Renu : a nineteen year old girl, extremely interesting and attractive, than beautiful.
Man : a six pack TDH (tall, dark, handsome) twenty six year old.
Two strangers : in their thirties Renu’s father : in his late forties Renu’s mother : around forty five
[The stage is divided into three parts. The central room is where most of the action takes place. On the left is a smaller room opening to the other side of the building. There is a closet on the right wall. To the right of the central room, on the other side of the closed door, a road is clearly visible.]
[Light only in the left room. Renu is on her phone. Unpacking and inspecting the room while talking.]
RENU : (into the phone) What have I done! You tell me, what else could I have done. Come on, Neethu. It was not my fault. You know I cannot stand the smell of blood. I never wanted to study medicine. No, no. you won’t understand. You always wanted to be a doctor. And, I only want to be a fashion designer. Yes, yes. You try that. Just convince my parents. Okay. Where am I?
(Takes a comb from the bag and loosens her long thick hair) What have I done? Well, you know I flunked in every single subject in the last exam. They’ve sent out the progress reports to the parents. The day before yesterday. I keep my cell phone switched off all the time. And yesterday. Yes I’m coming to it. You were all studying for today’s test. What am I to do? You know I can’t make head or tail of anatomy. I couldn’t stand the pressure. I went for that movie I told you about. Katrina Kaif wearing those new designer frocks. First show. Oh yes, alone. You wouldn’t have come if I’d called you. Would you? Yes, alone. You are the first person to know if I have a boyfriend. Where was the time for all that? I was busy studying to make a fool of myself. (Heaps some thick books out of a bag onto the table). And what happened? What is to happen? The warden caught me entering the hostel at 9:30 pm. Told me to clear off the next morning. Yes, if I had begged her, yes, if I brought my parents down. And explained. (Removing her high-heeled shoes, opens a plastic cover) I packed my things and came here. (There is only one slipper inside the cover. Shakes it. Still only one slipper. Searching the bag. Throwing out various dress materials) This room is okay. (Struggles to open the door of the closet to keep the piled up clothes) Next to the Central Tower in Avenue road. I’m switching off my mobile. If my parents call don’t answer. Please. Yes. I know what I’m doing. (Pulling the closet door) Yes. I am careful. (The closet door breaks into half and she falls into it) Bye!
(A groaning sound becomes audible. She listens. It persists. She probes further into the closet. Finds a long, horizontal plank which appears to be connected loosely at the back of the closet. She shakes it and it loosens further into making her lose her balance. A long horizontal gap, as long and wide as a small door is seen leading to the central room. The groan continues. She hesitates. Then, cautiously, she steps into the central room and finds a switch on the wall. As she presses the switch on, light in the left room is dimmed. And, into the central room light floods, revealing a pool of blood with a man in the midst. He was the one who groaned. Renu sees him. Screams.)
MAN : Please.
RENU : (Trying to control herself) What? How? What? Shall I call the Police? Phone? Where’s the phone?
MAN : (Getting up) Please. (He is completely drenched with blood) Please control yourself. I will explain.
RENU : You! What? Explain?
MAN : This is only a setting for a drama. Of course not intended for you. For someone else.
RENU : Okay. I am sorry. I thought… I am so sorry. MAN : For what?
RENU : For… Okay, for disturbing you. (She turns to go back). MAN : And, for trespassing into my room.
RENU : eh…ye…yes. I am so sorry. I only thought you may need some help. I was trying to help.
MAN : (calmly) Have you done this before? RENU : What? Trying to help?
MAN : No, trespassing into another’s property.
RENU : That’s not fair. I was not trespassing. I heard you groan. I was trying to help.
MAN : You were peeping into my room. Were you looking for something to blackmail me?
RENU : You misunderstand me. I’m your new neighbor. I rented the room next to you and started living there from today evening.
MAN : And wasted no time in getting your voyeuristic pleasures. Who are you? A pervert? (shakes her shoulders)
RENU : How dare you? I was only trying to help. Now I am sorry for ever having thought of helping you. I’m going. (she shirks him off and stamps towards her room. He takes a water gun nearby and presses it. She is showered with a red, blood-like liquid.)
RENU : You! (she shoves a nearby chair onto him and attempts to dash out, but slips and falls into the blood pool) oh, no! Don’t hurt me please! (he bends to her, making a macabre sight of oozing blood. But, actually, he is trying to help her get up)
MAN : Sorry, that was just for fun.
RENU : (Screams) Fun!!!
MAN : Please don’t scare the neighbours. I have had no bad intentions.
RENU : Don’t touch me.
MAN : Okay, okay. I told you, I am sorry. I was only teasing you. Please wash your face and you can go. (Points to the wash basin.)
RENU : I won’t stay here a moment more. (Turns to go)
MAN : But if you go out with that face, won’t it, perhaps look a bit scary?
RENU : I’ll wash in my room.
MAN : There is no wash basin there. You’ll have to go to the common bathrooms.
RENU : (Shouts) How do you know that.
MAN : I’m your neighbor. (Points to the wash basin) Sorry, please.
(Renu goes to the wash basin, washes her face, as light dims)
(In the right the road lights up, as two men comes to the door through the road)
STRANGER 1 : This is where he lives
STRANGER 2 : Knock the door
STRANGER 1 : No need. There’s a calling bell. STRANGER 2 : Or we can break the door.
STRANGER 1 : Anything to bring him out
STRANGER 2 : And marry him to my sister (Rings the bell) (Light inside the room. The shrill ringing of the bell is heard) MAN : Oh, they have come.
RENU : (Still at the wash basin) Who?
MAN : (Opens the window. The strangers don’t see him opening it) The brother and uncle of the girl.
RENU : Your girl friend?
MAN : No, not really. It was she who just thrust herself onto me.
(The bell rings shrilly once more. Then it goes on ringing without a pause)
MAN : Oh, what shall I do? (He takes the water gun absent mindedly in his hand and pauses at the door. Then softly removes the latch of the door. The men outside are not aware of this. The bell keeps ringing. Renu has finished her washing.)
RENU : So. That’s your business. Bye! (Turns to go)
MAN : Stop! (Squeezes the water gun. Again red is splashed on to her face, body. He grabs her hands and thrusts the water gun into them. Renu screams)
(Outside. Stranger 1 kicks on the door opening it wide.)
(Inside. The man clutches his chest with one hand, holding the girl with the other. Kneels down.)
MAN : (To the girl, clinging on to her) Oh, what have you done! I would have married only you. Just because they have come here it doesn’t mean I will marry her. You were and are my only love. What, oh, what, have you done?
RENU : (Confused, frantic, struggling to get out of his grasp) What? What have I done?
(Stranger 1 lays his hand over Stranger 2’s shoulder) Stranger 2 : It sure is a murder!
Stranger 1 : I think we better go.
Stranger 2 : What a terrible fool your sister is. To have fallen in love with this jerk!
Stranger 1 : We better go. We can’t afford to be witnesses to a murder.
Stranger 2 : They may even accuse us. (They rush out and disappear into the road)
(Inside the room Renu and the man are still struggling. Renu manages to push him down.)
(Meanwhile, simultaneously, in Renu’s room, her parents search for her. They discover the closet, the gap, and enter the man’s room, and are shocked at what they see. Renu turns to see them. A momentary tremble. She turns her back to them, clutching the water gun.)
RENU : (Points the water gun to the man. To the man.) This is what you get. I told you not to disturb me. I wanted, I only wanted to study. To be a doctor. To fulfill my parents’ dreams! You pestered me at the hostel. That’s why I changed my room. Now that you have come here this is what you get. Death. I only wanted to fulfill my parents’ dreams. That’s why I came to this city. To study medicine. Sacrificing my dream to be a fashion designer. For my dear parents. Now, (weeps) now, the police will come for me. My parents will see me in jail. For killing you! (The man looks on, aghast, confused, still clutching his chest)
MOTHER : (Screams) No!
FATHER : Come, Renu. No police will come for you.
MOTHER : Let’s escape fast. We’ll protect you, my poor darling baby.
FATHER : Come fast. You won’t come back to this city again. RENU : (Weeping) My studies…oh, my life is ruined.
MOTHER : We’ll protect you, baby. (They pull her out of the room to her room)
FATHER : Tomorrow, you’ll join the fashion technology institute in our town.
(They take her bag, trunk, and go out of the door of her room.) MOTHER : We’ll protect you, baby.
(The sound of car doors opening and closing, and the starting of a car. Meanwhile, the man gets up slowly, wiping his face. He moves to the wash basin)
BETSY PAUL. Teaches English.