Volume XII: The Vision of God and Man, Confessions, Four Plays
by Hazrat Inayat Khan
PART I: FOUR PLAYS
CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY
BOGEY-MAN(so called by those who did know him. A Sage)
A Sarai.1 The MODERNIST, seated on a stool, is reading a newspaper. The SPECULATOR enters and goes up to the MODERNIST.
SPECULATOR. What’s the rate of exchange today?
MODERNIST. (looks at him and then down at his paper).I haven’t come to it yet.
SPECULATOR. Then what have you read? That’s the first thing one must read. Yesterday money had gone down and I made a profit. The other day I bought some shares, which I sold, and I got four times the amount.
MODERNIST. I’m not at all interested in speculations; I’m looking for what the papers say about the new Cabinet that is to be formed. I’m wondering who are to be elected to sit in Parliament. If the Labor Party gets the upper hand, the state of affairs will change; conditions will improve.
SPECULATOR. It doesn’t matter a bit to me, which party comes up and which goes down. ‘God save our bread.’ What I’m concerned about is if the money market rises or falls. What difference does it make if one party goes and another comes? It is always like this with the government.
LOVER. Oh, oh, she never did care for me. She never did love me. I now realize how she has treated me… I never thought she could be so heartless. Day after day I have followed her, and night after night I have dreamed of her. I thought of her at every moment of the day… It is of her that I have spoken, if ever I have spoken… Woman, woman! I wish I could die!
SPECULATOR (hastens towards him). What’s the matter with you?
LOVER. O, it is she, it is she who is the cause of it all! Now I am good for nothing: why should I live any longer?
SPECULATOR. You fool, think of something else. If you get money, you have everything.
LOVER. I have failed… I have failed in life.
SPECULATOR. Have you lost your money? Are you bankrupt? How have you failed?
LOVER. No, my only love has disappointed me.
SPECULATOR. Make money, and the world will be yours. It is no use dying because a
woman turns away from you.
LOVER. My love, my love!
SPECULATOR. Love money, the only object worthy of love.
LOVER. I’ve never thought of money in my life. I only lived for love.
SPECULATOR. How silly you are! If you haven’t learnt how to make headway in the world, you have wasted your life. Time is money. If you have money, everybody is drawn to you: if you’re poor, no one cares for you. (Goes to the MODERNIST.)
MODERNIST. What’s the matter with that fellow? Is he lovesick? He, he!
SPECULATOR. He’s got inflammation of the heart. Ha, ha, ha!
MODERNIST. Science has proved today that love is a convulsion of the brain.
(Enter LADY, fashionably dressed.)
LADY (speaking to herself.) I hate; I hate the sight of woman. I don’t mind men.
SPECULATOR. (looks at her with surprise.)
LADY. Turn away your evil eye, you ugly fellow!
SPECULATOR. What did you say?
LADY. Why did you look at me? How dare you look at me? (To the MODERNIST) Why are you hanging your head? Why don’t you look at me? You insult me! Am I not dressed in up-to-date fashion?
MODERNIST. (looks up and down.)
LADY. Disgusting (Sits down.)
MODERNIST. (glances at her out of the corner of his eye, then looks down, whispering.) Silly woman!
(Enter SAGE, simply clad. He looks at no one, but sits down for a rest. The others look at him astonished)
SPECULATOR. Who’s this?
MODERNIST. A freak.
SPECULATOR. What did you say?
MODERNIST. A freak. Someone who wanders about, with nothing to do. Fools his time away.
LADY (laughs, looking at him.) Bogey-man!
SPECULATOR (to MODERNIST.) I think there’s something in this man. You never know. Sometimes such men can tell you your fortune.
SPECULATOR. Well, I’ll go and speak to him and see what he says. (He goes to the right and greets him. The SAGE, absorbed in his thoughts, does not see him. He goes to the other side, winking at the MODERNIST, and greets him. The SAGE remains absorbed in his thoughts. Then the SPECULATOR goes in front of him and greets him. The SAGE responds by nodding).
SPECULATOR (sits down.) Excuse my asking you, but I think men like you can tell many things. What do you think: will money rise or fall?
SAGE. What will rise must fall, and what will fall must rise. Rise and fall are natural to life. No rise is permanent, or fall lasting. It is reality behind it all which is steady and dependent.
SPECULATOR. (closes one eye and scratches his head.) Well, can you tell me if I shall make some profit next week?
SAGE. There is only one profit , which is worth striving after. That profit is to gain what no one can take away from you.
SPECULATOR (points with his finger to his forehead.) Thank you. (Goes away, laughing, to the LADY who is seated there.) Where did you get that precious necklace? (touching the necklace.)
LADY (strikes him on the shoulder.) Go away! Don’t touch my necklace with your awkward hands. I have many rings and necklaces. I am a lady. How dare you touch my necklace? Can’t you talk from a distance? Keep to where you belong!
SPECULATOR (rolls his eyes and retreats, rubbing the place where she has struck him.)
MODERNIST. What did he say?
SPECULATOR. Who? That funny lady?
MODERNIST. No, no, that strange-looking man.
SPECULATOR (laughs.) He told me a lot, but I did not understand one word. He is not all there; he seems to be floating on air. When I talk to him about the South, he tells me about the North.
MODERNIST. Let me go and see what he says. (Goes near the SAGE, greets him and sits.) Excuse me asking you a few questions.
SAGE (looks at him.)
MODERNIST. I suppose you don’t interest yourself in the present political situation? But I should like to know what you think. Do you thing the Labor Party will win the election?
SAGE. Whichever party comes to power, it certainly fulfills the law from above. The various parties seem different to our eyes, but there is His Will that is done, and His will that will be done. When we show preference for one party over the other, it is our limitations. Men group themselves into parties: when we see behind all different parties there is one perfect whole, working out its destiny toward the fulfillment of the purpose of life.
MODERNIST. What do you think of the great wrong done the people by those at present in power?
SAGE. Those who wish to better conditions by fighting against all that is wrong often do a greater wrong. The more parties there are, the greater the disharmony. It is dividing one into many. It is by unity that the purpose of life in achieved.
MODERNIST. But what do you u think of the people who have held wealth and high position for generations whilst depriving others of them?
SAGE. You are right. Every man must have his chance of attaining all that is good and worth while. But there are two ways of attaining. One way is to rob, and the other way is to earn. One earns by deserving it; one robs without deserving it. There must be a mutual goodwill on the part of those who possess something and of those who do not possess. Those who do not possess must deserve and earn it. Those who possess must make all sacrifices possible, in order that every man in the world may have his chance of prospering and rising in life. The undeserving one by robbing will never be able to enjoy and use his possession fully. For to possess and enjoy something one must earn it and deserve it.
MODERNIST. Do you think a sense of mutual goodwill can be aroused among the people in high position without strong measures?
SAGE. Every hurt and harm caused to another rebounds. Any slight destruction results in greater destruction. Man is born with a sense of justice in his innermost being. And if a just proposition is brought before him, sooner or later he must respond to it. Harmlessness is the principal thing in religion. Disharmony causes greater disharmony; it is harmony that results in peace.
MODERNIST. Thank you. I shall reflect upon it. (Gets up and goes.)
SPECULATOR. What did the fellow tell you?
MODERNIST. He does not speak my language. While we are thinking of fighting, he is thinking of peace.
SPECULATOR. Now, I’ll have some fun. I’ll take this lady to that fellow and see what he says. (Goes to the LADY and puts his arm in hers.) Come along, old girl, if you want your fortune told.
LADY. (strikes his arm and pushes him away.) Why do you touch me, rude man? Can’t you keep at a respectful distance?…Will he tell me my fortune?
SPECULATOR. Yes, he will.
LADY. I’ll come.
SPECULATOR (brings her to the SAGE .) This noble lady wants to talk to you.
LADY. Will you read my hand and tell me my fortune?
SAGE. No, Madam, I do not tell fortunes.
LADY. No? They all say you can tell fortunes. Won’t you tell me? I am an unhappy woman.
SAGE. Why are you unhappy, Madam?
LADY. The troubles at home. The servants these days have become so neglectful, so independent and rude that you can’t expect them to do one thing properly.
SAGE. Madam, that is the phenomenon of the time. It is the weather of the season. The best thing is to take everyone as he is, and to know that he cannot be any better. Appreciate all that he can do, and overlook all he does not do. It is with kindness that you must treat those who depend upon you. It is with kindness alone that can move rocks.
LADY (wiping her eyes.) Servants apart, even my friends have turned away from me. One day I think I can have trust and confidence in a friend. Next day the same person betrays my trust. I am so disappointed in people that now I cannot say whom I can call my friend.
SAGE. Madam, do not expect much from friends. Why must they be as you want them to be? They are not made by you. They are as they are. You must try to be for them what they expect you to be. It matters little is your friend proves to you to be a friend. What matters is, if you prove to be a friend.
LADY. No, I don’t want even to look at friends who have once turned away from me. Even my husband is unsympathetic to me.
SAGE. What do you do about it?
LADY. I have told him so very often.
SAGE. There you are. Instead of kindling the fire to his heart by blowing, you pour water upon it.
LADY. Now my heart is closed.
SAGE. Is not your heart your self? Or is it a door that is jammed and cannot be opened?
LADY. When he comes home from his work, he is as cold as a lump of ice.
SAGE. Madam, ice melts in a moment by heat. If your heart is glowing with love, blazing with devotion, no ice can stay unmelted. Madam, do not even acknowledge all that seems undesirable to you. The best way to right the wrong is to look at it in the right light. It is we who cause our unhappiness, and it is we who, if we happen to know the key to life, can find happiness.
LADY. Thank you, it is all too high for me. I’m going.
SPECULATOR. (comes behind her, as if he was taking her back. She pushes him away with her elbows; he walks behind her, with outspread arms and bent knees as if protecting her.)
LOVER. My love, my love, I wish I could die. (LADY and the two men rush towards him.)
SPECULATOR. Let’s bring him to the Bogey-man and tell him that there is a soothsayer sitting here: that we shall have his fortune told. (He brings him to the SAGE.) This man is lovesick, He said he had a disappointment and his heart is broken. We can’t find where the pieces of his heart have dropped.
MODERNIST. Now, we shall leave him to tell you his love-story. (To the others.) Let’s go out of the sarai.
(SAGE and LOVER are left alone.)
LOVER. Please give me something that I may die instantly.
SAGE. Why do you want to die?
LOVER. I failed in love. She has abandoned me. Now there is nothing for me to live for…I want to die.
SAGE. How have you failed in love? Love is the only thing in life. For love is all that is. Love lives and all dies. If all failed you in life, love will not fail you. Perhaps you have not understood the meaning of love. Love that depends on being answered by the beloved is lame; it does not stand on its own feet. Love that tries to possess the beloved is without arms; it can never hold. Love that does not regard the pleasure and displeasure of the beloved is blind. Love that is demanding and self-asserting is dead. If you have love, you have all. What more do you want? –Learn my boy, to know what love is before you profess to be a lover.
LOVER. Then what am I to do? I am most unhappy. Life is unbearable.
SAGE. Your unhappiness comes from self-pity. Love is neither joy, nor pain; it is both. If it is pain, it is as sweet as joy. If it is joy, it is as deep as pain. Love is the ladder by which you reach the highest ideal. Loving is living. (Remains in abstraction.)
LOVER. No, no. I am most unhappy…I cannot endure it any longer…I will die, I must die. (He puts poison in his mouth and falls dead near the feet of the SAGE.)
SAGE. Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram.
Before the hut of the SAGE. The CHELAS are beginning to gather. FIRST CHELA is already sitting in silence, Enter SECOND and THIRD CHELAS.
SECOND CHELA. He is always engaged in meditation, poor man.
THIRD CHELA. Perhaps he will hurry up his spiritual journey. There is a time for everything.
SECOND CHELA. Even God must get tired of hearing his continual prayer.
THIRD CHELA. He listens to the Guru very much. For him every letter of the Guru is law. I suppose he’s very good.
SECOND CHELA. Yes, too good to live: I can’t be so good! — I wonder if the path we have taken is the right one.
THIRD CHELA. There is no doubt about the path being the right one, but it is difficult to have patience to keep to it.
SECOND CHELA. I can’t go on much longer, for there are many other things to accomplish in life, not only this.
THIRD CHELA. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, as is said in the Scriptures. This is the principal thing to accomplish, and all other things are secondary. If you take it as anything else, then you can be sure that you will never accomplish it.
SECOND CHELA. Yes, I suppose it is the work of such patient people as this one (Pointing toFIRST CHELA.)
(Enter FOURTH CHELA.)
FOURTH CHELA. (hastily.) Has the class begun? Has the class begun? Has the Guru come?
SECOND CHELA. The Guru has not yet arrived; perhaps he has forgotten the time. There is no such thing as time.
FOURTH CHELA. The later the better. I’m only sorry I’ve left my notebook at home.
THIRD CHELA. Do you have to write down what is being taught here? Can’t you take it all in?
FOURTH CHELA. Oh no, I can’t do it. I must have it all on paper, for I need to chew the cud leisurely at home. (He goes to the FIRST CHELA.) Will you tell me please about something I cannot understand: I have puzzled every day over it.
FIRST CHELA. You must ask the Guru.
FOURTH CHELA. I dare not trouble the Guru with my questions. Won’t you tell me what is? The Guru said: All in one. If it is one, how can it be all? Because all denotes plurality.
FIRST CHELA. All sums up in unity.
FOURTH CHELA. Oh, this I cannot understand.
FIRST CHELA. You will understand one day.
FOURTH CHELA. No, never. I can’t. I can’t be a hypocrite to my own self by imagining two to be one: tow is tow, one is one. I have read hundreds of books on the occult sciences. And I have written fifty books on philosophy myself. I have gone from one occult school to another, till I passed through perhaps twenty schools, but I have not yet got to the bottom of the thing I seek.
FIRST CHELA. You will not get to the bottom as long as you feel you can’t get to the bottom.
FOURTH CHELA. Explain to me, please, how many inner bodies there are. One school says there are five, another school says there are seven. What I see is only one, the physical body (pointing to his body.)
FIRST CHELA. This you must realize by meditation.
FOURTH CHELA. I get tired of sitting quiet, even for three minutes. — And tell me how many more times we have to come back here on earth. Shall we be born in other planets, and then what will happen in the end?
FIRST CHELA. You need not worry about the end, for the end is the same as the beginning.
FOURTH CHELA. What do you mean by beginning? Birth?
FIRST CHELA. Whatever you imagine.
FOURTH CHELA. That’s what make my head go round and round. It is like beating about the bush. You never come straight to the point. Everybody here complains of this.
FIRST CHELA. Even if everybody did, I suppose you don’t.
(FOURTH CHELA gets up annoyed and moves away. Enter FIFTH CHELA.)
FIFTH CHELA (goes to FIRST CHELA.) To me it is all vague and in a mist. Will you please explain something about the strange ways of the Guru?
FIRST CHELA. The ways of the Guru are many, each subtle and incomprehensible. His moral conceptions, his philosophical thoughts, his lofty ideals, his realization of God, his wide horizon of vision, and the flight of his consciousness in the higher spheres, all these cannot be put into words. He notices all things, whether he sees them or not feels all conditions, whether he knows them or not. He gives a bitter pill to one, and a delicious sweet to another. He looks at one and thinks of another; he teaches one in words and the other in silence; he speaks to one and inspires another by his piercing glance. It is all his love, whether it comes in the form of heavy rain or bright sunshine.
FIFTH CHELA (to FOURTH CHELA.) The method that our Guru gives us must be shaped according to the times. The times demand something quite different.
FOURTH CHELA. I think you are right. But how do you think it must be done?
FIFTH CHELA. Everything should be explained in words. Why is there any need for secrecy? What is there to be kept secret in truth? If we know truth we can declare it to everyone. What people are looking for is truth. And if we have it, we can answer all they ask of life.
FOURTH CHELA. I quite agree with you. It must be modified and made to suit the modern world, so that no scientist or literary person can find any ground for criticizing.
(The other CHELAS come nearer to hear the talk. The GURU enters and sees them conversing. They all greet him.)
SAGE. What discussion is going on?
SECOND CHELA. My friend asks why truth cannot be given in a frame that may be accepted at the present time.
SAGE. In the first place, truth is vaster than any frame we can make to put it in. Besides, no matter what frame we make for truth to be presented in, an unawakened soul will never see it, but will only see the frame.
FIFTH CHELA. But why must we keep it secret?
SAGE. God Himself conceals all beauty from the eyes of the unevolved. Beauty covers itself, or the unevolved close their eyes to it. In both cases beauty remains veiled-and truth is the supreme beauty.
FIFTH CHELA. Why must we not systematize spiritual knowledge?
SAGE. What can be systematized cannot be spiritual knowledge. This is beyond all classification. It is the earthly things that can be made cut and dried. The farther you go on the spiritual path, the finer becomes your perception. Truth is most simple and most subtle. It is grosser than mountains and finer than atoms.
FOURTH CHELA. Then how can we know occult laws?
SAGE. By mystical experience.
FOURTH CHELA. How can it be developed: It is twenty years since I began reading occult books. Every day I have written down what you have said, and yet I do not find I have got any nearer.
SAGE. It is not study alone that brings you to the realization of truth. If often wraps your soul in many more covers. What gives you an insight into the hidden laws of nature is meditation.
(Enters SIXTH CHELA.)
SIXTH CHELA. (greets the Teacher.) Excuse me for being late, Guru. I want to tell you, last evening I went to a séance, and heard a spirit talk through the trumpet. He told me so many things about what will happen my life. Do you think all he said is true?
SAGE. You are the one who must know that.
SIXTH CHELA. I have seen such a wonderful vision of you, Guru! You were all clad in blue, and then you turned red. Then your whole appearance became scarlet, and in the end it was a golden light; then your face disappeared altogether from my sight.
SAGE. You may have seen someone else, not me.
SIXTH CHELA. The other day I saw a lady who psychometrized things and told all their history. It was wonderful. When shall I develop clairvoyance? I have been your Chela for several years. Now I ought to be able to work wonders.
SAGE. I have not yet arrived at that stage myself.
(Enter SEVENTH CHELA.)
SEVENTH CHELA. Guru, when first I cane to you things seemed to change, but now everything seems to go wrong with me. I have not been well for some time; money affairs have gone wrong, and people make me agitated. Prayers annoy me; I cannot put my mind to meditation. I think there is no hope for me, Guru; and as my friend has left you, I feel I cannot go on any longer. Now I must attend only to my own business, instead of going after such things.
SAGE. It is one’s attitude that changes life, but it is by patient pursuit that one arrives at the desired goal.
CANDIDATE. (greets.) Will you take me as your Chela, Guru? I have heard of you from my friend, who said many good things about you. I have read much about these things and I have talked with many occultists. I think I am quite ready to take the spiritual path, don’t you think so? I am sure you will not have much difficulty with me, because I am mature. Do you really thing there is a soul or a hereafter?
SAGE. This I suppose you already know.
CANDIDATE. Yes, but I should like to know what you think about it (Short pause.) I will not belong to your group, excuse me for saying so. I don’t wish to be bound by any vows, nor shall I make any promises: for I know if ever I did so I should not be able to keep them. I don’t want this to be known by my people, and especially not by those with long robes. I shall be your Chela, for I like you, but I hate to be among other Chelas.
SAGE. You do not need to be a Chela, as you already know so many things.
CANDIDATE. No, I have come to be your Chela. Only I cannot have any discipline. Besides, I wonder if you agree with all I believe.
SAGE. You keep on believing as you believe, and go on the way you wish to tread. For this path is most difficult: it needs self-abnegation.
(CANDIDATE takes his leave. Enter EIGHTH CHELA.)
EIGHTH CHELA. When I am with you, Guru, your inspiring presence gives me enthusiasm and faith. But as soon as I leave you I lose it all. When you speak to me I believe it without any doubt, but when I am among my friends and hear them talking, then my mind becomes thoroughly confused-I get discouraged when people speak against these things, and doubt begins to creep into my mind.
SAGE. The brick has to go through fire in order to become hard. You must learn to depend upon your own feelings. It is then that belief becomes faith.
(Enter TWO POLICEMEN.)
FIRST POLICEMAN. Isn’t this the Bogey-man of whom people told us?
SECOND POLICEMAN. I suspect this is the murderer of the young man at the sarai.
FIRST POLICEMAN. Ha, ha ha! And here he is preaching the Gospel. Come along, Bogey-man, you are wanted at the police-station.
SECOND CHELA (to THIRD CHELA.) Look, here is an example of what is said in the Scriptures: Ye shall know them by their fruits.
THIRD CHELA. It is also said in the Scriptures: Judge not, that ye be not judged. We know not whether this is cause or effect. Sometimes what appears as effect may be the cause, sometimes what seems to be the cause may be the effect.
FOURTH CHELA. I thought so; nowhere in the world is any good to be found. I now understand why there was all this talk of secrecy.
FIFTH CHELA. This is the outcome of all that vagueness. I f he had any truth, he could have put it in plain words. Look, even now he does not admit simply that he has killed the man.
FIRST CHELA (to himself.) How time changes people…True it is that no one stands by you in your worst hour. Prosperity gathers friends, adversity scatters them.
(SAGE stands up.)
FIRST CHELA. Guru, I will come with you.
SAGE. No, you must not follow me in my disgrace. I must face it alone.
(FIRST CHELA is most unhappy.)
SAGE (turning to all his Chelas.) My blessed Chelas, allow me to thank you most heartily for your response. Providence has brought us together here, while I was on my way to the solitude from where I come. I have learnt more from you than you from me; and still you called me your Guru. Will you remember these as my last words: observe God in His manifestation, worship God in man, admire God in nature, and love God in loving all living beings. Efface yourself continually, and what will appear to you in the end will be God.
FIRST POLICEMAN. Cut short your sermon.
SAGE: Continue to strive in the path of truth and be not satisfied with less than truth. In the light of truth you must see God and man; in the spirit of truth you must realize self and all.
SECOND POLICEMAN. Now, that’s enough.
SAGE. I will go where destiny will take me. Truth is victorious. God bless you!
(Departs; all are impressed and many sad.)
Compound outside the prison-ground. The SAGE is seated in meditation. People come to greet him and depart.
A PASSER-BY. He must be a great sage. I wonder what has brought him to this prison.
ANOTHER. Many such saints sin in order to deserve life in prison.
ANOTHER. Look how deeply he is absorbed in his silence!
ANOTHER. He is a silent as the stork waiting for the fish to come.
ANOTHER. He is God’s beloved. Such people care for no one, for nothing in the world. He is like a God on earth.
ANOTHER. Hush! God is in the heavens. When did you see Him drop on earth? Don’t speak so, it is sacrilege.
ANOTHER. I feel like sitting at his feet forever.
ANOTHER. Because you are so lazy.
ANOTHER. His atmosphere is so calm and peaceful.
ANOTHER. Look at his face, beaming with light. It’s as if he were an angel.
ANOTHER. It seems angels have become cheap on the market lately; you can buy them at any price.
(A man brings another who has lost control of his nerves and makes all sorts of faces and distorted gestures. When he wishes to go the sick man pulls him back, saying ‘Stay here.)’
MAN. (to SAGE.) Will you cure him?
(The SAGE opens his eyes, touches the sick man’s head and the man is well. All are amazed.)
SOMEONE. Oh, he is a great healer!
(A man and woman come in, holding a woman between them.)
MAN. Will you please cure her obsession? (To the woman.) Who is obsessing you?
WOMAN. I am a giant. I lived in the tree where this woman used to sit and sew. I looked and looked at her, till I fell desperately in love with her. And now I have fallen I cannot rise. The woman possesses me and I obsess her.
(The woman moves her head round and round.)
MAN. Away, you giant. Leave off controlling my wife.
WOMAN. No, I will not leave her.
MAN. Do you know in whose presence you are? You will be driven out if you will not leave her; you will be burnt to pieces.
SAGE (touches her.)
WOMAN. Yes, yes I leave her; I go, I am gone!
(The woman is cured and they go out. All the people there are wildly excited about the great SAGE.)
ANOTHER WOMAN. Will you cure me of my illness: I get fits of temper. Then I tear m my garments, I insult my friends, I torture animals, and I quarrel with my children. I throw at strangers anything within my reach. When I’m angry, I frighten devils away.
SAGE (puts his hand on her head.)
WOMAN. I’m cured, I’m cured, I fell I’m cured!
EVERYBODY. Ah, what a great soul.
-This is the man I would follow with my eyes closed.
-To see a man like this is like seeing God
-What power; he is a miraculous man!
(Enter TWO NOBLEMEN.)
NOBLEMAN. We have brought here the order from our gracious Queen to release you from your imprisonment. She has sufficient proof now that you are innocent. We are asked to take you to the palace, where our Queen is waiting to welcome you.
SAGE. What have I, a wandering man, to do at the court? Prison or palace is the same to me.
NOBLEMAN. Great Sage, if you come it would bless our Queen and her palace.
SAGE. Yes, I will come.
Palace veranda. The SAGE is received, standing before the Queen, who is sitting near a little table with wine and glasses.
QUEEN. I am very sorry indeed, great Sage, that you were arrested in my kingdom. I apologize to you humbly for this unjust treatment which you have received from our people. As the diamond shines out even if it is amongst garbage, so you have shown your light. I consider it my privilege to see you here and to receive your blessing.
SAGE. All things that people do in life, good or bad, right or wrong, by them they build prison bars around themselves. Therefore, at every moment of life their captivity becomes greater. Life itself is a prison, Queen, a prison which every soul experiences as it dwells in this mortal body of limitations. It is from this prison that I have sought freedom. Therefore no prison can bind my soul anymore.
(The QUEEN offers wine to the SAGE. She stands next to him, near the balustrade of the balcony. The SAGE drinks.)
QUEEN. I have heard people talk so much about you and your wonderful healing-power.
SAGE. I never depend on popularity. People generally are like sheep; where one goes, all follow. They raise a person one day and throw him down the next. (She puts her hand in his hand; he presses it to his heart.) I do not mean rare souls like you, fair Queen. It is the people I mean.
(People who had admired him pass by, looking and searching for the Teacher and Healer.)
PEOPLE. Oh, he happens to be a false saint?
OTHERS. Look, look, he is drinking and making love to our beautiful Queen.
WOMAN. (who had come to get her head cured, holding both hands to her head.) He cannot cure my head, he cannot cure my head.
MAN. (comes in limping.) I thought he was healing and he happens to be merrymaking. I have come from miles away, and it is all in vain.
ANOTHER. Listen to what they say; it is all humbug.
SAGE. I had hardly uttered the philosophy when an example manifested before us. Every man weighs another soul on his own scales, and measure him with his own yardstick, not knowing the weight and length of the soul, neither comprehending its height nor its depth. Everyone judges all by himself.
QUEEN. We must not remain here; we will go and have a quiet talk inside the palace.
Room inside the palace. QUEEN and SAGE, seated.
QUEEN. (with her hand on his chair.) The moment I heard of your presence here I knew what was attracting me. Great Sage, I am hungering to understand life, thirsting for association with the Illuminated.
SAGE. Yes, Queen, your hunger and thirst are of the soul. It is when a soul is born again that hunger and thirst begin.
(The QUEEN pours out wine and hands it to the SAGE. The SAGE drinks.)
QUEEN. I should so much like to know about life and death, about rise and fall, about that which we see and that which we do not see, about love and hate, about God and man.
SAGE. Wonderful questions, Queen; you response draws you closer to my heart.
QUEEN. It is these questions that have attracted me to you, beloved Sage.
SAGE. Your soul, Queen, has waited for me, though it knew it not before we met. Life is one living stream, continually running without beginning or end. Death is man’s illusion. The change that hides man’s existence from him he calls death. Life is still, but its flow, which is ever-moving, rises and fall in waves; it is this that created an illusion of rise and fall. All this we seen is the manifestation of one Spirit in many and varied forms.-Love, beautiful Queen, is the first will, the precedent cause. This whole manifestation is a phenomenon of love. Hate is the want of love; it has no existence of its own.-God is the ideal. Man makes and raises Him as high as he can for the expansion of his own soul.
QUEEN. How inspiring! It uplifts my spirit. How can I show you my gratitude, my devotion?
(The SAGE holds her hand to his heart, and kisses her.)
QUEEN. This is you home, since my heart has become an abode of your soul. You will bless me and my kingdom by staying here and will illuminate the chamber of my heart.-I offer you, beloved Sage, my heart and soul and all I possess, though it is too small an offering to be made.
(She sends for a silk robe to replace the Wanderer’s mantle, and gives him a pearl necklace instead of his old rosary. Gold embroidered shoes are brought to replace his sandals.)
SAGE. This is all to rich for me.
QUEEN. Nothing is too rich for you, beloved.
(Enter BRAHMINS with two garlands of flowers and a tray with grain to give the blessing.)
BRAHMINS. God bless this auspicious wedding.
(Entertainments are given to the SAGE. Wine is brought and served by the QUEEN. Many courtiers come.)
Wilderness. The SAGE dreams.
SAGE. Wilderness, my dearest friend, why did I leave you? When did I leave you? Though I had left you, still you where always in my heart-the memory of having meditated in the woods, of having trees of long tradition whose every leaf is a tongue of flame…Venerated trees, have I not taken refuge in your shadow from the hot sun, when tired of roaming about in your wilderness, bare-footed? …Little pools of water, I drank nectar from you…Joyful I felt under the vast canopy of the blue sky…Gentle steams of water, running from hills and rocks, I bathed in you and was purified of all infirmities…High mountains with a background of white clouds. No place in the world could be compared with your beauty…Morning sun, your are most glorious in the wilderness. I have never seen your face so beaming anywhere else.
Yes, am I really here, or am I in the midst of the world? Yes, there was a reason for being in the world. There is a reason for everything. Life is not without meaning, and all that a person does, whether knowingly or knowingly, he only fulfills through his life’s purpose. The prison I was in was not a prison, for my conscience stood above it. The grandeur of the palace had no attraction for me. The only charm I felt there was my precious Queen.-Wilderness, you attract me, you call me. Though I long to be in the solitude, yet I never felt I was away from you.
Room inside the palace. QUEEN and SAGE sitting next to one another. Courtiers present. The PRINCE is brought by the GOVERNESS and the GUARDIAN. TheQUEEN rises from her chair, kisses the PRINCE and brings him to the SAGE.
GUARDIAN. Our little child, by the grace of God, is growing marvelously, do you not think so?
SAGE (takes the child and kisses it.) Yes, he is. (Holds him close to him.)
GOVERNESS. The Prince enjoys playing. He loves his little pony and does not allow anyone to touch it.
SAGE. Does he put his mind to his studies?
GUARDIAN. It is difficult to take the Prince from his play for his studies, but once he is studying he does it wonderfully well.
QUEEN. I don’t know what would be the best way of bringing up our little child. I have been thinking about it very much lately
SAGE. It is a great responsibility, beloved. Even the shadow of an undesirable person falling upon our child would make an impression on him.
QUEEN. Does the child no bring with it at birth some inner tendencies and qualities?
SAGE. Yes, it does, yet they can be rubbed off by its experience on the earth. They can be covered by impressions it receives coming here. To bring up a child is like molding a new world. For it is in man that God wakens to life.
QUEEN. Beloved, why are you looking sad today? Is there anything you need? I will procure all that wealth can bring, power can possess and love can supply-all you wish to make your life happy.
SAGE. I am homesick, precious Queen.
QUEEN. Are you not at home then? I never thought that you had another home.
SAGE. Yes, I had-solitude. It grieves me immensely to tell you, beloved Queen, that I have received a call to the wilderness, which is my kingdom. I must go.
QUEEN (holds his hands and weeps.) You are not going, beloved, you will not go…
SAGE. Now the hour has struck, precious Queen, that I should depart to roam about in the wilderness.
QUEEN. I will follow you to the end of the world!
SAGE. No, beloved Queen, it is your duty to bring up this child to be the ruler of this kingdom. Destiny had arranged it so that he should be my son to reign over this country with wisdom and justice.
(The QUEEN weeps; all present are sad. The SAGEembraces the QUEEN kisses his son, takes off his crown and put it on the head of the child. The mother cries and holds the child, weeping. Then he asks for his old mantle and takes off his kingly robe; he puts on his old rosary and his sandals.)
SAGE.(to himself.) This is the picture of life: tarry here awhile and then depart.
(He waves his hand and blesses all.)
THE LIVING DEAD
CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY
PURAN (his son)
THE MAHARANI (wife of the Maharaja)
NAEKA (a court dancer)
SAHELI (Naeka’s maid)
VAIRAGI (an ascetic Sage)
TWO KAZAKS (executioners)
WOMAN FRUIT SELLER
BOY selling halva (sweets)
PEASANT WOMAN, selling buttermilk
MERCHANT, with his wife
MOTHER, with four children
The MAHARAJA is seated on cushions. A servant waving a fan. FIRST COURTIER on his left hand;SECOND COURTIER on his right hand. Musicians singing and playing.
MAHARAJA. ( after first song.) Khan Saheb, which raga did you sing?
MUSICIAN. It is Dipak, Huzur, the song of fire.
MAHARAJA. But the fire has not yet broken out!
MUSICIAN. Pardon, Huzur, it is just kindled; it will come to a blaze.
PAGE. Maharaja! Naeka, a dancer of most exquisite beauty whose skill has amazed all the great artists of the country, awaits your Majesty’s orders.
MAHARAJA. (turning to SECOND COURTIER.) Do you know her? Is she really wonderful?
SECOND COURTIER. She is beauty itself. The color of her skin is like a champak flower. With deer’s eyes she penetrates the hearts of her admirers. Her swift movements are as graceful as those of the cobra. With a nightingale’s voice she sings, enchanting those who hear.
MAHARAJA. (to the PAGE.) Bring her.
(Enter NAEKA; she greets the MAHARAJA.)
MAHARAJA. Have you caught your beauty from the rose?
NAEKA. Pardon me, Maharaja, the rose has borrowed its beauty from me.
MAHARAJA. (smiles.) Show me your wonderful skill, Naeka, I have heard so much about it.
(NAEKA performs the dance of the flower girl, with gestures of picking flowers and making them into a wreath; she then takes a real flower garland, dances with it and at the end put it around the neck of the MAHARAJA. He takes her hands and holds them to his breast, drawing her nearer. She hangs back, turning away her head.)
(Enter PAGE. NAEKA returns to her place.)
PAGE. Your Majesty, Prince Puran is coming to pay his respects before going for a ride.
(Enter PURAN, greets in the royal manner, bending low and touching the ground. NAEKA, struck by the beauty of the Prince, touches her heart while looking at him.)
MAHARAJA (to PURAN.) Are you going on horseback, son? Have you finished with your studies?
PURAN ( embarrassed, with a half smile.) I intended taking some hours from my studies to be alone with nature.
MAHARAJA (ironically.) Oh, yes.-Do not stay away too long.
(PURAN leaves; NAEKA shows her emotion in her movements and expression, acting as if she felt inclined to follow him; she takes two or three steps, then recovers her senses, passing her hand over her head as if to throw off her thought.)
MAHARAJA (after PURAN has left, to FIRST COURTIER.) Why is it that he does not put his mind to study? What does he do?
FIRST COURTIER. He likes to be with nature; and when at home he is frequently seen in his mother’s company.
MAHARAJA. I scarcely see him!
FIRST COURTIER. He does not enjoy hunting, wrestling, boxing; he is happy wandering alone with nature.
MAHARAJA. We must keep an eye on him!
FIRST COURTIER. Prince Puran is not addicted to any vices-drinking, smoking, or any other such habits. The Prince is different from the young men of his age; he is not attracted by frivolities and stands for ideals and principles.
SECOND COURTIER. It is natural; to what a family does he belong!
FIRST COURTIER. He is simple, but most intelligent at the same time; he does not care for reading or writing, but he thinks.
MAHARAJA (smiles.) What does he think? Does he think of the moon?
(Wine is brought on a golden tray; the MAHARAJA gives it to NAEKA; the COURTIERS give it to the MUSICIANS , and the MAHARAJA passes the wine over to the COURTIERS.)
FIRST MUSICIAN. To the glory of the Maharaja!
(All present repeat.)
MAHARAJA (to NAEKA.) Now open your wings and fly, beautiful bird.
( NAEKA dances. The MAHARAJA moves his head to the rhythm of the dance. NAEKA going round and round, falls into a swoon; raising hands, balancing as if she might fall. TheMAHARAJA rise from his seat and goes to her, makes a sign to the COURTIERS to leave.COURTIERS and MUSICIANS depart; theMAHARAJA holds NAEKA to his breast. When she opens her eyes; she turns her head and waves her hand towards the door by which the Prince has left.)
MAHARAJA. One jasmine kiss.
(She responds and he kisses her.)
Drawing room in the new home of NAEKA near the palace. NAEKA putting kohl on her eyelids, touching her lips with red paint. SAHELI holding a mirror before her, standing.
SAHELI. Bai, Providence has granted you comfort, jewels, the sweet little pavilion the Maharaja has given you; besides you have his love. There’s nothing more on could wish , and yet I scarcely see you smile. Has an evil eye fallen on you ? Maybe you are worrying about something. If only I knew what troubles your mind. – I would give anything in the world to see you smile again!
NAEKA. Yes, I have everything that one could need, but I wish I could love him. I can’t say I love him. His nearness is loathsome to me. Besides, I cannot accustom myself to his requirements. He asks me to abstain from any kind of frivolity with men.
SAHELI. Yes, because he loves you. You are a born artist, excuse me, Bai! (Smiling with a humorous expression and with gestures.) You belong to those charming women who are inclined to love one and to like another, to mile at one and to sign to another, o caress one and to pet another, to kiss one and to embrace another.
NAEKA. Am I really charming?
SAHELI. Certainly, Bai, you know you are. There is the woman who has charm for many, and there is the woman who has charm for one, and there is another woman, like myself, who has charm for none. Your vanity has been fed, Bai, by the attention of many admirers.
NAEKA. From my early youth I have grown up playing, making friends, singing and dancing. I attracted young men like a magnet, and so I have never been starved of attention.
SAHELI. This life must seem strange to you, Bai, but you will grow used to it.
NAEKA (shaking her head.) No, never.
SAHELI. You will change like the season when the time comes.
NAEKA. This life is like a prison to me. I am like a bird in a golden cage. (Weeping.) I would rather be a free dancer than a queen in captivity.
SAHELI (wiping her eyes and kissing her.) If I was admired by the Maharaja as you are, I should walk to him on my hands. (NAEKAsmiles.) You are too young yet to know what it is to be loved by the Maharaja. Every dancer in the country envies you the privilege. Now the Maharaja has made you the court dancer, but (whispering in NAEKA’S ear.) one day you might become queen.
NAEKA. That is all I want, to be queen one day. Yet I wish it were Puran and not he.
SAHELI ( holding her head with both hands in a great fright; then, touching her lips with her finger.) Ah, seal your lips, it can be most disastrous!
NAEKA (rises from her seat and looks out of the window.) There he goes on horseback. Saheli, I pray, will you call him? Say I have something to talk over with him. Bring him here, won’t you, Saheli, please?
(SAHELI gets up and runs to call the Prince. When she is alone, NAEKA acts as if she wonders if he will come or if he will not come, and how she will approach him, and what she will say to him; embarrassed and afraid, excited and dumbfounded, she awaits his coming.)
PURAN ( to NAEKA.) Did you call me?
NAEKA. Yes, I did call you, Puran. Come in, sit here. (Giving him a seat next to her. He sits, shy, with downcast eyes.) I admire your beautiful horse. It seems to be proud of its handsome rider.- Tell me, why is the Maharaja not pleased with you? I would do anything to make him more favorable to you.
PURAN. Father’s pleasure is all I seek. When I cannot please him, I realize my unworthiness.
NAEKA. You unworthy! How can you say that? You are the worthiest son any father could have. If you were the king, people here would be happier than they have ever been. Our people will rejoice, seeing you one day sitting on the throne with the crown on your head.
PURAN. May father live and reign forever!
NAEKA (whispering.) I would be the one to stand by you if ever a struggle arose. (With determination, raising her finger.) Know, Puran that you always have someone to give your confidence to. I can be hard as a rock when it comes to a test.
PURAN(looks bewildered.) What do you mean?
NAEKA Your mother must be most beautiful.
PURAN. My mother’s beauty cannot be observed by every eye.
NAEKA. Is she old?
PURAN. Her soul is older still.
NAEKA. No, doubt, she loves you very much.
PURAN. She is for me God’s compassion on earth.
NAEKA (reluctantly.) I am your father’s favorite (smiling) but I am young enough to be your love-mate. (PURAN still more perplexed.) Puran, why are you silent, why do you not talk to me? (She puts her arm in his, caressing his hand, draws closer to his face.) Puran, have you ever know, or heard, or seen the outburst of the heart’s volcano? (PURAN rises; she rises also and holds his hands.) Think what you will, say what you will, but let once my lips touch yours; what will be, will be. (She throws her arms around him and kisses him; sees the MAHARAJAcoming behind PURAN. She loosens her hold and pretends to be fainting. PURAN leaves hurriedly, not seeing his father.)
MAHARAJA (raises her up, one hand on his dagger, in a rage.) What is this?
NAEKA (throws her head on his breast and puts her hand on his shoulder.) Your son, your son!
MAHARAJA. My son? He is not my son! He cannot be my son! How dare he come here? Did he not know that I care for you? He is a disgrace to my name. (He lays NAEKA down on cushions; she lies motionless.)
MAHARAJA (to SAHELI, outside.) Send for the kazaks. (He takes his own scarf and tears it.) Tear him, destroy him!
(Enter two KAZAKS, NAEKA sits up with staring eyes, listening.)
MAHARAJA. Arrest Puran!…Flay him, cut his head off, bury him alive, throw him into the sea, do whatever you choose, that I may never see his face again!
(NAEKA trembles, falls down in despair.KAZAKS depart.)
MAHARAJA. Rosewater. (SAHELI runs and brings it, sprinkles it on NAEKA’S head. TheMAHARAJA, holding her with his left hand, fans her with his silk handkerchief.)
The jungle at sunset. A bitter cry of a woman behind the scenes.
WOMAN’S CRY. My beloved son, my only son!
A DEEP VOICE. Mother, mother, do not despair.
HARSH VOICES. Come on, come on. Linger no more, here.
( PURAN is pushed on the scene by the twoKAZAKZ, then stands calmly.)
FIRST KAZAK. You’re head’s to be chopped off here.
SECOND KAZAK. Your bones will dry here in the sun.
PURAN. I am perfectly resigned to my father’s command, if only you will allow me one moment to pray.
FIRST KAZAK. No, it can’t be done.
SECOND KAZAK (to FIRST KAZAK.) No, let him, let him.
FIRST KAZAK. Do it quickly. We must return before sunset (pointing at the red sky), with your head to be brought to the Maharaja.
(PURAN kneels down, with palms joined, his head slightly raised.)
FIRST KAZAK. Let’s take a little drop. (They drink from the bottle.)
PURAN. God, with clear conscience and with pure heart, I lay before Thee record of my life’s deeds. No one have I ever offended, to no one have I caused any harm. Clear away, Lord, my father’s misconception of me; comfort the sad heart of my loving mother. And forgive the one who unintentionally brought this about. I pray Thee, Lord, bless them all. Amen.)
(He bends his head low. To KAZAKS.) Now I am ready.
FIRST KAZAK (to SECOND KAZAK.) You do it.
SECOND KAZAK. You strike (Both unsheathe their daggers.)
FIRST KAZAK. You do it.
SECOND KAZAK. No, you.
FIRST KAZAK (goes to PURAN and makes a violent thrust with his weapon; when it nearly touches PURAN’S head, his hand becomes paralyzed.-To SECOND KAZAK) No, you do it!
SECOND KAZAK. I will. (He twists and turns, and moves passionately around, preparing himself to strike. He raises his hand with great strength. When the dagger is nearPURAN’S head, the KAZAK’S hand trembles and he throws his weapon away. CallsFIRST KAZAK and makes gesture.) Let him go.
FIRST KAZAK (with expression of fright, whispers.) No, what will the Maharaja do to us?
SECOND KAZAK. We shall see.
FIRST KAZAK ( raises PURAN, holding his hand.) Now, young man, we let you go; but go far, far away.
(PURAN bows and leaves.)
FIRST KAZAK (to SECOND KAZAK.) It’s all right.
SECOND KAZAK. He was innocent.
FIRST KAZAK. But what shall we say to the Maharaja?
SECOND KAZAK. That he is dead and buried!
(Both laugh, holding their stomachs, looking in the direction that PURAN went.)
The city gate at dawn. The moon is still shining. A VAIRAGI in Samadhi, sitting on a tiger skin, with a snake round his neck, between the road and the city wall. Two ROBBERSsitting on a rock on the right, at the side of the road.
FIRST ROBBER. Thank goodness, we had some luck last night; and a good escape. But what about the other two? Why haven’t they returned?
(The SECOND ROBBER stands up and looks in the distance.)
SECOND ROBBER. They may come any moment (Silence.) There they are. (Pointing.) Do you see?
FIRST ROBBER. They seem to have stolen at lot; see the heavy burden they are carrying. (Silence.) But it is a man!
(The two ROBBERS rise and go some steps forward.)
SECOND ROBBER. Hallo, what have you brought?
(Enter THIRD and FOURTH ROBBERS.)
THIRD ROBBER. Brought our ill luck.
FOURTH ROBBER. We’ve never had so bad a trip since we began. When passing through the forest we saw in the distance the face of a beautiful woman. We were delighted at the prospect of good luck. As we went near, what did we find? This wretched man.
THIRD ROBBER. He had gone hungry, I suppose, for many days. He had nothing with him.
FOURTH ROBBER. We thought to save him from the wolves and picked him up in order to sell him at the slave market for twenty thousand dirams.
THIRD ROBBER (To the first two ROBBERS.) Yes, he (pointing to the FOURTH ROBBER.) had great dreams about this bargain, but it all turned out to be nothing.
FOURTH ROBBER. He was not so bad at first when we took him along with us.
THIRD ROBBER. We should have left him on the way when we saw he was too ill to follow us; but you insisted that we should carry him through the forest. Here, we’ve tired our arms and legs, and now he’s worse than before, perhaps on the point of dying.
FIRST ROBBER (frightened.) Be careful. If the police see us with him, they’ll arrest us for his death.
(The four ROBBERS, shocked, leave the body and escape. An old WOMAN FRUIT SELLER, hurrying to the market with a straw tray of fruit on her head, knocks against the body of the PURAN, is frightened and bends down.)
WOMAN FRUIT SELLER. What is it? Who is it? (looks at him.) Poor man, he’s dead perhaps.
(TWO LABORERS pass with spade and fork on their shoulders, on their way to the fields They stop to see what is going on.)
WOMAN FRUIT SELLER. Poor man, what’s happened to him? Is he dead? (Holds her finger to his nostrils.) He’s still breathing.
FIRST LABORER. What shall we do?
SECOND LABORER. Let’s out him near the Vairagi; he’ll take care of him.
(THe LABORERS life the branches on which the body was carried and bring it before the Vairagi.)
WOMAN FRUIT SELLER. Baba, Baba, look at this man; help him, Baba, help him! (She takes her tray of fruit and runs quickly to follow the men.)
VAIRAGI (opens his eyes, bends low and looks at PURAN, gently puts his hand in the middle of his breast and breathes on him. PURAN opens his eyes.) Yes, awake, awake, awake.
(PURAN moves head and body.)
VAIRAGI. Now, you rise, rise ( he lifts him) rise.
(PURAN has risen and sits. VAIRAGI puts his hand in the brass pitcher next to him and wetsPURAN’S forehead. PURAN brightens up.-Morning breaks while this is happening. People are coming from both directions: a Boy with halva, an Old Man, a Woman with buttermilk, a Merchant with his wife, a Mother with four children. They all stand still, looking curiously at the scene before them.)
A CHILD. There’s a tiger, it’s looking at us!
(The three other children come nearer.)
ANOTHER CHILD. (frightened.) Oh, look at the snake! (Draws closer to is mother.)
OLD MAN (with important voice to the children.) The snake is the sign of wisdom.
WIFE ( to MERCHANT.) What is the matter with young man?
HUSBAND. Life is a mystery.
OLD MAN (important.) Life is a problem. (Nodding his head as if approving of what he
said. Looks at the VAIRAGI for his opinion.)
VAIRAGI (making gesture.) All this amazing Maya. There four days of moonlight and then comes the dark night. The vision of Maya is the dream of morality. (PURAN listens attentively.) When the screen is removed from your eyes, you will se that nothing here belongs to you; the honor that cannot be sustained long, the name that will in time be forgotten, the treasure that will one day be snatched from your hands, the comfort that will no more by yours, are of little value.
MERCHANT. But the thousand rupees I have buried will not be taken away by anyone!
VAIRAGI. You will say: this I hold, that I possess; but in reality nothing belongs to you,
not even your own body.
MAN WITH SPADE. (with an expression of doubt.) Then we must have nothing?
VAIRAGI. The day when you have nothing, you will have everything.
MERCHANT. So we must leave the pursuit of the world:
VARAIGI. When you cease to follow the world, the world will follow you.
MERCHANT. Then what must we do?
VAIRAGI. Realize the One, rising above duality; burn your false ego to ashes, and powder your skin with the ashes.
MERCHANT. Do you mean to say we must give up all this?
VAIRAGI. Hold on till it gives you up.
SECOND LABORER (ironically.) Then you think the whole of life is meaningless?
VAIRAGI. It is meaningless until you have understood the meaning of it.
MERCHANT. Baba, is life on earth worthless?
VAIRAGI. The moment you recognize its worthlessness, life becomes worth living.
(MAGICIAN enters, his eyebrows painted white, his forehead painted red.)
OLD MAN. Now you have spoken about life, Baba, but what about death?
MAGICIAN (emphatically.) What are you asking him? What does he know of life and
death? Can he make the dead alive? (With gestures.) I can cut myself and heal instantly; and I can kill myself and waken to life. I can drown myself and rise upon water. Now, you all who listen, leave him alone and follow me. I can get you anything: health, wealth, success, power, pleasure, all.
OLD MAN. Let’s see this fellow, what he’s going to do .
(All, one after another, follow the MAGICIAN.)
THE BOY WITH HALVA (the last remaining of the crowd, pointing at the VAIRAGI.)
Nothing doing with him.
(The VAIRAGI is left with PURAN.)
PURAN. They are like a flock of sheep.
VAIRAGI. Such is the way of the world.
PURAN. Master, all you have said has deeply touched me. Pray grant me the privilege of serving you, that one day I may deserve to attain Vairagi.
VAIRAGI. Vairagi my son, is freedom from all bondage. Are you drawn by family ties?
PURAN. No, Guru, except the deep devotion I have for my mother.
VAIRAGI. Have you any ambition for wealth or rank.
PURAN. I have none, though I was born in a position to have it all.
VAIRAGI. The way of the mystic leads to the goal of annihilation. Will you keep to the path steadily in the face of all earthly temptations, young man?
PURAN. Yes, Guru, by your help I shall gain the strength that will carry me through.
VAIRAGI. I will take you on probation, son, for a limited period, during which you will pass through many tests.
PURAN (bends down to the feet of the VAIRAGI.) I surrender myself to your inspiring guidance.
(The VAIRAGI lifts PURAN up, holds him for a moment, gives him his mantle to wear; the rosary he was holding he puts around PURAN’S neck, then touches his forehead with water from his pitcher and blesses him with both hands stretched over his head.)
NAEKA’S drawing -room.
NAEKA standing before the mirror, putting on her earrings. SAHELI holding the tray of jewels.
NAEKA. Since the loss of his son, the Maharaja is most depressed. Did you hear anything about the Maharani?
SAHELI. I have heard she hardly eats and never speaks, and only moans during her sleep. While awake she calls the name of her son: Puran, Puran! She has aged so much that one can hardly recognize her, and she has almost lost her sight by weeping. Did you hear about Puran’s garden, Bai, which has been neglected for all these years since he went? Many trees died and plants withered away. Wolves were making their home in the place where the Prince lived. But now they say that a wanderer has come there. He sits under the shade of a tree; and since he sprinkled a few drops of water from his pitcher, the whole garden has flourished again. People go in hundreds and thousands to see him. (Looking out of the window.) There he is, going along, do you see, Bai?
SAHELI. The sage of whom they talk so much in the city.
NAEKA (also looking out of the window.) He is the sort of man who can read one’s fortune. Saheli, I pray, call him here.
SAHELI (anxiously.) Oh, Bai, if the Maharaja knows I called a stranger here, he will give me to the vultures!
NAEKA (smiling.) Go, it will be all right.
(SAHELI leaves. NAEKA goes to the mirror and arranges her hair,-Enter PURAN, wearing a flowing beard, in the mantle the VAIRAGI has given him, with the rosary round his neck. Both sit down.)
NAEKA. When I saw you I though you might see into my problem and help me out of it.
(PURAN listens. The MAHARAJA enters, and seeingNAEKA speaking to a stranger is shocked and stands still, looking at what is going on.)
NAEKA. The Maharaja, who has loved me so long, I believe is losing interest in me.
PURAN. What do you think is the reason?
NAEKA. In the beginning he was blindly in love with me, but suspecting his son in connection with me, he condemned him to death, and since then he seems as though his heart were becoming frozen.
(The MAHARAJA holds his heart and hangs his head back with half-closed eyes, remembering the incident.)
PURAN. And what did the Maharani do?
NAEKA (reluctantly.) She was most grieved at the loss of her son.
PURAN. What is she doing now?
NAEKA (with hanging head, weeping.) She has almost lost her mind thinking about him.
PURAN. I wish to see her. Will you please send for her?
NAEKA. I wish to see her. Will you please send for her?
PURAN. Yes, now.
(NAEKA calls SAHELI, whispers something in her ear.)
PURAN. Now tell me, was Puran really at fault?
NAEKA. That I can’t say; my lips tremble, my heart fails.
PURAN (looking in her eyes.) Tell me.
NAEKA. I could not have told anyone in the world, but I cannot keep any secret from you. I know you look into my soul.
(The MAHARAJA listens eagerly;NAEKA weeps.)
NAEKA. It was my fault; I wanted to be queen, but young Puran’s wife, and one day my heart burst out before him, and he refused. But the impression the Maharaja got was that he made love to me. In a fit of anger he condemned his son to death.
(SAHELI brings the MAHARANI, dressed simply; she puts cushions for her to sit on the right of PURAN.)
MAHARANI (as if she were speaking in a dream.) Why did you bring me here? Why am I brought here?
PURAN. What have you to say?
MAHARANI (nervously straightens as if hearing a familiar voice.) I long to see my son.
NAEKA. But he is dead.
MAHARANI (agitated.) No, he is living.
PURAN (whispering.) He is living dead.
MAHARANI. This voice, this is his voice. (Stands up, draws nearer to PURAN, stretch out her hands.) I want to look at you. (She feels his hand, cries.) My Puran, you are my Puran.
(They embrace, NAEKA is horrified.)
MAHARANI. I wish to see you.
(PURAN puts his two hands over her eyes. She looks at him, and kisses him.)
MAHARAJA (steps forward-NAEKA faints.) Do my eyes deceive me; are you really there? My son! Puran! I never thought I would ever see you again. (Stretches his hand upwards.) Thanks, Providence! (To PURAN) Will you ever forgive me? I can never forgive myself for the pain I have caused you.
PURAN. Father, I am always your son.
MAHARAJA. What more do I want? I have had my day. Now you reign over this country.
PURAN. No, father; I am going in search of another kingdom.
CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY
The Queen of Sheba
The Emperor Akbar
A Greek Philosopher
An American Indian
A Workman (M. Jules Ferrier)
A Snake Charmer
The scene is laid in the United States
Time: The Present
Enter Una, who has been long absent
Una. It is a breath of joy indeed to be once again in my studio, away from all the turmoil of life. It is a joy, which is beyond words. It is a happiness, which cannot be found anywhere else. – My studio has been neglected for such a long while. I have been occupied with no end of things, busy answering life’s unceasing demands. But whenever I find time, my one and only thought is to come here and be myself again. Home has no joy for me, nor do I find happiness anywhere else. No one understands me, and all those whom I know are absorbed in their own lives. – Every step I take I am drawn back, and all that I try to hold breaks, for it is rotten; the rock I seek to rest upon crumbles, for it is made of sand. In the world’s fair everything I purchase costs more than it is worth, and if I have anything to sell I get nothing for it. By the continual pinpricks that I feel through life, my heart is riddled. O life, you are indeed a puzzle; the only solace I have is in my art.(Takes one of her tools in her hand.)
My tools, you are the companions of my solitude! (Looks up at the glass roof.)
The sun, the glorious sun, is sending its rays to lift my heart to cheerfulness.
(Begins to work at the unfinished statue.)
My statue, how long it is since I have touched you!
(A knock is heard at the door.)
Here is someone calling already before I have even begun to work!
(Opens the door. Helen enters.)
Helen My dear Una, I have been looking everywhere for you! Where have you been all this long time? Were you hiding from your friends? If so, be sure we shall find you in the end. You can’t run away and hide from us!
Una I did not mean to hide. After a long time I just had a moment to come to my studio. I have not even begun to work yet.
Helen (looking at the half-finished statue) Is this something that you are working at? Dear me, what a dull occupation! Can’t you find anything else to do?
Una (perplexed and speechless)
Helen (continues) Una, dear, you spend hours at this useless work in this solitary studio. I can’t understand how you can do it!
Una (after a moment’s pause) My dear girl, when have I any time to work? All day I am busy at home. At night I lie awake for hours, thinking how to make both ends meet. You know that my parents are no longer able to be responsible for the household? They have both aged very much, and it is upon me alone that the care of the house depends. Yet whenever I have a moment I come here and try to find oblivion in doing this work, the only thing I really care for.
Helen You simple girl, is this the work you live for! I wouldn’t give that much (snapping her fingers) for work that brings nothing better. It is simply a waste of time! Excuse me for telling you so.
Una Art seldom brings any material returns. Besides, to expect any would be to me like offering beauty in the marketplace.
Helen I can’t understand how you can shut yourself up in this solitary place! If I had no one round me to talk to, life would become so monotonous that I should not know what to do with it.
Una Well, I am happy only when I am by myself. I don’t want anyone to talk to. Silence is never long enough for me.
Helen Well, you certainly are a riddle! Now tell me the truth, Una, did you read the Daily Gossip this morning?
Una You know quite well that I don’t read the papers. I have too much to do. And besides, I am not particularly interested in the sensational stories in the newspapers. They generally say one thing in the morning and quite the opposite in the evening.
Helen Do you know the rate of exchange today?
Una Whether money goes up or down does not make much difference in our lives when we live from hand to mouth day by day. Moreover, the idea of profiting by the loss of another has always been foreign to my nature.
Helen Do you know he name of the new mayor who has just been elected?
Una No, indeed I don’t. My dear girl, I live in quite another world from yours.
Helen You certainly are behind the times. Last night I was at a ball given by Mrs. Wilkins. Everybody in the town who is anybody was present. There was music and dancing all night and great fun. There is a Founders’ Ball coming off next week, and Auntie is on the committee. She has asked me to help her. Everyone has been asked to come disguised as someone they think they were in their past lives. Won’t that be amusing?
Helen You will come, Una dear, won’t you? Though I know that you always avoid social functions. But all the local papers are talking about this. Do come, please.
Una Society life is for people like you, Helen, not for me.
Helen Una, I really wish you were not living such a retired life. What is the good of life if you don’t live it?
Una I am not at all interested in society. I prefer the life of a humble artist.
Helen It seems that no one can change your ideas, Una. I must be going now. I’m sorry to have kept you so long from your work. Now be sure and come to the ball. Au revoir.
(They kiss. Exit Helen.)
Una. I don’t know why people can’t leave me alone! They live their own lives; why can’t they let me live mine? (Sighs) Well, I suppose that is the way of the world.
(A knock at the door.)
Una. (opens the door) Father, is that you! Yes, I’m here. I had a spare moment, so I thought I would come and try to finish some work I was doing here. (Leads her father in, holding his arm, and seats him in an armchair.) Well, Father, what have you come to tell me?
Father. My dear child, you are wanted at home, as your mother is not well. When you are out everything goes wrong. Besides, I have never liked the idea of your being an artist. In our family, as you know very well, we have never had any artists; and there has never been any wish for any of the family to become artist. Our people look upon it quite differently from you. As for myself, I never could have imagined you an artist.
Una. Dear Father, those are the old ideas. Now science and art are the great qualifications of the age. And you know, dear Father, I do not do this as a profession; it is my love for art, which makes me take it up.
Father. Una, my child, though we have been for some time in straitened circumstances, yet we have always considered our dignity. Your mother is depressed, and very often feels sad to see you so unlike the other girls in our family, who go into society.
Una. Father, my society consists of the little works of art which are round me in this studio. I feel at home here, and every moment while I am working here I am happy.
Father. My dear child, there are many things in the world besides art which are to be sought in order that one may be really happy. If you never see anyone, no one will ever know you. There are many other things in life, if you will seek for them. Art is all very well to amuse oneself with, but it is not everything that one needs in life.
Una (remains silent. After a moment) All I need, Father, is to make you and Mother happy in every way I can. That is the only thing that interests me in life; and if I have any personal interest, it is in my art.
Father. My child, I must go home and look after your mother. She is not at all well. Come as soon as you can.
Una. Yes, Father dear, I will.
(They kiss, and the Father goes out.)
Una. Never a moment have I to concentrate on my work! How true it is that the world of every soul is different; for the life of one is not the life of another. I wish I could be here and continue my work, but life in the world has so many duties that one cannot ignore them and at the same time live happily.
–Well, I must hurry, or I shall keep poor Father waiting. My work, when shall I be free to come to you again, especially now that I have to make preparations for this ball? (Puts away her tools and leaves for her home.)
Mother’s bedroom. Mother ill in bed. Una enters, embraces her mother.
Una. Dear Mother, I was sorry to hear that you don’t feel well. No sooner had Father left the studio than I hurried to see how you were. As much as I love my art, I do not wish to be away from home, Mother dear, when you are not well.
Mother. Dear Girl, with us old people there is always something wrong; one moment we feel well, the next moment we don’t. What worries me is to see you going only in one direction. The art to which you are so devoted is to us a foreign word. For you know, however poor we may be in our family, there is no such thing known among us as an artist.
Una. Dear Mother, it is not that I love art in order to become an artist. I don’t want to become anything; it is beauty that I love.
Mother. My simple child, beauty is to be seen in nature; you need not go to art in order to see beauty. Besides, as they say: “The country is made by God, the town is made by man.”
Una. Dear Mother, I have always felt that what is not completed in nature is finished in art by the Master of all things. The hand of the artist is guided by the eyes unseen.
Mother. But what do you gain by devoting all your time to something in which you don’t wish to make your career? You must think of the future, my dear girl!
Una. Mother dear, we all make our future with whatever we do. But it is the future that will tell what we made. Life to me is the making of something; it only depends what we make. We each make something; it is we who make our highest ideal.
Mother. What do you mean by ideal, my dear child? There is no such thing, my darling girl. Ideal is not to be found in this world. You are yet too young, my darling, to know this. When we were young, we thought also of ideals, but alas, in the end we found that it was only a word.
Una. You are right, Mother, there is never an ideal to be found under the sun, if we do not make it. It is we who, out of our own selves, give all that the ideal wants for it to become an ideal. What we make remains; what we are is destroyed. Rumi says, in his Masnavi, “Beloved is all in all, the lover only veils Him; Beloved is all that lives, the lover a dead thing.” One creates a heart out of a rock; another turns a heart into a rock.
Mother. Say simple things, my dear girl. This is all confusing to me; what your mother wants is your welfare, your happiness. This is all we wish for you, I and your father both.
Father. Are you here, Una? Get ready to go to the ball. Have you forgotten you were invited to go to Mrs. Wilkins’ house?
Una. I had quite forgotten, Father. Thank you for reminding me. I’ll just go and get ready. (She embraces her mother and departs.)
Ballroom in Aunt’s house.
Aunt, assisted by Helen, receives the guests, who are announced by the names of the characters they have assumed. Shah of Persia, King Tut, Queen of Sheba, Emperor Akbar, Greek Philosopher, Dante and Beatrice, Yusuf and Zuleikha arrive and are announced and received by Aunt and Helen.
(Enter First Queen of Egypt.)
Butler. The Queen of Egypt, consort of King Tut.
(Enter Second Queen of Egypt.)
Butler. The Queen of Egypt, consort of King Tut.
First Queen (to Second Queen.) You were not the consort of King Tut. I was his consort.
Second Queen. Not at all, it is I who was his consort.
First Queen. Nonsense! You don’t know what you are saying.
Helen. Let’s ask him which was his Queen. He has just risen from his grave. (She is seen asking King Tut.)
King Tut (looks slowly and carefully at bothQueens. Scornfully) I don’t thing that either of them has ever been my Queen. (Turns away.)
(Enter American Indian. Helen greets him.)
Helen. Were you an American Indian in your past life?
American Indian. No. I don’t know what I was in the past, but for the last twenty years I have had an American Indian guide.
Helen. Do you mean a living guide?
American Indian. No, a spirit.
Helen. How did you find a spirit guide?
American Indian. I began by hearing taps at the door for a year before this guide appeared to me, and since then he is always with me.
Helen. How wonderful! And what does he look like?
American Indian (with importance) Just like me!
(He walks about and is welcomed by all.)
American Indian (to First Guest) Are you a medium?
First Guest. No.
American Indian (to Second Guest) Are you psychic?
Second Guest. Not yet.
American Indian (to Aunt) Are you a clairvoyant?
Aunt. I don’t even know what you mean by clairvoyant.
American Indian. If you want to know you must go to a seance and hear the trumpet medium. (Continues conversation.)
Butler. Monsieur Jules Ferrier!
(Enter Ferrier, a workman, looking nervous. Aunt greets him, and introduces him to Helen.)
Helen. How extraordinary! Among all the kings and queens you come as a plain workman! Were you that in your past life?
Workman. I don’t know anything about my past life, and I only know what I was in this one before I joined the Four Hundred.
Helen. And what was that?
Workman. I was a workman.
Helen. But have you always been a workman?
Workman. No, before that I was a barber in England.
Helen. And before that?
Workman. Oh well, before that I was a chimney-sweep.
Helen. You amusing man! But how did you get into society?
Workman. Oh, I made a lot of money in the war, and now I am invited and received everywhere. But, to tell you the truth, I don’t like the life. I feel out of place. I feel lonely, too, and I should like to marry. Do you know of any nice girl to introduce me to?
Helen. Have you been married before?
Workman (nodding his head and looking mysterious) The past is past; the present is present; it is the future that we look forward to!
Helen. I asked if you had been married before.
Workman (impatiently) Suppose I had been married twenty times before, what about it just now?
(At this moment Una is announced. While Helen greets her, the Workman looks at her with interest.)
Helen. What a pleasant surprise to see you at last? Are you really here? I can’t believe my eyes? But why aren’t you dressed? What are you supposed to be?
Helen. Yourself! What do you mean by that?
Una. Self means always self; it cannot mean any other.
Helen. You have the queerest ideas, my dear! (Aside) What fun it would be to introduce that odd man and this simple girl to each other. I will, presently.
Helen (to Workman) There is a young lady over there whom you would like. I am going to introduce you to her.
Workman (eagerly) Right you are! I am sure I should like her! For among all these kings and queens we’re the only two who are dressed simply.
(Helen introduces them to each other. TheWorkman holds out his hand, but Una draws back slightly; then puts out her hand, but without looking at him.)
Workman. I’m glad to meet you, Miss.
(Una remains silent, her eyes cast down.)
Helen. Now you two must excuse me, I have other things to do. (She leaves them. They sit down.)
Workman. I wonder, Miss, how it happens that among all those who are here, only you and I are so simply dressed. I suppose you don’t know your past incarnations any more than I do mine? I am so glad to have found you among all these smart people.
(Una, still silent, looking down.)
Workman. Can you dance, Miss? Everyone can but me, it seems. I should not mind trying if you would be my partner, for I am sure we should make a good pair.
Una (as if waking from a dream) Dance? I never dance. (Aside) I feel my soul dance when my body is still.
Workman (to himself) She seems to be in the clouds. I’ll try my luck.
Helen (to Una) Please come and sing, or dance.
Una. Don’t ask me to take part in it. I am enjoying looking on.
Helen. But do take part!
Una. The spectators alone know reality.
Helen. Come and do something.
Una. What shall I do?
Helen. If you can’t sing, recite something.
Una. Very well. (She recites)
“I have loved in life and I have been loved.
I have drunk the bowl of poison from the hands of Love as nectar, and have been raised above life’s joy and sorrow.
My heart aflame in love set afire every heart that came in touch with it.
My heart hath been rent and joined again.
My heart hath been broken and made whole again.
My heart hath been wounded and healed again,
A thousand deaths my heart hath died, and, thanks be to Love, it liveth yet.
“I went through Hell and saw there Love’s raging fire, and I entered Heaven illuminated with the light of Love.
I wept in love and made all weep with me,
I mourned in love and pierced the hearts of men,
And when my fiery glance fell on the rocks, the rocks burst forth as volcanoes.
The whole world sank in the flood caused by my one tear,
With my deep sigh the earth trembled, and when I cried aloud the name of my beloved, I shook the throne of God in Heaven.
“I bowed my head low in humility, and on my knees I begged of Love,
‘Disclose to me, I pray thee, O Love, thy secret.’
She took me gently by my arms and lifted me above the earth, and spoke softly in my ear,
‘My dear one, thou thyself art Love, art lover and thyself art the Beloved whom thou hast adored.’”
Workman. How nice, Miss! I enjoyed your poetry so much. I could not understand what it was all about. What interested me was one word. You know what that was, don’t you?
Una. No, which?
Workman. “Love,” that is all there is to think about. All these people here are all interested in the same thing – love.
Una. I do not know it yet. To me it seems a blasphemy to hear it on the lips of ordinary people. I don’t know a being on earth who is an example of this word.
Workman. You are talking of big things. I don’t mean that at all. What I know about love is to be cheerful and gay. See how happy the other people are. Why should not you and I be the same?
Una. Gaiety is not my way of being happy. What are these pleasures to me?
Workman. You are too serious for me. What’s the use of being so melancholy?
Una. If I do not join in the gaiety, it does not mean that I am melancholy. I seek happiness in myself.
Workman. But I want you to seek it in me. For you know how I feel when I look at you. You are trying to hold me off by talking so brilliantly, but you look so beautifully when you are sad that I feel like kneeling at your feet. But you know that the thing I want most in the world is to see you laughing.
Una. You can see many people here laughing. You must enjoy it with them. (To herself) Poor man, why does he not look for his gaiety somewhere else?
(Turns away and leaves him. Walks across stage. Stands still.)
Una. O human nature! It is a continual study to see the different directions that the mind takes. Yet how few there are whom you can really call human beings. Alone at home, alone in the society of others – I suppose to be alone is my lot. And it never wearies me. Life in the world is most interesting to me, but solitude away from the world is the longing of my soul.
Una (addressing the Statue) Beloved Image, the ideal of my soul, thou hast been conceived in my soul and I have nursed thee with my tears, until thou hast manifested to my vision. When thou art before me, my Beloved, I rise upon wings and my burden becomes light, but when my little self rises before mine eyes I drop to earth and all its weight falls upon me. Did I make sacrifices for thee? No. Thou art the outcome of my love. How long, how long shall I wait to hear a word from thee? Whether here or elsewhere I have worked for thee and thought of thee alone. Dear, dear Image, thou art the ideal of my heart. O speak to me! My heart patiently awaits thy word, deaf to all that comes from without. O thou who art enshrined in my heart, speak to me! I have yearned to hear thy voice if it were but once.
Statue. Yes, I speak, but I speak only when thou art silent.
Una. Thy whisper to the ears of my heart moves my soul to ecstasy. The waves of joy, which rise out of my heart, form a net in which thy living word may swing.
Statue. Thou hast found thy happiness in working in this place which is my world. Thou didst first imagine my existence, as I lived in thy imagination; now thy imagination has become a reality and my existence has become truth. So thou madest me to be the masterpiece of thine art. Now I am the result of thine art, and in finishing me thou fulfillest the purpose of thy life. Dost thou love me? Then first learn what love means. Love means sacrifice, one continual sacrifice from the beginning to the end. I come to life only when thou becomest dead.
Una. I would willingly die a thousand deaths, if by dying I could gain thy beloved presence. If it were a cup of poison thy beloved hand offered, I would prefer that poison to the bowl of nectar. I value the dust under thy feet, my precious one, most of all treasures the earth holds. If my head could touch the earth of thy dwelling place, I would proudly refuse Khustrau’s crown. I would sacrifice all the pleasures the earth can offer me, if I could only retain the pain I have in my feeling heart.
Statue. (holds out a bowl) I offer thee this cup of poison. Take it if thou wilt.
(Una takes the cup. Falls down as though dead)
Statue. (raises her in his arms, embraces her and kisses her, and brings her to life again) Awake! Awake! (She opens her eyes.) Thou hast gone through death, but hast not died. The sacrifice thou madest did not after all rob thee of thy life. It has only raised thee above death. Now thou art living with my life. It is thy love, which hath given thee the life after death, a life to live forever.
Una. Thy light hath illuminated the dark chambers of my mind. Thy love is rooted in the depth of my heart. Thine own eyes are the light of my soul. Thy power worketh behind my action. Thy peace alone is my life’s repose. Thy will is behind my every impulse. Thy voice is audible in the words I speak. Thine own image is my countenance. My body is but a cover over the soul. My life is thy very breath, my Beloved, and my self is thine own being.
AMIN, THE FAITHFUL TRUSTEE
CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY
AMIN-A boy of nine years in Act I, Scene 1; twelve years in Act I, Scene 2; a man of twenty-five in Act II
HALIMA – His foster-mother
TALIB – His uncle
MUTAL – His grandfather
KARIMA – His aunt, Talib’s wife
ALI – His cousin, a little older
TEJA – A wealthy and distinguished woman, older that Amin, and whose business manager he becomes; afterwards his wife.
JOHLA – Teja’s maid
HUMADAN – Teja’s uncle, an old man.
Three Boys, playfellows of Amin
Woman in Mourning
Two men with gifts
Four Companions of Amin
The Chief of Yemen
The Sheriff of Mecca
Envoy of Hedjaz
Cottage in an Arabian village. Amin is in charge of the farm; he is petting a lamb.
AMIN. My little one, you feel drowsy today, don’t you? I’ll give you a bath in the pool and then take you in the sun, so that you’ll feel cheerful.
(Enter several BOYS.)
FIRST BOY. What are you doing, Amin? Always busy with the home and farm, isn’t he? We’ve come to play a game today; now what shall we play?
SECOND BOY. Yes, let’s play kus kus.
(BOYS play, AMIN leading. One boy pushes another, who falls down and hits him back. AMIN reconciles them. They continue the game. After it is finished, they rest, sitting on blocks of wood.
THIRD BOY. Do you know, Amin, what great fun we had on our way here! There was a camel laden with dates. We made a hole in the sack and took out a lot of dates. See, we all have our pockets full. Would you like some? (AMIN smiles.)
FIRST BOY. I’m sure you would; take some!
AMIN. No, I won’t take any.
SECOND BOY. Why? Don’t you like them?
AMIN. Yes, I like dates, but I don’t like this way of taking them. It isn’t fair.
SECOND BOY. Fair! Ha! ha! ha! (All the boys laugh.) What is fair and unfair in these few dates? You’re a funny fellow, Amin.
THIRD BOY. Do you know, Amin, we’ve planned to go to town today to have a jolly good time.
AMIN. I’m sorry, I can’t come with you today. Halima has been out since morning and she left me in charge of the farm. So you see I can’t come.
FIRST BOY. Why must you be tied to home because Halima said so? My mother this morning wouldn’t let me go, but do you think I would be detained by her? I simply told her I must go. She grumbled a bit and then quieted down by herself. Why can’t you do the same? Halima is not your mother.
AMIN. Halima is my foster-mother and I must listen to her as I would to my own mother. Besides, I am entrusted with the home; therefore I won’t leave my charge.
SECOND BOY. Well, then we are going, that’s all; please yourself!
(BOYS go off.- AMIN busies himself with domestic duties. Enter HALIMA.)
HALIMA. My sweetheart, what have you been doing? I am so sorry I was detained in town, Amin; there was such a crowd today at the market; I tried to hurry, but I couldn’t get back sooner. Look, what I’ve brought. (Taking out of her basket tomatoes, pineapple, and sugar-canes.) You didn’t go with your playmates today?
AMIN. They came to fetch me, but I couldn’t go as you had asked me to look after the farm.
HALIMA (kisses his forehead.) My darling, it is so sweet of you to think of your Halima. (She sighs deeply, raising her head, then looking down.) Bless his mother.
AMIN (speaks in a broken voice.) Halima, where has my mother gone? Shall I see her again? ( HALIMA is silent for a moment.) Do you they ever come here again, who have passed away, or do they never return: What is death, Halima? It always puzzles me. Why do people die? Because they’re ill, or because they’re called away? Are they always lost to the world? Can anyone see them? I should so much like to see mother!
HALIMA (in tears.) Your father was called away first, my darling, even before you were born. If was afterwards that your mother followed in to heaven, peace by on her! How delighted would you father be to see you now, if he were alive; and how much you mother would have rejoiced to watch you grow, sweetheart! It tears my heart to think of it.
AMIN (sadly, looking down.) But what can one do to find those one has lost, Halima? Is there any way of meeting them?
HALIMA. They say those we love are never far away, even if they have gone to the other side of life! Those who really love must someday meet again, even if it is after death. Life is a mystery, my darling child; one cannot say much about these matters. You are too young yet to think of such things. You will know when the time comes.
AMIN. When will that time come, Halima? I should so much like to know all these things.
HALIMA. If won’t be long, my child. When one thinks how quickly the days pass, years slip by before we look at them. One day you will be grown up and will think out things as every thoughtful man does. It is only a matter of time.-Now go and take a look round the farm; see if everything is in order.
(AMIN goes, HALIMA sits down.)
HALIMA. What a privilege it is for me to bring up this orphan! What trust his mother- peace be on her-gave me! but it is a responsibility, a great responsibility to bring up this child who is unlike anyone.
TALIB. Here I am, Halima. Did you send for me?
HALIMA. Yes, Talib. Come in, sit comfortably.
TALIB. It is long indeed since I saw you last. How are you getting on? Nicely, Halima?
HALIMA. No woman on the earth could be as privileged as I am, having charge of this darling child. I have never seen or known a boy like Amin, your nephew, bless him! He is so affectionate and tender, so thoughtful and considerate that never a cross word have I heard from him. At moments I have been impatient with him, but he never talked back at me. He is most affectionate to the children of his age, gentle with all who come here; he has regard for his elders. Young as he is, he thinks like a much older person. Indeed, he is an old soul. His feelings are deep, and yet he is so innocent that very often I notice in him something of his babyhood. I cannot always understand him. Most of the time he is nearer to me than my own heart, yet at times he seems to be so far away in the clouds that I cannot reach him. He is always a mystery to me. Yet he has an acute sense of humor; he is quick to see the comic side of things. He is often energetic and lively. To have him in my home is the greatest joy to me. He helps me to forget life’s woes; making my life’s burden easy for me to bear.
TALIB. Where is Amin? Please call him.
(HALIMA calls AMIN and leads him to his uncle.)
HALIMA. Do you know who this is, my darling? This is Talib, your uncle. Your mother’s last wish was that you should be given into his care. (To TALIB.) This is the treasure that was entrusted to me. Now I give him into your arms, as it was his mother’s wish that he should be brought up under your parental care. (Crying.) I don’t know what will become of me when he is gone!
(TALIB holds AMIN’S hands and looks at him.)
TALIB. Well, son, are you willing to come with me? Your aunt is eagerly waiting for you at home, and your grandfather has longed to see you ever since you were born. And then, there is your cousin who will be so happy to have you as his playmate.
( HALIMA embraces the child and cries. TALIB takes his hands.)
HALIMA. I give this trust to you. (Turning to AMIN.) God be your protection, my darling child.
TALIB’S house, KARIMA, his wife, sewing, MUTAL, his father, smoking a water-pipe.
Three years have passed.
MUTAL. Amin is so quiet that it does not seem that another boy has come to live the house. His influence seems to make even Ali quieter.
KARIMA. Though he is so quiet, it seems he has brought sunshine into our home. In spite of his quietness there is something lively in him which makes Ali more bright than he has ever been. no wonder his mother had many wonderful dreams before he was born, giving good tidings. Now that I see him, I begin to see the meaning of her visions, significant in his unfoldment.
MUTAL. His father, peace by on him, was simple and yet so intelligent that he was a glow of which Amin is the blaze.-Do the boys get on well together?
KARIMA. father, since Amin has come, Ali has become quite different. Ali follows every turn that Amin takes. Ali seems to be so much more thoughtful and happy since the coming of Amin. They seem to blend with one another as sugar and milk.
MUTAL. Amin, with all his gentleness, is steady and firm, and so Ali, however energetic, responds to his influence.
KARIMA. Father, it is interesting to watch them grow fond of one another, more so every day.
(ALI enters with a lot of leaves.)
ALI ( to KARIMA.) I have found these leaves after all; I had to go far into the forest to fetch them, but I wouldn’t have come home without them!
KARIMA. Child, you must not go far into the woods, Very often one meets wild animals there.
ALI. I am not afraid of wild animals. I would fight if I met any.
(MUTAL laughs. ALI busies himself with the leave. EnterAMIN.)
KARIMA. Where have you been, Amin?
AMIN. I was learning. I have learnt many words today. I am very anxious to learn to speak better. (to ALI.) What are you doing, Ali?
ALI. I am preparing wreaths for the gods of Ka’ba, for there are very few left before the annual celebration of our gods.
AMIN. I don’t like to call these idols of stone gods, Ali. I don’t know why I have never liked all they make of stone gods. I can’t enjoy the feasts. It all seems to me foolish.
ALI. You mustn’t say so, Amin. If father hears it, he won’t like it. Grandfather told me many times that we must look with reverence on the gods of Ka’ba.
AMIN. I don’t know, Ali, why I feel like this, but I can never feel sympathetic towards these hideous gods, and I feel a kind of revolt against all the fuss that is made of them. I sometimes feel like breaking them up into pieces. I can’t understand why people go crazy about them by hundreds and thousands.
ALI. I can’t understand them either, Amin, but it is our religion; we must not say anything against it.
AMIN. I tell you, Ali, I can’t follow such a religion; it only amuses me, it is all so funny.
MUTAL. What’s the joke, boys?
ALI. Amin is wondering about the religious festivals; they amuse him.
AMIN. Yes, I don’t feel interested in all they make of the stone gods; it all seems to me childish. People might as well choose to do something else. I should think there is much to be done.
MUTAL. It is a custom, child, our people have observed for ages.
AMIN. Has this custom always been among people, grandfather?
MUTAL. No doubt, in the beginning the stone of Ka’ba was set there by our ancestor Abraham when he was returning from Egypt after his initiation in the ancient mysteries. He set this stone here as a token of his initiation, making it a center of pilgrimage for the children of Beni Israel. The line of our family, son, is traced back to Ishmael. Neither Abraham nor his son Ishmael worshipped the idols of many gods. It was afterwards, I suppose, in order to draw more people to the Ka’ba, that these idols were placed there. However, this has long become the religion of our people; they expect to see at the Ka’ba the gods of their families. If it were not for these festivals, there would be no interest left in our religion.
AMIN. What is meant by religion, grandfather? Isn’t it faith rather than form?
MUTAL. It is a most difficult question to answer, my son, Besides, you are yet too young to think about these subjects. There is so little one can say in these matters, and the less said, the better it is.
TALIB (to ALI.) Please, Ali, go and tell the man to make the camel ready for me to start on my journey.
TALIB (to AMIN, resting his hands on his shoulder.) I am going on a long journey to Syria, on business, Amin.
AMIN. I will come with you.
TALIB. I would not think for a moment of taking you with me, my son, for it is a long journey, miles of land in the desert to be crossed, all sorts of hardships one goes through, and one meets with many dangers on the way.
AMIN. (embracing his uncle.) Uncle dear, please take me with you on your journey. I do wish to travel. I do not mind what difficulties I may have to experience on the way.
TALIB (looks at AMIN’S eager face for a moment.) I will take you, my child; go and get ready.
( KARIMA takes AMIN to prepare him and brings him back. AMIN and TALIB bid goodbye to all present and depart.)
A bazaar at Jerusalem. A SHAWL-SELLER bargaining with his CUSTOMER. A thief putting his hand into the pocket of the man who is busy purchasing.CUSTOMER examines the quality of the stuff in his hands.
SHAWL-SELLER. It’s four dirams a yard.(CUSTOMER throws the stuff at him and goes away. The SELLER follows, pulling his robe.) Two dirams, two dirams a yard.
CUSTOMER. No, no. No, no.
SHAWL-SELLER. All right, one diram; take it.
CUSTOMER (takes the stuff and puts his hand in his pocket.) Someone has taken my money. Police, police!
( An old WOMAN FRUIT-SELLER walking with a basket full of fruit under her arm.)
BOY (to the WOMAN.) How much for a kouri?
WOMAN. One Vazan
BOY. Too dear, too dear! Are these sweet cherries?
WOMAN. Sweet as sugar.
(BOY puts his hand into the basket, takes a cherry and puts it in his mouth. WOMAN looks at him with disgust.BOY puts his hand again into the basket. The WOMANpushes his hand off. The BOY upsets the basket and all the fruit falls on the ground. Other street-boys come and seize it.)
(A dancing girl comes, scantily dressed, with accompanists. The crowd follows her and gathers around. A musician pushes the crowd back with his instrument, making space for the dance. A spectator, unwilling to be pushed back, shows fight. The musician makes as if to strike him; the man lifts a stone to throw at him. Many bystanders clapping their hands to the rhythm of the dance, the accompanist singing, people merry-making. At the end of the dance many throw kisses to the girl.)
(A MEDIUM standing in concentration with closed eyes by the side of a mosque.)
WOMAN (to MEDIUM.) I beg you, I pray you, will you communicate with my daughter and tell her that from the moment she died, food and drink have become as poison to me. I weep all day and I am sleepless at night. I would like to know how she is over there; is she happy.
MEDIUM (moves his head round and round, raising the pupils of his eyes upwards.) I see, I see your daughter. O, she is happy, more happy than she has ever been.
WOMAN. Do you see? I am so glad. Please ask her, is there anything she is in need of?
MEDIUM. She has everything she wants there. But she is attached to all the beautiful clothes and jewelry she had here, and she wants all that over there.
WOMAN. O, I would be willing to give anything, anything, if I only knew how to send it there!
MEDIUM. I will take things for you if you want me to, when I go there at night; you only have to bring them to me. (The WOMAN goes.)
(Enter YOUNG MAN.)
YOUNG MAN (to MEDIUM.) I had a dream my father, who died recently, is not happy in heaven.
MEDIUM. Wait, I will write a letter to the keeper of the heavens.
YOUNG MAN. Please.
MEDIUM (writes a letter; then reads.) ‘ Brother Israel, the father of this young man, Faruk ibn Kalil, died on the 5thof Ramadan, and is now in your world. Give him two trees of plums and one tree of pears, a tank of honey and a fountain of milk,
with ample supply of bread and meat.’ (To YOUNG MAN.) Now what will you pay?
YOUNG MAN. Five dinars.
MEDIUM. No, that is not enough for all I have asked in my letter.
(The YOUNG MAN gives the dinars. The MEDIUM seals the letter with his thumb, licking it and pressing it on the paper, and winks while sealing it.-The WOMAN returns with a box of jewelry and a sack of beautiful clothes. Hands them over to the MEDIUM.)
WOMAN. I have brought not only my daughter’s jewels and clothes but all I had, that may take them from me to my daughter. I want her to be happy. I am so thankful to you for all you are going to do for me.)
(A PALMIST sitting with his astrological chart spread over his lap.)
PALMIST to a YOUNG MAN.) Come here. (The YOUNG MAN comes near.) Sit down. Show me your hand. (Pointing with his finger to his palm.) Very distinct and long line of fortune; but you will not get it yet. And here (Point to thumb.) A beautiful wife; but there will always be a quarrel in the home. (Looks at center.) Some relative will leave great wealth for you. But you will have a hard time in getting it.
YOUNG MAN. But tell me, shall I have good luck in the business I am going to start today?
PALMIST. Pay five dinars, please. (The YOUNG MAN does so.) There are some planetary influences standing in opposition to your work, but I will make things right for you.
(A YOUNG WOMAN, moving about through the crowd, covering her face from a gay WAYFARER, looking at him out of the corner of her eye.)
WAYFARER (pulling the sari from her face.) One, just make it one.
(She looks annoyed. He kisses her and walks away.)
BEGGAR (scantily dressed, with patched sleeves and a tin pot in his hands.) Please one penny; be ye well!
A MAN. Go further!
(A WOMAN selling three slave-girls. A MAN, richly dressed, with his companion, examines the slaves.)
MAN. How much?
WOMAN (shows ten on her fingers. He shows five.) Ten, ten. (He gives ten dinars, takes the slave-girl along with him.)
(Enters two drunken PRIESTS.)
FIRST PRIEST. HoHh How many prayers did you say this morning?
SECOND PRIEST. I said only one prayer because he didn’t bring me more than one bottle of liquor. I say only one prayer each bottle.
FIRST PRIEST. That is why you are always drunk.
SECOND PRIEST. You’re crazy.
FIRST PRIEST. You’re mad.
(They fight. POLICE OFFICER arrests them both.)
FIRST PRIEST (gives the POLICE OFFICER a purse.) Let me go, let me go!
POLICE OFFICER (changes his attitude, bows to thePRIEST who gave him the money. ) High priest! (Goes away with the other one.)
(AMIN with TALIB passing through the bazaar, halting at every step, observes keenly the degenerate condition of the place.)
AMIN. Uncle, does no one tell these people to act differently? Have they always been like this? This life does not interest me; there is something in it, which does not seem to me to be right. Have they never been told to do better?
TALIB. Child, in this worlds one cannot expect things to be better than they are. People have been taught the way of righteousness by the great souls who have come, time after time, to guide the children of the earth. But when some years pass and the real way is forgotten, then a period of disintegration comes and people degenerate. It is sad to think that human beings should fall beneath the level of the beasts, and yet there is nothing to be surprised at, for man can rise higher than an angel and full lower than the devil. As it is said, ‘When a glimpse of Our Image is caught in man, when Heaven and earth are sought in man, then what is there in the world that is not in man? If one only explores him, there is a lot in man.’
AMIN. But what is this that one dislikes in the, is it evil? Then how does it differ from good?
TALIB. Good and evil are relative terms, my son. Evil is nothing but the lack of good. Nevertheless, good is real and evil is its shadow. When one believes this and tries to bring out in another the good there is in him, one finds that no soul, however, wicked, is void of goodness. To understand all is to forgive all.
(AMIN is deeply impressed by all he sees at the bazaar and by all his uncle says.)
Drawing room of TEJA’S house. TEJA seated;JOHLA, her maid, in attendance. Thirteen years have passed; AMIN is now twenty-five.
JOHLA. Bibi, I beg your pardon, tell me why for some time I have noticed that you don’t seem to be altogether here. You seem to be somewhere else. You don’t mind my asking this; but as I feel sad with you, I should know what is the matter. Excuse me for asking you.
TEJA. Yes, you are right, Johla. My mind has been is such a condition, I am sorry to say, that I could not very well manage to conceal my feelings. I am not surprised that you have observed the change. There is nothing in my life to make me sad. As you know, I have been blessed by Providence, I am thankful to say; yet I have had a feeling of loneliness, particularly of late. I have tried to get over this feeling, but I cannot always manage it. Knowing how false human nature is, I preferred to live alone, and the independence I experienced in life has taken the place of a companion. Only since I have seen this young nephew of Talib’s who has just returned from Syria, I am in a sort of maze. I don’t know who I am. He strikes me as a most promising young man and he inspires one with trust, for his appearance says he is honest. He seems to be so tenderhearted and has such a refined way that one cannot but love him.
JOHLA. Now I remember, Bibi; it is since the time he came you’ve been like this. If any man made me so miserable, I would give him a good shaking! I would not allow anyone in the world to make my life wretched!
TEJA. Don’t talk nonsense! You mush learn to keep your mouth shut. Listen. I have engaged him to attend to my business affairs. But oh! It is not business that I care for. It is him.
(TEJA moves restlessly.)
JOHLA. Bibi, do you know, the neighbor’s cook was drunk last night, and he fought with his wife until she put him out of the house. Ha! ha! ha! He was lying there in the street, swearing at her all night long. He! he! he!
TEJA. I don’t feel like hearing your funny stories. Silly!
JOHLA. Bibi, if you have a fortune, every man will bow his head before you. Do not be sad over nothing!
TEJA. No fortune can be compared to a truly worthy man!
JOHLA. May I bring you the cat for you to play with? Last night it played and played with me until it tore my apron. Where is my darling pet? (Looking around the room.) Puss, puss, puss!
TEJA. Please, Johla, leave me alone! Go and play with your kitten! (Holds her head in her hands.)
JOHLA (retires muttering.) I wouldn’t let any man cause me a headache! Puss, puss,
where has he gone?
TEJA. (goes to the window; looks out.) I wonder what day it is today. (Walks restlessly about the room.) Is this the last of the month? Why, it’s the new moon! Will Heaven grant me my star, I wonder! (Comes back from the window.) I don’t know if he has the slightest thought of the feeling I have for him. He seems so shy and reserved that all the time he sat before me his eyes were cast down and there was an innocent expression on his face showing that he was not at all conscious of a woman’s presence.
(Knock heard at the door. JOHLA comes in running.)
JOHLA. Bibi. Bibi! The young man about whom you were just talking to me has come. Shall I tell him, Bibi is busy just now, to come some other time?
TEJA. No! Bring him in after a moment. I shall soon be ready.
(Exit JOHLA, TEJA throws a veil over her face. EnterAMIN; he bows.)
TEJA. I was just wondering if you had arrived. Somehow or other I felt that you must be coming today. I hope all went well with you on your journey?
AMIN. Yes, Bibi. It seemed as though every person and every condition was favorable to me: all went well with our business. I have carried out the affair according to your instructions and at the same time to the mutual advantage of all. Therefore the other party is pleased also.
TEJA. I am sure everything you undertake must succeed.
AMIN. Bibi, I should think everyone would succeed in business if they knew the key to its secret. That key is fairness in dealing.
TEJA. I have no doubt about it. And you are the most honest person I have ever had to carry out my business.
AMIN. Bibi, I will try to come up to your expectations. Please do no think too well of me yet, for you don’t know me and my work. I only hope I shall not disappoint you.
TEJA. No, I cannot think for a moment that you could be other than I know you to be. No soul in the world have I ever seen who has won my confidence to the extent that you have. I cannot doubt, even if I wanted to. Besides, you will not disappoint me, even if you did not carry out the business profitably, for I do not attach more importance to the qualifications than to the person. In you I see the person who is more precious than the wealth of this earth.
AMIN. Bibi, I have no words to express my gratitude to you for so kind an appreciation of me. I am not yet at all worthy of it.
TEJA. Please take a seat, Amin, and be comfortable; you must be tired after your long journey.-I must not keep my face veiling before you, for you seem no longer a stranger.
(AMIN takes a seat.)
TEJA. I am thankful, Amin, that you were brought to me. (Puts her hand on the arm of his chair.)
AMIN. Pardon, Bibi, would you allow me to make clear to you the details of the affair , which I have managed for you?
TEJA. No, Amin, you do not need to. I am quite satisfied, as you know. I should like to hear something of your personal life.
AMIN. My personal life: There is not much to say about it. I was the only son of my father who passed away before I was born, and my mother followed him after giving me birth. I was left with Halima, my foster-mother, who then put me in charge of my uncle. I never allowed myself to feel an orphan, for I always had a natural tendency to lean on the Maker of this world, in whom I say my mother and father both.-The first journey I made was to Syria. I accompanied my uncle there on business. That was a great privilege for me because it allowed me to become acquainted with the various aspects of life in the world. Though I am most thankful to have seen it all, yet it has left on my mind and impression of sadness, which I cannot easily forget.
TEJA. What did you see that made you sad, Amin?
AMIN. It was the falseness of human nature, playing its different parts under many and varied conditions. By this I do not mean to say I am exempt from it, but it only showed me my own infirmities.
TEJA (touches AMIN’S arm.) No, I do not see in you any infirmities. You seem to be far, far away from them. If all men were like you, the world would be quite different.- But when you said: ‘It left on me an impression of sadness,’ what I thought was, a tender spot in your heart is being kept alive by the continual memory of some- one you perhaps loved there.
AMIN. No, I never mean to say you have determined to keep your heart free from the love of a woman?
AMIN. No, Bibi, I only meant I have not so far allowed myself to think on the subject.
TEJA. Why did you not think on the subject: Do you consider it a sin?
AMIN. In the first place, I began life as an orphan, and then I felt the weight of every act of kindness done to me. It kept me continually wondering how I could fulfill my obligations to those relatives and friends, to those near and dear to me, who have been so kind. This thought has continually occupied my mind and has never allowed me to think on any other subject. Besides, the poverty of the people in this country takes away every possibility of doing anything for oneself. Frankly speaking, my state is a the saying goes,’ Qazi, why are you so thin?’ The Qazi said, ‘Because of the anxiety about my citizens.’ Yet I am not without hope, it is only a matter of time.
TEJA. Amin, you are a dear; the more you speak to me, the more I am won by you. For every word you say goes through my heart. I think it is because you are so sincere. My engaging you to attend to my business was the first step; now I feel as if you engaged to my soul.
(TEJA gives him her hand; he kisses it and holds it to his heart, his eyes cast down in modesty. Knock heard. Enter JOHLA She looks surprised. TEJA andAMIN separate.)
JOHLA. I beg your pardon for having come in without knocking. Why am I so forgetful!
-Bibi, there is a young soldier who wishes to see Amin.
AMIN. May I take leave of you and see what he wants?
TEJA. Call him here; I will go to my room for a moment.
(TEJA and JOHLA go out.-Enter SOLDIER.)
SOLDIER. I have come to tell you from the Ministry of War that there is a sudden call to arms. The young men of the country are expected to defend their land against the invasion of a mighty enemy, who with his troops is already approaching the gates of our town. It is the wish of many in charge of affairs that you should take command of the army for the defense of our country.
AMIN. Please thank them all. I feel most privileged to take charge of our troops and nothing would please me more than to render this service to my country, even if it were at the cost of my life.
(The SOLDIER salutes and departs.-Enter TEJA, who appears nervous.)
TEJA. What did the soldier come to tell you?
AMIN. Bibi, our country is being invaded by a mighty enemy who is quite near our door. So all the country is called to arms. The authorities wish me to lead the first troops going for the defense of our country . I consider it the greatest privilege to fight for my land.
TEJA. My darling sweetheart! You are too precious to be sent into battle. Your life is too valuable to be sacrificed in this way! Oh, I don’t know what will become of me when you are gone!
AMIN. I beg your pardon, Bibi, I must hurry now. I am sure your thoughts will be with me; so all will be well.
TEJA( crying.) Know that I shall not feel I am living while you are away. It is you who will bring me to life when you return safe from there.
AMIN. Be sure that no harm will come to me, and soon we shall meet.
(AMIN kisses her hands; she lays her head upon his shoulder. They embrace.)
TEJA (still weeping.) God be with you!
TEJA’S home. TEJA ill, lying in an armchair.JOHLA waving the fan.)
TEJA. Give me some cold water, my throat is dried up. It seems as if flames are rising out of my body, oh! ah!
(JOHLA runs and fetches rose-water; she sprinkles it over TEJA.)
JOHLA. Bibi, Bibi, (She gets no answer.) Are you here, Bibi?
TEJA. No, Johla, I was not here, I was at the front, where the battle is taking place, going over the agonies, sharing the experience of my beloved.
JOHLA. Here is the water, Bibi, you wanted; I have fetched it.
TEJA. Thank you, Johla. (TEJA drinks.) Now I feel cooled, I feel ease through my breath. Something seems to tell me that all is well with him. A feeling comes to me as if I was reading his letter that he is coming back.
JOHLA. Will you eat something, Bibi? It is several days since you really had anything to sustain your body. If not for yourself, then for his sake, to give him pleasure. You must take care of yourself, you must feel well.
TEJA. No, don’t mention food to me. I have no mind for it. I shrink even from looking at food.
JOHLA. Bibi, you must make yourself strong.
TEJA. Will you help me, Johla, to get up?
(JOHLA lifts her up. She walks, her head onJOHLA’S shoulder. JOHLA holding her, TEJA looks out of the window; JOHLA looks with her.)
JOHLA. I don’t see him yet.
TEJA (resting her hand on JOHLA’S shoulder, cries.) I see him! I see him! He’s coming back!
JOHLA. Don’t act as if you delirious! You must not stand here, you have no strength. Come and sit down in this chair.
(JOHLA puts her into the chair and fans her.)
TEJA(still softly crying.) I see him! I see him come!
(Knock at the door. JOHLA runs to see who has knocked. TEJA opens her eyes and sits up.)
TEJA. I wonder!
JOHLA. (entering hurriedly.) Bib, you will pleased to know that a soldier has come on horseback with a message from Amin.
TEJA. Show him in.
(Enter SOLDIER who salutes and presents the letter toTEJA.)
TEJA( opens the letter and reads aloud.) ‘By the grace of God, the Most Merciful and Compassionate, the battle is won and the enemy has admitted his defeat. The final arrangements are already completed. I am now preparing to come back. I kiss your dear hand, the hand, which I always felt next to my heart.
(TEJA wiping her tears of joy, gives gold coins to theSOLDIER.)
TEJA. Has all gone well?
SOLDIER. Yes, lady. Amin showed great bravery; he fought most courageously and wisely made peace. He has won both the love of his friends and the admiration of his foes. He is the young man of the day; we all are proud of him for proving so worthy of our trust. (Salutes.) I take my leave, lady.
(TEJA wiping her tears of joy.- As theSOLDIER approaches the door, JOHLA meets him. She acts as if frightened, he as if amazed to see her, both as if they just missed running into each other.)
SOLDIER. Hullo, queen of the kitchen!
JOHLA. Hullo, king of spades.
(They nod at one another and throw a kiss. TheSOLDIER goes out.)
JOHLA. Now I am sure you are happy, Bibi, are you not? Now I shall bring you some food, shall I? I am sure you must be hungry.
TEJA. The news is nourishing to my soul; I don’t need any food. But prepare some if you like. Amin may come at any moment.
JOHLA. If I had such good news. Bibi, I would have eaten twice as much dinner as usual! I wouldn’t have waited for anyone! You think I’m crazy, don’t you: But I tell you, I’d rather die than starve.
TEJA (smiles.) You go and eat your dinner; don’t wait. You need not starve waiting for me, Johla.
JOHLA. Thank you, Bibi.
(Knock at the door heard.)
JOHLA (returns quickly, exclaiming:) Amin is here!
TEJA. Call him in.
(TEJA gets up from her seat; AMIN enters. TEJA runs to meet him and falls fainting into his arms.- AMIN kissing her forehead, makes her site in the chair and sits by her side.)
TEJA. Now tell me, Amin, all that happened. You must have had a terrible time!
AMIN. To tell you all since I left here and have now come back! Where shall I begin the story and where shall I end it? All’s well that ends well! It was a dream, a dream of one night, a nightmare rather. It’s finished with the breaking of the day, and now there is sunshine everywhere.
TEJA. I heard that you fought very bravely; they all admire your courage so much. You did not only make war bravely, but you made peace so wisely.
AMIN. I tried to do my duty, Bibi; that is all one can do. Success and failure are both in His hands, without whose will nothing moves in the universe. Nevertheless, this experience on the battlefield has been quite an event for me. I will no longer look for war, and will try to bring peace, not after, but before, if I can. Did war have a hardening effect upon my heart? No, it made it much more tender than I have ever known it to be. I was known to be affectionate to my friends, but it was this war which has taught me to love even my enemies. I loved you hitherto, but it is during this war that a longing for you was produced in my heart. It had its disadvantages, yet one cannot ignore the advantages it has. I am glad my people won the victory over the enemy; but this has enlarged my view so that I cannot consider only my countrymen as my people. I am beginning to consider all men in the world as my people.
TEJA. But you did not tell me the pains you have gone through, which I have felt all along through this war.
AMIN. It is both pain and pleasure, which make life complete. If there were no pain, one would not enjoy pleasure. I do not wish to recall to my memory the disagreeable past. Only pleasant memories I allow my mind to hold, which were with you.
TEJA. Now the pain has passed, and pleasure is in store for us. Next week our wedding takes place. My people are busy preparing for it God has heard our prayer, Amin, at last.
AMIN and TEJA in their new home. TEJA arranging cushions on the sofa. AMIN busy with a bow and arrow. People bringing wedding gifts.-A Lady brings flowers and gives them to TEJA.
TEJA. Oh, how beautiful they are. Who has sent them?
LADY. Bibi, your aunt’s cousin’s daughter, Salima, who is married to Omar Abdullah Hujuri. (She leaves.)
(TEJA brings the flowers to AMIN, kisses him and shows him.)
TEJA. How beautiful they are m my darling sweetheart.
AMIN. They were more beautiful on the stem, beloved; are these not plucked in vain. (TEJA looks surprised. He kisses her forehead and laughs.) Don’t you think so too? All beautiful things are in their greatest glory when they are in their own place. Arrange them, my sweetest wife. Now that they are brought to us, we may just as well turn our room into a garden.
(Another WOMAN comes, greets TEJA, touching her cheeks with her hand.)
WOMAN. I have made this picture of Amin, Bibi, you will be glad to see it.
TEJA. O, wonderful; he looked like this when he returned from the battlefield. Thank you. I am very glad to have it.
(WOMAN again salutes and leaves.)
TEJA (takes picture and shows it to AMIN.) Do you know this man?
AMIN. I don’t know him; who is he?
TEJA. Is it not your beloved image? How well the artist has made it! Now what shall I do with it? Shall I frame it and put it on the wall, or shall I place it on the sandal bracket above the divan? I think that is the proper place for it, don’t you think so?
AMIN. Place its front against the wall, showing its back outside, beloved, if you ask my earnest advice about it.
TEJA (looking at him in surprise.) How could I destroy your picture?
AMIN. This is not my picture. The artist who has made it has not seen me, beloved.
TEJA. He has not seen you? You mean to say, he didn’t see you?
AMIN. Yes, I mean it, beloved.
TEJA. Then, perhaps I haven’t seen you either?
AMIN. I do not think so. To tell you the truth, I do not want anyone to make my picture; I do not wish my picture to be placed on a pedestal; I don not want my picture to represent me after I have gone. This mortal form itself is a shadow of a shadow.
(Knock on the door. Two men enter, the carcass of a lamb hanging on a stick over their shoulders.)
MAN. This is a wedding gift they send you.
TEJA. From where?
MAN. From the community house.
TEJA. How nice! Please give them our thanks and loving greetings.
(The two men take their leave.
TEJA (to AMIN.) Here we have something really good to make a three day’s continual feast.
AMIN. Yes, the poor lamb should be asked first how it is to be sacrificed for our feast!
(Enter Dancing-Girls, accompanied by Musicians; they perform the Wedding Dance, wrapped in several veils, which the lift one after the other as they dance.)
TEJA (seeing the performance, takes AMIN’S arm, brings him to the room where the dancers are, while he is hesitating.) Beloved, it is wonderful; these are the best dancers we have in the country. Everyone speaks of their talent. They have trained every muscle, making it supple to twist and turn as they want to, and they move swiftly to the rhythm of the drum that their graceful movements make a living picture of music.
AMIN. May I request these talented dancers not to remove their veils any more!
TEJA. But it is their dance, beloved, it is their way; how skillfully they unveil themselves!
AMIN. But what do they unveil? The earth, not heaven.
TEJA(gives the Musicians a purse.) Thank you, take no more trouble.
(Musicians salute them and depart.)
AMIN. Do you mind if I ask you something, beloved? (Shyly, looking down.) Ever since I have been in the open country and have observed wide horizons in the war, the wilderness has attracted me. I long to walk in the desert and to dwell in the mountains. If you will permit me, Bibi, I will take a trip through the desert that I may unload my mind from the disturbing impressions of the war.
TEJA. Yes, my darling, you may go to the mountains whenever you desire , if it not for a long time! While you are away I shall think of you with every breath.
(AMIN kisses TEJA’S hand. They embrace.)
Hera, a rocky mountain in the desert.-AMIN wandering alone and looking at the wide expanse.
AMIN. Home is a world; the life outside home is the underworld, but hits wilderness is my Paradise. I feel myself only when I am by myself. It is then that I look at the whole world as an onlooker. There must be some reason why I am attracted to this spot.
There are many reasons, but how many can be explained? The heavy responsibility of home life and the continual struggle with the outside world; the smallness of human character; the ever-changing nature of life; the falsehood that exists in the life of the generality; the absence of justice and the lack of wisdom; all these and many other things make life unbearable for me. Besides, the ever- jarring influences coming from all around work upon my sensitive heart and make me feel lost sometimes. It is only here, away from the continual turmoil of life in the world that I find some rest…
And yet I wonder if my heart is really at rest. No, my heart cannot be really rested. If I am here away from the world and my fellow-men are in the midst of the turmoil, it cannot give me the peace I want; it keeps my mind uneasy…
What could I do to make the condition of my people better? Shall I work and be rich, and help them with my riches? But how far will those riches go to provide for their endless needs! Shall I be powerful and control them and rule rule them? What will that do? It will only turn them from servants into slaves. Shall I teach them goodness? But where does goodness belong? It must belong to God.
I must seek God myself first before I speak of goodness to my fellow-men. And where shall I find Him? If He is to be found anywhere, it is here in the solitude where my soul feels free. I become attuned to nature. I could sit silent here for days, looking at this wide space with endless horizon, where not even a bird makes a sound by the fluttering of its wings. I need not try to be silent here; silence reigns here, the spheres are silence itself…
Oh, Thou, longed-for Beloved, if Thou are anywhere to be found, it is here. I do not speak, I will not speak; I only listen, I will listen. Speak to me!
(He sits silent. A VOICE comes to him.)
VOICE. Cry on the Name of thy Lord! Cry on the Name of thy Lord! Cry on the Name of thy Lord.
(He invokes the sacred Name of God, and again sits silent.)
AMIN. Through the whispering of the breeze, through the cooing of the wind, through the rippling of the water, through the cracking of the thunder, through the fluttering of the leaves, I hear Thy gentle whisper in answer to my heart’s cry.
Beloved God, where are Thou not present! Thou art everywhere. O Thou, who was the ideal of my belief hitherto, art now a reality to me! In the flood that is caused by Thy manifestation, my little self has become drowned. I am lost to my own view. Thou are now before me, O Pearl of my heart!
(AMIN falls in a sort of swoon.)
VOICE. Thou art the man! Arise and wake thy fellow from the sleep of ignorance!
AMIN. O, what a task, what responsibility Thou givest me! My Lord, my King, I tremble. I cannot dare look at myself. Let me cover myself from my own eyes! I cannot look at the vastness of the mission Thou givest me, with this, my limited being.
(Again goes into a swoon.)
VOICE. Thou art the man! Arise and wake thy fellow-men from the sleep of ignorance!
AMIN. Yes, I obey, I rise, I march to the rhythm of the music of Thy call!
TEJA’S house. AMIN sitting on a cushion in an ecstatic condition. TEJA, one hand on this shoulder, sympathizing with him.)
TEJA. What is it my darling sweetheart: Why are you acting so strangely: You seem to frightened of something, as if you had a nightmare. It seems as if something frightful had been impressed upon your mind. What is the matter, my beloved? I am most anxious about you.
AMIN. Bibi, I have had an experience, which is indescribable. I did not wish ever to tell anyone about it.
TEJA. Not even to me: I thought there would be nothing you would keep hidden from me.
AMIN. Well, beloved, not even to you. For it is something, which I cannot even, explain to myself. And yet, when I think of it, it seems as if my soul has always known it, although my mind is quite unable to grasp it. It is something so big that I cannot look at it and at the same time look at my little self. For there is no comparison between this experience of mine and what I know myself to be. If I try to say it, my lips tremble and my throat chokes. I feel like covering myself from my own view when that wonderful influence comes over me.
TEJA. I feel very eager, Amin, to hear. Will you not tell me a little more about it?
AMIN. It was to quiet my mind, upset by the turmoil caused by the life in the world, that I sought refuge under the clear sky during the rising moon in the wilderness, I called upon that God whom people seek, some in the idols of rock, some in the spirit of their ancestors, some in the beasts, some in birds, some in trees of long tradition, some in heroes, some in the bright sun. He answered me during my quietude, through nature whose voice I heard, which was louder than the
thunderbolts. I was taught to cry on the Name of God. And His answer came to
me as an echo of my cry. The spot where I sat in the desert, far away from the world and its noise, produced for me a sublime vision of the immanence of God. The speechless rocks, it seemed, received a tongue to answer my call. God, who is the belief of an average being, then became for me a living identity, and my self for that moment was lost to my own view. How can worlds explain the splendor of that moment, the glory of God, which was in its full bloom at that time? It seemed as though the spheres played music and nature danced. The heaven of which they talk, I saw come on earth!
TEJA. How wonderful! And then what happened?
AMIN. I cannot very well say it to you, my dearly loved wife. It came to me as a command telling me to rise and try to better the condition of my fellow-men.
TEJA. In what way?
AMIN. In every way.
TEJA. But how?
AMIN. To warn people of the coming disasters; to waken them to the light of truth; to help in bettering their conditions in their life in the world; to serve them in their need; to give them a hand as they climb to the height of the spiritual ideal. And to remove thorns from their way.
I cannot, I cannot understand this. Why I should be called for this great talk! A trust, the weight of which trees could not bear, mountains could not sustain. And yet, though my soul has heard, I cannot make my mind believe it. Is it my delusion, Teja? Do you think I have become possessed of a spirit? What is it?
TEJA. My precious one, if you ask me, I will repeat the same words: Thou art the man! I have seen it all along and I have felt it, though could not give full expression to my thoughts.
AMIN. How can I believe this to be true, Teja, in spite of all this experience I have had, when I think of my shortcomings and my limitations?
TEJA. Thou art the man, Amin, who is born to serve his fellow-men, to better their conditions. You do not know how good you have been to all: most attentive in your duties, persevering in your labor, honest in your business dealings, a brave soldier on the battlefield, and a wise peace-maker. Have you not been an ideal husband to me, and a father so kind and loving? Your respect for the aged, your affection for those who depend upon you, and your consideration for those to whom it is due. Besides, your generous spirit covered under your modesty- all these things give me sufficient reason to believe without a doubt that you are the man. And if there was not one person in the whole world to support my my belief, I would yet believe so . For my belief in you are my convictions.
(AMIN, moved to tears, kisses her hand and presses it to his heart.)
AMIN. Your are my inspiration, Teja, you are my strength.
(A moment’s silence.)
AMIN. Now, I must leave, well-beloved, and see what can be done. It is difficult being alone, to begin the work. Still the One who has inspired me to work will be my guide.
(They rise; AMIN about to depart; JOHLA enters.)
JOHLA. Bibi, your uncle Humadan has come to see you.
TEJA. Show him in.
(Enter HUMADAN. TEJA goes forward to meet him.AMIN greets and shakes hands with him.
HUMADAN. I am needed: I am surprised! I thought nobody in the world needed someone who is now looking at life as the past, and seeing before him his end.
TEJA. Uncle, you must not say that The more one lives, the more precious one becomes; for life deepens a soul. We can always profit by your counsel, your word
of advice, dear Uncle.-Amin is lately having some strange experiences. He feels as if he heard a voice calling him to serve his fellow-men. This has come to him since he has taken to retiring to the solitude; sometimes he spends hours and sometimes days in the wilderness.
HUMADAN. Good tidings! This has always been the experience of those who have been called to serve humanity in a special way. He is a reformer, even greater than a reformer, for he is a prophet. (Turning to AMIN.) There is a great task before you, my son! U an afraid you will have a hard time. Man is the worst enemy of his best friend; he has always proved to be so. It is the same old
wine put into a new bottle. But the world, before drinking the wines, examines the label on the bottle, and if it is not the same label that it is used to, it will call it a different wine. I should not be surprised, Amin, if your most loving friends did not turn into your bitterest enemies, as soon as you have commenced your work. The people here is this land are very backward; they are in a hopeless state. There is idol-worship everywhere. Religious places have turned into money-counters. Gaiety and merriment are the occupation of the young; and the old indulge in superstitions. Who could be the man, Amin, if you could not? You are the man, I am sure. I wish I were young, to have shared some of your troubles. But I am too old now to venture. You are fortunate, Amin, to have your devoted wife. God be with you both, my children! Goodbye!
(TEJA embraces her uncle. HUMADAN puts his hand on their shoulders. AMIN embraces TEJA leaves.)
AMIN standing on the highway, speaking to the passers-by. Travelers coming and going.
FIRST TRAVELER. I have heard you talk here to the travelers; tell me to what Church you belong.
AMIN. My church is the globe, the earth is its ground, the sky its dome.
SECOND TRAVELER. But which is your God?
AMIN. The same God who is the God of all.
THIRD TRAVELER. But you don’t worship the God of our tribe, do you?
AMIN. I worship the God of all tribes.
THIRD TRAVELER. But every tribe has its own God.
AMIN. Yes, but the God of all tribes is my God.
FOURTH TRAVELER. But what religion do you teach?
AMIN. The same one religion which has always been taught to humanity.
FIRST TRAVELER. You don’t mean to say you preach the religion of our sect, for you are not our priest.
AMIN. It is not the religion of sect; it is the religion of all sects. It is the religion, which was revealed before; the same is being revealed now.
FIFTH TRAVELER. But it is not the religion of our ancestors, which you teach.
AMIN. It is the same one and only religion of truth. It is the same religion of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to men’ now given to you as a reminder.
FIFTH TRAVELER. What are your teachings:
AMIN. Quit all laziness; earn money by labor; live an honest life, a life harmonious and peaceful. Respect your elders; give loving care to the younger. Be charitable to the poor; give a part of what you earn in charity. Worship one God who is the Lord of all people. Know that you will have to give an account of your deeds. Know that purity is the first lesson of piety. Do not shirk your duties. Travel even to the other end of the world if it for learning. Forget not your obligations; practice honesty in business. Know that all things in earth and heaven are made for you to make the best use of them. For man’s sake is the world created, and man is the master therein.
SIXTH TRAVELER. What nonsense! What does he know of heaven! Has he been there: if he has been there, why then is he still lingering on earth?
SEVENTH TRAVELER. He is born on earth, as everyone else. What right has he to teach others when he is only a man? He’s not a god!
FIRST COMPANION. What he says is touching. I don’t see what wrong he has said. He does not need to be other than a man to guide man on the right path. It’s absurd when one expects a guide to drop directly from heaven. It is the son of man who understand the difficulties of man and who can sympathize with him. Therefore, it is man who is needed to guide man, not an angel!
EIGHTH TRAVELER. I have know him for a long time. Is he not the same one who used to work at the farm?
NINTH TRAVELER. I think I have seen him working as a business agent, if I am not mistaken.
TENTH TRAVELER. Is he not the man I knew on the battlefield during the last war? And now he is coming to tell us of kindness!
ELEVENTH TRAVELER. But who made him a priest to give us long sermons? Has he got nothing to do at home? He has a home with wife and children, he is not a hermit!
TWELVE TRAVELER. No, I can’t believe all this talking. If he were real, he would show some miracle. Can he give sight to the blind, or can he raise the dead from their graves?
SECOND COMPANION. He need not perform wonders in order to serve God and hiss fellow-men. If he can inspire the ignorant to speak words of wisdom, it is better than if he have speech to the dumb. If he opens the heart of a person to hear the inner voice, it is greater than giving ears to the deaf. If he opens the eyes of the seeking soul to reality, it is better than giving sight to the blind. If he wakens a mortal soul to immortality, it is greater than raising the dead.
(AMIN sitting on a rock and resting his head on his hands, hears all this silently. Many more persons enter.)
SEVERAL VOICES. Here he is! Here he is!
FIRST INHABITANT. You have started to work against the religion of our forefathers; you wish to believe in another God rather than the Gods of our tribes. You are influencing our young men to give up the worship of our idols.-Leave the soil of our country at once! If not, the State will punish you.
(They fight with the FOUR COMPANIONS, who try to protect AMIN. Some try to take AMIN away from the danger.)
AMIN. Was it for this day that Thou didst command me to warn these people?
(AMIN is rescued from the crowd by his COMPANIONS.)
SECOND INHABITANT (holding his arms.) If you care at all for your life, never step on this soil again!
(Many persons rejoice. Some sorrow; a few women weep.)
At Yemen.- COMPANIONS of AMIN brought before the Court, as having trespassed upon the land.-ACONSTALBE lead AMIN’S four COMPANIONS before the CHIEF and hisCOLLEAGUES.
CONSTABLE. Sir, these men have trespassed in our country without permission, and they come with the excuse that they are exiles from their own land.
CHIEF. Ye, we have received a letter from the authorities of their country saying that they must not be allowed to enter here. (Turning to one of the four COMPANIONS.) What have you to say about this?
FIRST COMPANION. We beg to be excused for having entered your land, but it was inevitable. We were persecuted as heretics by our people, and were expelled from our country.
CHIEF. What is the reason of this persecution: What have you done against your people’s religion?
FIRST COMPANION. We have done nothing against the existing religion of our people. Our blessed leader has been speaking for some time to those who cared to listen, of the ways to better their condition in life, individually and collectively. And those among them who wish to keep the simple people of our land under their sway oppose the Message of God.
CHIEF. Where is your leader? Send for him. I should like to see him.
FIRST COMPANION. Yes, Sir, I will go and fetch him. I am sure he will be able to explain better to you all you wish to know.
(The COMPANION leaves the Court. A policeman follows.)
CHIEF. What is the name of your leader? What is he? Does he work wonders? Has he anything extraordinary in him, which made you follow him?
SECOND COMPANION. We shall follow him, Sir, to the end of the world, whether he takes us to heaven or hell. We trust him too much ever to doubt him. He is to us a messenger of God, though he for himself is most unpretentious. He does not perform miracles; he does not claim to have any extraordinary powers. He says, ‘ I am a human being as anyone else, subject to pleasure and pain, birth and death.’ The only privilege he has is in the service for which he has been called.
(Enter AMIN with the COMPANION, followed be the policeman. He greets the CHIEF.)
CHIEF. What have you to say? What do you teach?
AMIN. I warn my people of the coming of that day when man will no longer hold his position, his rank, however high or great. Those near and dear to him will remove him from their midst the moment that the breath leaves the body. If life on earth is a few days only, there is a time to come to answer for every grain one has eaten from this earth, and to pay for every drop of water on has drunk. This world, I say, is not a stage set for man to amuse himself; it is a school for him to learn his lesson.
I tell them that if you will trust anyone, trust in God; if you will depend on anyone, depend on God; if you will confide in anyone, confide in God; if you will revere anyone, worship God. Death is not the end of this life; death it the bridge that unites friend with friend. Therefore, when doing the duties honestly in this world, man must think of that life also, which is to come.
CHIEF. All you say is quite clear to me. I do not think any of us here would make objections to your teaching. On the other hand, we should be only too glad to have among us a man like you, who brings to us the knowledge, which is the need of every soul. Truly, they say that a prophet is not recognized in his own country. I do not see why they had to go so far as to exile you from your country. If one door is closed behind you, another is opened before you. You are welcome here. I am quite sure my Colleagues, who are the principal authorities of our State, think the same as I do.
COLLEAGES. Yes, certainly we do.
CHIEF. We shall give you all facilities to stay here among us, to give the advantage of your teaching to our people, who, I am sure, will be immensely benefited by it. Besides, we shall seek your inspiring guidance in the reconstruction of our Commonwealth, considering your coming now, at the moment of our social and political crisis, as the hand of Providence.
AMIN. I could wish nothing better from you than to be of some service to you, Sir, and to your people, to whom I feel indebted for having allowed me to live among you. I sought refuge with you and you have confided to me the affairs of your homeland. I will try my best to prove worthy of your trust.
(Exit AMIN with COMPANIONS.)
AMIN sitting in the seat of honor. The CHIEF and hisCOLLEAGUES seated to his right and left. FOUR COMPANIONS sitting behind him. Coffee served.
CHIEF (to all.) Here we have among us Amin, who has won our hearts, who has illuminated our souls. Our trust in him is eternal; no time however long can develop that confidence in our hearts, which he has kindled in us in a moment. We see before us in our social and political activities a promise, as there is no problem that remains unsolved once Amin throws his light upon it. Things, which seemed difficult he makes easy for us; things subtle become simple in his presence. He tells us nothing new; all he says to us appears as if we have always known it, and yet we were not conscious of it. Amin is our light, not only in life’s dark corners, but he is the torch that illuminates our path.
COLLEAGUE. All you have said, Chief is true. We must value and appreciate Amin’s presence among us by trying to understand him better, and by trying to follow all he teaches us more closely.
CONSTABLE (to CHIEF.) There is an envoy from our neighboring country who wishes to see you, Sir.
CHIEF. Yes, send him in.
(Enter ENVOY; greets the CHIEF.)
COLLEAGUE. Please take a seat.
CHIEF. What has brought you here?
ENVOY. I am sent by the authorities of my State, Sir, with a summons. We ask you, Sir, to give us our criminals who have fled from our country.
CHIEF. What crime have they committed?
ENVOY. They are accused of every crime, Sir. All crimes put together make on crime, and that crime is the one of which they are accused.
CHIEF. But what crime?
ENVOY. A crime beyond words.
CHIEF. But I want to know what crime.
ENVOY. The crime is beyond comprehension, Sir.
COLLEAGUE. Do you know before whom you are standing? This is Amin, now the head of our Commonwealth, to whom you have brought a summons.
(ENVOY is frightened, with starting eyes and trembling like a leaf, turning his head right and left.)
CHIEF. Go and tell the authorities of your State that your accusations are unfounded. Amin is now the leader of our people in their worldly and spiritual strife.
ENVOY. Then I will go, Sir, and tell my people all you have said. Thank you very much. Goodbye.
(ENVOY goes out hastily. He falls down on the way; grasps the leg of the POLICEMAN.)
ENVOY (to POLICEMAN.) Come along.
POLICEMAN (with his hand on his neck.) Go.
(AMIN looks sad.)
FOURTH COMPANION. Our Master, I feel your sadness over the stupidity of our people. I cannot help feeling, since our hearts are focused on yours.
AMIN. Yes, you are right, but it is a passing cloud; it will pass away in time. All balances up in the end, cruelty on their part and kindness on yours.
What I feel deeply, and very often, is that the call for service came to me on the Hera mountain, and it was meant that my people should be enlightened and helped. And is spite of all the good work which is being done here, I continually feel that something remains undone. And so long as that work is not attended to, I shall not consider my task accomplished, I shall always feel a sore spot in my heart.
CHIEF. We will spare no effort, our Teacher! Our means, our energy, even our lives we will place at your command, if we can assist you in accomplishing your task.
FOURTH COMPANION. We are ready to answer you call, Master, even if it be with our life’s sacrifice. Command any of us to go and spread you ideas among those who do not understand them.
AMIN. No; I will not risk your lives; you are too precious to me. I only ask of you to let me go to deliver His Message to my people.
CHIEF. No, Amin, that cannot be; if you go, we shall be your bodyguard; if harm comes to you, we shall be your shield. For death in a holy cause will be our liberation.
(AMIN is deeply touched by their readiness to serve.)
AMIN. Let us all go, for it is meant that we should share one another’s joys and sorrows.
CHIEF (to AMIN.) We are most happy that you have granted our request. (To COLLEAGUES.) Prepare and be ready to start on the journey to guard our Leader and to defend our Cause.
(All stand and shout, waving their hands: Amin victorious! Exit all, happy and enthusiastic.)
Mecca.-Commotion at the Town Hall. People rushing hither and thither restlessly. Enter SHERIF of Mecca. The GOVERNORS receive him
SHERIF. I have just heard the news that we are threatened with invasion by our neighboring State. From one source I have word that they are already on the way. And we are not in the least ready to defend our land. Alas, we have not among our young men another Amin.’ One man with the Spirit is greater than an army.’ How we miss Amin at this time of our need!
FIRST GOVERNOR. Yes, if only he had not become so crazy over his religious fad!
SHERIF. Now what can we do? Have we any means of defense?
SECOND GOVERNOR . We are not prepared. We did not know of it until this morning. Nothing can be done.
SHERIF. But what can we do to maintain the pride of our people?
SECOND GOVERNOR. Pride! If we have nothing to be proud of, what is it to us?
SHERIF (sadly.) These last few years we have gone from bad to worse!
THIRD GOVERNOR. Worse! We cannot fall any lower!
SOLDIER. Sir, a large force of armed men have almost reached the gate of Mecca.
SHERIF. Now what do you think we should do?
FOURTH GOVERNER. Surrender without hesitation!
(Enter women in a state of alarm. SOLDIER enters.)
SOLDIER. They are entering our gate; The Town Hall is surrounded!
(AMIN enters in general’s uniform, his bodyguard following him. SHERIF with the GOVERNORS greets him.)
SHERIF. We surrender, sir, being unprepared for your sudden invasion.
(Enter the CHIEF.)
CHIEF. At the head of our army is Amin, the one who was an exile from your land, whom you threw out of your country with insults and made homeless. His companions were caused all manner of injury be you, and those who sided with him were wounded and killed.
SHERIF. We are sorry for all that was done by our people to Amin. We are willing to pay you the sum of money you demand.
CHIEF. Before you pay us any money, I ask you to deliver to us all Amin’s adversaries who have shown him hostility in the past.
(Criminals are brought. Some are agitated, some trembling, some with stern faces, some repentant.)
CHIEF (to AMIN.) Here are the men who have tormented your life and that of those near and dear to you. Dictate the sentence that must be passed on them.
(The criminals listen attentively, looking at AMIN to hear what he will say.)
AMIN. I have forgotten all they have done to me. I forgive and ask the Lord to forgive them.
(All are surprised. The GOVERNORS are touched, theSHERIF is moved to tears. They bring to AMIN sacks of gold to pay the war indemnity.)
AMIN (turning to the CHIEF.) No, our Prophet! We have accompanied you to be with you. If only we have you, our Master! No money or territory is our object in coming here; it is to serve you.
SHERIF (to AMIN.) You are the pride of our people and your absence from here was the cause of our decline. Nothing would please us more than if you took this whole territory of Hedjaz and we shall feel most honored to proclaim you King.
(The GOVERNORS bring crown and scepter, and theSHERIF holds them before AMIN.)
SHERIF. Here are crown and scepter for you Amin.
AMIN. Much as I appreciate your asking me to become King, I will not do so. It is not for the kingdom I have come here; it is to serve you, my people, whose welfare is my heart’s deep desire. I have come to deliver to you God’s Message.
GOVERNOR. I beg your pardon, Sir, where can we find someone as inspired as you to govern our people, to control our affairs? You appeared as an enemy and prove to be our friend.
SHERIF. What Message do you wish to give us? We are ready to accept it from someone selfless as you, Amin!
AMIN. Believe in one God. Remove the gods of the Ka’ba, which are but idols of rock. Consider love greater than law. Know that all men are equal before God; perform your prayers therefore, all standing before His divine Majesty: rich or poor, saint or sinner, all on one level. Tell your sorrows to your Lord, if you are sad; bring your repentance to your God, if you are repentant. Disgrace not your soul by prostrating yourselves before idols, for even man in limited. To God alone all praise is due.
SHERIF. We accept your Message, Prophet, from the bottom of our hearts; we shall hand it down to posterity. We witness that there is on God and that you, Prophet, are His Messenger. It is not your sword, which has won the victory over our
Hearts, it is your noble spirit. Therefore, though you have given us our freedom
by refusing to rule us, we shall maintain your reign forever over our souls.
AMIN. I am a man, one like any of you, subject to pain and death. Remember not to make of me an ideal, which you will not be able to uphold long. Raise me not beyond my limit, that you may not have to throw me down one day through disappointment. Consider me you brother, an honor which I value most. I leave my word with you, for you to guard the Message against all opposition. I leave this sacred manuscript with you, for you to hand over to the coming generation, uncorrupted. My success is not in earthly gain; renunciation is my real victory. (To theCHIEF.) I bless them all, but I will come with you who have been my friends in need.
(CHIEF and Bodyguards, aloud: Hail to Amin, our Faithful Trustee!)