THE INTROSPECTION CHRONICLES 16| FALLING LEAVES: A PLAY
ACT I, scene 1
Along a walkway, people passing back and forth. A girl dances through the crowd.
Abgurl (singing): I am a bird with wings, I fly. I am the wind through trees, I fly. I am my hair trough air, I fly. I am my feet in haste, I fly. I fly like the rains when they fall to the earth like tears from my lids. I fly like a ball through net at the ninety-oneth minute.
The crowd stops and turns
Chorus: ninety-oneth minute? Child your parents have failed you.
Abgurl (chuckling): My parents? I have no parents. The sun, the moon, the stars, each a name for a ball of lifeless rock know this and you don't? I have no parents. My hands wash themselves each morning and my cornrows unweave themselves each Saturday. I have no parents. It is you who failed me.
Everybody turns away and walks away leaving the girl alone.
ACT I, Scene 2
A half lit bedroom. A bed with a figure sitted, backing the stage. Something shiny glints beside him.
Gamza: Thus is morning begun; washing of hands and feet, rinsing of yesterday's uneaten words, dropping to knees to pray, to listen to my thoughts wander about lost and to ask again and again what am I doing here? Will this pain ever go away. Silly, my heart wants to stay.
A knock comes offstage. A woman speaks offstage.
Mother Gamza: my love breakfast is ready. Come down stairs to eat.
Gamza: Leave me alone with your inane needs; come downstairs, climb upstairs, wash behind your ears, wear a shirt, comb your hair, do your term papers. I am not your love or baby or darling. I am not your surrogate husband, father or friend. I want more than you could ever give and I will not be tied to your apron strings another hour. I want more than this life can ever give.
The figure turns and lies down on the bed. Soon after, another knock sounds offstage, then a door handle squeals. A man's voice speaks offstage.
Father Gamza: Gamza open the door this minute. Don't let me break this door down. If I get in there, you will not like what you will make me do to you. Open the door Gamza! Are you smoking weed in there again? You are dead if I find even an echo of a whiff of Indian hemp inside that room. Young man, open this door!
A moment of silence.
ACT I, Scene 3.
A school. A girl peers through a window into a room.
Abgurl: I wish I could play with words, skip through them like pebbles skipping through calm streams. I wish I could read the signs drawn with ink on pieces of paper that wrapped suya meat and akara balls. I wish I could sit with shiny uniforms and shinier shoes, neat weaves like that girl in front, white teeth and pleated skirt to hide my budding buttocks. I wish...
The girl turns and sees a man watching her. She turns to flee but another stands to the side with a cane.
Handsome Teacher: what is your name and why are you not in uniform or in class?
Ugly teacher: my question is how did you get into the school premises?
Abgurl: I am sorry sirs. There is this hole, big enough to allow my body through at the edge of the football field. There are holes in any wall if you know where to look.
Handsome teacher: are you a student here?
Ugly teacher: are you a thief?
Abgurl: no sir. Only when I am hungry.
Handsome teacher (laughing): you are a student only when you are hungry or you are a thief only when you are hungry?
Ugly teacher (frowning): where are your parents?
Abgurl (smiling): both and I have no parents.
Ugly teacher: then you have no business here. Come with me.
Handsome teacher (stretching some money towards the girl): Oh be gentle. You can see she is hungry and possibly homeless. Come take this, buy some food.
Abgurl (studying the money suspiciously): what do you want?
Ugly teacher: my friend move. You can go outside and have your tete a'tete. Move.
The girl takes the money and both her and the ugly teacher leave while the handsome teacher watch them then he turns to the opposite direction.
ACT II, scene 1
A furnished sitting room. A crowd is gathered and some peer through the window. Someone is weeping.
Father Gamza: I gave him all a growing boy could ever ask for. He attended the best schools and had the best of everything. His school fees for a semester was one million naira and I paid it. I took him to England to watch the premier league finals. I gave him everything. I don't understand.
Mother Gamza (crying): my baby, my baby...
Tenant 1: Landlord I am terribly sorry about your loss. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
Father Gamza (standing up): Get out of my house this minute! Look at this buffoon. You come here to spew your religious rubbish here while my wife weeps and refuses to eat and my only child lies cold in the ground, his wrist stitched tight as if that would make a difference now. You should have shut up that rubbish heap you call a mouth if you had nothing to say.
Tenant 2: It is okay sir. Take it easy sir. Don't overwork yourself.
Father Gamza (collapses back into his chair, places his hands on his head and begins to weep): It is not okay. It will never be okay. It will never be okay. Ha... Gamza.
Consoling voices fill the air.
Chorus: He is free, broken from the boundaries and bounds that tie us here. He has escaped his pain, his fears, his shame. He has chosen his time to go, to find peace and silence but see, see what is left behind. See the broken things that remain.
The singular wail rises and falls like the tide.
ACT II, scene 2
An empty road. A girl stands behind a tree watching for something. She straightens as a man enters the path and walks towards her. He sees her and stops.
Abgurl (stretching some coins towards the man): thank you for the money. I bought akara and ogi. This is your change.
Handsome teacher (smiling): Akara and Ogi since morning? Come, my wife made soup yesterday. We can make eba for you. What is your name?
Abgurl (looking down at her dirty clothes): your house? Looking like this? I can't o.
Handsome teacher (laughing): you are so funny. I like how you talk. Don't worry, my wife would have some clothes that would fit you. She is quite petite. What is your name?
Abgurl: Abgurl. My name is Abgurl. What is petite?
Handsome teacher: small. let's go.
Abgurl: wait, I'll not enter. I will wait outside for the food.
Handsome teacher (shrugging): suit yourself but there's no need for that.
The girl's eyes widen with the joy of new knowledge as she walks offstage with the teacher.
ACT II, scene 3
A sitting room. Dogs barking offstage. A girl is sorted on the edge of a settee. A man walks in with a tray.
Abgurl: you never said you had dogs.
Handsome teacher (drops the tray on a stool before the girl): they won't bite you. I won't let them. Food is served.
Abgurl: where is your wife?
Handsome teacher (pauses briefly before standing straight): she had to rush to the market to get something. She will soon be back.
The girl's eyes feast on the pieces of meat in the soup and she stretches her hand towards it but the man grabs it.
Handsome teacher: you need to wash your hands before eating. When last did you have a bath?
Abgurl (fidgeting): I can't remember, Two weeks ago... One day that rain fell.
Handsome teacher (shakes his head): stand up and follow me. I will cover the food and heat it up. You need to be clean before you can eat.
Abgurl (worried, looking from the soup to the man): you say your wife will soon come?
Handsome teacher: Yes she is on her way. In fact, let me take the soup to the microwave. You take this turn and then to your right you will see the bathroom. There is soap and towel there that you can use. I will leave clothes for you.
The girl leaves offstage and the man watch her go then he leaves too. The sound of a shower is heard offstage. The man walks back to the stage and faces the audience
Handsome teacher: have you ever hunted before? Stalking a prey through the forest for hours unending? Do you know how tedious it can be sometimes? Why not set a snare with a bait your prey cannot resist, sit and wait for it to come to you? Patience gives satisfactory reward, don't you think?
He walks offstage and a scream fills the air.
ACT II, scene 4
A half lit room. A figure is on the bed, curled into a ball. A man is standing by a window with a white towel about his middle. He is smoking.
Abgurl (weeping softly): I am a bird with wings, I fly. I am the wind through trees, I fly. I am my hair trough air, I fly. I am my feet in haste, I fly. I fly like the rains when they fall to the earth like tears from my lids. I fly like a ball through net at the ninety-oneth minute. I fly from pain into the bottom of my mind. I fly, I flee, I flee, I am free.
The handsome teacher turns back and drops the cigarette stub into a ashtray. He climbs into the bed and drops his towel to the floor.
Chorus (offstage): and so the cycle is complete and another begins, intertwining in loops and loops of intersections of completed stories and the beginnings of myths and legends. Someone is weeping, someone is dying, someone is laughing, someone is still winning. This story is at its end but it is the beginning of another tale, the continuation of an older tale, a story without end. Who is a predator will be a prey, who is dead can never rise again, the world is a mystery but the heart of man is the biggest mystery of them all.
Suya meat: barbequed beef popular in most parts of Nigeria.
Akara balls: beans balls fried in groundnut or palm oil.
Ogi: Corn pap. A popular food in the south western part of Nigeria.
NB: this is my first attempt at writing a play. I know that there are so many formatting errors but I beg your indulgence and kindly hope that you would point out my mistakes. Thank you.