lifts himself.He walks over to where O is. She is seated on the stool, brooding and drinking coffee from a mug. She is older, in her early thirties now.

BRAVE LION: How are you my dear?

O: I’m alright. The usual. Why…how do you ask?

BRAVE LION: I’m just concerned. You look haggard.

O (suspiciously): What’s with you? You were never like this.

BRAVE LION: Change is the only constant. You have to manage the change. Change with the change.

O: Since when have you started speaking like this?

BRAVE LION: It’s been a while. You just haven’t noticed. I think it’s your confirmation bias. Or perhaps your lack of peripheral vision.

O (a little angrily): Are you saying I don’t notice things?

BRAVE LION: No my dear, nothing of that sort. I’m just saying you could do with some change. Have you considered the beach?

O: The beach? No. But that would be nice.

BRAVE LION: We could go together.

O: I can’t though. Just too much to sort out.

BRAVE LION: Leave it to me. I’ll get someone to clean it all up. Come with me to the Maldives. My entire office is going. You can make me look like a hot shot in front of those losers with their waxen wives.

O: Haha. That’s sweet. What else do you have to offer Mister?

BRAVE LION: Oh come on. Don’t be a challenge. It’ll be ‘o’ut of the world, ‘O’. You’ll be awestruck. We have passes to a gig, coupons for parasailing, and an invitation from the State for dinner. Don’t be ‘o’dious. We’ll have a great time. I’ll just be gone for around fourteen hours. And we can chill the rest of the time.

O: Hmm…I don’t know. I don’t know.

BRAVE LION: Don’t say no. I planned this just for you.

O: Really? You’ve never done this before.

BRAVE LION: I’m doing it now. Why question it? Just give in to you latent desires and come. You don’t need to worry about anything. You don’t need to worry about money. I’ll take care of it. I’ll fill you up with good cheer and wellbeing.

O: I’m just in this state of limbo. I’m not sure of what I want or don’t want and I’m not sure whether I want this.

BRAVE LION: Well think it over. We can discuss this over dinner.


Scene 3

In this scene only the right portion of the stage is lit. There is a high wooden table with four stools around it with Pablo and O sitting on one side and Brave Lion and Ruth sitting on the other. Brave Lion and O and sitting diagonal to each other. The only light is one right above the table which is mellow in the beginning in a porch dinner fashion and progressively gets intense like an interrogation room. A single bottle of wine sits on the centre of the table and each of them is holding a wine glass.Some time has passed and O is dressed stylishly but not in her 20-year old avatar. Ruth looks the same and Pablo looks gaunt and haggard.

O (cheerfully): Let’s play a game.

RUTH (excitedly): Which one?

BRAVE LION: How about…Freudian slip.

O: How do you play that?

BRAVE LION: It’s easy. We’ll fire words at you and you have to say the first word that comes to your head when you hear it.


Like if I say chair you say table,

I say actor you say Gable,

I say bird, you say flight.

That sort of thing, right?

O: What fun is that?

BRAVE LION: It’ll be fun when you play it. Give it a shot.

O: Umm..ok.

They all lean in.

BRAVE LION: I’ll begin. Dinner!

RUTH: 7 course!

PABLO: Lunch

BRAVE LION: Marriott

O: Wine



PABLO: Blood


O: Maybe

RUTH: Fire

PABLO: Water

O: Poetry

PABLO: Emerson, BRAVE LION: Shit

O starts laughing and Brave Lion joins in. Their mirth is broken abruptly.

RUTH: Death

O: Life



RUTH: Heart

O: Two



O: Commitment


RUTH: Madness

PABLO: Inviting


O: Photographs


PABLO: Allegory

O: Lovemaking


PABLO: Anger

O: Disappointment

RUTH: Cards


O: That was…interesting.

RUTH (clapping): Yes it was wasn’t it… Let’s play something else.

PABLO: Spin the bottle?

BRAVE LION: Great idea. Rules are that whoever gets the bottle will either have to answer a question or perform a task. Fine?

Murmurs of assent

O: Here goes…(she spins. The mouth faces Brave Lion and the base faces Pablo) Pablo, ask Brave Lion.

PABLO: Ummm…what should I ask you? Ok. Tell me. If tomorrow I asked you to choose between forests and money what would you choose?

BRAVE LION: Money of course. What’s all the angst about forests? It’s an easy equation. Cut down the forests. Get rid of the reefs and beaches. Dig up the earth. That’ll ensure jobs for everyone. And isn’t that what we all want. And whatever forests stood for, just reproduce it with technology and industry. All this forest love is a communist conspiracy, I say.

Pablo starts laughing.

PABLO: If you say so big man.

O: Let’s get on…Ok this time I’ll ask Brave Lion. I know…If you had a billion dollars how would you spend it?

BRAVE LION: Aaah. If only wishes were horses….Let’s see, I’d put a third in commodity futures, gold perhaps. With another third I’d get property in every third world country there is and the last third I’d spend on my sweetheart.


Hahaha…so you too have the one-third problem. What a pity?

The Tripartite struggle of your integrity?

BRAVE LION (indignantly): How would you spend it?


How does it matter? I’ll never so much money

You’re always going to sniff it out before me.

RUTH (nervously):…Aaahhh (rubbing hands in mock glee) It’s my turn to fry O.

O: Shit. Don’t embarrass me Ruth.

RUTH (thoughtfully): Let’s see let’s see. If you were given a choice to get rid of your condition would you?

O (getting agitated): No. no. I’m not answering that.

Both Pablo and Brave Lion look at her surprised.

RUTH: I think we got your answer.

O: No you didn’t. (Looking around the others, insisting) You didn’t.

BRAVE LION: Ok, one more time…My turn. Alright O. Which is the place you’d like to be the most right now?

O: Let me see. On a little boat with someone rowing me. With the sandy beach of an island within arm’s length and lots of little children playing on it. Shoals of fish circling the boat and an easy, well-thumbed book open at the middle page on my lap.

RUTH: That’s so…well planned.

BRAVE LION (grinning widely): Courtesy, all the forests.

O: Don’t say that. Let’s do this again. Shit…Pablo…

PABLO: Got you finally. Ok. My question’s not too different. Where would you not like to be the most right now?

O (sighing, quietly): Here, I suppose.

Pablo keeps looking at her and spins the bottle with a fingertip. Its Brave Lion’s turn to ask O.

BRAVE LION: This time I won’t ask you any questions. I think we all know, now, what we want to. I’m going to dare you to do something.

O: What?

BRAVE LION: Come with me.

O (she looks first at Brave Lion then at Pablo. There is a long pause after which she has her decision written on her face): Let’s go Brave Lion. Let’s go right now. Right away.

BRAVE LION: What about these people here?

O: Oh these people! Haha! Bye bye Pablo! Bye Ruth! Bye weirdos I don’t know! Let yourself out whenever you want.

The song ‘Strangers in the night’ starts playing. Pablo walks up to her. He is gaunt, almost skeletal. He doesn’t say anything but only holds her hand. Her other hand is in Brave Lion’s who is at the door. As her hand slips out of Pablo’s, the lights go out.
















Act 4

Scene 1

O’s bachelorette pad is now unrecognizable. The low lying bed is a double bed. The only colours are black and white. Bean bags, candles, coffee table books are arranged geometrically around one half of the stage. The other half is not lit. It is an outdoor café. Brave Lion looks his part as a busy consultant. He is wearing formals, with his tie hanging loose, and shirt sleeves folded up to his elbows. He is working on a laptop. O is sitting on the couch flipping through a magazine without really reading anything. She looks impatient. She is a dressed conservatively, in three fourths and a kurti.

O: Are you busy?


O: What are you doing?

BRAVE LION: Just this thing.

O: What thing?

BRAVE LION: This small deliverable from office.

O: Oh. Is it important?

BRAVE LION: No dear.

O: Then why don’t you leave it?

BRAVE LION: I have to send it in by EOD.

O: How much time will it take?

BRAVE LION: I’m planning to send it ALAP.

O: You mean ASAP…

BRAVE LION: No ALAP. As late as possible. I want them to think I was working into the night.

O: Why do you need to do that? You work hard enough.

BRAVE LION: At this juncture, I want to be anointed the alpha dog of my bay. In this economy and with all the rightsizing going on, you never know when you’ll have to eat the reality sandwich.

O (stares for a while): OK.

BRAVE LION: Besides I just have to eat the frog for a couple of more days now, till the appraisal. Hold your horses for a while and I’ll join you extrapediately.

O: It’s ok. Carry on… We should do something exciting. Don’t you think.

BRAVE LION: I know what you’re saying. I know just the thing. There’s a corporate retreat next week at the Shitless Crazy Adventures Club on Saturday. Paragliding, zorbing, rock climbing. It’ll be over-the-edge.

O (disappointed): Ya that sounds dangerous. But I was thinking of something more…unsupervised.

BRAVE LION: What do you mean?

O: You know, explore the bylanes of the old city, get lost in the jungle, hitchhike, go broke.

BRAVE LION (laughing nervously): Why in the world would you want to go broke?

O: I don’t want to go broke. I just want to have an adventure which isn’t scripted.

BRAVE LION (insisting): The retreat won’t be scripted from womb to tomb. Only the possibility of dying will be scripted out. It’s going to be a win-win situation. You’ll get the rush you want plus it won’t be fatal.

O: But when you know that, you’re just playing a part aren’t you?

BRAVE LION: In a way. But it’s a fun part to play.

O: It isn’t genuine.

BRAVE LION: I just don’t understand why you genuinely want to put your life in danger.

O: Fuck it. You won’t get it.

BRAVE LION: Try me. Let’s hammer this out. Hand hold me to your way of thinking. Right now I’m completely at sea.

O: Well…it’s only that we lead such a regimented life. Every day is just an extension of the last and a clone of the next. And we have such well defined roles. You’re the provider, I’m the homemaker. And we have a routine which we follow without ever questioning it. I feel like I’m a mime in a play. I don’t even need to think or speak. I can just keep doing my moves mechanically and since I’ve done it so many times I’ll do it with perfection.

BRAVE LION: Uhhh…and what’s that got to do with this?

O: I want to know that I’m not on a stage, that I’m not performing. Because I’ve stopped associating any sort of emotion with what I’m doing. It’s like doing and feeling are separate things to be analysed and performed separately. I want to confirm that I’m actually happy with my life. And I think that’ll only happen when I step outside it briefly.

BRAVE LION: You’re scaring me…

O: No don’t be. It’s just me.

BRAVE LION: But I don’t understand you O. You want this. You want to be comfortaBraveLione. You want to enjoy the nice things in life.

O: I know I know. But just think about it. Are you really doing anything that would make anyone remember you? Are you just filling the years, biding your time till you’re swept away like an autumn leaf?

BRAVE LION (defensively): I’m a partner at McKinsey. I have more wealth than what most of humanity does. I have access to people and places which others can just imagine. If the next generation can’t remember me it’s a pity for them.

O: I’m not grudging your success. I know you’ve worked had for it. You’re a big man. But in the balance, have you answered the right questions? Is it about asking how and how much or about asking why? You could just as easily have not achieved all this and still be you.

BRAVE LION: All this defines me O. I have made myself, modelled myself on the achievements and position I have.

O: You know why I think that’s flawed? Imagine you’re looking out of a multi-storyed building. There’s nothing outside, no point of reference. What would you think when you look outside? You’d think nothing. You wouldn’t know how much further you can go. You would look at your floor and feel content. It’s only when you step out and see that you are sixteen floors from the top that you want to climb up. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you didn’t know that a ladder is for climbing then you’d be happy whichever rung you’re on.

BRAVE LION: But that’s really the problem then isn’t it? I know how tall the building is, I know the ladder is for climbing. And I want to climb it. Because I’m a climber.

O: And you never question yourself? Why you must climb? I was thinking about how clever you are and what you could have done if you hadn’t joined this race. It was like looking down from a cliff. Doesn’t it scare you to think that you could’ve been… more honest to yourself.

BRAVE LION: Honesty isn’t one my key performance indices. To get to where I am now, one has to pay the piper. And I don’t get your argument. Underperforming can’t be an ambition.

O: Let’s drop it. It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re happy. You’re happy right?

BRAVE LION: I don’t have the luxury to take a helicopter view of happiness like you are.

O: I thought it was luxury that was motivating you to work like this…Anyway, let’s go to your adventure camp or whatever. It’ll be time out of this house at least.

BRAVE LION: You sound like you desperately need it.

O: Some fresh air wouldn’t be so bad.

BRAVE LION: I’ll book the tickets…

Scene 2

The lights go out. When they come back, O is sitting with Brave Lion in the café which is on the right side of the stage. The dining table has been covered with a table cloth and similar tables have been strewn around, each having menu cards, salt and pepper shakers etc to give the appearance of an outdoor café. An umbrella on the table can play the part of a canopy. There is a tasteful poster, perhaps from an old Hollywood movie to complete the look. An old gentleman in a pleasant professorial attire- tweed jacket, glasses, and corduroy trousers is sitting reading the newspaper and sipping his coffee at the adjacent table. Brave Lion and O are having an animated conversation which evidently isn’t going well. The professor gets distracted, he turns around and watches the couple bickering for some time with amusement.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA (apologetically): Excuse me…excuse me.

O: Oh, I’m sorry did we disturb you?

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: No it’s perfectly alright madam. I’m sorry for eavesdropping.

BRAVE LION (irritably, apologising exaggeratedly): Yes yes old man. We’re really sorry.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: As I said, don’t even think about it…May I be impolite enough to enquire… Is this your first time in this café?

O: Yes actually it is. How could you tell?

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Haha, it isn’t my powers of deduction. I run this place. I’ve never seen either of you here.

BRAVE LION: Yes, some of us…(glaring at O) are busy people. Driving halfway across town to have hot cross buns isn’t really my idea of proper utilization of time.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Well perhaps the lady here wasn’t thinking of quantity but the quality of time spent when she suggested this place. How are the buns by the way?

BRAVE LION (sarcastically): Hot.

O (trying to cover for him): They’re really good. My compliments to your cook.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA : That’s be me, and your compliments are most kind.

O: Oh you cook as well is it?

BRAVE LION: So this…is your primary occupation?

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Well, it’s a pity it isn’t. I would love to spend my days here meeting delightful people…(shifting his gaze to O)…like yourself. But I’m a professor of English and Philosophy at the university. Not that I dislike that job. But it still requires some knowledge of the world.

BRAVE LION: You’ve done well yourself, I must say.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Hahaha…I’ve not always been an academic…

O: How fascinating…Do you live nearby?

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Yes quite close by.

O: It must be lovely just sitting here and watch the world pass by.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Oh yes, I live quite on the edge. But wholly vicariously.People from all walks of life come and share with me. It must be something in those buns. I’ve been all over the world piggybacking on other’s stories.

BRAVE LION: But can it compare to the actual thing?

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Well, I’ve been all over the world but when you’re working you’re just ticking off cities and countries and continents on a list. I do intend to do all that again and this time listen and watch not just click and capture. But in the meanwhile, I have other’s stories and my mind’s eye.

O: I would love to travel the world without an agenda.

BRAVE LION: We already did that last year remember.

O: Surprisingly I don’t really remember much of it. I remember I lot of hotels and concierges and air conditioned cars. I don’t remember sweat or smell or the pang of getting lost.

BRAVE LION (sarcastically): Sadly all that wasn’t built into the itinerary.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Why have one to begin with? Isn’t it a desperate attempt to summarize a country, its people, it culture and history in a few chronological bullet points? Shouldn’t we instead cut out a perfect sliver and savour it?

BRAVE LION: Bullshit. I don’t want to struggle with maps, touts and sub standardness after paying that much money.

O: Oh c’mon Brave Lion try to understand what he’s saying.

BRAVE LION: I’m really not in the mood for another one of your lessons in abstraction O.

She turns to PSB.

O: I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: I haven’t offered it. My name is Parmveer Singh Bhatia.

O:  It’s a delight to meet you.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: The pleasure is all mine.

He bows shortly to O and turns back to his paper.

BRAVE LION: What an old fart!

O: Why would you say that?

BRAVE LION: What with his crazy ideas about travelling and his fascination for cooking.

O: I think he was a very nice gentleman.

BRAVE LION: Balls. He’s a fraud, wanting to trap gullible folk like us.

O: You’re anything but gullible. Heartless, yes.Gullible, certainly not.

BRAVE LION: Just look at him. Going on about how you must be a hippy in a foreign country. And who teaches philosophy?

O: Those who have one.

BRAVE LION: And that prime property. How did he get that? Reading poetry to investors?

O: He said he wasn’t always a prof. And how does all that matter. He was a suave and sophisticated man who couldn’t care less about the money.

BRAVE LION: That’s what he would have you think. What is with you and your roving eye?

O: My eye’s not roving. I just appreciate a good man when I see one.

BRAVE LION: Yeah right, you’ve been nothing but chaffing in the last few weeks and months.

O: It’s called speaking your mind. Being frank.Being genuine.

BRAVE LION: Well you’ve been a genuine pain. Why don’t you ask the old chap there to take you in? Clearly nothing I don’t have any of the critical success factor needed to adjust to your new criterions.

He smirks and waits pompously for her to reply. She is a bit shaken. They eye each other coldly and challengingly.

O: You know what? That’s exactly what I’ll do.

She turns around and taps on Parmveer Singh Bhatia’s shoulder.

O: Can you give me a minute? Or a lifetime?

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA (surprised): I beg your pardon.

O: You just spoke about being spontaneous. So here I am.

BRAVE LION: What the hell are you doing?

O (ignoring him): I want to be with you. I don’t know you. I don’t want to know you. I just want you to be as ephemeral as our conversation was. I don’t want to know what your insecurities, your weaknesses are. Just be the gentleman you are. And take me away.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: I…I don’t know what to say.

O: You don’t have to. Just please..

She starts coughing violently holding her chest. She stumbles to the floor and both men fly to hold her. They lift her to the chair and bring her water.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Are you alright? It must be the strain. I’m calling an ambulance.

O (coughing and spluttering): No…don’t…it happens….I’m ok.

BRAVE LION: Don’t talk.

O (stabilizing herself): No it’s ok. I’m alright. This was long overdue.

PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: Are you sure you’re alright?

O: I’m fine, I’m fine. What do you say? Will you go on this adventure with me?


PARMVEER SINGH BHATIA: I…I don’t know. Yes! I will!

O (starts laughing): Let’s go. I’m sorry Brave Lion. You shouldn’t offer a blue ocean opportunity to a three-hearted shark like me. Go grab that corporate bull by its horns. I’ll be seeing you. Come on Mr. Bhatia.

PSB helps her up and they walk away in each other’s arms. The spotlight falls on Brave Lion who looks stunned, first at her and then at the audience. He then turns away and leaves. The lights go out.





















Act 5

Scene 1

We are back to O’s living room from where she’d strolled in her garden of memories. The atmosphere is much more relaxed. She has a light smile on her face. The album is lying open on her lap but she isn’t looking at it. She is looking across the room at nothing in particular, clearly lost in her thoughts, both happy and sad. The screen at the back of the stage is a large sheet, stretched horizontally which has been separated into three sections by wooden frames. Pablo, Brave Lion and Parmveer Singh are standing behind these frames and O’s husband is standing in the darkness adjacent to the screen. This is from where he makes his entry.

O: Hahaha…the look on the Lion’s face. I’m sure he never saw such a turnaround in his life. And Mr. Bhatia…he wouldn’t have imagined his buns would work so well… (thoughtfully)…what a crazy bunch. I really wish I knew I was going to end up like this. Or maybe not. Maybe the thrill is in the chase…or…haha…being chased.

HUSBAND (from backstage): Who’re you talking to? Who’s there?

O (with good cheer, shouting out): No one my dear… (to herself) Crazy poet, corporate megalomaniac, charming scholar… a fine set of personalities. And look who I’m with now. Myself and this old bum…But I shouldn’t complain. I’m not the easiest to please. I have…had a condition after all (laughs). Three hearts beating, ticking away the time for my lover. The poor thing has to condense all his qualities into whatever will fit a third of my attention and hope he doesn’t go mad trying. But mad he will…did go. Over and over again (laughs). You’re such a cruel witch O, so cruel.

HUSBAND (from backstage, calling out): O, O. Where are you?

As O says her next line, the first of the screens behind her is lit. Pablo is standing behind it and the audience can see his silhouette. He’s sitting on a stool with a bunch of flowers in his hand. The arch of his back faces the audience.

O: I’m coming dear… That poor thing Pablo. He was already broken. And you carefully put him back together and then smashed him back to bits. All he wanted to do was find patterns. Fit this jumbled, chaotic world and put them into neat, tight little lyrical lines which ended predictably. And you left him for mad.


O, O

Where art thou?

O: Cooooming…He’d thought I would revel as the artist’s muse. He’d carve sculptures and I’d breathe life into them.


Why don’t you come you me?

My charming monstrosity

O: His poetry ebbed away like a word without a rhyme…like angst. Or chaos.


I need you for this incessant pain

Gnawing at my heart and soul again

The next line brings to life the second screen. Brave Lion’s shadow falls on it. He stands in a very confident, business like pose.

O: And Brave Lion. He was so flawed. So mistaken.But only a child trying to please. He wanted to be perfect for me. To overwhelm me with the snapshot of the ideal life which he had so carefully put together but which was so fragile. He thought he could escape the shallowness of his life.

HUSBAND: You’re not fulfilling your JD as a wife. Can’t you spare some bandwidth for your partner?

O: Just a minute… And I shook his world as well. The trophy wife grew a consciousness. Sometimes I think it was just to spite him that I fought with him. Maybe I really never needed the reassurance that I asked from him. I just needed to see him cringe at himself. To feel broken.To feel inadequate. And then shed his beliefs. All because I wanted him to.

HUSBAND: Hello. Hello. Excuse me.

O: And see him go through that painful process of surrendering to a view that you’ve hated.

HUSBAND: I’m going to have to escalate this woman. I’m going to have to raise a ticket.

O: I could’ve done the easier thing. As Ruth said, “The easiest thing.” But what’s the fun in that.

HUSBAND: You’re too much of a challenge!

And finally the third panel comes to life with Parmveer Singh Bhatia standing comfortably wearing an apron.

O (exaggeratedly): And finally charming Mr. Bhatia. So sure of himself, so sure of the sobriety of his life, the weight of his years legitimising his choices. I must admit I had a great time with him. We would just talk. Normally. Like rivals who’ve retired from the game. No pretensions. No insecurities. I loved his company.

HUSBAND: Ms O, I’m afraid I’ll have to come to you now.

O: He was such a gentleman. Well-worn through victories and failures. Always loving, Always witty. Always considerate.

HUSBAND: Can you kindly assist me here. I can’t see.

O inches towards the fourth panel in the middle which is completely dark while continuing talking to herself.

HUSBAND: I’ll be most grateful.

O: But even that wasn’t enough. I think I’m like the air. Just my presence makes the hardest metal rust… (with great sadness) But like the air, I don’t intend to corrode anyone. I’m not responsible for Parmveer.

HUSBAND: Ma’am it’s dark, are you here?

O: It was never easy for me. People are conflicted. I am. But so was he. And I could have left him. I could’ve followed the sound of my beating fragmented heart. I had a condition. But I never gave up. I fought my own madness and his.

HUSBAND (calling out): O! O!

O: I loved Pablo, I loved Brave Lion, I loved Parmveer. And I can say this now…

The lights in the fourth panel turn on and the ones in the other three turn off. An old man, bent and half blind walks out. He is confused and is feeling the air for O.

O (very slowly and deliberately): That I loved my man all my life and with all my heart.

She rushes up to her husband puts her one arm around his shoulder and takes his searching hand in her own. She is murmuring comforting words to him.

O: It’s ok baby, I’m here. The guy from the bank had come.

HUSBAND (pathetically): I was so scared. And angry. Don’t ever do that again.

O: No baby of course not. I’m so sorry. I love you.

HUSBAND: I love you O.

She guides him slowly to the couch. The song, ‘Something Stupid’ by Frank Sinatra starts playing as the curtains come down.



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