Only the lonely

Biting reality A chapter of life that is humbling and insightful

Biting reality A chapter of life that is humbling and insightful  

The play ‘Sandhya Chaya' held up a mirror to life

Who would want to see the trials and tribulations of an aged couple in a play called Sandhya Chaya (evening shadows) where the main actress Nani (Nadira Babbar) happens to wear a Mangalagiri sari and the main actor Nana (Shaikh Sami Usman) a dhoti? Not many you might think. In the age of instant communication where you can google the name of the play and you can get the review in no time, quite a few people turned up at the Taramati Baradari to watch Sandhya Chaya written by Jaywant Dalvi written at the turn of last century and staged by Qadir Ali Baig Foundation.

In the one-BHK set are two beds, a sofa and a divan and the old man with a shiny bald pate walks with a stoop shaking and drying his dhoti after helping his wife wash her hair. She sits on the other end of the room on the sofa and cribs about how his help actually a wasted effort as her hair has gotten tangled. It is end of the month and a Thursday, so he has to tear the page from the calendar and key up the clock, but his wife tears the page and the household-help keys up the clock.

The old man sits on the chair massaging his bad leg while his wife limps around on her left bad leg. He keeps saying “Buddhi ho gayi…” She keeps rubbing in the loss of his physical prowess. The shadows lengthen, the couple are actually waiting for their sons to return, one of whom is in the US for the past eight years and another is a commando in the BSF posted to Rajasthan.

But life goes on. It has to even when you are living with memories. They clutch at the straws, the man picks up a wrong number dialled by a young girl and strikes up a conversation takes down the number gives his number. They entertain a young man who is looking for a paying guest accommodation, where he is served tea and bhujia. The young man is even offered accommodation without payment. They hear Baharon phul barsaon… they dress up to watch a wedding procession. You can almost hear the wheels of thought click back to their sons. And then their innermost fears come alive when they learn that their son in the US has married. No words. The woman is sitting on the sofa and the staggered man holds her hand.

Instead of sympathy, the actors created empathy with the audience. The play held up the mirror to life, or in Aristotle's word: mimesis. The couple squabble, make up, reminiscence and even hallucinate. The reality is unsettling, the humour can make you laugh bringing tears.

But you forget that it's drama and feel it is a chapter of life of someone you know.


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