A Run in the Family - contd
by Arjoyita Roy
Back to Page 1 of the Play
Act III: DIVULGENCE
(Nandita shares a warm hug with Nandini; Mrs. Ray enters.)
Mrs. Ray: (tensed) Do you know that he is a chef?
Nandita: (with an air of arrogance) yes.
Nandini: Is it not nice, she is not even acquainted with the preliminaries of cooking?
Nandita: (casually demonstrating apostrophe with her fingers to Mrs. Ray) Opposites Attract! You were right you could have not found me a better match.
Mrs. Ray: (rebukes) He is a cook. Men must not cook.
Nandita: He earns a lump sum.
Nandidni: (exchanges a sharp glance with Mrs. Ray) Above all, you found her a gentle-MAN.
(Mr. Roy enters the stage clutching a dog lace, a white Pomeranian scampers across the floor on being released from bondage.)
Nandita: (exclaiming with happiness) Oh Joy! I missed you so much.
(Joy runs to Nandita, she picks him up and woos him, and gets back to the couch. Mrs. Ray keeps murmuring to her own self and exits to the kitchen while Nandini, Nandita, joy and Mr. Ray remain on stage.)**
(Nandini breaks the eye)
Nandini: (To Nandita as she moves her fingers moves affectionately on Joy) Does your prospective groom know about your son?
Nandita: (winks) He does, you told him, didn’t you?
(Nandita and Nandini exchange glances and chuckle, Mrs. Roy enters through the kitchen and hands over a glass of water to Mr. Ray.)
Mr. Ray: So how did you like him?
Nandita: (hesitating) what shall I say? He is good but I could fathom his intentions from the way he spoke.
Mr. Ray: (with a sigh) you and your hovering suspicions do not spare anyone!
Nandita: He is nothing but a stranger.
Mr. Ray: (to Mrs. Ray) Reena please help me find my clothes upstairs.
Mrs. Ray: (with disgust in her voice) When will you stop treating me like a full time housekeeper?
(Mr. and Mrs. Ray exit to their bedroom, the bedroom is backlit visible through the screen wall, a simultaneous conversation follows; while Nandini, Nandita and Joy remain on the stage and indulge themselves discussing the miseries of life and Mr. And Mrs. Ray converse through the screen wall visible to the audience)
Nandita: (while she adores Joy) May the apple of discord dissipate!
Mrs. Ray: He is a chef!
Nandini: Silence is golden, is it not?
Mr. Ray: He is an NRI.
Nandita: It echoes volumes.
Mrs. Ray: I will turn out to be the butt of all jokes when our relatives will get to know about his profession.
Nandini: Acceptance: the bee and end of all being.
Mr. Ray: (with repugnance in his voice) their opinion counts, right? Nothing as altered for the better.
Nandita: I wish we never grew up; nothing would have changed for the worse.
Mrs. Ray: (with a shaky voice) all my life I had to put up with pretension.
Nandini: (sarcastically) some facts are to be accepted, others are to be closely guarded and guarded closely.
Mr. Ray: Because you were submissive and did not give a second thought after you were told about the sprawling villa. You fell for all that I owned, except for my MYSELF.
Nandita: (suddenly) can love endure adversity?
Mrs. Ray: (angrily) You were introduced to my family as a government employee and only after I got married I came to know that you are nothing but a low paid clerk. You concealed you position as long as you could; you even lied about your age! Heaven knows what Rudra is trying to conceal.
Nandini: It depends on whether people are in love or they think they are in love, it exposes the ugly facet of expectations.
Mr. Ray: (ironically) you spilled venom and nurtured scorn for me all throughout our conjugal life because I never confirmed to your stereotypical norms of an Ideal husband.
Nandita: (sarcastically) Is it not amazing how a woman’s existence is reduced to a marginal identity after marriage?
Mrs. Ray: I would have lived my life to its full potential had you not casted your evil spell. Nobody remembers me, nobody remembers REENA but everybody knows Mrs. Ray as the only bride of the Ray household, as your wife and as the mother of two girls.
Nandini: Certain things are better not candidly discussed.
Mr. Ray: I casted my spell? Your eyes were glued to my father’s will.
Nandita: Certainly not.
( Nandita pats Joy’s head, and lets him sleep peacefully on the couch, rises and moves to the dining table and pours out Whiskey in two goblets)
Mrs. Ray: (looking straight into his eyes with pangs of anger and disgust)My wings were clipped down with social sanction and it was backed by your will.
Nandini: (ironically) people FALL in love, as they say and never rise up again.
Mr. Ray: (angrily) You bowed before me, and now you say I casted my spell.
Nandita: (unconsciously) How would you like your gin tonight? Neat or on the sly?
Mrs. Ray: (sharply) Your shallow mentality did not even let you perceive the hair splitting distinction between ART and LECHERY.
Mr. Ray: You cannot do all that you want to! Women from royal households should not dance in front of men in the name of art.
Nandita: Some ugly secrets should never tumble out.
Mrs. Ray: (voice breaking down) All my life I had been chained down to the walls of this house.
Nandini: I take refuge to music more often than alcohol.
Mr. Ray: (rising his voice) Lords and Ladies must keep an arm’s length from lewd associations.
Nandita: I wish I could get back to the good old days to my casqued childhood.
Mrs. Ray: (breaking the family photograph in a rage of anger from the bedroom wall) If it is so then why did you meet that woman after tying the knot with me, for clandestine trysts?
Nandini: (coldly) Ma once told me when two people love each other so much that they can share their love with a little bundle of joy, they are blessed with a baby, I wonder why did she feed me with such bigoted abstractions.
Mr. Ray: I met her because I wanted to meet her, I am the man of this household I can do anything I please, and since you are a woman, you should have known how to obey without batting an eyelid.
Nandita: (suddenly) Are we not in fetters?
Mrs. Ray: I wish I had not sanctioned my will for spending my life with you in the past.
Nandini: Some are visible; some are not. That is the magic of PATRIARCHY.
Mr. Ray: (angrily) There is no use crying over spilled milk.
Mrs. Ray: (with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice) Are you even human? You sacrificed Nandini so that you father does not deprive you off his will.
(*thunderstorm* followed by heavy downpour)
Nandita: I am feeling cold.
Mr. Ray: (with a heavy breath) All because of your greed, had I not married her off to Rajeev on that fateful night society would not have accepted me and you would have cursed me for not inheriting the will, had I not inherited the will you would not have been able to live a life of luxury.
Nandini: (looks at Nandita) You could see through his tricks.
Mrs. Ray: Your society termed her Lagnabhrashta, your society cursed her for the breached hour, your society blamed her for a car accident that took away the love of her life and you married her off to that heartless brute.
(Nandita moves to the couch and relaxes herself on the couch, while Nandini moves to the piano and strikes the chords playing “purano shei dinnn er kotha” music can be heard)
Nandita: Yes, I eavesdropped when his mother whispered to him.
Mr. Ray: Enough said.
(Bangs the door shut behind him and walks out of the bedroom. The backlight is turned off and he enters the stage through the staircase and walks straight out of the house.)
Nandini: (to the audience while striking the chords lights on her in a sarcastic tone) No matter how heart wrenching it turns out to be, No matter how turbid things turn into we have to abide by the rules put forth by the harbingers of society to maintain an IMAGE.
(Continues striking the chords with utmost proficiency, slow fade out.) The End