High School Play: Heroic Vandal (Scene 5-6: The Public Court)

To start from the first scene, click here.

Click here to go to the previous scenes.

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 5:

It is nighttime in the house of Najiya. When the lights open, we see Anwaar and Fareda standing at the center of the stage.

Fareda: It’s time, Anwaar.

Anwaar: Yes, I know. Come let us sleep.

Fareda: That’s not what I meant. I meant it’s time to go to the flea market.

Anwaar: Haven’t you forgotten about that?

Fareda: No and I’m not planning to so come on.

Anwaar: Fareda, I’m worried. What if—

Fareda: Haven’t you forgotten that you promised to protect me? Are you a person who stays true to her word or not? A promise is a promise.

(For a few seconds, Anwaar silently looks at the ground. Then she lifts her head.)

Anwaar: A promise is a promise.

Scene 6:

We see the public court inside the flea market. There are five women clad in black. They are kneeling in a straight horizontal line at the part of the stage nearest the audience. All throughout the scene the women are whispering about the innocence of the woman on trial. In the audience, men who are clad in black are positioned. The men are telling the audience that the woman is guilty. A woman enters at the right side of the stage. Her hands are tied at her back, and she is closely followed by a guard. As the woman and the guard enters, a man enters at the left side of the stage. An air of arrogance surrounds this man.They meet at the middle of the stage, and the man touches her face.

Woman: He ruined my dignity! I am the victim here. Can’t you see? This man has exploited me yet—

Guard: Keep your peace, woman, or you shall be punished for this unnecessary blabbering. The noble king, judge of Ashtan, comes before us. Kneel to show respect.

(The guard pushes the woman to the ground, and then the guard kneels down. The man also kneels down. The king enters.)

King: Rise, my people of Ashtan.

(Man stands up. Guard stands up and pulls the woman up.)

King: The public court yet again comes before you all to show you that justice prevails in our system.

Woman: Justice? Do you even know what that word means? How can there be justice in our system when it is biased against women?

King: Who are you to question our noble court? You do not know anything.

Woman: You dare question my capacity to understand? My young king, do not underestimate me, for my ability to understand exceeds yours.

King: Really, woman. Tell me, how can you move a mountain? How can you bend a river? How can you part the sea?

Woman: I know the true meaning of justice. I know that a just system must value equality. It must not marginalize someone just because of her gender.

King: Stop this rubbish talk and let’s proceed with the trial. I call on the first witness of the defendant.

Woman: I do not have a witness.

King: You do not have a witness. Are you pulling my leg?

Woman: I do not have a witness because no one is brave enough to defend a woman against a man.

Man: There is no witness because no one is dumb enough to defend a liar.

(Men and women shout but the women’s voices are drowned by the powerful voices of the men.)

Men positioned in the audience: Liar! Liar! Liar!

Women positioned on the stage: No!

Woman: No! I am telling the truth.

King: Enough! Let us see the evidence.

Man: Evidence? She is a woman. That alone gives us enough grounds to punish her. So I say, go on and kill her!

(Men and women shout but the women’s voices are drowned by the powerful voices of the men.)

Men positioned in the audience: Kill her! Kill her! Kill her!

Women positioned on the stage: No!

King: The court has spoken. You, woman, has been disgraced by this man, so you are at fault. You should have been careful. You shouldn’t have tempted the man.

Woman: I never tempted him!

King: You did not present any evidence that you had not done so. Furthermore, you’ve been dishonored before getting married, thus you brought disgrace to your own family and to our society. For this you shall be punished. Let the honor killing begin.

(Men and women shout but the women’s voices are drowned by the powerful voices of the men.)

Men positioned in the audience: Die!

Women positioned on the stage: She’s innocent!

(Lights go out. Woman screams. Everybody exits. Anwaar and Fareda enter.)

Fareda: What was that?

Anwaar: I don’t know. We better just leave.

Fareda: Such injustice! Such oppression! How can the world live on with such a cruel reality?

Anwaar: Fareda, stop thinking about it. Let’s just go home and all will be well.

Fareda: All will be well? Are you mad, sister? Didn’t you see what happened before us? No, sister. Nothing is well and nothing will ever be if we don’t do something about it.

Anwaar: Do something about it? There’s nothing that you can do. Didn’t you see what they did to that woman? They gave her a trial, but they never even listened to her. That too will happen to you if you try to intervene.

Fareda: Then what do you want me to do? Sit around while the whole world dies?

Anwaar: Would you rather that you die?

Fareda: Yes. If that’s what it takes to free us from injustice.

Anwaar: So you want to fight for these women? You want to free them from oppression. But how can you when (pause)

Fareda: When what? Tell me.

Anwaar: I see how you treat Maisa and the others. You treat them like garbage and such behavior is not far from what we’ve seen today.

Fareda: I know there are flaws in my personality, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the flaws in the world too. I can change while changing the world.

Anwaar: So how are you going to change the world?

Fareda: Vandalism.

Anwaar: Sorry, I didn’t think I heard you right.

Fareda: I will vandalize the walls with words of protest. It shall be a great scandal, for people will be outraged that someone would dare discredit the public court in its main territory. Such news will spread and even though women do not know how to read; they shall hear the news of my defiance. Soon they too shall be enlightened as I.

Anwaar: Sorry to disappoint you, my dear, but there is a big flaw in your happy plan. The only word that you can write is your name.

Fareda: Sorry to disappoint you too, sister, but you are wrong. As you have noticed earlier this day, I have pocketed Professor Rashib’s notes so that I can learn how to write. What you don’t know is that ever since I was young, I have always looked out for opportunities to learn how to write. Now I have learnt much. I will use this skill to tell the women that they do not need to bow down to the foul acts of the Public Court. Please, sister, join me in this cause.

Anwaar: As always, I am willing to protect you. But what if we’re caught? I can’t imagine the shame that we’ll bring to our family. The Najiya family is an honorable and prestigious family, so prestigious that many a time did our young king visit our noble household. You should also think about yourself, Fareda. If you do this, society will punish you. You will become a pariah, an outcast!

Fareda: You speak as though fighting for one’s right is against a person’s honor. To hell with the king! To hell with our status! To hell with society! If you are being crushed, you don’t smile and say thank you. What you do is fight and that is exactly what I am doing.

(Fareda leaves. Anwaar hesitates to follow.)

Anwaar: Fareda, wait!

(Anwaar runs after Fareda. Lights out.)

Click here to go to the next scene.

For all posts about Heroic Vandal click here.

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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.

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