High School Play: Heroic Vandal (Scene 3: Professor Rashib and the Three Maids)

To start from the first scene, click here.

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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 3:
When the lights open, the audience sees the library at the Najiya house. An old man with a cane (Professor Rashib) is standing at the center of the stage. Tucked under his armpit is a folder containing sheets of paper. In front of Professor Rashib are two large pillows, two paintbrushes, several sheets of blank paper, and a bottle of ink.
(Anwaar and Fareda enter.)

Professor Rashib: Late again!

Anwaar: Sorry Professor Rashib, but you see—

Professor Rashib: I’ve had enough of your sorry excuses. Now sit.

(Anwaar and Fareda sit on each of the large pillows.)

Professor Rashib: You are wasting my time. Here.

(Professor Rashib uses his cane to point at the blank sheets of paper that are lying on the floor. The girls take one each.)

Professor Rashib: Learn to copy each letter and do it quickly.

(Professor Rashib uses his cane to point at another sheet of paper on the floor, which has letters written on it. The sisters begin to write. After a while, the professor looks at Anwaar’s work.)

Professor Rashib: That’s wrong, woman! Strokes should be upward.

(Professor Rashib looks at Fareda’s work)

Professor Rashib: Those letters are too thick. Now do it again.

(Professor Rashib points his cane to the blank sheets of paper. The sisters take one each and resumed writing.)

Professor Rashib: Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Here are all my papers!

(Professor Rashib uses his cane to push all the blank papers on the floor while dropping his folder in the process.)

Professor Rashib: I cannot stand seeing this mediocre work! I shall leave you to practice. But when I return, you must show me that you have already mastered everything.

(Professor Rashib exits. Anwaar resumes writing.)

Fareda: Can’t you see it, sister?

(Fareda stands up. Anwaar stops writing.)

Fareda: Do you see how monotonous and meaningless our lives are? Everyday it’s the same old routine. We wake up, eat, hear mother and father blab about our future as wives of rich men, go learn from a person who despises women so much that he doesn’t even try to teach us properly, then we sleep. End of story. Now the question is, do we really want to be slaves of this vicious cycle? I say no. I believe—

Anwaar: Don’t even try to justify your opinion, Fareda.

(Anwaar stands up.)

Anwaar: You know that I do not share your views.  I know there are flaws in our lives, but I’d be happier if we just accepted it.

Fareda: So you’ll just bow your head and act ignorant? For the sake of what, sister? Why are you so afraid of taking risks?

Anwaar: I am not afraid, but I am practical. I do not want to trick myself into believing that—

Fareda: You know what? I find it really disturbing that such an intelligent woman like you would want to waste her life in seclusion.

Anwaar: I do not want to fight you, Fareda, so just accept that our outlook in life differs. Let’s stop talking and let’s just finish our tasks.

(Anwaar sits down and starts writing. Both of them stay quiet for some time. Then, Fareda notices Professor Rashib’s folder lying on the floor.)

Fareda: Oh look. Professor Rashib left his folder.

Anwaar: Well, don’t touch it.

(Anwaar tries to get it from Fareda but fails. Fareda gets the folder and opens it.)

Fareda: Now this is what I call education. Look Anwaar. From these papers, I will really learn how to write.

Anwaar: You need a teacher in order to learn. You won’t be able to learn just from pieces of paper.

Fareda: Patience, willpower, and intelligence are enough for me to learn.

Anwaar: Whatever you say, sister.

(They hear someone knocking on the door)

Anwaar: Who could that be? I don’t understand why Professor Rashib would come back so early.

Fareda: He probably thought that torturing us would be of greater pleasure than strolling around the village.  It is okay you can open the door. I’ve already hidden the papers.

(Anwaar goes to the door but hesitates.)

Anwaar: What if he finds out that you stole his papers?

Fareda: He won’t.

Anwaar: How are you so sure?

Fareda: Anwaar, he’s already beyond senile. I assure you he won’t even remember that he had these things to begin with.

Anwaar: But—

Fareda: Come in!

(The door opens and the three servants come in.)

Imtithal: (wailing and overly emotional) Oh my poor ladies! How cruel was he to you? Did he shout disrespectful words at you, our young ladies?

Maisa: Oh stop it, Imtithal. Why are you always whimpering? Can’t you take things more lightly?

Imtithal: Don’t you dare make fun of my sensitivity! At least I care about things!

Maisa: Fine, yabber on, I’m not listening to you.

Saameira: Is there anything you need my little maidens? Anything you’d want me to do? Are you hungry, my sweets? I can bring you some food if you want.

Maisa: I need something, Saameira.

Saameira: Really? Err…what is it, Maisa?

Maisa: Go jump out the window.

Saameira: Is that what you really want?

Maisa: Yes dear, now go on.

Saameira: Won’t it hurt?

Maisa: A bit, but it’s bearable.

Saameira: Oh all right.

(Saameira goes to the window.)

(Maisa grabs Saameira’s arm.)

Maisa: What are you, woman? I was just kidding. Really now, if people opened your brain, they’ll be surprised to see some bit of decaying matter.

Saameira: Sorry, Maisa. Sorry I failed you. Please forgive me.

Maisa: You are impossible.

Anwaar: Why are you three here?

Imtithal: We’ve come to rescue you from the horrid nature of Professor Rashib! Oh little ones! I’ve been so worried!

Maisa: What’s new?

Imtithal: What did you say? Are you making fun of me?

Maisa: You think?

Imtithal: (Maisa makes faces while Imtithal cries.) You are a wretched fool! You do not know how to care! All you do is make people feel dumb and insecure! Every inch of your soul suggests nothing but pure evil!

(Imtithal storms out crying.)

Anwaar: Imtithal, wait! Now look what you’ve done. You know she’s overly sensitive. Next time you ought to be patient with her.

Maisa: I’m sorry, madam, but patience is not a virtue that I possess. Imtithal should learn to control her emotions. I mean, she cries about everything! When she wakes up, she cries because the sun looks to happy and bright, but when she sleeps, she cries because the moon looks gloomy and lifeless. She must be insane, Ms. Anwaar, for I cannot think of another reason for her actions.

Saameira: I really don’t want to interrupt, but I really don’t understand what happened. Why was she crying? Is it my fault? Did I not do my duties well? I’m so sorry, my maidens. Please forgive me. I’m just a feeble little child. I do not know how the world works.

Anwaar: No, no, Saameira, you’re not the reason why Imtithal cried.

Maisa: Saameira.

Saameira: Yes, Maisa?

Maisa: Anwaar is lying. You’re the reason why Imtithal is crying. Now she is off to kill herself and it is your entire fault!

Saameira: Oh no! Imtithal! Don’t do it! I’m so sorry! I did not mean to do whatever I did!

(Saameira runs out.)

Maisa: Gullible fool.

Anwaar: Maisa, you are too much!

Maisa: What are you doing, Fareda?

Fareda: Writing.

Maisa: Huh? What’s that?

Fareda: Nothing that you can comprehend.

Maisa: Huh?

(Fareda works on her writing.)

Maisa: Come on tell me, tell me!

Anwaar: Maisa, don’t bother Fareda anymore. Can’t you see she’s working diligently? Run along, little one, for we have much to do.

Maisa: Fine, your highness! I won’t bother you anymore.

(Maisa exits.)

Fareda: Hypocrite.

Anwaar: What did you say?

Fareda: I said Maisa is nothing but a hypocrite. She makes fun of Imtithal’s sensitivity when she herself is also prone to emotional outbursts.

Anwaar: But aren’t we all hypocrites?

Fareda: What do you mean, Anwaar?

Anwaar: Nothing, sister, nothing.

(The sisters continue writing.)

(Professor Rashib enters.)

Professor Rashib: Have you finished the tasks I have given you?

Anwaar and Fareda: Yes, Professor Rashib.

Professor Rashib: Very well. Now leave me!

(Anwaar and Fareda exit. Lights out. Professor Rashib exits.)

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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.