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  • The Deluge:A Play
  • Intizar Husain
    Translated by Alok Bhalla (bio) and Nishat Zaidi (bio)

Cast of Characters

old man

woman

man in trousers

man in coat

girl

man in kurta

station master

Act One

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.

old man

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.

woman

[sighs] May God have mercy upon us!

No one responds. The Man in Trousers gathers some leaves and places them before the goat.

old man

[to the Man in Trousers] Son, do you remember the Quetta earthquake?

man in trousers

[with leaves in his hands, looks at the Old Man] The Quetta earthquake? No.

old man

[to the Man in Coat] And you, my dear? [End Page 156]

man in coat

[thinks for a while] No.

old man

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.

man in trousers

[shocked] No one survived?!

old man

Only one man survived.

man in trousers

Only one?!

old man

A man and a little chick.

The Man in Coat, who seemed to be uninterested till now, looks at the Old Man in surprise.

man in coat

A little chick?

old man

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.

woman

[with a shudder] This calamity was unexpected.

old man

Calamity, my dear, is always unexpected. There’s a sudden storm out of nowhere and the town is swept away.

man in coat

[fearfully] So, this was a calamity.

old man

Certainly it was.

man in trousers

But why?

old man

Punishment for our sins.

man in trousers

Whose sins? [angrily] What did I do? What did you do? [points to the Woman and the Girl] What have these poor people done?

old man

[laughs sarcastically] Son, nature doesn’t care if—

All five are startled by a train whistle blowing in the distance.

girl

[muttering to herself] Has the train arrived?

man in coat

There’s still time.

girl

Then what train is that?

man in coat

Maybe a supply train . . . or an engine shunting boxcars.

old man

Bhai, you inquired, didn’t you?

man in coat

Yes, don’t worry. When I inquired, the train was an hour late. But one can’t trust the information. [End Page 157]

old man

Really?

man in coat

What’ll we do if the water rises up to the platform?

old man

May Allah have mercy upon us.

woman

Shah Madar1 is twisting a knife into our wounds. Everything is going wrong. At least the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 156-187
Launched on MUSE
2015-09-29
Open Access
No
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