Thursday, 18 October 2012
'Aam' Chors (The Mango Thieves - a satirical play)
Big Man at meeting
6-7 elderly men
A brief introduction: This play is about 3 different groups of kids staying together in a colony called Bharat Nagar, located somewhere in Delhi. Two of these groups are bitter rivals, each headed by their leaders – Monu and Gadu. There has never been an instance when these two groups have met and they have not fought tooth and claw. Monu’s closest friends include Sonu (a cute little girl who has spent the first 7 years of her life abroad), Diggy (he loves digging his fingers in his nose quite often) and Sallu (he has been in class 6 since the past 2 years), while Gadu also has his own group of ‘yes’ men Prasu (son of a politician) and Jaitlu (son of a criminal lawyer) and his little sister Sushy (a girl of just 6 years with a husky voice). The third group is a neutral group, headed by Keju, liked by most of the elders in the colony because of their good behaviour. There is one more kid who stays in the colony – a loner and a snob – whom not many kids like to spend time with because of her very irritating nature of complaining, screaming and eccentric behaviour. Her name is Mammo, daughter of a scrap merchant.
The play starts with Monu and Gadu having a fight on the street in the presence of their respective group of loyalists, all cheering their own bosses.
Gadu: Monu, I dare you… do not cross your limits and try to poke your long nose in our business.
Monu: Chal haat! Who are you to decide what I want to do. And no one dares to stop me in doing whatever I want…
Sonu: (Cheering for Monu and pumping her fist in the air) Monu, wah wah, wah wah…
Sushy: (Jeering at Sonu) Oye, you better keep away, when two men take the pitch!
Prasu & Jaitlu: Right, right!!
Godu: You stay away Sonu! You anyways do not have any right to interfere… you illegal migrant!
Monu: How dare you tell her illegal migrant?? She is as legal a citizen as you and me…
Diggy & Sallu: Very right… she is more legally here, than you and us!
Sushy: Ha, ha!! I never knew there would be so much fan following for our dear little Sonu. (Sushy makes faces at Sonu, while Prasu & Jaitlu boos her).
(From the background comes the scream of a girl, who shouts out in Bangla – Cholbe na, cholbe na. Everyone turns around in surprise to find a small little girl with a pony and a tattered white frock entering the scene with some twigs and grass blades in her hands. Enters Mammo. Everyone looks for cover with a frown on their faces).
Mammo: Cholbe na, cholbe na… (she playfully throws the twigs and the grass blades on the gathering around)
Sonu: What the hell Mammo!
Diggy: Why do you throw these on us?
Jaitlu: Are you out of your senses?
Mammo: Cholbe na, cholbe na…
Sushy: What ‘cholbe na’? Kuch to bata bhai!
Mammo: (Pointing a finger at both Monu and Gadu, Mammo cries out) Both of you are fools to befriend me… cholbe na, cholbe na!
Monu: Arre Mammo, who says so? You are still our friend.
Gadu: Yes, yes, you are still my friend.
Mammo: Cholbe na, Cholbe na… (and she runs out of stage, in the same frantic way, the way she had entered)
Everyone looks at each other. By now, their fight and anger has stopped. The light dims.
Keju’s house. Scene of a sitting room with sofas, chairs and a coffee table in the centre. A carom is kept on the coffee table. Keju is playing carom with 3 other friends of his. Keju’s mother walks in with 2 platefuls of peeled ripe mango. The friends dig in and relish the taste.
Keju: Wah Aam!! Itna mitha rasila aam… (he thinks for a few seconds and says) Every Indian should have aam and only aam. This aam will be the binding force for one and all in this country of diverse caste, culture and religions…
Keju’s loyalists clap and speak out in one tone – Wah, wah!!
Keju: These aam are the fodder for my brain. I have got some great ideas! I have been planning for quite some time to keep both Monu and Gadu in their skins. They have become too notorious lately, plucking out all the raw mangoes in the mango orchards, leaving the people with no option but to switch to bananas or pears. I have a plan, come here, let me share it with you…
(all huddle around Keju and Keju speaks something in a low voice, while the light dims)
A street scene. Monu, Sonu, Diggy and Sallu have gathered around a corner chatting. Suddenly two small kids come running from nowhere and hurl some mangoes at the group and run away, equally fast.
Monu: Huh! What was that?
Sallu: (Pointing a finger to the direction where the kids disappeared) Those kids threw mangoes at us!
Diggy: I know them very well, they are not aam kids - are a part of the Keju gang. I am sure Gadu’s group has asked them to do so… those morons, always looking for opportunities to dirty us with their dirty antics.
Sonu: Hmmm… Monu bhaiya, we should report this to the elders.
Monu: As you say!
(Mammo’s voice is heard in the background - Cholbe na, Cholbe na. All kids scamper for cover)
Mammo: Arrey, where did they disappear? Why is it that no one plays with me? Cholbe na, cholbe na… (Mammo exits and the light dims)
A street scene. Gadu and his group - Sushy, Jaitlu and Prasu are hanging around a lamp-post, having a laugh at something. Diggy passes them from a distance. Gadu looks at him and attempts to chase him, but Diggy runs away. The group laughs out at Diggy and mimics his running.
Gadu: Ha, ha, ha… that Diggy is a real mess. He cant even run straight and wants to take panga with us!!
Sushy: Arre Gadu, one day we will catch hold of him separately and give him a knock of his lifetime… he calls himself Diggy Raja!! Ha, ha, ha…
Before Sushy could have finished, two kids came from the background carrying a plastic bag and hurled some 3-4 ripe mangoes at the group and vanish.
Prasu: Arre, what was that?
Jaitlu: I thought bombs…
Sushy: It must be Diggy only, he must have heard us laugh on him.
Gadu: But I know those kids… they are not aam kids, they are a part of Keju’s gang. Ah, so Monu and his team must have used them against us.
Sushy: Gadu, we should report this to the elders.
(Suddenly from the background, there is the typical hoarse voice of Mammo, Cholbe na, Cholbe na. Hearing Mammo approaching them, the group looks for cover and runs out of the scene. Mammo enters)
Mammo: Arre, these guys have also abandoned me? Cholbe na, cholbe na…
A meeting in progress. There are elders attending a meeting of the residents’ welfare association. Enters Monu’s group from one side and Gadu’s group from another side.
Sushy: I am sorry to barge in like this, but I have to state something.
Diggy: Nehi, we need to speak first.
Gadu: How dare you!! (Turning back at the audience, he speaks out in a complaining tone) They have been throwing all sorts of aam-s at us.
Sonu: That’s a complete lie. In fact they have been doing that. They have used Keju’s boys to target us and dirty us in broad day light on open streets!! (She starts sobbing, Monu embraces her and tries to pacify her)
Jaitlu: I have evidence to prove that it is their act of misdeed and they have used Keju’s guys. In fact Keju’s group is the B-team of these loafers here.
Sallu: Huh! Just listen to their lies… haven’t you guys been targeting us and picking up a fight with us? You are a lot of incorrigible bandits.
Diggy: Yes, they are the ones to have engaged Keju’s guys, not us.
Prasu: Liar, liar… (all kids now speak out) – liar, liar.
A person with a big torso stands up and tries to separate the kids, who by now have almost got into a fight. Another person with a deep voice barks out…
Big Man: Shut up! You bunch of rascals, always fighting among yourselves. In fact today we had convened this meeting to resolve on how to stop your stupid pranks once and for all. You guys are a big shame for us and your parents… (he looks up over the head of others and motions someone to come towards him. Enters Keju in a white kurta-payjama and with a big smile on his face!)
Big Man: Keju, thank you for getting these ruffians up over here. Had you not been there, then we would not have got to know that they have all been stealing mangoes from the orchard. We will take strict actions against them…
Keju: Uncleji, this is not the only thing that they do… they have also been removing the bulbs from the street lamps, beating the street dogs away, scaring off the old people out for their evening or morning walks… and I have all the evidence with me. (He reaches out deep in his side bag and takes out a handful of papers). See, I have also collected statements from people who have complaints against them and have also clicked pictures of their misdeeds. They are the ones, who had attached the gardeners Bholu-bhaiya and the house-maid, Kanta bai and have abused the dhobi, Laluram.
Big Man: These are a lot too many accusations on you all. You all need to pay for it. (Turning to the other elderly people sitting in audience). So, I put it upto the house to decide what punishment to be given to these kids. (There was a loud murmur, some shouted – they should be punished, while some shouted – their parents should send them to boarding school, away from here, while some favored the kids – they are just kids!!)
Big Man: I think, we have all discussed among ourselves what to be done with them. The accusations against them are quite significant and cannot be ignored. So how many of you are in favor of punishing them? (Majority raises their hands) So we reach a consensus that punishment is what they all deserve. Anyone having any objection can speak now…
Even before he has finished speaking, Mammo’s voice was heard from the background – Cholbe na, cholbe na… Mammo enters.
Mammo: Cholbe na, Cholbe na…
Keju: Hello Mammo, what happened?
Mammo: Cholbe na, cholbe na… they cannot be punished.
Keju: But why?
Mammo: Because, because… Cholbe na, cholbe na…
Keju: That’s your problem, you know. You have no answer to anything and the only thing you say is Cholbe na, cholbe na. No one can make anything out of that.
Mammo: Well, I want to reveal something. Actually, I have also been a party to their pranks. Whenever they used to steal the mangoes from the orchard, I used to steal some from their kitty as well. And they never got to know about it!!
Prasu: You… I always knew you are not to be trusted.
Sonu: We used to wonder where did our mangoes disappear. And I used to think it was Sushy’s work – that little brat!
Big Man: Will you guys hold on! Listen to your punishments now. Sonu and Sushy, you guys would be helping the slum kids with their studies for the next 2 months, every evening. Diggy and Jaitlu, you are going to help all the senior citizens with their errands from the market for the next 6 months. Sallu and Prasu, you are going to supervise a cleanliness drive in the colony over the next 6 months. Finally, Monu and Gadu, you two would be guarding the mango orchard for 4 hours everyday, once you are back from school, for the next 6 months.
Everyone in the audience cheers. The kids put up a frown. They turned around with their heads down and started to move out of stage. The Big Man asks them to stop and turns around towards Keju and addresses him.
Big Man: Keju, since you have been a great help for all of us here, there is a reward from all of us. You will be entrusted to lead this entire pack. They have to report to you and you need to certify their performance at the end of the 6 months. And yes, if they are found good performers, they would certainly be rewarded.
All the kids now got back their smile.
All kids together: Yeah!! We will certainly work hard!
All the elders stand up to cheer the kids and the light dims.
End of play