Note: In celebration of women’s month, I decided to post this play that I wrote when I was in second year high school. My groupmates helped me come up with ideas, but I was the one who was largely responsible for the conceptualization of the story and the writing of the script. In this play, I talk about two sisters who are awoken to the plight of women and are moved to fight oppression. I also slightly touch upon the issue of honor killings, specifically how raped women (usually in the Middle East) are killed because they have brought “dishonor” to their family. Our group was assigned to write about Pakistan, but in this script, I changed the name of the country into a fictional country because the depiction of this world is not an accurate depiction of Pakistan. I also changed “Allah” to “Azlah” because the god described in this story and the religious practices depicted are not accurate depictions of the Muslim faith.
Scene 1: When the lights open, all the characters are seen onstage. The scene depicts an ancient Middle Eastern village. They are all frozen. The characters are positioned as such: all of the women are at the right while all of the men are at the left.
At the center is a wealthy young woman named Fareda. She is sitting and she is looking up towards the king. Her face depicts defiance. The king is pointing a sword at Fareda. Anger is seen in the king’s eyes. Behind Fareda stands her mother and her father (General Najiya), both are looking cold and expressionless.
Fareda’s mother is a very beautiful woman whose lavish dress is adorned with several ostentatious looking jewels. General Najiya is a hefty man with a large moustache. The general wears an armor with a sword securely strapped to his belt. Anwaar, a wealthy young woman, is standing at Fareda’s right. Anwaar is holding Fareda’s shoulders while her face is tilted slightly toward the right. Anwaar looks sorrowful and helpless.
The three servants (Saameira, Maisa, and Imtithal) are at Anwaar’s right. Imtithal is kneeling just beside Anwaar. Imtithal is looking at Fareda, her arms outstretched towards the center of the stage and her face is pained with anguish. Saameira is kneeling at Imtithal’s left. Saameira is looking at Imtithal while her innocent eyes look confused. Standing behind Saameira is Maisa. Maisa embodies a great pretender who is trying to fool people into thinking that she is not affected by the anguish that surrounds her, but in reality she is very much disturbed.
At the left side of the stage, the other men are positioned. Three soldiers (Ragheb, Haamid and Uncho) are standing at the king’s left. Ragheb is a hideous man who has lots of thick and unruly facial hair. Ragheb is an arrogant man who thinks he’s perfect. Haamid is but a mere lad who blindly follows society. Uncho is the oldest of the three soldiers. He likes feeling powerful. The three soldiers are holding their swords towards Fareda. Uncho and Ragheb look murderous while Haamid seems to be forcing himself to look murderous.
After a few seconds, a woman clad in black comes in. She is the narrator and while she talks, she weaves in and out of the characters.)
Narrator: The sun shone over the ancient civilization of Ashtan, but its attempt to warm it was in vain. Ashtan’s heart was cold, so cold that it held the women’s spirits in the cages of oppression.
(Lights out. Narrator and all the characters except the three servants exit.)
(When the lights open, we see the ancient civilization of Ashtan, specifically the house of the wealthy Najiya family.
There is only one yellow spotlight lit and that light is focused on the three servants (Imtithal, Saameira and Maisa) who are cleaning the floor.
After a few seconds another yellow spotlight is lit and it is focused on the center of the stage. At the center of the stage is a religious altar dedicated to the god Azlah. The altar is a small dark brown wooden table. At the center of the altar, there are five deformed candles and a separate ball of wax. After a few seconds, General Najiya enters. He stands at the part of the stage farthest from the audience. A dim red light is lit, but it is not focused on the General. The light is positioned in such a way that it only shows the General’s silhouette. The general walks into the red light. He notices the deformed candles. The red light follows him as he walks toward the altar. He takes the ball of wax and examines it while horror fills his eyes.)
(General Najiya shouts. Red lights out and white lights open.)
General Najiya: Fareda! Come down here immediately!
General Najiya: Did you do this?
(General Najiya shows the ball of wax to Fareda.)
Fareda: Well you see, father, there were plenty bits of melted candle wax and I just thought that it would be a shame to put it to waste.
General Najiya: These candles are offerings to Azlah! No one in his right mind would tamper with such sacred things!
Fareda: But father, those were already the melted ones. I didn’t destroy the candles themselves.
General Najiya: And you dare defend yourself? Woman, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!
Anwaar: What’s going on, father?
General Najiya: Anwaar, my child, your lovely sister has yet again done a hideous thing. Look at this.
(General Najiya shows the ball of wax to Anwaar.)
General Najiya: She dared to disrespect Azlah by playing with the sacred candles.
Anwaar: Oh father, do not be so troubled with Fareda’s silliness. I’m sure she thought that Azlah would be pleased to see creatively shaped candles. In her strange mind, this was an expression of reverence not disrespect.
General Najiya: Well she should learn to know the proper definitions of reverence.
(General Najiya faces Fareda. Maisa starts to sleep.)
General Najiya: Look at you! You are no longer a child, Fareda. You should learn to act your age.
(The other house cleaners try to wake Maisa.)
General Najiya: Look at your sister.
(General Najiya points to Anwaar and Fareda looks at Anwaar.)
General Najiya: Anwaar is younger than you are, yet she exceeds you in maturity. I have worked hard to become the general of Ashtan’s army so that I can bring honor to our family. Soon you will also have your share of honor when you marry a man of great stature. We cannot afford such foolishness to reside in you. If you continue being what you are, you will bring much shame to us.
Fareda: Is that my only goal in life? To be married to a man and be a slave to his passion?
General Najiya: To be married to a man gives a woman dignity, so do not speak of it with contempt!
Anwaar: Oh father, do not listen to her. She is just frightened of loosing her petty freedom, but deep inside I know she’s dying to get married.
Fareda: What? I never said—
(Anwaar pinches Fareda as Saameira and Imtithal slap Maisa very hard.)
(As Fareda says “Ouch,” Maisa wakes up and mouths the same word. Maisa looks angrily at the other servants. Imtithal and Saameira look frightened. Maisa looks like she is going to do something to the other servants but then she notices that her masters seem to be in an irritable mood so she decides to just continue cleaning. The other servants follow suit.)
Fareda: What did you do that for?
Anwaar: Did what?
Fareda: You pinched me!
Anwaar: See how she can perfectly fake such innocence? She is even cooking up a story that I pinched her. That’s really funny, my dear, now stop it.
Fareda: Stop what? You’re the one who—
General Najiya: Enough, you two. I cannot believe that I have been listening to women quarreling. Such a waste of my time!
Anwaar: Forgive us, father.
(Anwaar nudges Fareda. Fareda rolls her eyes, but, luckily, General Najiya does not notice.)
Fareda: (sarcastic tone) Forgive us, father.
General Najiya: Very well, I must leave now. Farewell, my dears.
Anwaar and Fareda: Farewell, father.
(General Najiya turns to the cleaners.)
General Najiya: Slaves.
Imtithal, Saameira and Maisa: Yes, master?
General Najiya: Fetch my luggage.
(General Najiya points to the right side of the stage.)
Imtithal, Saameira and Maisa: Yes, master.
(General Najiya exits at the left side of the stage while Imtithal, Saameira and Maisa exit at the right side of the stage.
Fareda: Anwaar, have you ever been to the flea market?
Anwaar: The flea market? Why are you asking this sister?
Fareda: For the past few nights, father’s soldiers Uncho, Ragheb and Haamid have been coming to our house and I have been secretly listening to their conversations.
Anwaar: Fareda! What were you thinking?
(Fareda continues to tell her story as though she is oblivious to Anwaar’s reaction.)
Fareda: And you know what? All they talk about is this public court, which is located inside the flea market. Here they punish those who dare to defy justice. Isn’t that so interesting?
Anwaar: Fareda, why are you telling me this?
Fareda: I’m telling you this because our next adventure is to go to the flea market.
Anwaar: No, Fareda. That is insane! Father will be mad if he found out about this.
Fareda: Oh Anwaar, don’t be such a worrywart. If we go there during the night, then father will not discover us. And you know, if you don’t go with me, there will be a higher chance that I’ll get caught. Surely you don’t want that on your conscience.
Anwaar: (half outraged, half amused.) What? I can’t believe you.
Fareda: Pleeeease…You’re the expert in getting me out of trouble.
Anwaar: And you’re the expert in getting into trouble.
Fareda: All the more reason why I need you to look out for me. So are you with me or are you not.
Anwaar: Do I have a choice? I have to protect you. But if you can live without this craziness then it will be so much better. The risk of getting caught is so great that—
(Mother enters holding a hand mirror. She is examining her face in the mirror as she enters.)
Mother: Ah children, there you are! Has your father left?
Anwaar and Fareda: Yes, mother.
Mother: I had just arrived from an important visit to Princess Felice. It’s a shame your father couldn’t come with me. Princess Felice’s palace was so beautiful. All her walls were studded with precious stones and paintings were to be found everywhere. Her richness exceeds imagination.
(Mother looks at her mirror and seems oblivious to what the other characters are saying.)
Fareda: I bet you, Anwaar, someday mother will trade us for wealth and elegance.
Anwaar: Oh don’t say that. She’s just…
Fareda: Just what? Just materialistic? Just conceited? Or just self-centered? Pick one Anwaar for any of these things fit her perfectly. She does not care about anything as long as she has her luxuries. She won’t even care if the whole world died because of it. That’s why some of us, women, can be easily deluded by men. Some of us are too concerned about our selfish desires that we become oblivious to the reality of injustice.
Anwaar: Sister, what are you saying?
(Mother stops looking t her mirror and turns towards her daughters.)
Mother: Oh, look at the time! You girls should be off to your writing classes. Professor Rashib must be waiting in the library already.
Fareda: But what use is this form of education when all we get to learn is to write our names?
Mother: Darling, dear, this is the latest trend in the upper class. It is a mark that you belong to a prestigious family. Besides, it will be useful when you girls get married, for you will have the ability to sign the marriage contract. A thumbprint as a form of signature is now so out dated.
Fareda: (mutters under her breath) Wow, what a purpose.
Mother: Now run along, dears.
(Mother looks back at the mirror and makes a gesture to Anwaar and Fareda to go away. Anwaar and Fareda exit. Then the lights go out and mother exits.)
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For all posts about Heroic Vandal click here.
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- Preacher on the Bus
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Check out my other blog categories.
Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.