The cold within : A play
The Abused – Hater
The Mahmilapinapatai* (Native South American for a person who hopes others will do something for him without ever willing to initiate)
The below play is set in a soliloquy sequence where the characters speak only in thought, aloud. There is no interaction between the characters while one speaks. The lack of direct interaction requires great detail in expressions.
(A cold night, no props, lights dimmed. A snow covered area with 6 individuals sitting around a camp fire. Each must hold a log of wood & the fire must flutter intermittently to show that its going to go out.)
Narrator : Whoooosh….The bitter cold air sizzled on that dark fateful night. Winter had covered everything below it in white & all above this icy tundra lay a crisp & dark black. Lost, in this white blizzard, could be seen, an ember, blistering, fighting valiantly against this dark cold. Fighting, alone.. with 6 lonely humans surrounding it. Who were they? What were they doing? Why were they here? Questions, as mysterious as the unnatural cold this dark night. Each held a log of wood. Each, held a sin. The fire, their only salvation. The fire sizzled. Silently appealing to the group to feed it their firewood. This winter was unnerving & the fire was dying. It needed firewood to survive. A sizzle again. The appeal made stronger…”Help me to help yourself” ,the fire seemed to say…”Help me ……. Help yourself…..”
(Focus on the The Racist. Expressions show that she knows the imminent danger. Goes to put firewood in the campfire but looks at a black individual in the group and stops…)
The Racist :
Trapped here in this cold tonight,
With my fire set to die.
A log of wood to save myself
And with me, the other five…
But I look at you & I feel sick,
Nausea cuts me back!
I’d save them all but oh not him!
Him who’s skin is black!
(With anger, pointing out to the black male but with no reaction as the others will not hear what she says as it is a soliloquy in thought.)
(Focus on next character)
The Bigot : (continuously staring at one individual among the other five)
Lost I am, because of him,
His sins & those of his kind.
Blasphemous ! Praying to his fake ‘God’!
That filthy dirty swine!
I will not share my log with he,
That sinner’s chances are slim.
I’ll pray to Him, my one true God,
He’ll save me, but not him!
(clutches his log tighter & looks up at the sky)
The Classist (poor) :
Look at them! Those idle rich!
Clutching to their trunk.
Want me to give whats left,
of my meager rationed chunk.
I will not help these filthy rich,
They’ve so much more than wood.
My log is only whats mine alone,
Share with me they should!
(adjust his coat as the inadequate clothing makes him feel colder)
The Greedy :
Wealth! So much wealth I’ve got.
I need just a little more.
I’ll save & earn and earn & save,
I’ll double up my store.
This log is deserved by me alone,
with hard work I have earned.
I’ll share it not with these lazy poor,
Who have naught but begging learned!
(looks at his log boastfully)
The Abused – Hater – The Black man:
All my life, they have frowned at me.
They have slapped & kicked & punched.
They have made my life a living hell,
They want my kind all hunched.
I can see the fire is dying.
With it I know I will die.
But I shall take along with me,
All those who have made me cry!
(looks at the others with hateful eyes)
The Mahmilapinapatai :
I have a log & I shall give
If others show some shame.
I will not help a fellow if
He doesn’t do the same!
Why should i give my log away?
When others hold their’s tight.
I shall help him who helps me,
And I know that it is right…
(the fire keeps fluttering lower and lower while the individuals look at their logs & at the fire and wait….)
Narrator : What prejudices, what ideas of discrimination based on petty differences make people choose the arms of death rather than saving their own lives?
(transcend into Scene II while the narrator speaks)
(All lie dead around the remains of a campfire, clutching their firewood)
Narrator : The grim aftermath is of the group’s rigidity of spirit. Death came, with stilled and cold hands and hugged them all in its embrace. Each individual, his own agent of death – hands frozen stiff with their refusal to act. The fact that each individual possessed their firewood when they died, proves their twisted motives in retaining the log – proof enough of sin. How, then can we say that the cold weather killed these six people? For it was the cold in their hearts, the lack of human spirit – that killed them. They died not due to the cold without… They died due to the cold within…