Between a Rock and a Hard Place - contd
by Arjoyita Roy
(Durgapur, West Bengal, India)
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There is a knock on the door, the audience hears a bang on the door, Aniket rises from the bed and opens the door to the house cleaner, and she informs him that Nandita wants both of them downstairs for the supper is ready. Aniket bangs the door shut. The backlight goes off. Aniket and Anindita enter the stage through the staircase. Nandita is sitting comfortably on the couch and preparing the platter. Aniket sits next to his mother on the couch, picks up his plate, and starts eating.
Anindita: (gives a distasteful look to Nandita) Mom it is too oily, I do not want to put on weight and be the butt of all jokes.
Nandita: (frowns) Mind your words, why can you not filter your speech for the sake of God.
Aniket: (batting an eyelid) stop basking in charm of their appreciation and get a life of your own.
Anindita: you know what, I seldom pique unwanted impingement, so do not poke your nose.
The telephone rings again, Aniket moves forward in an attempt to receive the dial but Nandita picks it up. Anindita Savours the plate while Aniket bites his nails due to his failed attempt to receive the call.
Nandita: hello, yes we are all here, in an hour may be.
Aniket and Anindita exchange glances, as they expect an unwanted relative to turn up in no time from their mother’s words.
Nandita: Anindita hurry up change into something decent, kakima is turning up in about an hour so please hurry up. Aniket go and get some sweets from the nearby shop, and please tell the house cleaner to mop the floor once again, kakima will pass a lewd comment if even she discovers a speck of dust on the floor. In addition, do not tell her that you want to take up Liberal Arts or else she will not spare you from the clutches of her satire. Take the money from the safe upstairs, here take the keys (hands him a bunch of keys tied to the loose end of her sari).
Nandita rises from the couch and exits to the kitchen, Anindita exits to her bedroom upstairs and Aniket exits from the entrance to obey his mother. The doorbell rings immediately after Aniket leaves, Nandita enters from the kitchen to open the door to him.
Aniket: (gives her a smile) forgot the money.
Aniket exits to the bedroom through the staircase while Nandita moves to the couch again with a duster to wipe the table. The doorbell rings again and Nandita gets irritated. Opens the door in a hurry while Aniket appears again from the staircase heavily perspiring. A girl in her teens appears on the stage.
Nandita: (with an expression of awe and wonder) yes how can we help you?
Aniket: (hesitates but waves her hand to Margarette, lowers his vice and looks at Nandita with scorn in his eyes while speaking) Hi Margarette, this is my mother, Mom she is Margarette.
Margarette: (bolsters to confidence) Hello Mrs. Ray would you mind excusing us for a while; we have to discuss the matter before...
Nandita: (Intruding inquisitively) what did you say? Discuss the matter before... what has he done now?
Margarette: (in an intention to calm her) nothing much, I am sure we can sort it out all by ourselves.
Anindita enters through the staircase, looks at Margarette, and then again looks at Nandita.
Anindita: (looking at Margarette) I think I have we met before let me recall, oh yes are you not Andrea’s cousin?
Margarette: yes, we all met last month in the party when you boozed and passed out, you were dunk and your brother: he crossed his limits and now he is just trying to shuffle off me.
Nandita: (awestruck) Wait what do you mean? My son crossed the limits. Moreover, my daughter was drunk and I was not aware of all this.
Margarette: they told us that you are not at home and you never let them breathe in peace so they insisted on planning a night stay at Andrea’s, I was at her place to spend the weekend with her, and your son was an unexpected guest there.
Anindita: How could have I left him alone, so I insisted him to join me.
Nandita: (slaps Aniket in front of everyone, then looks at her children) both of you owe me an explanation.
Aniket falls on the floor from the blow, Anindita helps him stand on his feet and catches a glimpse of a finger ring on the floor and picks it up.
Anindita: Is it not what you were looking for last week?
Nandita: (looking at Aniket) do not tell me you just fashioned it out of thin air. You pilfered this ring from my safe. It is a dishonour to have you as a member of the family.
Aniket: (brews up) Yes, I stole it from your safe, so dark is the con of man, I stole it from your safe to sell it off and get hold of some hard cash and get rid of her extortions. That night Anindita insisted me on joining her, I did not sanction my dip of green light.
Anindita: (roars out of anger) you made the mistake and you are trying to blame me now! Did I instruct you to explore your libido behind closed doors with this girl? Aren’t you mature enough Man to perceive the fine line of do’s and don’ts.
Margarette: (weeping) I am so sorry, I had not in the east intended to muddle with peace. I thought it was better to talk to him about the matter, in person rather than a prolonged discussion over the phone. He provoked me to appear out of nowhere, because he was not taking my calls.
Nandita: (slapping her forehead and crying loudly) why I was not burnt in the funeral pyre with your father. I would not have to put up with this, I raised a demon full of vice and no virtues for all these years.
Margarette: I cannot gear up the courage to let my parents know about the hideous progeny.
We hear a loud clap on the stage, as the characters are drenched in melancholic disgust and shame. Lights fade, spotlights focus on a widow, wearing a white sari, and chewing a betel leaf moving towards the centre of the stage. Spotlights fade out and all the characters are on the stage.
Nandita: (looks at the woman and wipes her tears moves forward touch her feet) Kakima!
Kakima: (in a remote accent) let it be my dear, bless you. This beast of burden just spills bad luck, I told you much ahead of time, but Arun was adamant so were you, now look at the consequences!
Nandita: he brimmed with innocence, and I had just lost an unborn child, Arun was in need of an heir, and hence it was a mutual call on our part.
Kakima: (sarcastically) your mother-in-law, your father-in-law, your uncle and I, we warned you, “As you sow so shall you reap” you did not devote yourself to our warning and now you expect your children to obey you, they are just following your footsteps.
Nandita: (weeping) Right you are, tracing his roots was never the apple of discord to either of us, for we considered him the apple of our eye, to us adoption was nothing but a noble deed, you warned us, we didn’t listen.
Aniket: Am I an adopted?
Kakima: (roughly) shrug off. You are nothing but a bad omen, not even a year had passed when your father died of a car accident. You spell doom wherever you go, and this girl(pointing at Margarette) what a shameful deed did you commit! What standards! Easy go girl, and how can you blame him alone for all this and why would we believe that the unborn child in your womb carries his blood and flesh.
Anindita: (ironically looking at Margarette) abort that incipient little devil breathing from you, I will assist you financially for this, take all my money from the scholarship and don’t ever turn up again. I will contact you when necessary. As of now, you may leave the door is open.
Margarette walks out of the stage from the door. Kakima and Nandita make their way to the couch, Nandita hides her face with her palm out of shame, guilt, and disgust she sobs hard, Anindita exits to the bedroom from the staircase, Kakima embraces Nandita in gesture to console and confront the woes brought to her by her son: slow fade out. ***