- The Deluge:A Play
Cast of Characters
man in trousers
man in coat
man in kurta
A waiting room in a small railway station. It has two doors: the front one opens onto the platform; the back one opens onto the basti and is closed. Near the closed door, the Man in Kurta is standing with his back towards the audience, looking out a window.
In the middle of the room is a worn-out carpet. The Old Man, called Bade Mian, is kneeling on a prayer rug on top of the carpet. Finishing his namaaz, he raises his hands in supplication. Beside him are his rosary, a pillow, and a jug.
Behind the Old Man is the Man in Trousers, watching a goat that has been tied nearby.
To one side are a small bench and an easy chair, of the kind usually found in railway waiting rooms. The Woman and The Girl are sitting on the bench. Both are dressed in worn-out clothes and look worried. Beside the Woman is a bundle; beside the Girl is a caged parrot. The Man in Coat stands off by himself.
U watu’izzu man tasha-u wa-tudhillu man tasha. “Disgrace and honour is brought by me,” says Allah.
No one reacts to him. Pause. The Man in Coat yawns and then stares into space. Pause.
[sighs] May God have mercy upon us!
No one responds. The Man in Trousers gathers some leaves and places them before the goat.
[to the Man in Trousers] Son, do you remember the Quetta earthquake?
[with leaves in his hands, looks at the Old Man] The Quetta earthquake? No.
[to the Man in Coat] And you, my dear? [End Page 156]
[thinks for a while] No.
Yes. How could you? It happened before you were born. It was a calamity. Mothers threw down their children and ran out of their homes. [pause, talking to himself] There was destruction everywhere. Everywhere. [addressing those sitting near him] One basti was so completely destroyed that no one survived.
[shocked] No one survived?!
Only one man survived.
A man and a little chick.
The Man in Coat, who seemed to be uninterested till now, looks at the Old Man in surprise.
A little chick?
Strange are the ways of Allah. The mighty were reduced to rubble, the tall ones collapsed. Only a little chick survived. [sighs] We have only heard of that calamity; now we are witnessing one. [looks at each of the others in turn] I can count the survivors, along with that goat. No one else seems to have survived.
[with a shudder] This calamity was unexpected.
Calamity, my dear, is always unexpected. There’s a sudden storm out of nowhere and the town is swept away.
[fearfully] So, this was a calamity.
Certainly it was.
Punishment for our sins.
Whose sins? [angrily] What did I do? What did you do? [points to the Woman and the Girl] What have these poor people done?
[laughs sarcastically] Son, nature doesn’t care if—
All five are startled by a train whistle blowing in the distance.
[muttering to herself] Has the train arrived?
There’s still time.
Then what train is that?
Maybe a supply train . . . or an engine shunting boxcars.
Bhai, you inquired, didn’t you?
Yes, don’t worry. When I inquired, the train was an hour late. But one can’t trust the information. [End Page 157]
What’ll we do if the water rises up to the platform?
May Allah have mercy upon us.
Shah Madar1 is twisting a knife into our wounds. Everything is going wrong. At least the...