The Maladaptive Dreamer
June, the masked stranger
Kal, a young woman
Mtri, Kal's friend
Rathan, the groom
Rayna, Kal's daughter
Meville, Mtri's son
(Scene: A busy cafeteria. Kal is sitting at one of the tables with Mtri seated opposite. A man wearing a mask is lounging on the table, legs crossed, his head perched in one hand. He watches the two keenly but no one in the cafeteria acknowledges his presence nor notices anything out of the ordinary.)
Mtri: I talked to the manager of the banquet hall and he says, mark me Kal, he says that he won't allow outside caterers. After all that planning and the wedding being just three weeks away, the man has the nerve to call me to drop a bomb like that.
Kal: (takes a sip of her tea quietly)
Mtri: And you won't believe the expenses piling up. The roses, the garlands, the wedding gown, the silverware which his side of the family insists on. That's not the last of it. Even when it comes to the reception's décor, his mother insists on lilies while I want gardenia. The flowers are going to whither the next day and I'm sure the silverware has no practical use. And then, there are the relatives who can't RSVP. Honest to God, I've lost the urge to get married.
Kal (aside): So have I.
(to Mtri): October 23rd, is it?
Mtri: Yes… I am having sleepless nights already. Everything's happening within the blink of the eye.
Kal (aside): I wish this conversation could get over within the blink of the eye. But alas!
Mtri: All I want is for everything to be perfect. Every woman looks forward to her wedding ever since she was a little girl.
Kal (aside): How ambitious of women.
(to Mtri): Yes, yes.
Mtri gets a call.
Mtri: Look. It's the photographer calling now. What does he want? Probably a flight ticket to the wedding when I'm struggling to afford a decent lunch. Thanks for the coffee, Kal. I better take this call outside. (Mtri leaves the cafeteria)
[Kal and June, the masked stranger, left to their own company.]
Kal: Yet, another one. Do you know what I feel like?
June (shakes his head)
Kal: I feel like a milk carton long past its expiry date.
June: Pasteurized? Double homogenized? Skimmed?
Kal: Does it matter? Stale milk is stale.
Kal: (observes him laughing) There are some who discover silence in company but I find company in silence. Your company. How strange… (watches June) Who are you today?
June: Hamlet to Ophelia,
Bottom to Titania,
Giles to Buffy,
A mannequin in between,
Knight in Shining Armor,
Choose and it shall be.
The one who stole,
When you were seven.
The one who was,
Your best playmate
Till sundering eleven.
The one who befriended,
Teddy, the bear and
Squashed Molly the duck,
Was none but me,
Choose and it shall be.
Kal: I was born in the month of June and I wasn't born alone. My parents named me Kal and I christened you June. Cogito ergo es. I think therefore you are.
Scene 1 end.
(Scene: The family's living room. Kal is standing, with June next to her. Her father is seated on the sofa, addressing the prospective groom Rathan and his father.)
Kal's father: My daughter here, she is very special. She is an only child, you know. All that I have will eventually pass down to her. This house is our own and we also have five acres of land in the country. Five acres! And she is a gem of a girl. She has great character. Did her best at studies, never took even a single day of leave. Kal is committed to all that she does. And she can cook as well.
June (to Kal): Is he selling a goat? Hear, hear, have a gander at this goat with a golden bell. She can produce five liters of milk, FIVE LITERS OF MILK! You want to buy it or not? Say what?
Kal: (is quiet though she frowns at June)
Rathan's father (brightens): That's wonderful. And does she have hobbies? We've always wanted an all-rounder for a daughter in law.
June (to Kal): This isn't a cricket game, is it? And you're a pinch hitter, at the most.
Kal (pinches June)
Kal's father: Hobbies, huh? She loves to read, always had her nose buried in books, yes I remember. An imaginative child.
June (to Kal): Oh, chock full of imagination.
Kal (to June, looking angry): Don't push it.
Rathan's father (turns to Rathan): Do you want a moment to speak with her in private? Come on, Kal's father. Let's leave the young ones alone.
[The parents leave the stage, deep in discussion. Rathan, Kal and June remain.]
June (out aloud): Awkward, awkward, awkward. (June heads to Rathan and circles him in scrutiny.) Old but not so bold. A fox in the guise of a toad, methinks. Look, how he wrings his fingers. The boy is nervous. But I wonder how many hearts he has broken. How many red lights he has run? Whether he drinks, he binges? How little we know of him!
Rathan: (smiles gingerly) So, you cook?
June: (leans towards Rathan) Everybody does. You have to cook to eat, genius.
Kal (to Rathan): I do cook. But it's not a… hobby.
Rathan: Of course.
Rathan: So, your father says you like reading. What was the last book you read?
Kal: How to kill your husband and other handy household hints.
An icy silence.
Rathan: (nervous laughter) There is no book like that… right?
Kal: (watches him warily)
Rathan: I'm getting the impression and it's just an impression… but you don't want to get married, do you?
June: How intuitive of him.
Kal: It's just difficult to find the right match. All I'm looking for is a person to whom I can talk to and be silent with.
Rathan: Ah, we've done the talking. Should we try the silence now?
Kal: (rendered speechless)
Rathan: (smiles) That's alright. We all have our likes and dislikes.
Kal: And opinions.
Rathan: But opinions should not be alone, without reason.
June: (laughs) Well, what do you know, he has insight.
Kal: (out loud, sounding amazed) … and charm.
Scene 2 end.
(Scene: Kal is pacing the floor of her room. June arrives.)
Kal: Find me a place
Where there are no others.
Find me a place
Where are just thoughts.
It is better to lose to dreams
June: You're worried. And I know why.
Kal: (looks at him)
June: You're frustrated because reality and dreams have collided. And you must choose one. (reaches out with his hand) There are no imperfections here. Won't you stay?
Kal: No one knows me as well as you do. But-
June: I see you've made your choice.
Kal: It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. It wasn't!
June: (is quiet)
Kal: You're angry with me, aren't you?
June: (shakes his head)
Kal: (kneels down and buries her head in her hands) I'm sorry. I really am.
June: Necessity is the mother of invention and you don't need me anymore.
Kal: If only you were real.
June: But I'm not. And thank goodness for that. If I were real, I'd be flawed. And if I were flawed, I wouldn't be here. But that cunning fox has not won all, Kal. I have the privilege of being your first friend, perhaps even your first love. Don't forget me.
Kal: Cogito ergo es. Cogito ergo sum.
Scene 3 end.
(Scene: A playground where two children are playing in the sandbox. Mtri and Kal are seated on a park bench, overlooking their children.)
Mtri: And the school fees are exorbitantly high in my neighborhood. And they say that early education defines your child's future. When I was pregnant, Kal, I made it a point to spend an hour listening to Beethoven and Mozart. And I don't even like Beethoven and Mozart. But these are small sacrifices one has to make. After all, who am I to hamper my son's future as a world famous pianist?
Kal (aside): The poor kid. Tortured from expectations since birth.
(to Mtri): How old is your son again?
Mtri: Four and a half. (points to her child) Look, how soon they grow up. My sweet little pumpkin. My gregarious dumpling. After all, this is what a woman always dreamed of, right? To be the mother of a handsome little boy.
Kal (aside): How ambitious of women.
Mtri (looks at the watch): Oh but look at the time. It's time for Meville's tennis lessons. (Gets up and fetches her son) Bye Kal, do take care and do remember my advice on the play school.
[Kal sits alone on the bench, watching her daughter play with building blocks.]
Kal: Dreams, huh? What do I dream for my daughter? To be a world famous pianist? A scientist? A cook? An air hostess? A painter? (laughs suddenly) She has trouble with building blocks, so I guess, architecture is not for her. Dreams, huh… As long as she has imagination and a friend to confide in, she'll go far. I'm sure.
[Kal takes her daughter in her arms and leaves. June follows, waving in the direction of the mother and child.]
June: And I now have a friend as well. (changes his mask and follows them out)
Scene 4 end.
End of Play.