A play by
RANJAN A middle-aged web designer
JIVA Pot smoker, 45+ yrs
KASHI Tea seller, 25-30 yrs
A corner bench on a beach.
Chillum Chilli on the Beach
A secluded bench on the beach. Afternoon, 3 pm. A few strollers around under the hot sun.
RANJAN walks with heavy steps towards the bench and slumps down. He lowers his head, chin touching his chest. Slowly, he lifts his face up, grimaces, and tries to look far away into the sea with a fixed gaze.
RANJAN [MUTTERS TO HIMSELF]: What did she mean, “A real couch potato could at least be cooked; you are of utter no use.”? I can’t become a laundry man, can I?
JIVA, WEARING A ROUND STRAW HAT, WITH LONG FLOWING HAIR UNDERNEATH, WALKS IN AND SETTLES DOWN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BENCH.
JIVA [long sigh]: Phew! Old man, what are you gonna do now! What are you gonna do!
JIVA NOTICES RANJAN AND EMITS A LOUD CRY.
JIVA: Hey! Uncle Chipps! Buddy, Wassup!
RANJAN LOOKS TOWARD JIVA, SCANS HIS CLOHTES AND IGNORES HIM.
JIVA [LOOKING AT RANJAN’S FACE]: I see blue and black, red and green. [In a singing voice] Uncle looks in trou…sss… ble…
RANJAN GLANCES TOWARDS JIVA WITH SCORN, SHIFTS HIS WEIGHT TO THE OTHER SIDE, AND KEEPS LOOKING TOWARD THE FAR SEA.
JIVA: Ok, let’s test Uncle’s IQ. You look like a lonely banana on the beach. How do you say that in your language?
RANJAN REMAINS SILENT.
JIVA: Simple man, you say: “I am akela” Hahahha! PAUSE. You look like a soft boiled egg. Do you ‘anda’stand? Hehehe! Uncle doesn’t understand.
RANJAN GLANCES TOWARD JIVA WITH A PUZZLED LOOK. THE TEA SELLER KASHI ENTERS FROM FAR RIGHT.
RANJAN [raises his hand]: Hulloooo!
KASHI WALKS TOWARD RANJAN WITH HIS TEAPOT AND POURS OUT TEA IN A SMALL PLASTIC CUP. JIVA TAKES OUT A PIPE AND BEGINS TO FILL IT UP WITH WEED.
KASHI: Ye lijiye saab. Sau rupaye? Chutta nahin hai. Wahan se laata hoon. (There you are. Rs 100? I don’t have change. I will get some change from there.)
JIVA [smiling, to KASHI]: Uncle is a good man. He is all right; it’s just the stars.
KASHI LOOKS AT JIVA, SMILES AND SLOWLY WALKS TOWARD THE BACK EXIT.
RANJAN: Do you want some?
JIVA[RAISES THE PIPE]: No man, I’ve got my darling here.
JIVA LIGHTS UP THE PIPE AND TAKES A COUPLE OF PUFFS. RANJAN GRIMACES AND WAVES HIS HAND AROUND TO CLEAR THE HEAVY SMOKE. KASHI IS SEEN LEAVING THE STAGE IN A HURRY.
JIVA: It’s blue, it’s orange, it’s silver light sky. Take a puff, uncle, and see the colours change, the limbs go nimb, and the blood chillllll. [TAKES A COUPLE OF PUFFS] [PAUSE]Who beat you up?
RANJAN [gets up with a start]: To hell with you; where is that bloody chaiwalla? He just disappeared! That’s the only note I had.
JIVA [PLAYS WITH HIS HAIR]: His stars were lucky today, hehehe!
RANJAN [SITS DOWN HEAVILY]: Everything has changed. Is it all money? My head is spinning [HOLDS HIS HEAD]
JIVA [LOOKING DAZED]: [WAVES HIS HAND UP AND DOWN] Is my mouth connected to your head? No.
RANJAN [CONFRONTING JIVA]: Mister, will you drop this Hollywood movie act, and talk like a bloody Indian? I’ve lost my job – I was fired with a 4 hour pack-up time. The bloody juniors ganged up against me. And my wife won’t stop her mach mach unless I go out of sight. My money is gone. I work hard. I am not a bloody ganjeri [pot addict] like you.
JIVA [NODS HIS HEAD]: Ho, ho, ho. [SINGS SOFTLY] Uncle is in trou…sss…ble. [TAKES THE LAST FEW PUFFS. STARES BLANKLY AT THE SKY FOR A FEW SECONDS]Ukhaarega mujhe? Finish me off? I work in the hot sun. The whole day. I take photos. My whole life is a pain… it hurts. [PAUSE]. With my darling… See, no pain! It is my Jhandu balm, my ‘Malaika Katora’, he he he! You are soft boiled; you will not… “unda’stand”. [PAUSE]
RANJAN: So you waste all your money on this dirty thing. But it must be very hard, the whole day…
JIVA: It is. It is. There are those boys, they smoke too. They speak filth, smell like filth, fight like filth. They taught me the word, ‘ukhaarega’. Comes handy. But they want respect too. Dirty boys, they fight for respect. Once an old man came all drunk, and said, “These boys are not good.” Those clean T-shirt boys – they are good. I thought, what’s the difference? They all know what’s good and what’s not. What more do you need? Your money will come back. No real man robs a man in trouble.
RANJAN‘s CELLPHONE RINGS. HE WALKS AWAY FROM THE BENCH.
RANJAN: Hi. Yes, I am looking for a change. [PAUSE] Ok, I will send you my updated resume by EOD today. My expected CTC is 7.
RANJAN TURNS AROUND AND COMES BACK TO THE BENCH.
RANJAN: I have never smoked a cigarette, or touched alcohol. Never had a girlfriend. I am a clean man. I can’t imagine living like you, out in the open, smoking ganja.
JIVA: It can be hard, doing nothing. The blue sky stares at you like an enemy. The cool breeze hits at you. I went to college, and then went jobless. I speak English, so I got here. Helps with foreigners.
RANJAN [BENDS BACK]: What’s going to happen to me? I can’t live like this. It can’t go on like this…for how long? [BENDS FORWARD AND HOLDS HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS]
JIVA: As long as the world turns. Jab tak duniya ghoomegi. Hahaha!
KASHI ENTERS FROM THE SIDEWING, TEAPOT IN HAND, AND SLOWSLY APPROACHES RANJAN.
KASHI: Chutta paisa, saab.
RANJAN [STRAIGHTENS UP]: Mujhe laga tu bhaag gaya. [I thought you decamped with the money] [TAKES THE MONEY. PUTS HIS CLOTHES IN ORDER].
JIVA: Uncle is ok now. Bolega to, tension nikal gaya.
KASHI: Chillum lagaya?
JIVA: Nahin, tera chehra jo dikh gaya. Idhar aao. [Come here]
KASHI AND JIVA CONVERSE IN A CORNER. JIVA SALUTES RANJAN AND EXITS.
KASHI: Achha admi hai. Theek hai sab, ab uska bhi hisab kar do. Usne kaha aap uska chillum ka udhar chukka doge. Poore do sau paach rupae. [Nice man. Alright sir, now if you could please settle his account. He said you will pay the pot money he owes me. Rs 205 only.]
RANJAN [RUNS BEHIND JIVA. KASHI FOLLOWS HIM]: What! You bastard…