You Are From?

The following ‘play’ never had a script, being a work in progress so to speak, where the actors knew the opening line, knew the cue for the last line. Depending on intoxicants consumed the night before, the piece could be anything from 15 to 40 minutes.

It was staged in the late 1980s in New Delhi – by Hartman de Souza, a third-generation Kenyan by birth (but by default, Indian), and Kimamo Kuria, mwananchi from Kenya, final year law student at Delhi University. Both were also founder-members of the Delhi-based Afro-Indian theatre group, Ukombozi, that worked in Delhi – although they were not the first such theatre group to explore the common ground that benefits both sides, African and Indian.

Credit for that must go to Centre Punch, a theatre group started in the late 1970s by then Pune-based artist, actor, sculptor and writer,Valentino Gasper, now resident in Goa. They had already staged a play by poet, actor and academic from Ghana, Joe de Graft.

It is fascinating that the script for that performance was suggested to Valentino by Jimmy Odero, a final year economics student at Fergusson College, Pune, who studied it in high school, in Nairobi and always wanted to act in it. He brought in all his African friends. Do the Indian racists even know that both Fergusson and Wadia Colleges had a sizeable African population beginning from the late 1970s – when colleges in Pune, unlike now, did not see an African population and think ‘Admissions’ and enhanced fees. Do they even know that this is a tradition dating back to the 1920s, thanks to Goans from East Africa whose children studied here well into the 1970s. They were the posters for the indigenous East Africans who came in.  

It must be said that is not a coincidence that my wife, Ujwala Samarth, a student at Fergusson, would spend her formatives years in Mauritius and Zambia and her father would have travelled extensively in Africa. It is also not a coincidence that Ujwala acted in that Centre Punch production in Pune many, many moons before I even knew she existed. Or that she would find me interesting enough to catch a train to Delhi, or, a few moons later, would meet Kimamo and become Ukombozi’s Jill-of-all-trades.    

We took the baton valiantly. Ukombozi received a grant from the Indian Council For Cultural Relations, New Delhi, and staged their critically acclaimed production of Athol Fugard’s anti-apartheid play, The Island. Athol you could say, showed two actors how they could transcend the colour of one ‘s skin. The Island was reviewed by Kavita Nagpal in The Hindustan Times, Suneet Tandon in The Sunday Observer and Nilanjan Mukhopadhya in The Statesman.

Just before Kimamo returned to Kenya in 1990 both had begun rehearsals for Athol’s Bloodknot which was, alas, not to see fruition. Ukombozi was strongly supported by the Africa Fund, an initiative of an enlightened government that knew where Kenya was on a map of Africa.

*

We used part of the grant to spend a month in Nainital, sharing a house with a pack of huge, affectionate flea-infested ‘buthias’, and rehearse every morning and every evening. We had our first performance with a setting sun lighting up the mountains for the buthias and their fleas; for Biri, our friend who owned the cottage (an ex- Sherwood student whose wife was born in Kenya to Punjabi parents); and of course Ujwala who nagged us till we knew the lines. On Opening Night, with Biri’s whiskey, we nibbled papads while Kimamo cooked a traditional Kikuyu meal with goat’s intestines, and we laughed at Ujwala because she took two helpings!

After Nainital, we hit the road. Our first performance was at Kirori Mal College, legendary for its theatre society, and the equally well-respected Keval Arora, faculty member who played no small part in reviving it, after he himself graduated from the college. Now that that same tradition is being undermined, one is happy that he is back at it.

But what a performance that was at Kirori Mal, in a blazing afternoon heat, in the college mess before their lunch. We always felt that was our best performance – about 150 students. All guys – like in a prison, like in the play itself. What made these wonderful students keep their lunch on hold while they called people to the mess to watch an ‘African’ play, and then, for another hour, sitting down and talking to us about Africa, apartheid, racism…

Our performances were legendary, attended by friends invited to a meal who we turned into audiences. This is because we would cook first. We’d pick super cuts of beef from Nizamuddin, specially kept for African students living in Delhi (and the capital’s diplomatic corps).

Those who have eaten at Ukombozi’s table will never forget the taste of the beef liver stew I cooked and served with a spiced rice; or ugali made into a giant idli, served with beef and sukuma wiki that Kimamo rustled up; or getting charcoal to the terrace and doing a mouth watering nyama choma. And what about days when Kimamo managed to get some Tusker from a friend he had at the Kenyan High Commission. Those may have been the first Afro-Indian parties…

Today, sadly, Kimamo could be in serious trouble.

*

Many moons ago, things for Kimamo and our other Kenyan friends in Delhi was as bad as You Are From? – a theme which many Indians would think is exaggerated until they talk to an African in India. Our friends they performed this play long before Kimamo and I actually staged it – any African student, till today, with a black skin and crinkly hair can write this script right down to the title. With the addition of murderous mobs of course…

Today, our government, no different from other predatory countries at work on this continent the day the shameful Conference of Berlin concluded. About a century of practising racism in order to profit. The wheel alas – and our teachers are to blame for it – has come full cycle. We have a government only interested in facilitating business for Indian multinationals who are their buddies, who fund them to remain in power. Today, we are a proud nation. We can build ports, highways, open farms using cheap African labour to feed Indians who live their lives in a mall, go and peddle software. Nowhere in any of this, do we have to recognize Africans as human beings.

The Africa Fund is long dead and , an initiative of genuinely enlightened persons in government is dead and buried. Eduardo Faleiro, the Goan minister at the centre who headed it, is forgotten. Eduardo would not not find a consonant voice in government service like Mani Shankar Aiyar, people you couldn’t call less-than-educated. This was a different time

Today, regrettably, you have a minister who has to read (badly, it must be said) from a badly written script, and petulantly mutter that Indians are not racist. Yeah, sure. Will she be able to identify countries in Africa on a blank map??

*

In the early 90s, Kimamo and I separated by an ocean, closer than Delhi is from Kenya but still far apart, I took a series of lectures on Commonwealth Literature at the Goa University. Half an hour into my first lecture, I wondered why I was getting blank looks for two authors they had already studied a good year before. What does one say when the writers in question are Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka?

I was bitter, because I knew I was right, I drew a map of Africa (which I can do in my sleep), and chucked the piece of chalk at one of the students.

“Could you please show me where Nigeria is on that map?”

She giggled, she twittered – as did the class, out of nervousness and relief that the bit of chalk hadn’t landed in their laps. She looked at me like a lost pigeon, close to tears.

“Here?” she asked me, and jabbed the chalk at where Cape Town was.

Next day’s lecture, I put away Chinua’s Things Fall Apart and Wole’s The Long Road. I dug out a new set of readings from my library that I would batter them over the head with. Basics. Introduced them to Walter Rodney and Amiri Baraka, Ali Mazrui, Jacques Maquet, Basil Davidson. I kept the best for the last, a single, solitary tract that I had of Chinweizu.

Did it help, this extra, unplanned work? Your guess is as good as mine.

The girl who misplaced Nigeria on a blank map of Africa, now teaches literature in one of Goa’s better colleges. She may even be the head if department. Is she educated more about Africa? Will see know where Lagos is?

Optimists would contend that if they had the internet in Goa in 1990, it may have made a difference. But we have the internet now have we changed our choked, inchoate racism?

The solution is simple. This country must be shamed into admitting that it is at root, racist. We must have no more evidence that racism lives here, that the evil, ugly, ‘Caste System’ must be equated with Racism. Our country must have the guts to meekly admit this to the UN and anyone caring to listen. We should wear sackcloth and pound ourself with ash. It may not be enough.

Then Kimamo will agree that we – both African and Indian – a new, different cry for uhuru…

*

You Are From? was first staged in New Delhi in the late 1980s, courtesy the Department of Political Science at the Lady Shri Ram College.

It is most definitely not a coincidence that the performance at Lady Shri Ram College was arranged by Dr. Nivedita Menon, political scientist, now distinguished professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Many moons ago, Dr. Menon was a fledgling but fierce feminist and troublemaker (person who ‘dissents’) at Lady Shri Ram College, and the junior most teacher in her department. She may also have been the first teacher in Delhi University to organize an ‘Africa Week’ in the college. It may also be put on record and duly appreciated by her many comrades and the thousands of students who have passed through her hands therefore, that Dr. Menon was as much a scourge of the establishment then, as she is now.

As part of that week’s celebrations put together by Nivedita at LSR, Ukombozi was invited to perform Conversations on Colour – Poetry, Freedom and Jazz, a collaboration between Hartman and Kimamo reading contemporary South African ‘Liberation’ poetry, and two of Delhi’s jazz musicians, Babush Santana and Joe Santana, playing drums and percussion, and alto and tenor saxes respectively.

Both Conversations and You Are From? were subsequently staged at Jawaharlal Nehru University courtesy the late Prof. Meenakshi Mukherjee of the Centre for Linguistics and English; and was invited to perform at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Delhi School of Economics.

You Are From? was rehearsed the night before, was washed down with rum and a good helping of a Kenyan delicacy eaten with soft, piping hot rotis from the tandooriwallah down the road. It was staged as an ‘intermission’ piece, mid-way through Conversations, Hartman and Kimamo leaving their mikes and walking to the front of the stage, Babush and Joe picking up their violins and checking their tuning…

AND WHAT FOLLOWS IS THE SCRIPT OF THAT PLAY

Only Hartman can be seen in the dim lights at the front of the stage while Joe and Babush leave Abdullah for the intermission and begin playing La Cumparsita. The audience titters as the lights brighten. Hartman is dressed in a black kaftan from Liberia decorated with rich white brocade on the yoke of the neck, around the cuffs, and along the edge of the kaftan which almost sweeps the floor.

The audience laughs and giggles. He glares at them, they laugh even louder.

It is obvious that he is waiting at bus stop in late 1980s Delhi with most of the buses whizzing past him as if going to hell. Hartman curses in Kiswahili, the audience laughs and Hartman tells them in the same language that if they knew what he was saying, they’d call the police and have a FIR lodged against him.

They laugh even louder.

Their laughter suddenly stops, broken by a high pitched, almost fiendish cackle from the other end of the stage. A dim light comes up.

Kimamo is standing there but can’t quite be seen. As the light grows brighter, so does his laughter. Shouting to the audience in Hindi, as if calling children at the bus-stop:

“Eh, children, come, come, quickly come…don’t you people want to see a bear, a bear straight from the jungle?”

The audience laughs as the lights get brighter. Hartman glowers at the audience. The audience can’t get over seeing a black man with crinkly hair like Kimamo, dressed in a stylish off-white raw-silk kurta and a pair of well-tailored churidars. In his hands he holds a gleaming Nehru cap, which folds he adjusts before placing it rakishly on his head. As the audience giggles and Hartman glares angrily, Kimamo totally unconcerned, circles Hartman, studying him very carefully, the colour of his skin, the crinkliness of his hair.

While he does this, he keeps on a running commentary in Hindi:

“Can you see children, even I am staying far away from this black man. He comes from the jungle. They eat other people, they are not like us, so make sure you stay away, otherwise, they’ll open their mouth – like a tiger – and eat you up. What have your mothers told you? Careful! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…”

Hartman does his best to ignore Kimamo, telling him some unmentionable things in Kiswahili. Ignoring Kimamo, he also talks to the audience, speaking English with a Kenya accent, the vowels nicely rounded, sounding like a double-bass.

“Hey man, you got to do something about this! Don’t you guys study geography in school. I mean back home man, in Nairobi, we knew a lot about India man. We know where India is, where Pakistan is, the whole of Asia man…but you guys are ignorant man, you see one black guy you reckon they’re all from one single country…”

He mutters at Kimamo. When Kimamo looks at him this side, he turns the other side. Finally, Kimamo is satisfied he knows everything about Hartman. He laughs, claps his hands in glee.

He talk to the audience in Hindi:

“I will tell you children everything, let me talk to him, I speak very good English”.

He thinks, rehearses some sentences in a series of mutters. Hartman watches him, wondering what Kimamo is doing.

Hartman: (Irritated with everyone laughing at him) Hey man, what is your problem?

Kimamo:   (Clapping his hands gleefully) Oh Sir, respected Sir, I am very pleased to meet your good self. (He speaks English with a very pronounced Indian accent and with a terrible nasal voice) With your native dresses, I am thinking you will not be speaking English so fine.

You are Muslim gentleman respected Sir? (He points to H’s clothes)…Such fine English you are speaking.

(He addresses the audience in Hindi)

See children, you should learn from him…he comes from the jungle but look, he speaks good English, just like me…

(Hartman does not respond, but it is obvious he is irritated by the bus that shows no sign of coming, and nobody wants to tell him whether he’s at right stop. Kimamo follows him, as he goes from passenger to passenger.)

K: Respected sir, you please relax, the bus is coming, everyday it is coming, today it can’t be different bloody…if not bus here, bus there…

H: That’s not cool with me…

K: Aha-aha, cool…I am understanding…

H: Ah, you should see what’s waiting for me in Pitampura you wouldn’t be so cool man…

K: Cool! I am fully understanding respected Sir…

(He sees H close his eyes. Thankfully he does not know what is H is thinking of, K addresses the audience, shifts to Hindi)

Children, now pay attention otherwise you will learn nothing about these black people and where they come from. He speaks very good English, not like you junglee children. With all his hardships, he speaks such good English, so nicely he speaks, so fast he speaks, does not struggle for words banchod when he speaks English. Watch him carefully. He comes from a country that is very hot, hotter than anything we have in our great country.

He has come here because our country is cool…it is like Shimla…he is saying the word ‘cool’ in English. That is why his skin is burnt, like charcoal, his hair is burnt, like wire burnt in a fire…

(He interrupts H, who protests)

H:I was dreaming man…(He laughs). Now, it’s It’s not going to come back again my dream man, you put the lights on…

K: Understood respected Sir. Where you are catching bus to go kind Sir?

H: Pitampura, I have to go to Pitampura. They told me the bus is No. 212. Is this the stop for the bus…?

K: This is stop only respected Sir, every 45 minutes the bus she will come…DTC bus…best bus…

H: Thank you, very nice of you…now you just leave me be, let me think about Alice…

K: It is my pleasure respected Sir…

(H smiles. In his head, he goes back to trying to dream of Alice, his girlfriend who lives in Pitampura and whom he is going to see. He closes his eyes…)

K: (With more emphasis) It is my pleasure respected Sir…

H: Yeah, sure man, that’s cool with me…

K: Ah, cool(He repeats the word several times, giggling as he does so. H laughs)

I extend my welcome and my country to you respected Sir. Very cool respected Sir. My family is in Delhi four, five families, in Delhi, my country is capital. You are welcome. Delhi best capital in world, just like ‘for-rain’ bloody…

H: Yeah, it’s cool man, it’s cool. (He touches K’s shoulder, who leaps back as if he’s been burnt. H does notice anything wrong, he’s back to dreaming of Alice) It’s cool man, it’s cool…

K: Ah yes, cool…coo-oo-ool…you are liking my capital city respected Sir…?

H: Yeah, I guess I do, some parts of it, the really nice parts…

K: Delhi very fine city…

H: Now that I think about it, if you really want to know – I haven’t told this to anyone – there are some parts of Delhi…

K: Yes India defeated the British bloody…

H: …yeah, there’s some places of Delhi are really nice…I’d want to take those parts back to Nairobi. You know that place Chanakya Puri, ah, that place I’d take back to Nairobi. That place is posh. Mercedes Benz cars. That is some place like man! And a place like Connaught Place, man we don’t have that in Nairobi…

But don’t forget we have things in Kenya, you guys don’t have in Delhi. It’s cool with me.

K: Yes, cool, I am fully understanding.

Respected Sir, Indian peoples very nice peoples…very educated, like ‘for-rain’ bloody. Please do not think we are uneducated, like junglee?? We are a very ancient country, more than 10.000 years bloody…

(Hartman looks at him warily to see whether Kimamo is making fun of him)

K: Very good peoples, Indian peoples, but you must meet educated people like me, not this kind of people at Delhi bus stop bloody…

(Hartman relaxes)

H: It is nice to meet you. My name is Hartman Otieno…

K: My good name is Mr Kimamo Sharma, B.A. LL.B…I am businessman, all kinds of business any kind of business…any time you want to do business, you just to coming to me…(He pulls out a card with a flourish)…I very good man, lots of experience, very learned fellow, very prosperous…I am also lawyer…Delhi University…

(Kimamo pronounces the word ‘lawyer’ as Hartman would say ‘Liar’)

H: (laughing) Hey man, you tell me you’re a good ‘liar’ and you want to talk to me…Sure, I’ve come to India to meet liars when I have such a lot in my college…and there’s my friend’s landlord in Pitampura. Liars, man…

(Hartman has been dying to tell this to someone, and Kimamo is a willing listener)

You come to India to learn how to be a good lawyer it’s often better to wish you were a good liar. ..you know what they tell me in the college? That my problem is I don’t understand their English…how can I when I say ‘lawyer’ and they say ‘liar’…it’s very confusing man…some of these guys can’t teach. Their accent is bad man

We have a drink and we laugh about it, the way you speak English and the way we speak English…or when you want to say ‘Yes’, you shake your head like you are saying ‘No’ man…that really confuses us…

K: Not confusing respected Sir, Liar is Liar, what does it matter? Yes, yes, yes, you are saying right things…(Looking at him with greater interest)…ah you are studying for liar…I can give you coaching class. You want coaching class, very good coaching class, very fine bloody? My cousin-brother has very good coaching class, you can to please come, I will negotiate one very good price for you. You want it?

H: Hey man is this my bus? (He points)

K: Respected Sir, this is Blue Line Buses, a curse on their mothers bloody. You only take Delhi Transport Service, government service, you wait with me bloody, I will take you only…

(Hartman wants to think of Alice and wait for the bus to come, he just wants to reach Pitampura and smell Alice, he misses her. He doesn’t want to talk to the Indian bloke. He wonders how to get rid of him)

H: It was very nice meeting you Mr. Sharma, and now, will you please give me some time to think a few things in my head?

(H sticks his hand out, wanting to shake hands with K and send him on his way. K is flabbergasted, not expecting to shake hands. He wrings them helplessly. H realizes that K does not want to shake his hand. He laughs, talks to the audience)

H: Now see – this guy man, not allowing me to dream of Alice, this guy doesn’t want to shake hands with me! Does he think my skin is black because I’m dirty??Ah, he should come back to Nairobi on a trip with me…

(He adds some rich stuff in Kiswahili)

K: Oh respected sir, oh respected Sir!

(He shifts to Hindi and addresses the audience)…

Aree baba, I do not want to shake his hands, just look at his colour, it is like paint, it is like that black tar they put on the road sala, it will stick to my hands, it won’t come off…

(H wants to dream about Alice, imagine her smell, he wants to do interesting things to her when they meet…He grabs K’s right hand with his left hand, and shakes hands forcibly with K, who squeals like a pig being slaughtered. As he vigorously shakes hand, H talks to him…)

H: It was a pleasure meeting you man, but I will enjoy myself even more in Pitampura. I am fed you, you know fed up…of your ignorant questions. I am fed up you understand, FED UP…forget about our history, just study geography…

(K shifts into Hindi):

K: What have I done to suffer like this? I will change my ways Bhagwan, tell me what to do…oh see, oh see he will leave his colour on me, make me as dark as a bongee…I will be cursed…

(H is enjoying himself immensely)

You go and stand there, talk to these other guys. I’m a black guy, I’m dangerous, you shouldn’t mess with me. You know what a cannibal is man, that’s me…now you go stand there, and you let me be here till the bus comes…

(K squeals as H shakes his hand. When K gets his hand back he wipes it several times on his kurta. He looks at the kurta, looks several times at his hand, then giggles. He reaches out and touches H’s face but hesitantly, as if H can easily bite it off. He looks at his fingers. He laughs. He is happy.)

K: Oh respected Sir, you have taught me a very good lesson. All this time I am listening to my wife, and now bloody, I will tell her she is stupid, ignorant woman bloody. She is telling me your black-black colour is burnt bloody, like black koyla piece only, and colour is off coming…

(In sheer glee he touches H’s face again, looks at his fingers, laughs, he turns back to the audience and continues in Hindi. Now he smells his fingers too, squealing in delight)

Children, children, it is not colour. It is not coming off. See, look at my fingers. One of you also come and try if you have the courage. (He touches H’s face again, and laughs) But don’t think he does not come from a place that is worse than all the places covered with hot sun, wind without water. He has come here to our great country to learn from us, then he will go and improve his life. Jai Hind!

(K clears his throat. H shakes his head, laughing. Tells the audience in a loud whisper.)

H: Man, if this guy was in Nairobi and he talked like this, he’d be in trouble! I’m tired of these guys and their questions. Man, I wasn’t the only black guy at the stop I’d catch this guy by the ear, swing him over my head and send him flying across the road, going the other way.

(He think of Alice, closes his yes. K prowls around him)

K: Respected Sir, you are from?

H: What do you mean man, where I am from? I live in Greater Kailash…you know the place

K: Ah, Greater Kailash, that is very good locality…very respectable place…also doing business maybe…you please give me one call, I can sell single room, 1bhk, 2bhk…

H: No business man, you leave me alone. I want to dream, about Alice…

K: All-ish?

H: Yeah I’m cool with that…

K: Ah cool

(He turns to the audience, talks in Hindi)

Children, I will know everything…

(Shifts back in English)

Respected Sir, please tell me the origin of your birth, where your parents are born? Like Eng-lund, Ger-many, Fransa, Swizzerland…what is your country name respected Sir, which is your country?..

H: I come from Kenya (He pronounces it as one word, heavy and rich)

(K addressing the audience in Hindi)

K: Children, listen carefully so that you learn something…He is from Kin-ya…(He makes it nasal. He laughs, repeats it several times till he gets the one he thinks sounds right, then continues in Hindi) That is why you should study hard, learn everything about Kin-ya…

K: (To H) Ah Kin-ya, very good, very good place Kin-ya is. I know Kin-ya. She is in West Indies no?

H: (He laughs, in spite of himself) Ah, you don’t know where Kenya is man! You don’t study this in school?

K: I am studying in school and I have been to Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium. I have seen Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd bloody. Very strong people, can break head with the cricket ball. You play cricket? Fast bowler? Batsman? Black people very good at cricket bloody, very strong peoples…

(Through this H laughs and shakes his head, saying some things in Kiswahili).

K: I am educated man respected Sir, not this Delhi bus stop people, junglee bloody…I have been ‘for-rain’ bloody. I don’t know Af-reeka place bloody, but I am knowing it is very hot Sir…

You are liking cool, coo-oo-ool India…

(H laughs in spite of himself, although he lets out some steam as K speaks by saying some unmentionable things in Kiswahili)

It is true your black colour is not coming off, this is God’s blessing Sir. But your country very hot bloody. Burnt everything bloody. Look at your hair Sir, I am thinking of your suffering with such heat bloody…

(K talks to the audience in Hindi)

You people make fun of our great country. You are ungrateful. Look at this poor fellow’s suffering. Value yourselves more. Know how your country is great…

(H also addresses the audience)

H: This is the problem man, they have no idea of Africa, it’s one big place like Hell, just black people, savages…

(K gives a big grin to H. Shakes his hand, but still looks at his own hands, giggling)

H: Man if ever get this guy to Nairobi man, I will feed him to the lions at Tsavo, two bites he’s finished…

K: Respected Sir, I have been for-rain…you have been for-rain??

(H laughs, says some choice things in Kiswahili)

H: Yeah man, sure I have been ‘for-rain’, many times. Before coming to India, I had been to Sri Lanka for a holiday with my parents…

K: Wah wah, holiday. That is very good…but Sri Lanka is small place, island bloody, kept there for Hanumanji, that is belonging to India, it is not ‘for-rain’…

H: Before I went to Sri Lanka, I went to Tanzania, and Uganda man, I’ve been to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi…and I am planning trip with Alice to either Mauritius or the Seychelles, man you see us then man, far away from this place…

K: Respected sir, you have NOT been for-rain…I HAVE been for-rain. My wife’s family very rich family and wanted me to look after their daughter. Vespa scooter I got, fridge, TV, DDA flat bloody, and most important, what you think??

(He waits for H to respond)

H: You tell me man…

K: They are going to SITA travels bloody, and I am going for 10 days, pure vegetarian foods, very beautiful hotels to stay in, very nice bed to fuck, and very clean respected Sir. Even more beautiful than beautiful India. Every place we are going is looking like colour photographs from our beautiful Kashmir…

Swizzerland is very beautiful place respected Sir, I have never seen such holy cows in my life. Very big Sir, maybe three Indian cows making one. Fantastic milk, such milk I have never drunk in my life Sir, my wife and I were only drinking milk not water. All the food we ate Sir – cooks taking from Rajasthan – only cooking in butter, beautiful Sir…and chocolates Sir, not like Amul bloody…

Respected Sir, when you are big lawyer, you take it my word bloody, you go for-rain like me. If you take away time going in Air-India jet from India to for-rain five six days we are staying Switzerland, then one day in Fransa bloody. Useless place bloody Fransa. You don’t go Fransa respected Sir, all fuck country…

(Angry, he retreats into a shell. H laughs)

H: The land of the white man was not such a nice experience…

K: I am telling you Sir, I will tell everyone not go to Fransa bloody…

H: (Much amused) Why didn’t you like France man, that’s civilization…

K: France fuck-all country…

H: Why man?

(K leans forward and speaks almost conspiratorially)

K: Respected Sir, in France, bloody, they are treating Indian peoples like black people only…

H: (First letting fly with some choice unmentionables in Kiswahili) Look that’s my bus, see the number, I’m off…

K: Respected sir that is Blue Line Buses, junglee bus service…

(H swings into the bus…happy that in 35 minutes this side, that side, he will be meeting Alice)

H: (He leans out and addresses K, he shifts to an Indian accent) Na, na Babba, kya baath hai, this is the Black Line Bus Company, 30 minutes time baba, I am far, far away from you. You stay, not allowed on the Black Line Bus Company…

I’ll be finding love baba…love…love…

(He sings the opening bars of Beatles’ All You Need is Love…the violins join him)

 

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Hartman de Souza Written by:

Hartman de Souza has a background in theatre, education and journalism. He has been associated with several theatre groups in the country and was, till September 2015, the artistic director of the Space Theatre Ensemble, Goa.

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