आज़ादी विशेषांक / Freedom Special

दिसंबर २०१२ / December 2012

A Question and a Dream: Krishna Baldev Vaid

Art: Sunita


Translated from Hindi by Alok Bhalla

(Night. Half Moon. Countless stars. Silence. A beautiful, sad woman, who seems to have just got out of bed, is sitting on a bench in a park of a city.)

 

Vandana: I’ve never been here before…not even in my imagination…perhaps…not even in my dreams…If I had, something would have flashed before me by now…a memory…a stir in this half-darkness…a sound in this silence…an inner fear…a tremor of a star…a dead thought…a premonition of this delightful emotional state…at least something…It seems as if a mischievous stranger has left me alone in this mysterious state of mind and gone to sit somewhere else…somewhere up there…from where he can watch everything…I should have been in bed by now…burnt-out…like countless other sad women…slightly apart from Mohan sleeping next to me…He must still be asleep…unconcerned…unaware…unconscious…I wonder what he’d do if he finds out…that I’m sitting here at this time and thinking aloud…I’m not scared of him…Am I now free of Mohan…of his anger…of myself? Free!

 

(As she gets up her eyes sweep the sky. Then she gazes at her hands as if she is looking at her face in the mirror for the first time.)

 

I…Vandana…Shrimati Vandana Gupta…Shrimati Gupta…or perhaps gupt Vandana…invisible Vandana…I have perhaps never looked into the mirror before…at myself…at my name…or even heard it by mistake…it is the magic of this pleasant state of being…At this time I’m neither Shrimati…nor Shrimati Gupta…nor Vandana Gupta….nor even Vandana…At this time I’m gupt…not Gupta…but gupt!

 

(She lies down on her stomach on the bench with her chin resting on its side-arm. Her face is lit.)

 

This state of mind…and my being in this mood at this time…isn’t because a mysterious stranger has played a joke on me…but the miracle of some secret wish…Why didn’t such a miracle happen before?…Better put that question to sleep at once (sings a lullaby). Sleep pretty baby…sleep…golden slumbers seal your eyes…sleep… sleep…

 

(Still humming the lullaby, she nearly drifts off to sleep when she catches sight of someone standing before her and jumps up.)

 

Who are you?

 

Question 1: A question. Your question. You were singing me a lullaby.

 

Vandana: Oh! You scared me!

 

Question 1: And you’d have put me sleep had you not slept yourself.

 

Vandana: Why are you here?

 

Question 1: To ask why you’ve never been here before.

 

Vandana: Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to ask why I’m here today?

 

Question 1: I’m not the kind who asks a straight and direct question.

 

Vandana: I don’t care who you are…I wish I knew the answer to your question.

 

Question 1: what would you have done if you knew?

 

Vandana: Perhaps regretted not having been here before.

 

Question 1: You still can regret it.

 

Vandana: I do.

 

Question 1: Do you want to know why you’ve never been here before?

 

Vandana: No. Certainly not.

 

Question 1: Why not?

 

Vandana: Even if I know, I’ll not suffer less.

 

Question 1: Do you want to suffer less?

 

(Vandana remains silent)

 

Do you like being in this state of mind?

 

Vandana: Yes. I like it. I like it a lot.

 

(Closes her eyes)

 

Question 1: More than lying in bed?

 

Vandana: There is no comparison between the earth and the sky.

 

Question 1: Aren’t you terrified?

 

Vandana: I’m terrified, that’s why I like it.

 

Question 1: Even though Mohan’s not here?

 

Vandana: No, because he is not here. Perhaps.

 

Question 1: Even though, in this state of mind, anything could happen?

 

Vandana: No, in the hope that something would happen. Perhaps.

 

Question 1: Perhaps?

 

Vandana: Yes, perhaps.

 

Question 1: So, you won’t accept the fact that you like being in this mental state because Mohan’s not a part of it and I am? And that anything could happen here?

 

Vandana: Perhaps.

 

Question 1: ‘Perhaps’ – must you be so defensive?

 

Vandana: Perhaps.

 

Question 1: Even in this mental state?

 

Vandana: Perhaps even more in this mental condition. But what’s my state? Tell me.

 

Question 1: Don’t you know?

 

Vandana: Why would I ask otherwise?

 

Question 1: There are many things we know but refuse to acknowledge until we’ve asked others about them.

 

Vandana: You are a very complicated.

 

Question 1: You aren’t as simple as you seem.

 

Vandana: Why are you so complicated?

 

Question 1: It’s the dharma of every question to be complicated. Of every authentic question.

 

Vandana: Are you an authentic question?

 

Question 1: Every question tries to be authentic, claims to be authentic.

 

Vandana: Are you not an authentic question?

 

Question 1: I refuse to answer that question.

 

Vandana: Why don’t you tell me what mental state actually is?

 

Question 1: The answer to that question lies in your mind. If you search you’ll find it there.

 

Vandana: Then I won’t find it.

 

Question 1: Why won’t you?

 

Vandana: Because my mind is clogged with garbage. Garbage of all kinds. Old and new garbage. External and internal garbage. I’ll never find anything of help there.

 

Question 1: It’s possible that your present state has unclogged your mind a bit.

 

Vandana: Is that possible?

 

Question 1: Why not?

 

Vandana: But it’s also possible that my present state has added to the garbage in my mind.

 

Question 1: Is that possible?

 

Vandana: Why not?

 

Question 1: But why not search your mind and see?

 

Vandana: I don’t think that my mind belongs to me anymore.

 

Question 1: Not even in you present state?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: Even after becoming gupt Vandana – secret Vandana?

 

Vandana: So you overheard me. Were you here even then? Where were you hiding?

 

Question 1: In your mind.

 

Vandana: In the garbage of my mind!

 

Question 1: It was dark in there. I didn’t see the garbage.

 

Vandana: But you must’ve sensed its presence?

 

Question 1: No, I didn’t sense it.

 

Vandana: Then all the garbage must have dissolved in darkness.

 

Question 1: Or darkness may have swallowed all the garbage.

 

Vandana: But if you were hiding in my mind, didn’t you realise that my mind no longer belonged to me.

 

Question 1: No.

 

Vandana: Why not, when I could?

 

Question 1: I must’ve assumed that since the body was yours, the mind was yours also.

 

Vandana: Were you hiding in my body too?

 

Question 1: Can the mind be separated from the body?

 

Vandana: You are much too complicated.

 

Question 1: And you merely pretend to be simple.

 

Vandana: But why didn’t I realise that you were hidden my mind – that is, in a mind which no longer seems to be mine?

 

Question 1: Those who hide, those who really hide in the mind, never let the owner know they are hiding there. I’m an expert on this matter.

 

Vandana: Well, since you are an expert, and don’t want to tell me what state I’m in, at least tell me what’ll become of me?

 

Question 1: Meaning?

 

Vandana: Just that. What’ll become of me?

 

Question 1: Is that a question or an exclamation?

 

Vandana: A question and an exclamation.

 

Question 1: An exclamation doesn’t need an answer. And if it’s a question, you can answer it yourself.

 

Vandana: Why should’ve I asked you if I could?

 

Question: Because you don’t want to.

 

Vandana: But why?

 

Question 1: Because it’s easier to ask someone than to find an answer yourself.

 

Vandana: But how can I find the answer?

 

Question 1: By searching for it in your mind.

 

Vandana: That mind which no longer belongs to me?

 

Question 1: Yes, that mind.

 

Vandana: The one that’s clogged with garbage and is in darkness?

 

Question 1: Yes, that one.

 

Vandana: I can’t.

 

Question 1: At least try.

 

Vandana: I try all the time. But I’ve never discovered anything. Perhaps I don’t know how to search. Perhaps I can’t hear or understand what it says.

 

Question 1: Then let me tell you what you’ll do. You’ll do what you desire – what you truly desire.

 

Vandana: On what basis do you say that?

 

Question 1: My knowledge. Understanding. Experience. Learning. Observations. Assumptions.

 

Vandana: I don’t believe it.

 

Question 1: Don’t. But do you know what you want?

 

Vandana: Want? What I want?

 

Question 1: That’s what we’re talking about.

 

Vandana: Do I know what’ll happen to me?

 

Question 1: Yes.

 

Vandana: I don’t know.

 

Question 1: But you’ll agree if you want to know what’ll happen to you, you should know what you desire.

 

Vandana: I don’t know.

 

Question 1: What’d you mean?

 

Vandana: I don’t know if I agree or not.

 

Question 1: But won’t you agree it’s necessary to know what you desire?

 

Vandana: What’s necessary?

 

Question 1: Should I start from the beginning?

 

Vandana: I’m confused.

 

Question 1: Me too. But I’ll never admit that I’m confused.

 

Vandana: You’re very complicated.

 

Question 1: No more than you are.

 

(Pause)

 

Please go on. Say something. I suggest that if you want to know what’ll happen to you ask yourself what you want.

 

Vandana: What else have I done till now! But every time I’ve got the same answer. I wish I knew!

 

Question 1: I don’t believe it. It’s my turn not to believe you.

 

Vandana: Don’t.

 

Question 1: Maybe there’s something wrong in the way you ask.

 

Vandana: Maybe.

 

Question 1: ‘Maybe’ – the same defensive tone again!

 

Vandana: Maybe.

 

Question 1: You’ll never resolve your doubts.

 

Vandana: Don’t curse me.

 

Question 1: It’s not a curse, just a guess.

 

Vandana: Not a guess, but a needless apprehension.

 

Question 1: Why?

 

Vandana: Because I want to forget my problems.

 

Question 1: Should I go into hiding again?

 

Vandana: In the garbage of my mind?

 

Question 1: And it’s darkness.

 

Vandana: Why don’t you go to sleep somewhere?

 

Question 1: Authentic questions neither sleep nor let others sleep. Authentic questions never feel sleepy – really sleepy.

 

Vandana: Not even if one sings a lullaby?

 

Question 1: Not even if one sings a lullaby.

 

Vandana: Not even in someone’s lap?

 

Question 1: Not even in someone’s lap.

 

Vandana: Not even on someone’s bosom?

 

Question 1: Not even on someone’s bosom.

 

Vandana: Not even after taking opium?

 

Question 1: Not even after taking opium.

 

Vandana: Then you’d better hide. At least for a while.

 

Question 1: What’ll you do in the meantime?

 

Vandana: Perform a little skit.

 

(Question 1 laughs and disappears)

 

Far from my bed at home…alone…(sound of a sarangi from the wings) in this mental state…free…free…below the remote sky…in the gentle light of the half-moon…in the warm embrace of this penumbral light…an ocean of silence…happiness…bliss…one can’t seek bliss…one just finds…like new leaves on trees…like tears in one’s eyes…like radiance on one’s face…like dreams in sleep…peaceful dreams…sometimes…without effort…like a memory…a lost moment…an experience…a forbidden kiss…a forgotten body…a mysterious pain…like something forgotten…which may never be recalled…even in this blissful state…an apprehension…or cowardice…may not prevent it…perhaps…one should think…one should not think…one should say…one should not say…that constrain is useless…repression is pointless…this breeze, this night, this moonlight…this lovely breeze, this enchanting night, this moonlight…you may or may not remember…you may or may not remember…you may or may not…

 

(Vandana raises head and is surprised to see a young man standing before her)

 

Vandana: Parvez! Is that you!

 

Parvez: Yes, Vandana. It’s me, Parvez.

 

Vandana: I can’t believe it. I was…I was…

 

Parvez: Were you expecting someone else?

 

Vandana: Expecting? No.

 

Parvez: Hoping to see someone else perhaps?

 

Vandana: Hoping? No.

 

Parvez: Then?

 

Vandana: I was afraid it’d be someone else.

 

Parvez: Who?

 

Vandana: Forget it. Why are you here?

 

Parvez: I was lured here by the magic of your song.

 

Vandana: I don’t believe you.

 

Parvez: That’s your favourite phrase.

 

Vandana: All that stuff about magic and music happens only in the cinema.

 

Parvez: And sometimes in dreams.

 

Vandana: In cinematic dreams.

 

Parvez: Is this a cinematic dream?

 

Vandana: I don’t know what this is, but I know you are a fool.

 

Parvez: A cinematic fool.

 

Vandana: Yes, a cinematic fool.

 

Parvez: Both of us?

 

Vandana: (embracing Parvez) Yes, both of us.

 

(Pause)

 

(as if talking to herself) But what is this? There is nothing but empty air in my embrace! Parvez! Parvez! Where are you?

 

Parvez: But why are you surprised? I’m not here. You know I’m not here.

 

Vandana: I’m not here either.

 

Parvez: Then why did you call me?

 

Vandana: Did I call you or did you?

 

Parvez: I don’t know.

 

Vandana: Am I awake or dreaming?

 

Parvez: It’s hard to tell.

 

Vandana: It’s hard to tell.

 

(pause)

 

Parvez: The moment you began to hum that old song, I appeared. Like a foolish ghost.

 

Vandana: Why did I hum that old song?

 

Parvez: Because you’re a fool and haven’t forgotten your ghost.

 

Vandana: You are present and absent. You’re nothing but air.

 

Parvez: And you?

 

Vandana: You tell me who I am?

 

Parvez: I don’t know.

 

Vandana: Am I real or a dream?

 

Parvez: I don’t know.

 

Vandana: Why don’t you move on?

 

Parvez: I can’t.

 

Vandana: What about me?

 

Parvez: You can’t go back.

 

Vandana: Why?

 

Parvez: Ask yourself.

 

Vandana: Who am I?

 

Parvez: Ask yourself.

 

Vandana: Advice of a ghost!

 

Parvez: A paralysed ghost!

 

(pause)

 

Vandana: Where’s your Nazima at this time?

 

Parvez: In her bed.

 

Vandana: Where’s her bed?

 

Parvez: In our house.

 

Vandana: Why aren’t you with her?

 

Parvez: Because I’m here!

 

Vandana: Why are you here?

 

Parvez: Because you’re here. But to tell you the truth, I’m nowhere.

 

(pause)

 

Vandana: Now you ask me a question.

 

Parvez: Why are you playing childish games?

 

Vandana: At least ask me!

 

Parvez: Where is your Mohan?

 

Vandana: In his bed.

 

Parvez: Why aren’t you with him?

 

Vandana: Because I’m here.

 

Parvez: Why are you here?

 

Vandana: Because you are here.

 

(pause)

 

Parvez: Actually, I’m also there – in bed with Nazima.

 

Vandana: Actually, I’m also there – in bed with Mohan.

 

(pause)

 

Parvez: If Mohan were to find out that in reality you’re here at this time, what would he do?

 

Vandana: He must’ve found out by now, but he hasn’t done anything yet. If Nazima were to find out that you…

 

Parvez: She too must’ve found out, but she hasn’t done anything either.

 

(pause)

 

Vandana: So, will neither of them do anything?

 

Parvez: Maybe both of them are doing what we are.

 

Vandana: Together?

 

Parvez: Not together perhaps, but with each of their lovers.

 

Vandana: What? Asking each other meaningless questions?

 

(pause)

 

Parvez: Yes, asking meaningless questions.

 

Vandana: Are all beds empty at night?

 

Parvez: Perhaps.

 

Vandana: Beds and bodies.

 

Parvez: Perhaps, at night souls seek refuge in dreams.

 

Vandana: In dreams of others?

 

Parvez: In dreams about dreams of others.

 

Vandana: So, are you in my dream?

 

Parvez: And are you in mine?

 

(Pause)

 

Vandana and Parvez: (together) I don’t know.

 

Parvez: We should go back now.

 

Vandana: To our beds.

 

Parvez: To our bodies.

 

Vandana: To our dreams.

 

Parvez: Before both of them return.

 

Vandana: If they haven’t already retuned.

 

Parvez: To their beds.

 

Vandana: To their bodies.

 

Parvez: To their dreams.

 

Vandana: If they haven’t yet returned, they must be saying the same thing.

 

Parvez: To their lovers.

 

(Pause)

 

Vandana: If that’s true, why should they complain about us?

 

Parvez: If that’s true, why should we complain about them?

 

Vandana: If that’s true, why should anyone complain about anyone else?

 

Parvez: I don’t know.

 

Vandana: I don’t know.

 

(Pause)

 

Parvez: If we’d been together in bed, then our beds too would have been empty at night.

 

Vandana: And our bodies.

 

Parvez: Then why complain?

 

Vandana: Then why complain?

 

Parvez: Actually, none of us are where we think we are.

 

Vandana: Or, are and are not.

 

Parvez: Then why shouldn’t we complain?

 

Vandana: Because, complaining doesn’t remove the cause of complaint.

 

Parvez: But complaining helps us to endure the cause of complaint.

 

Vandana: But what is the cause of complaint?

 

Parvez: What complaint?

 

Vandana: Any real compliant?

 

Parvez: What’s that?

 

Vandana: Perhaps the real cause of complaint is our presence. If we didn’t exist, there’d be no cause for complaint.

 

Parvez: That’s a meaningless statement.

 

Vandana: If we didn’t exist, no one would’ve any cause for complaint.

 

Parvez: Even that’s a meaningless statement.

 

Vandana: Then say something meaningful.

 

Parvez: What would happen if we didn’t exist?

 

(Pause)

 

I should go back now.

 

Vandana: To Nazima?

 

Parvez: Yes, to Nazima.

 

Vandana: Khuda hafiz!

 

Parvez: Is there a Khuda?

 

Vandana: Isn’t there?

 

(Pause)

 

Parvez: If there is a God, there should be no cause for complaint.

 

Vandana: That’s a meaningless statement.

 

Parvez: If there is a complaint, then God doesn’t exist.

 

Vandana: Even that’s a meaningless statement.

 

Parvez: All statements about God are meaningless.

 

Vandana: Including your last statement.

 

(Pause)

 

Parvez: If we believe in God, then our complaint will turn into a prayer.

 

Vandana: If we believe in God, then many of our questions are meaningless.

 

Parvez: And many of our questions turn into answers.

 

Vandana: And nothing is meaningless any longer.

 

Parvez: Or, everything is meaningless.

 

Vandana: It’s possible that God is a dream.

 

Parvez: Like this godly creation.

 

Vandana: Then why don’t we believe in his existence?

 

Parvez: Belief can’t be willed. One either believes or doesn’t.

 

Vandana: Like love.

 

Parvez: Real belief.

 

Vandana: Like real love.

 

(as if talking to herself) Why can’t I talk to Mohan like this?

 

Parvez: (as if talking to himself) Why can’t I talk to Nazima like this?

 

Vandana: (as if talking to herself) Mohan alone is not at fault; I too am.

 

Parvez: (as if talking to himself) Nazima alone is not at fault; I too am.

 

Vandana: (as if talking to herself) No one is at fault; the circumstances are.

 

Parvez: (anxiously) What circumstances?

 

Vandana: What?

 

Parvez: Fault?

 

 

Vandana: Oh fault! Forget the fault. No matter who’s at fault, no matter what the circumstances are, one cannot escape from the bitterness of reality.

 

Parvez: Even in a dream.

 

Vandana: If the two of us had been in bed together, would we have talked like this?

 

Parvez: To talk like this, one must be in a pleasant state of mind.

 

Vandana: One can’t be in such a pleasant state of mind in one’s bed.

 

Parvez: One can’t be such a pleasant state of mind in bed.

 

Vandana: One can find a bed in one’s present mental state.

 

Parvez: Some other bed. Someone else’s bed.

 

Vandana: If we’d been in bed together at this time, we’d have been imagining another bed, someone else’s bed.

 

Parvez: And desperately longing for it.

 

Vandana: We’re not in bed together, therefore we’re desperately longing for each other.

 

Parvez: To desperately long for each other, it’s essential to be far from each other.

 

Vandana: To be close to each other, it’s essential to be far from each other.

 

Parvez: Then we should be grateful we’re not in the same bed.

 

Vandana: And that I’m tied to Mohan and you to Nazima.

 

Parvez: And that I’m tied to Nazima and you to Mohan.

 

(Pause)

 

Vandana: Are trying to convert our helplessness into a blessing?

 

Parvez: And our blessing into helplessness?

 

Vandana: Perhaps, we think marriage is the enemy of love.

 

Parvez: Perhaps! No, we certainly do.

 

Vandana: So, what should we do now?

 

Parvez: I don’t know about you, but I’m going home.

 

Vandana: To your bed?

 

Parvez: To my bed.

 

Vandana: Where you belong?

 

Parvez: Where I belong.

 

Vandana: Back to Nazima?

 

Parvez: Back to Nazima.

 

Vandana: Khuda hafiz.

 

Parvez: So you accept that God exists?

 

Vandana: No, I don’t accept it’ but I concede the possibility that he does.

 

Parvez: For the moment?

 

Vandana: Yes, for the moment.

 

Parvez: Well, khuda hafiz.

 

Vandana: Khuda hafiz.

 

(Parvez vanishes. Vandana is about to leave, but hesitates when she sees Question 1)

 

Question 1: Won’t you confront me  again before going back home?

 

Vandana: The truth is that I don’t want to go back.

 

Question 1: Then why did you let him go?

 

Vandana: He was anxious to go back.

 

Question 1: Why?

 

Vandana: He’s scared of Nazima.

 

Question 1: How do you know that?

 

Vandana: I know.

 

Question 1: And you?

 

Vandana: What about me?

 

Question 1: Aren’t you afraid of Mohan?

 

Vandana: I was, but not any more.

 

Question 1: Is that true?

 

Vandana: You doubt that?

 

Question 1: To doubt is the dharma of a question.

 

Vandana: Why do torment only me? Why don’t you torment him too?

 

Question 1: I’m your question, not his. His question will torment him.

 

Vandana: Is everyone tormented only by his own question?

 

Question 1: Don’t pretend to be so naïve.

 

Vandana: What do you mean?

 

Question 1: Don’t you know that there are some people who can never think of a real question?

 

Vandana: I know. I think Mohan is one of those lucky people.

 

Question 1: You aren’t wrong. Mohan does, once in a while, think of a real question, but he always manages to beat it into silence.

 

Vandana: How do you know?

 

Question 1: His question is my younger brother. He reveals his secrets to me.

 

Vandana: (laughs) And you reveal my secrets to him?

 

Question 1: Sometimes.

 

Vandana: (laughs) I don’t believe you.

 

Question 1: Your favourite sentence!

 

Vandana: So, you also saw the game Parvez and I played with teach other?

 

Question 1: A question is also a spy.

 

Vandana: If you are a spy, why don’t you tell me what the truth is?

 

Question 1: The truth is that no one knows the truth.

 

Vandana: I don’t agree.

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard her) Nor does any one want to know it.

 

Vandana: I don’t agree.

 

Question 1: With everything!

 

Vandana: No, with a part of it.

 

Question 1: The other part you know.

 

Vandana: So, you won’t tell me anything?

 

Question 1: My job is to ask questions, not answer them.

 

Vandana: What more do you want to know?

 

Question 1: You said that you weren’t afraid of Mohan. Who are you afraid of?

 

Vandana: Of myself.

 

Question 1: Of yourself?

 

Vandana: Yes, of the possibilities latent in me.

 

Question 1: What do you mean?

 

Vandana: The possibilities threatening to become real now.

 

Question 1: Why are they a threat, and not a blessing?

 

Vandana: Because I’m afraid of them.

 

Question 1: But why?

 

Vandana: Because they’ll completely destroy my home and my marriage.

 

Question 1: And saving your home and your marriage is the highest aim of your life?

 

Vandana: That’s what my tradition tells me.

 

Question 1: And you don’t want to challenge it?

 

Vandana: If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been here. I not only want to challenge it, I want to change it completely. That’s why I’m afraid, afraid of all the possibilities. That’s why I don’t want to confront them.

 

Question 1: It’s not easy to confront the truth.

 

Vandana: I know.

 

Question 1: Can I tell you something? The two of you make me despair. You and Parvez.

 

Vandana: Despair is perhaps your dharma. But I don’t understand why?

 

Question 1: The two of you met after a long time. Both of you were in a wonderful state of mind. You were both glowing with memories of a lovely night, and yet you spent the entire time in polite conversation.

 

Vandana: What else could we’ve done?

 

Question 1: Exchanged some passionate words, sighed a bit, shed some tears, complained a little, clawed each other, embraced each other, and got lost in each other. But you did nothing that two lovers are expected to do. Uninhibited. Unrestrained. For the sake of passion. To satisfy passion.

 

Vandana: Are you a question or Kamdev! Didn’t you see that I tried to take him in my arms, but he turned out to be airy nothing?

 

Question 1: I did see. But I felt that if you had greeted him with real warmth, taken him in your arms again and again, he’d have acquired a solid form and you’d have felt that he was physically present. But he was even less passionate than you were.

 

Vandana: It’s enough that he came. He’s afraid of Nazima.

 

Question 1: Even in a dream? Even in such a delightful state of mind?

 

Vandana: Yes.

 

Question 1: Just as you’re afraid of yourself.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) He’s intelligent. He knows that our meeting was an illusion.

 

Question 1: Maybe. But if you could talk to each other, you could also make love to each other?

 

Vandana: Even our dreams have boundaries.

 

Question 1: I disagree.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) Our dreams are only as erotic as our temperament and our inhibitions.

 

Question 1: I disagree. Dreams transgress boundaries, break them. Dreams, like imagination, are free. We can acknowledge our hopes and desires in them.

 

Vandana: I’m sorry that you couldn’t enjoy my erotic dreams.

 

Question 1: I’m sorry you couldn’t enjoy your erotic dreams. You lost a wonderful opportunity!

 

Vandana: Opportunities in dreams are not real.

 

Question 1: What are you saying! Opportunities in dreams are more real than in real life.

 

Vandana: But they don’t last long.

 

Question 1: No, some dreams can last for eternity.

 

Vandana: I don’t know about Parvez, but I was satisfied just to see him.

 

Question 1: That’s spoken like a true Indian woman!

 

Vandana: The truth is that my relation with Parvez was not sexual, it was Platonic.

 

Question 1: That’s spoken like a true Indian woman! At least you should have bemoaned that fact in each others arms.

 

Vandana: You’re not only complex, but also mischievous.

 

Question 1: You’re not only innocent, but also foolish.

 

Vandana: Parvez is worse than me.

 

Question 1: That’s why you’re not in the same bed.

 

Vandana: You must’ve overheard us say that was fortunate.

 

Question 1: Yes, I did and thought it was yet another example of your folly. If all lovers were as stupid, love would come to an end.

 

Vandana: Yes, but if Parvez and I’d been in the same bed, could I’ve been in this mental state, could we’ve met each other, found this unique opportunity?

 

Question 1: An opportunity you’ve wasted in polite conversation. You could’ve at least talked about the obstacles which prevent you from being with each other.

 

Vandana: I’m sorry, but you sound like an old and hackneyed question: ‘Give an account of those social conditions which prevent you from being lovers!’ Is that what you want us to tell you?

 

Question 1: If I’m an old and hackneyed question, then you are an old and hackneyed Indian woman who satisfied if she catches sight of her Platonic lover. A woman can’t divorce her husband who leaves her completely frustrated; who only knows how to suffer and find excuses for her suffering.

 

Vandana: Are you going to give a lecture on the limitations of the Indian woman? Don’t forget you’re here to help me find solutions.

 

Question 1: I’m trying to provoke you.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) Do you have any sympathy for me or don’t you?

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard her) If  you had talked to Parvez about those reasons and obstacles…

 

Vandana: That wouldn’t have helped?

 

Question 1: Your understanding of society would have been clearer.

 

Vandana: I don’t want clarity! If we’d moaned about social obstacles you’d have been bored. Who doesn’t know them? Every wretched film, story, play, novel and essay weeps and weeps bitterly about them. But weeping about them doesn’t help us understand their causes. It has yet to help anyone.

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard her) You met as if your separation wasn’t painful. You neither cursed each other, nor cursed society, nor cursed fate.

 

Vandana: You should praise us for that, not criticise us,

 

Question 1: These days, even brothers and sisters, who haven’t met for long time, don’t greet each other the way you did — no anxiety, no complaints, no teasing.

 

Vandana: That’s nothing but silly romanticism and social prejudice.

 

Question 1: Maybe neither of you felt any real pain when you lost each other.

 

Vandana: Maybe neither of us actually lost each other.

 

Question 1: Maybe both of you are far more romantic than I am.

 

Vandana: Please stop this useless cross-questioning!

 

(Pause)

 

Question 1: What’s more, you never complained about Mohan to Parvez.

 

Vandana: I can complain about Mohan only to Mohan. Or to myself.

 

Question 1: Why not to Parvez?

 

Vandana: Because I don’t want to broadcast my sorrow.

 

Question 1: What a fine choice of words!

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

What do you want?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Maybe you don’t know what you want?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Should I leave?

 

Vandana: I want love.

 

Question 1: Tell me something new.

 

Vandana: I want love and freedom.

 

Question 1: Who doesn’t want love and freedom?

 

Vandana: Till now, I’ve found neither love nor freedom.

 

Question 1: From whom?

 

Vandana: From anybody.

 

Question 1: Not even from your father and mother?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: Not even from your brothers and sisters?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: Not even from a friend?

 

Vandana: Not even from Parvez?

 

Question 1: No!

 

Vandana: Not even from Mohan?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: No?

 

Vandana: No.

 

(Pause)

 

Question 1: Is it possible that you did but didn’t know it?

 

Vandana: It’s possible. But I know I didn’t.

 

Question 1: Do you even know what love is, what freedom is?

 

Vandana: I do.

 

Question 1: Then tell me what’s love; what’s freedom?

 

Vandana: I don’t know how to. But I know I still haven’t found true love and real freedom.

 

Question 1: Have you ever truly fallen in love with anyone?

 

(Vandana remains silent)

 

Have you?

 

(Vandana remains silent)

 

But you want true love from others?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: No?

 

Vandana: No I’ve never fallen in love.

 

Question 1: With Mohan?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: With Parvez?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: Your father and mother?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: Your brothers and sisters?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: A Friend?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: A stranger?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: An ideal?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: A fad?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: An ideology?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: A country?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: The world?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: With your self?

 

Vandana: No.

 

(Pause)

 

Question 1: Why not?

 

Vandana: Without freedom, it’s not possible to love, and I’m not free. That’s why I want love and freedom.

 

Question 1: Do you realize what you’ve just confessed.

 

(Vandana remains silent)

 

You’ve just confessed that no one loves you and you love no one.

 

(Vandana remains silent)

 

At least the kind of love you want from someone and you want to give someone.

 

(Vandana remains silent)

 

If that’s true then your condition is critical.

 

Vandana: It’s true and my situation is critical.

 

Question 1: If that’s true then you’ll perhaps never love anyone nor will anyone love you.

 

Vandana: My condition is critical.

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard anything) If that’s true then how are you still alive?

 

Vandana: I breathe, but I’m not alive.

 

Question 1: But is it not possible that what you’ve said isn’t true?

 

Vandana: What isn’t?

 

Question 1: That you’ve never loved anyone and no one has ever loved you?

 

Vandana: Don’t give me false hopes.

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard anything) It’s possible that this is not the whole truth, and that the whole truth is beyond your grasp.

 

Vandana: Don’t pretend to be profound.

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard anything) The whole truth is beyond our grasp.

 

Vandana: Are you here to solve your problems or mine?

 

Question 1: (as if he hasn’t heard anything) It’s also possible that there is no such thing as the whole truth.

 

Vandana: How do these profound statements out of the blue help me!

 

Question 1: (pushing his train of thought further) Or that the whole truth is nothing but an incomplete lie.

 

Vandana: How can these banal reflections help me?

 

Question 1: (perusing his own line of thought) A kind of lie which is necessary to carry on living.

 

Vandana: You are forgetting that you are a question, not an answer.

 

Question 1: (perusing his own line of thought) Or which we consider necessary to go on living?

 

Vandana: At least listen to what I too have to say.

 

Question 1: (perusing his own line of thought) Because to carry on living some kind of crutch is necessary.

 

Vandana: Stop trying to show off.

 

(Question 1 bows his head)

 

What are you thinking about now?

 

Question 1: Nothing. I’m trying to look within you.

 

Vandana: What do you see?

 

Question 1: Profound darkness.

 

Vandana: And in that darkness?

 

Question 1: More darkness.

 

Vandana: Tell me something I don’t know!

 

Question 1: I can’t see a solution to your problem.

 

Vandana: Tell me something new!

 

Question 1: Since you haven’t yet found love, what’s the guarantee that you’ll find it now?

 

Vandana: There’s no guarantee.

 

Question 1: Since you haven’t yet loved anyone, what’s the guarantee that you’ll able to love someone now?

 

Vandana: There’s no guarantee.

 

Question 1: Then?

 

Vandana: Then what?

 

Question 1: Why don’t you stop pursuing love so obsessively?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Do you want to be loved or fall in love?

 

Vandana: Till now, I wanted to be loved, but now I also want to fall in love.

 

Question 1: Since you haven’t loved anyone yet, how’ll you do so now?

 

Vandana: I don’t know. I know that till now I only existed, now I feel alive.

 

Question 1: How do you know that?

 

Vandana: I just do.

 

Question 1: When Mohan says he loves you, why don’t you believe him?

 

Vandana: I just don’t.

 

Question 1: Don’t you love him?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: Did you love him before you married him?

 

Vandana: No, I didn’t.

 

Question 1: Then why did you marry him?

 

Vandana: I must’ve thought we could live happily even without love.

 

Question 1: Did you believe that Mohan loved you when he married you?

 

Vandana: No.

 

Question 1: What about him?

 

Vandana: He knew I didn’t love him.

 

Question 1: Then why did he agree to marry you?

 

Vandana: He must’ve thought we could live happily even without love.

 

Question 1: Does he still think that?

 

Vandana: Yes.

 

Question1: And you?

 

Vandana: I don’t.

 

Question 1: What’d you think now?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

You believe love is essential for marriage?

 

Vandana: Not for marriage, but for life. For me.

 

Question 1: If you can find love, will you be able to endure even this marriage?

 

Vandana: Yes.

 

Question 1: You want to remain married, but have the freedom to love someone else?

 

Vandana: Yes.

 

Question 1: And if Mohan asks for the same freedom?

 

Vandana: It would be acceptable to me.

 

Question 1: And if that were not acceptable to Mohan?

 

Vandana: Then I’d leave him.

 

Question 1: And Parvez?

 

Vandana: Parvez is only a dream. No, an old dream, an image of the possibility of a dream.

 

Question 1: If that’s true, then why do you complain so much about Mohan? Why are you so unhappy with him?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

If all this is true, then why are you so anxious, so restless? Why don’t you accept that even if it had been anyone else you’d have been in the same impossible state?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

If all this is true, then…

 

Vandana: (irritably) Damn! All these hypothetical questions!

 

Question 1: Are necessary. If all this is true, then why is it impossible to come to an understanding with Mohan?

 

Vandana: Because Mohan wants marriage, not love.

 

(Question 1 is silent)

 

He wants the farce of love, not love.

 

Question 1: How do you know that?

 

Vandana: Because I know him.

 

Question 1: He must’ve accused you of the same thing?

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) I know him, he doesn’t know me. He doesn’t even know himself.

 

Question 1: And who doesn’t know you!

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

You’re being unfair to Mohan.

 

Vandana: I’m willing to accept that. But he’ll never accept the fact that he’s unfair to me.

 

Question 1: If everything you’ve said is true, then why do you continue to live with him?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Tradition?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Duty?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Cowardice?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Convenience?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Or, blind stupidity?

 

Vandana: You are ruthless.

 

Question 1: I’m a question, remember?

 

(Pause)

 

Vandana: No further questions!

 

Question 1: Are you fed-up?

 

Vandana: Yes, I’m fed-up.

 

Question 1: Did it sometimes occur to you that Mohan loves you?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

May be that has prevented you from taking certain steps?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Maybe it’s necessary for you to suppress that thought?

 

Vandana: Why?

 

Question 1: So that you didn’t have to feel of guilt.

 

Vandana: I don’t feel guilty.

 

Question 1: If only your assertion was correct.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

If it were correct you wouldn’t look so unhappy.

 

Vandana: Do I look unhappy?

 

Question 1: Even the blind can see that!

 

Vandana: My unhappiness has nothing to do with feeling guilty. Mohan is the real cause of my frustration. He is arrogant and blind.

 

Question 1: What an elaborate way of denying your guilt!

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Guilt hides in different shapes and forms within one.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Maybe it’s still smoldering within you, and is the cause of your unhappiness.

 

Vandana: Maybe it is! I refuse to acknowledge its presence.

 

Question 1: Your refusal to acknowledge it won’t extinguish it.

 

Vandana: Let it not, but at least it’ll remain suppressed.

 

Question 1: Then it can burst into flames at any time.

 

Vandana: I’ll deal with it when it does.

 

Question 1: You won’t be able to.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) Even Mohan must feel guilty sometimes?

 

Question 1: Even saints feel guilty sometimes.

 

Vandana: I don’t want to.

 

Question 1: Why not?

 

Vandana: Because guilt impedes freedom.

 

Question 1: Is freedom possible without guilt?

 

Vandana: Is it impossible?

 

(Question 1 is silent)

 

I want that kind of freedom.

 

Question 1: Who doesn’t!

 

(Pause)

 

Isn’t love also a kind of bondage?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Isn’t love an enemy of family life?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

If you fall in love with someone today, will you feel free?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

And if your love is not reciprocated, what’ll you do then?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Do you think sexual satisfaction is an essential part of love?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Isn’t it possible that you may not find satisfaction with the one you love?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

What’ll you do then?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Isn’t it also possible that you may find sexual satisfaction with someone you don’t love, and who doesn’t love you?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

What’s the real reason for your unhappiness and frustration with Mohan?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

I think if Mohan were to agree to a separation from you today, you’d be very dejected.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

I think you’d not feel less unhappy if you were free.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

I think the real cause of your unhappiness is that you don’t know, really know, what you want, that you don’t know what love is, what freedom is.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Your insistence, again and again, on love and freedom is romantic nonsense.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Romantic idea about love is blind.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

It’s often one-sided.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

And its often false.

 

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

And it often causes pain.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

And it often leads to the end of freedom.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

And it often…

 

Vandana: (screaming) Stop this torrent! Stop it!

 

Question 1: I must leave now.

 

Vandana: Don’t go!

 

Mohan: Who’s there!

 

(Question 1 vanishes)

 

Vandana: (as she sees Mohan) You? How come you’re here?

 

Mohan: (seems to have just got out of bed) If others can come here, why can’t I?

 

Vandana: That was a low, mean attack. Whom did you see here?

 

Mohan: I saw some one leave just now. Who was he?

 

Vandana: A question.

 

Mohan: Meaning?

 

Vandana: You won’t understand.

 

Mohan: Who was he?

 

Vandana: He was a question. He’d come to cross-examine me, not meet me.

 

Mohan: I don’t like your sense of humour.

 

Vandana: And I don’t like your lack of it. Actually, this is not the place for a fight. Our home is good enough for that.

 

Mohan: Our home is no longer a home.

 

Vandana: At last you’ve accepted that!

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) But you’re responsible for that.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) We should now give up that home.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) I’m still ready for reconciliation.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) We should give each other freedom.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) Even if you don’t love me, I love you.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) We are still young.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) That’s enough for me.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) We’re lucky we don’t have children to worry about.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) What I can’t accept is that you live with me, but dream of others.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) If we had children, I’d have continued to live in that prison called home.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) I can’t accept that the woman who will be the mother of my children dreams of others.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) I want love.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) I can’t accept that my wife should have dreams.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) I want to have the freedom to love.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) I can’t accept that my wife doesn’t give her heart and soul to me.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) I can’t live in a prison-house anymore.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) Romantic ideas are a kind of sickness.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) I can’t live without love anymore.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) Romantic ideas are a kind of madness.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) We should accept that our marriage is dead.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) Romantic ideas are the enemies of family life.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) I could’ve endured a lifeless marriage if I had the freedom to love.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) The path you want to take will destroy you.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) Death-in-life is no longer acceptable to me.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) What is your complaint?

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) This life without music is no longer acceptable to me.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) I earn three times more than you do.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) This meaningless life is no longer acceptable to me.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) I come home straight from the office.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) This life is no longer acceptable to me.

 

Mohan: (as if he hasn’t heard her) Have you ever considered how I feel?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

You’ve gone mad.

 

Vandana: I want to go mad, I want to go mad and live, I want to live.

 

Mohan: You have really gone mad.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

These filmi dialogues are not elegant, they don’t suit you.

 

Vandana: I don’t want elegance, I want life.

 

Mohan: You want Parvez.

 

Vandana: Yes, I want Parvez too.

 

Mohan: I can’t accept that.

 

Vandana: I can’t accept your protection.

 

Mohan: What you call protection, I call love.

 

Vandana: What you call love is sheer vanity.

 

Mohan: What you call love is sheer madness.

 

Vandana: My madness is better than your protective love.

 

Mohan: You are dreaming.

 

Vandana: If I can’t dream, I’ll go mad.

 

Mohan: Are you willing to wreck our marriage for the sake of Parvez?

 

Vandana: Yes, for the possibility Parvez represents. And not my marriage, but my prison.

 

Mohan: I don’t understand.

 

Vandana: And still you want to know what my complaint is! You can never understand anything subtle!

 

Mohan: What you call subtlety, I call rubbish.

 

Vandana: That’s exactly my complaint.

 

Mohan: Your complaint is that I’m not Parvez.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

But you knew that before we got married.

 

Vandana: I made a mistake.

 

Mohan: Why should I pay for your mistake?

 

Vandana: I’ve paid enough for it. Now I want make amends for it.

 

Mohan: By leaving me?

 

Vandana: By gaining my freedom.

 

Mohan: Freedom will destroy you.

 

Vandana: Destruction would be better than is life without freedom.

 

Mohan: I want to save you from destruction.

 

Vandana: I don’t need a father.

 

Mohan: You don’t know what you need.

 

Vandana: I want freedom.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

The freedom to make mistakes.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

The freedom to love.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

The freedom to experiment.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

The freedom to live on my own terms.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

The freedom to set my own limits.

 

Mohan: The freedom to talk rubbish.

 

Vandana: Yes, even the freedom to talk rubbish.

 

(Pause)

 

Mohan: You are ungrateful.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

You are arrogant.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

You are shameless.

 

Vandana: And you are stupid.

 

Mohan: Shut up.

 

Vandana: You’ve ruined my mood!

 

Mohan: You’re not worth loving.

 

Vandana: And you’re not worth hating.

 

Mohan: Shut up!

 

Vandana: I’m going.

 

Mohan: To meet Parvez!

 

(A Pause during which both glare at each other. Then Vandana disappears and Question 2 enters.)

 

Mohan: She has left.

 

(sees Question 2)

 

Who are you?

 

Question 2: I’m a question.

 

Mohan: I’m not in a mood for jokes at the moment.

 

Question 2: You are never in the mood for jokes. I know.

 

Mohan: How do you know?

 

Question 2: Don’t you recognize me?

 

Mohan: No.

 

Question 2: I live inside you.

 

Mohan: I told you, I’m in no mood for jokes.

 

Question 2: (as if he hasn’t heard him) But since you never look inside yourself, how can you recognize me? Vandana recognizes me and my brother.

 

Mohan: Your brother?

 

Question2: Yes, he lives inside her. She looks inside herself and sometimes even looks inside you.

 

Mohan: What kind of nonsense is this?

 

Question 2: That’s why she also knows me.

 

Mohan: So what! She’s a fool.

 

Question 2: You are really humourless.

 

Mohan: I’m glad! Get out of my sight.

 

Question 2: And hide inside you again?

 

Mohan: Don’t talk nonsense!

 

Question 2: If you don’t listen to me, I’ll curl up inside you and go to sleep. Like a snake.

 

Mohan: What a bloody mess! Tell me, what do you want?

 

Question 2: I have come to plead with you.

 

Mohan: Why a strange fellow!

 

Question 2: Why must you keep Vandana in bondage?

 

Mohan: Who’re you to interfere?

 

Question 2: I’ve already told you. I’m that question which you rarely hear and confront.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Has it ever occurred to you that you are torturing Vandana?

 

Mohan: My only fault is that I love her.

 

Question 2: But it’s possible that you are deceiving her and yourself. You don’t love her. You only want to possess her, because she is a beautiful, active, well-employed woman who…

 

Mohan: I don’t earn less than her. Nor am I ugly.

 

Question 2: You really are humourless.

 

Mohan: So what? I’m happy the way I am! At least I’m not mad like her.

 

Question 2: So you think she is mad?

 

Mohan: If she weren’t mad, would she still dream of Parvez?

 

Question 2: How is reconciliation possible if you really believe that?

 

Mohan: She doesn’t want reconciliation, she wants dreams.

 

Question 2: And what do you want?

 

Mohan: I want my wife’s love.

 

(Pause)

 

If she can’t love me, she should at least be faithful to me. She should stop dreaming of someone else.

 

Question 2: And if you can’t win her love or her devotion, what’ll you do?

 

Mohan: I’ll torture her and torture myself.

 

Question 2: What good would that do?

 

Mohan: A jealous and angry man never thinks of his own good.

 

Question 2: Instead, he goes mad.

 

Mohan: Yes.

 

Question 2: So you admit that you are also mad.

 

Mohan: Are you on her side or on mine?

 

Question 2: I don’t take sides. I want you to look into yourself, into the mirror hanging within you.

 

Mohan: There is no mirror within me.

 

Question 2: You really are humourless…

 

Mohan: Shut up.

 

(Pause)

 

Question 2: What is it you really want?

 

Mohan: I want her to live with me and look happy.

 

Question 2: Look happy, even if she is not?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Do you look happy when you are with her?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Do you think it’s essential for her to look happy but not for you?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Do you think that if she lives with you it’s her dharma to look happy?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Can’t you accept the possibility that Vandana or any other woman can live with you and be unhappy?

 

Mohan: Are you trying to confuse me?

 

Question 2: I’m trying to show you that image of yourself in the mirror which you don’t want to see.

 

Mohan: Are you enacting a play?

 

(Pause)

 

Question 2: When you say that you love Vandana aren’t you enacting a play?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Your so-called love is not enough for her.

 

Mohan: Why so-called love?

 

Question 2: Because you don’t know what love is.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Love doesn’t mean that you control her thoughts and forbid her dreams because she’s helpless.

 

Mohan: She’s not helpless.

 

Question 2: You want her to remain helpless, and live with you out of helplessness.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

As long as she was helpless you were happy. You became jealous and angry the moment she became mature and independent.

 

Mohan: What you call maturity and independence is nothing but insolence.

 

Question 2: Unintelligent husbands like you always call mature and independent wives insolent.

 

Mohan: Rubbish!

 

Question 2: Why do always dismiss the truth as rubbish?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

You sometimes enact the farce of being a saint, sometimes a martyr, sometimes a lover, but you know that you are neither a saint, nor a martyr nor a lover. You know that you are nothing more than a dull and insensitive husband, and terrified of that knowledge you become cruel. If I were to use your favourite word, I’d say that you are mad.

 

Mohan: I find your subtleties are quite pointless.

 

Question 2: And stupid?

 

Mohan: Yes, stupid! (thinks for some time) If I think of myself as a saint and a martyr and a lover, as you put it, then what does she thinks of herself according to you?

 

Question 2: Why are you suddenly worried about her?

 

Mohan: Don’t evade my question!

 

Question 2: She often thinks of herself as a ‘shikar’ – as a victim in other words.

 

Mohan: I can’t understand your subtleties.

 

Question 2: May be you don’t want to. Let me try again. You think of yourself as a saint, or a martyr, or a lover because that gives you a reason not to look inside yourself, to convert whatever is good in yourself into something graceless, and to constantly blame Vandana for everything. And Vandana thinks of herself as a ‘shikar’ – a victim – because that gives her a reason to consider herself superior to you, to blame you for all her faults, and deal with this sad situation.

 

Mohan: Subtle nonsense!

 

Question 2: Has it ever occurred to you that your greatest fault may be that you can’t understand subtleties?

 

Mohan: This conversation is pointless.

 

Question 2: Arrogance has made you blind, and even deaf.

 

(Pause)

 

Your arrogance is the root cause of all your troubles.

 

Mohan: Vandana’s unhappiness is the root cause of our troubles.

 

Question 2: And what is the root cause of her unhappiness?

 

Mohan: Her madness.

 

Question 2: Do you think it’s madness to want love and freedom?

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Is it possible that she’s unhappy because she never got from you what she most desired?

 

Mohan: What did I get from her? Absolutely nothing.

 

Question 2: If that’s true then why do you cling to her? Why do you want to keep her tied to you?

 

Mohan: I want to save her from being destroyed.

 

Question 2: That is nothing but arrogance.

 

Mohan: She can’t live alone.

 

Question 2: Why must she live alone?

 

Mohan: What do you mean?

 

Question 2: Why can’t she find someone else?

 

Mohan: What’s the guarantee that he’ll be better than me?

 

Question 2: She doesn’t what any guarantee, she wants her freedom.

 

Mohan: Freedom to live irresponsibly?

 

Question 2: Yes the freedom to live irresponsibly. Don’t men consider the freedom to live irresponsibly their birthright?

 

Mohan: I’m not that kind of man. I’ve never been irresponsible.

 

Question 2: That’s a lie!

 

Mohan: Why don’t you ask Vandana?

 

Question 2: How can she know? Only you and I know the truth.

 

(Pause)

 

Don’t be afraid.

 

(Pause)

 

She hasn’t yet seen that side of you.

 

(Pause)

 

She tells you everything, but you only tell things which make you look good, make you stand a bit taller – at least in your own eyes. In other words, you are a cheat and you don’t even realise it.

 

Mohan: On whose side are you?

 

Question 2: I’m a question that is asleep within you. Sometimes when I wake up, you feel uncomfortable.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

You use Vandana’s basic honesty against her.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

You even tell yourself only those things which won’t tarnish your image – the image you love.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

You have created such a world within yourself, that even I’m impotent and can’t reach.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Today you’re astonished by my attempts to provoke you because you’re emotionally disturbed.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

It seems to me that Vandana is now standing before such a mirror in which she can see your real face beside her own.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

The fact is that you’ve never faced the truth.

 

Mohan: (irritated) What truth?

 

(Question 2 is silent)

 

Do you know what the truth is?

 

(Question 2 is silent)

 

Does Vandana know the truth?

 

Question 2: Even if Vandana doesn’t know it, she at least wants to. You don’t even want to.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

You see only that which you want to see, hear only what you want to hear.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

Will you never face the truth?

 

Mohan: Get out of my sight or I’ll crush you.

 

Question 2: I’m that snake which can’t be crushed.

 

Mohan: Get out…

 

Question 2: I’m going.

 

(Question 2 vanishes and Vandana appears – Parvez accompanies her like a ghost.)

 

Vandana: You are still here?

 

Mohan: Yes, I’m still here.

 

Vandana: I can’t be alone even here.

 

Mohan: You don’t want to alone, you want something else.

 

Vandana: Have pity on me and leave. Let me enjoy this open place, this dream world, by myself for a while.

 

Mohan: If this is a dream world, then how come I’m here? Consciously or subconsciously, you must’ve called me here.

 

Vandana: Maybe, but please go away now.

 

Mohan: And leave you with that ghost?

 

Vandana: He’s not a ghost, he’s a symbol who lives within me and always will.

 

Mohan: I’ll chase him away.

 

Vandana: This is not your place. In fact it’s not a place at all.

 

Mohan: I won’t accept his being here.

 

Vandana: Do you know who he is?

 

Mohan: I know him well.

 

Vandana: He’s not Parvez, but a symbol of Parvez.

 

Mohan: Not a symbol, but a ghost.

 

Vandana: Ghost! He may be a ghost for you, but for me he’s a symbol.

 

Mohan: I don’t understand.

 

Vandana: (as if she hasn’t heard him) He’s not the Parvez you know, who upsets you. Nor is he the Parvez I used to know and desire, who now lives with his wife, Nazima, and sleeps with her. No, he’s not that Parvez. I have forgotten that Parvez. I found this one after I had lost the other. This Parvez belongs to my dreams; he’s a dream, my dream. You may think he’s a ghost, but for me he is symbol – a symbol of my love, a symbol of those possibilities of love which I dream of. This Parvez will become real one day. You are fooling yourself if you think this is a symptom of my sick romantic brain. You may call me mad, but this Parvez shall always be with me.

 

Mohan: You mean this dream.

 

Vandana: Yes, this dream.

 

Mohan: Life’s not a dream.

 

Vandana: But it can be; it can be lived like one. I’ll show you how.

 

Mohan: If you can live with a dream, why is it necessary to leave me?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

If I say that I accept your dream…

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

…and promise that…

 

Vandana: I’ve no faith in your promises, nor do I want to be burdened with them.

 

(Mohan is silent)

 

If somehow or the other…for some reason or the other…if I can be made to feel that my heart, mind and thoughts can be free, that I can continue to dream, then, maybe I can endure to live with you — as best as I can.

 

(Mohan is about to say something when Question 1 appears.)

 

Mohan: Who are you?

 

Question 1: Didn’t you recognize me? I’m a question. Your question’s brother. I’m Vandana’s question.

 

Mohan: I promise that…

 

Vandana: How can I believe in your promises?

 

Question 1: So, have you changed your mind?

 

Vandana: (lost in her own thoughts) I’m not interested in your promises, but in my own willingness.

 

Question 1: So, have you changed your mind?

 

Vandana: (lost in her own thoughts) If I discover that your presence limits my freedom, I’ll leave you – unceremoniously, without any warning, at once; I’ll pull you out and throw you away like a thorn.

 

Question 1:  Has he accepted all your conditions? So quickly? So easily?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Supposing Mohan asks for the same kind of freedom you want?

 

Vandana: I’m no longer want that kind of freedom. Even Mohan can’t get it if he wants to.

 

Mohan: I don’t want that kind of freedom.

 

Question 1: But would you be able to give Vandana that freedom?

 

Vandana: The question is not whether Mohan can or cannot give it. I’m not dependent of Mohan for that kind of freedom. However, if I discover that by living with Mohan…

 

Question 1: You’ve said that earlier. I want to know if Mohan is willing.

 

Vandana: My decision is not dependent on his willingness.

 

Question 1: (to Mohan) Don’t you have something to say?

 

Mohan: No.

 

Question 1: (to Vandana) Have you finally decided?

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

Your dream of freedom is impossible in a marriage.

 

Vandana: In that case the marriage will break.

 

(Mohan suddenly disappears)

 

Question 1: And Parvez? Have you really transformed him into a symbol?

 

Vandana: A symbol which can become real.

 

Question 1: I think your dream will never become real.

 

(Vandana is silent)

 

I think this arrangement will not work.

 

Parvez’s Voice: It’ll work as long as I’m a symbol.

 

Question 1: Did you hear that?

 

Vandana: I heard that.

 

Question 1: And if the symbolic Parvez doesn’t become real then what’ll you do?

 

Vandana: I’ll dream of his becoming real.

 

Question 1: For how long?

 

Vandana: Till the end.

 

Question 1: By living with Mohan?

 

Vandana: I’ll live with Mohan for as long as I’m allowed to dream about Parvez?

 

Question 1: And if the symbolic Parvez does become real and doesn’t accept you, what’ll you do then?

 

Vandana: I’ll wait for another symbolic representation of him, dream of him.

 

Question 1: What’ll you have achieved by that?

 

Vandana: Then I’ll not want to achieve anything.

 

Question 1: If you don’t want to achieve anything, then why do you want to lose all this?

 

Mohan: (suddenly reappears) Because she has lost her mind.

 

Question 2: (suddenly reappears) And what about you? Haven’t you also lost your mind? Why have you agreed to live with her on her terms?

 

Mohan: I don’t want to lose her.

 

Question 1: It seems to me that both of them are living in a fog.

 

Question 2: I also think so.

 

Question 1: Despite my best efforts, I have failed to lift the fog surrounding Vandana.

 

Question 2: Despite my best efforts, I have failed to persuade Mohan to cast off the false image he has of himself.

 

Question 1: If this is true their real salvation lies in staying together.

 

Question 2: Despite all the complaints they have against each other.

 

Question 1: Let Vandana dream of love and freedom…

 

Question 2: And let Mohan rejoice at having saved his false pride and stopped Vandana from leaving him.

 

(As the lights begin to dim slowly, Vandana and Mohan stand staring at each other blankly)

 

 

 

The End

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  1. Nice! Thanks!

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