(Lights slowly light up the stage)
Setting – A restaurant setting in a prestigious hotel. Tables and chairs are laid out. Voices playing in the background to indicate that there are other customers in the restaurant.
(Rizwan, the protagonist, in his early twenties walks in on the stage from the left)
RIZWAN (talking to himself, awe on his face) – How lucky I am! I remember how I dreamt of working in this prestigious place since childhood and today it’s come true! All the sweat and toil of the last few years has gotten me here. Finally, Amma’s and Abba’s wishes will be fulfilled. Life in the chawl hasn’t been easy for Amma. And Abba, slogging hard from morning till night working as a tailor. It’s now my turn to give them all the comforts that we have always dreamt of. Ok, enough Rizwan…stop day dreaming and get back to work.
(From the right, a middle-aged man and a young girl about eighteen years of age – both foreigners walk in)
RIZWAN – Good evening Sir, Ma’am. Please be seated. Will anyone be joining you?
MIDDLE-AGED MAN – No, it will be just me and my daughter. Can you please suggest some local dishes for us to try? Lightly spiced and less oil of course.
RIZWAN – Yes Sir, of course. You can try the butter chicken with rotis. Mildly spiced and just perfect for your palate. And maybe some Paneer tikka for starters?
MIDDLE-AGED MAN – Great. That’s perfect. Please some diet coke with it too.
RIZWAN – Sure Sir. Will get that right away.
(Rizwan walks away from stage.)
(Lights dim and then slowly light up the stage again after the gunshots, upon entry of Iqbal)
(In the background, suddenly gunshots are heard and people screaming. The middle-aged man and his daughter stand up, terrified. Iqbal, the terrorist, around twenty-five walks in on stage, a machine gun in hand. He looks at the father-daughter duo and smirks.)
IQBAL – Mashallah! What a beauty! When I was told Jannat would be found on carrying out this mission, I hadn’t expected this for sure. Old man, hand over this young lady of yours to me right now.
(The girl cowers behind her father)
MIDDLE-AGED MAN – What kind of a joke is this? Are you crazy or something?
(Addressing his daughter) Sweetheart, no need to be scared. You dad is right here. Let me see how this hooligan even lays a finger on you. You will need to fight me first, you idiot!
IQBAL (bristling in anger) – How dare you call me an idiot? I will show you now exactly what I am! Your fault that you did not recognise the face of terror. If you had simply handed your daughter over to me, I might have let you go. Alas, that is not to be! Now GO DIE!
(Machine gun shots ring out and the middle-aged man collapses on the floor. His daughter bends down, holding his hand and starts crying)
(Rizwan in the meantime, comes rushing back on stage, looking panic stricken)
RIZWAN (seeing the fallen man) – Ya Allah! What have you done? Sir, Sir? Ma’am, are you okay? (He kneels down near the girl)
IQBAL – Hand over that girl to me now. This fool (pointing to the dead man) didn’t pay heed to my warnings. Do you want to die too?
RIZWAN (scared, but trying to be brave) – I will not allow you to touch her. She is here as a guest. It is my duty, my responsibility to take care of her while she is here.
RIZWAN (addressing the girl) – Please don’t worry ma’am, I will not let any harm come to you. Come here now (extends his hand to her and she stands up)
GIRL (sobbing) – He, he killed my father. What was my father’s crime? What had he done to deserve this?
IQBAL – Your father’s crime was that he was from another religion. That he stood by and watched when thousands of us died in the wars that are funded by your country. We want our own country, our own religion. For that, YOU MUST ALL DIE!
RIZWAN (bravely) – You talk about religion? Religion does not teach us to harm another. Religion is all about saving, about nurturing life. Do not give religion as an excuse! You are a shame to all of us, all of us that believe in Humanity.
IQBAL – My god says that you must take what you need. You all have stood by the side lines and watched while we were being harmed. Where was your humanity then? Today you talk about it, but humanity was forgotten when my child was buried under the rubble of my house, all due to a bomb. Humanity was forgotten when my wife was dragged through the streets and men behaving like vultures couldn’t get enough of her! And I was helpless… helpless because I would never be able to stand against ten of them together. Ten people who behaved like animals, men who looted our homes, plundering and taking whatever, they wanted.
RIZWAN – Brother I feel for you. But remember, every action is registered in God’s book. There will be a day, they will pay for all of it. It is not for you to make them pay. Let God decide. His timing is always right. Give up the gun brother. Let her go!
IQBAL – No, I will not. She must pay, just as my wife did! (screaming, tries to catch hold of the girl’s hand)
RIZWAN – Nooo, brother I cannot allow that. (tries to step in, pushing the girl) Ma’am, please run. The door ahead leads to the kitchen. Follow that and run…There is an exit door that leads to the back alley. Just go!
(A scuffle ensues. The girl follows Rizwan’s instructions and heads off the stage. Iqbal and Rizwan are fighting and a gun shot is heard. Then deafening silence. Rizwan collapses on the floor)
IQBAL – I never intended to hurt you brother. I wanted to only hurt those who hurt me. Unfortunately, you came in the way. If only you had handed over the girl to me. None of this would have ever happened. (Remorse on his face)
(Lights slowly fade out. Curtains down)
- This play is dedicated to all those who lose their lives every day in the name of terrorism. It is an attempt to recreate/ show the emotions encountered by people from various walks of life in a moment of adversity. The idea is not to hurt the religious sentiments of any community. A sincere apology in case we have done so unknowingly through our play.
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