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Ground Zero - A Stage Play - III
|by Dr. Vishnu Sharma|
Continued from Previous Page
MIT: Be brave. Don’t worry about me, my child. I‘ll be fine. I‘m sure, the bird will return to my windowsill. Let me get up and bake the cake for the bird. I will feed him with my own hands. Some times he sings for me. Sings in a very prophetic manner. Just help me to get out of the bed.
PIM comes back to helps MIT. They slowly exit. Focus alternatively on the bed and the empty space which the bird left.
OSO’s den. Two Commandos of OSO bring TIM in. They are holding his arms firmly.
TIM: Keep your hands off. This is not the way of getting cooperation from the citizens. I am a journalist, not your servant. I can’t imagine how the public servants can be rude to public, especially to journalists.
OSO: Calm down, young man. This is not your silly world. Forget your Utopia. This is the domain of OSO. And these gentlemen are not the stupid Intelligence agents of the State. They are my worthy Commandos. They know their job well. I am sure they charmed you with their manners and haven’t hurt you.
TIM: Hell with you and your Commandos. I should have known these impostors at the first look. They tricked me. I was just not myself. I know now, where I am.
OSO: Reduce the level of your agitation dear journalist. This music is rather too loud for you. You don’t need it. I am not going to treat you as my enemy. You are my guest. You will get the best of my hospitality.
TIM: I prefer to be your enemy and not your guest.
OSO: You are a promising journalist, but you are deluded.
TIM: I don’t need your advice.
OSO: Do you know you come from a sick society? You are highly talented, but subtle systems of exploitation are eating you up. You swear by scientific progress and democracy. You aren’t wares that your spirit is afflicted. My boy, you need healing.
TIM: I am not your ‘boy’. I don’t need your healing.
OSO: You need enlightenment. You need new fire in your imagination. New themes are waiting for you. We offer so much at this shrine.
TIM: You call this place a shrine? You debase ancient wisdom. You distort scriptures. You spread hatred and anarchy. You use money, sex and drugs to bring the teenagers quickly to your fold. Your success is an illusion. You are destined to fall.
OSO: A good speech! If you have done with it, I suggest that sit down and relax. Take this cushion. Your ass will not hurt. We have to talk business.
TIM: I have no business with you. Let me go.
OSO: Have patience. First, let my hostesses bring you some nectar prepared by a very special spiritual process.
OSO claps thrice. NITO and MIKO appear with drinks. They offer the elixir to TIM, who is indifferent.
TIM: Keep the stuff away.
OSO: You don’t get such a soothing and elevating elixir anywhere else in the world. (To NITO and MIKO) Make him absolutely comfortable. He is our very special guest. I will come back as soon as he is at peace with himself. (To his Commandos) Let’s go.
OSO and Commandos leave.
NITO: Taste some. It will do you good.
MIKO: It is very invigorating.
NITO: Don’t confuse it with Viagara. That may just be a hoax.
MIKO: This is the real thing.
NITO: It is rare.
MIKO: It is not toxic.
NITO: It is holistic, perfectly organic.
MIKO: Don’t suspect any trace of Anthrax in it.
NITO: We can prove it by sipping from it, if you have a suspicion.
MIKO: We are not allowed to offer it to everybody.
TIM: I am not tempted. Take it away.
NITO: You don’t know what you are missing.
TIM: It is not important.
MIKO: I wonder at your diffidence.
NITO: Your diffidence is, no doubt, heroic. Who are you, by the way?
MIKO: What is the use of knowing, NITO. He is handsome. He is noble. But he doesn’t seem to belong here.
NITO: And that’s the tragedy.
MIKO: We are told that we cannot experience tragedy in this age. Are we learning our lesson?
NITO: I don’t know. It seems we are getting mired in the grotesque.
MIKO: I am afraid, even this young man can’t resist sliding into it. Otherwise, why should he come here?
NITO: Curiosity kills the cat.
MIKO: Curiosity doesn’t kill anybody. Curiosity is natural. He doesn’t seem to have come here for initiation. He can’t be one of us. I wish he could accept this nectar. He is thirsty.
NITO: (To TIM) Don’t hurt the sensitivity of your hostesses? You deprive us of our sense of being pleasant and well-meaning company?
TIM:I have not come here to seek company. I am a hostage.
MIKO: Then you must be a media person. OSO has been looking for one. Are you going to write anything against our mission?
NITO: Do you think we are bad guys and you come from the world of good guys?
MIKO: If so, listen. It can’t be black and white. A good deal of life is mixed up. Of gray shades.
TIM: I don’t care for good or bad. These are relative terms. My concern is with facts, with information.
MIKO: This is the height of innocence. You don’t know what happens to facts, what happens to information. I feel like being a mother to you.
OSO: Restrain yourself, MIKO. I don’t expect you to get too personal with him. You transgress the code. Such transgressions have brought this mission to the brink of disaster. Some of you have silently sabotaged me. I will deal with you after finishing with this young journalist.
DOJO: I discern sense of frustration in your voice for the first time, OSO. Otherwise, you would not threaten your associates in the presence of a stranger. You seem to be disintegrating. It is good for you, and it is good for us. Let’s face it. The police are at the door. It is a raid.
OSO: The good news is that our attorney has already obtained the court’s order of restraint. The police can talk to us, but cannot touch us.
MIKO: You are forgetting something. You have a wonderful guest here, who will say he is the hostage. Your attorney cannot save you from arrest.
OSO: If I go to the prison, none of you will escape the same fate. You are my partners in what goes on here.
DOJO: Not the equal partners. You are the Supremo. We do not have your passwords.
MIKO: When you go away, your treasures will perish. There will be no takers, no heirs.
DOJO: Your empire is crumbling, OSO.
MIKO: Your practices have corrupted our mission. Your quest for power has tarnished its spirit.
DOJO: You are alienating the capable persons of the mission. Rather antagonizing them.
MIKO: By converting the campaign of love into the campaign of terror.
DOJO: It is time for you to release PIF from the groundzero.
TIM: (Alarmed) Is my father also a hostage here? Is that why he didn’t come home last night? Where is he? Where is your groundzero?
NITO: Are you the son of PIF?
MIKO: I could sense it. OSO, better release PIF immediately.
OSO: Or, you will do what?
MIKO: I will take this young man to his father. He will manage to take him home.
OSO: I can admire your courage. But audaciousness doesn’t really mean courage.
MIKO: Some audaciousness goes with courage.
OSO: Along with courage you need wits. You forget that PIF is transfixed at the ground zero. Nobody except me knows the password that can release him.
MIKO: If PIF perishes, you will be tried for murder.
OSO: Forget it. I cannot be tried for anything.
DOJO: You are over confident.
MIKO: And deluded.
OSO: No. Your imagination is dead. Doesn’t it occur to you that PIF may not want to live? He may like to commit suicide.
MIKO: Impossible. PIF loves life.
OSO: The idea of suicide is so fascinating. PIF will not even leave the trace of his dead body.
TIM: You cannot do this to my father. I will not let this happen.
OSO: Don’t be sentimental, young man. You seem to be a good son. This is odd enough. If you want to save your father, you will have to strike a deal with me. Don’t feel shy. It will be a win-win situation.
TIM: Don’t expect me to believe you. I know your reality. First things, first. Release my father.
OSO: I admire your intelligence. That is why I want you to be the part of our mission. My terms are pretty attractive. Think about it. Take your time. (TIM hangs his head in a thinking posture. OSO to women) What are you both looking at?
OSO: Philosophic again? Better act. You have a duty. You can’t be slack even if you are not willing.
NITO: What can we do?
MIKO: Your nectar has lost its charm.
OSO: Or have both of you lost your charm? Revive it, if you can. Make him sip it. He will make the right decision after he drinks it.
MIKO & NITO: Oh, OSO.
They take the glasses to TIM.
MIKO: We cannot insist, but you may like to oblige us.
NITO: Do you see our plight?
TIM accepts both the glasses.
TIM: Thank you.
NITO: So sweat of you.
MIKO: Cheer up. You will find it electrifying.
TIM examines the glasses and all of a sudden throws the liquid into the eyes of OSO. Takes the hands of MIKO.
TIM: Take me to the ground zero. To my father.
MIKO is watchful of OSO, but moves a few steps. NITO also tends to follow a bit reluctantly. Meanwhile, OSO regains his poise.
OSO: Stop, foolish women! Don’t you know that only my special guards can usher him to the ground zero? And he wants to go there only to get transfixed. Like his father.
OSO claps. The Commandos appear and on the signal of OSO, repeat the magical gesture in order to take TIM away to the ground zero. MIKO and NITO cover TIM before the magic can start working.
OSO: I knew you would invite trouble. Better let my Commandos perform their duty. Otherwise I will direct them to transfix both of you alongside PIF. You both have a soft corner for him. He will feel elated on having awfully seductive women on his sides. He has such a weakness for women.
MIKO: I don’t care. I am ready to be transfixed.
NITO: Me too. My spirit is free.
OSO: The spectacle of the trio against the wall on the ground zero can be very fascinating. All the three attaining immortality, the ultimate state of spiritual quietitude. Their nirvana. Like Buddha! TIM, you will marvel watching your father in the great company of these yoginis before you attain your own nirvana.
OSO pushes MIKO and NITO away, and starts repeating his signal to Commandos. DOJO comes and obstructs his hand.
DOJO: Stop this madness, OSO.
OSO: Don’t interrupt me DOJO. It is the Tantrik frenzy. It has overtaken me. It seems to be their destiny to go to ground zero. Don’t stop me and just keep away. I will reveal the password to you after transfixing these infidels.
MIT appears with a trident, spread out black tresses, red eyes and obtruded tongue, a picture of Kali.
DOJO: Don’t befool yourself, OSO. Your Tantrik frenzy is fake. The Mother goddess of Tantra is here. Call her by any name. Ka or Kali, Isis or Artemis, Scatha or Ma Tsu. The essence is the same. She is the eternal spirit of Motherhood. The protector of the meek on this earth. I see Her incarnate in MIT, wife of PIF, the man you transfixed at ground zero.
OSO: (Looking at MIT with awe and trembling) Why have you brought this woman here?
DOJO: She has come like a whirlwind. Nobody could stop her.
MIT: (She points the trident at him.) Are you a human being or a travesty of a human being? How dare you detain my husband the whole night? How dare you harass my child? What is this ground zero? Your hideout? Something like the caves of Tora Bora? Why have you sent my PIF there? Let me see him. Take me there.
DOJO: (Pushing OSO) Lead thou kindly light, OSO.
MIT: Move fast. Don’t try to be smart. All the blades of the trident will pierce your brain if you play any game.
DOJO: Some piercing will not be amiss. It may perhaps humanize OSO, a bit. He needs it.
OSO: Don’t be cruel to me, DOJO. You are my disciple, my associate. Don’t you see I am sick?
DOJO: I do. You are really sick. You are sickness incarnate.
OSO: I need to see a doctor. My dialysis is overdue. Please let me go.
DOJO: Who will take this lady to her husband?
OSO: You may do it yourself.
DOJO: How can I do that? I don’t know the password. You never revealed it to me. To any of us.
OSO: Take all the passwords. Just let me go.
MIT: Settle your sordid business later. First, move.
They move. The area where PIF is transfixed is lighted. MIT and OSO get closer. Others follow in awe.
MIT: What a brutality! You snake oil! Release my PIF immediately or my trident shreds your brain. Be quick.
OSO releases PIF. MIT goes to PIF and tries to soothe his pain.
OSO: Sorry. I didn’t intend any harm.
MIT: Yes, I know too well what you intended. You wanted to save the soul of my husband? Do you know in which perdition you are? (To TIM) Come on, TIM. Look at the face of your Dad. How pale and haggard he looks. My heart bleeds for him. Take him away from this ground zero. And take care of him. Let me deal with this bastard.
PIF is unable to stand. TIM comforts him. He carries him on his back. the way he had carried him during piggyback ride. He moves a bit but stays waiting. OSO claps for his Commandos. Nobody turns up.
DOJO: Surrender, OSO. Your power is finished. Your Commandos have fled away.
OSO: Help me, DOJO. Let me go.
DOJO: Reap your karma. Face your retribution. My mind is elsewhere. (He comes close to PIF, sprinkles water on him and tries to make him sip some.) I have to make some statements to the police and the press.
OSO makes a half-hearted effort to run away.
MIT: Where can you go caterpillar? Your place is there, against the wall. Go and stand there. Exactly at the same space - where you made my husband stand. Arms up. Head down. Exactly the way you fixed PIF. Can anyone help me there?
MIKO and NITO fix OSO against the wall. His arms fall and dangle.
OSO: NITO, is it right for you to fix and humiliate me like this?
NITO: I don’t know. You didn’t teach me anything better.
OSO: MIKO, you too have turned against your mentor?
MIKO: You destroyed my discretion.
OSO: I had found you worthy of my legacy, NITO. I was going to teach you the ultimate password.
NITO: Forgive me, OSO. I am not interested in your dirty heritage.
OSO: MIKO, think again. Later on you will feel guilty.
MIKO: I am not doing anything wrong. I am not even an instrument of retribution. I repent why I did not really do anything about you at all.
DOJO: I am glad at what is happening now. Tell me quickly OSO, how do you feel? What lessons do you want to give to others?
MIKO: Are you comfortable at your ground zero?
NITO: Is it hot or cold?
MIKO: Do you need cushions?
NITO: Sorry, we will not be able to offer you nectar.
DOJO: Which posture do you prefer?
MIKO: How will you direct your jihad ?
NITO: By the way, do you still have any more Commandos who can rescue you?
MIKO: (Sarcastically) Any mantra to save you?
NITO:Any password you want to try?
OSO: I am awfully misunderstood.
DOJO: Really we misunderstood you.
MIKO: You can’t have any grudge any more.
NITO: Eventually, we have understood you.
MIKO: And your essence.
DOJO: You have not yet started counting your sins.
MIT: These blades are thirsty for your blood. You need not write a suicide note. I will make a clean confession of killing you.
MIKO: You need not shed his blood. He is worse than dead.
DOJO: Let’s have a good, last look at him.
MIKO: Any cameras around?
NITO: Let me call a television crew. (NITO goes out to search for one.).
MIT: I don’t mind your taking his photographs or whatever. I agree that this is a tremendous spectacle.
MIKO: TV and Newspapers all over the world will be keen to flash this image. He will be in the headlines.
DOJO: People will remember this creature for his crookedness.
MIKO: And his callousness. They will write books on his evil craft, and make movies on his crimes.
Enters NITO in great rush.
NITO: This building is aflame.
MIKO: We also hear explosives bursting.
In the background the voices of sirens mixed with human panic and pain start rising.
NITO: I don’t know, but something unimaginable has happened.
MIT: I can’t waste any more time. Watch me in action.
With a terrible gesture of fury, preferably expressed in a ritual dance form, MIT points her trident on OSO’s throat. A child scout dressed in the uniform of a fireman enters blowing his whistle.
CHILD FIREFIGHTER: The building is collapsing. Let’s please go. Quick.
TIM: Come on Mom. Throw away your anger. Let providence deal with OSO. Dad needs you desperately. We can’t afford to waste a second. Mom, please. Come on now.
PIF: Come MIT. …I love you!
MIT rushes to PIF. Kisses him passionately. All except OSO and the child firefighter leave one by one midst noises of destruction.
CHILD FIREFIGHTER: (Turning to OSO) Sorry, OSO. Let me see if there is any ambulance around.
He goes out whistling and comes back midst noises
CHILD FIREFIGHTER: All telephones are dead. Things are falling apart. No hope for ambulance. People are crawling to get out. No help. I can’t find even water for you. Sizzling debris are falling from all sides. OSO, you don’t have time. Walk out quickly. (Extending his hand) Take my hand if you can. I can’t carry you on my tiny shoulders. You have to walk on your own feet. See, there is a maimed woman calling for help. She is pregnant. Maybe in labor. Let me go and help her. I can’t wait for you any longer, OSO. Good luck! Bye bye!
The Child Firefighter leaves. OSO, desperate to wriggle out, slips into a non-descript posture, his limbs dangling and face distorted with pain. Slowly the lights fade.
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