Life is a tale told by an idiot – A Play

By: Balu George

Theatre

A hefty man in his mid 60’s in a t-shirt and jogging shorts can be seen opening the gate. This is Gopalan, a lawyer, proprietor of a law firm past its glory years. The firm built up by his father who died 10 years back is failing. He is quite an inept lawyer, and lives off the money left behind by his father. He rings the doorbell and is let in by a maid.

On an armchair in the living room sits his wife Seema, a retired English professor. She is wearing a blue nightgown and nursing a glass of vodka. She is also smoking.

                                                      Gopalan

              Does it look like I have lost weight?

                                                        Seema

              How many days has it been since you started jogging?

                                                      Gopalan

              You know very well, today is my first day.

                                                        Seema

              Seems like you have lost a kilo or two.

                                                      Gopalan

              Really?

Seema does not answer and continues sipping on her vodka.

                                                      Gopalan

              Rajesh is coming home today evening.

                                                        Seema

              Our son left his job?

                                                      Gopalan

              He says he is quite fed of being a rocket scientist at NASA.

                                                        Seema

              What about his wife and son?

                                                      Gopalan

              His wife has left to Tibet to learn how to levitate. He says his son wants to shoot his       classmates in school, so has flown off to Syria to learn how to shoot guns.

                                                        Seema

              Great.

                                                      Gopalan

              Do you think I should join a gym?

                                                        Seema

              Who is the new secretary Gopalan?

                                                      Gopalan

              I love you Seema.

                                                        Seema

              Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

                                                      Gopalan

              What?

Seema does not answer and continues drinking her vodka.

Interior – Gopalan’s car – Cochin – Morning.

Douglas, Gopalan’s driver is at the wheels. Douglas is about the same age as Gopalan and is his driver as well as man-Friday. He left his native town after stabbing another man for refusing to pay up on a bet and has been Gopalan’s driver since then. Gopalan is sitting at the back.

                                                      Gopalan

              Is Claire married?

                                                      Douglas

              The new secretary?

                                                      Gopalan

              Yes.

                                                      Douglas

              No Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              Where does she live?

                                                      Douglas

              She lives in a ladies hostel Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              Do you think I have a chance with her Douglas?

                                                      Douglas

As good as Trump becoming president Sir, as good as India becoming a superpower and as good as that bastard Sateeshan paying up on the bet.

                                        Gopalan

Trump became the president, India will be a superpower by 2020. Now who the bloody hell is Sateeshan? So you think I have my chances.

                                        Douglas

Yes Sir.

Interior – Ladies hostel – Cochin – Morning.

A girl in her 20’s is looking in the mirror. This is Claire, the new secretary. She is quite pretty. She is an aspiring beautician. She addresses Rency her roommate. Rency works in some office as a paralegal.

                                                        Claire

              Don’t you think my face is glowing Rency?

                                                        Rency

              Yeah Claire.

                                                        Claire

              Thanks Rency. I went through a 3 day beauty treatment which I discovered.

                                                        Rency

              What kind of treatment?

                                                        Claire

              First day I placed curd on my face for 2 hours.

                                                        Rency

              Yeah curd, I have heard of that treatment.

                                                        Claire

              The second day I applied cucumber juice.

                                                        Rency

              Cucumber juice, yeah I have heard of that too.

                                                        Claire

              The third day I placed the skin of the chicken wings from KFC on my face.

                                                        Rency

              Wow, I never heard of that before.

                                                        Claire.

              It is working. I think I should patent it.

                                                        Rency

              You should Claire.

Interior – Gopalan’s office – Cochin – Morning.

Gopalan is seated at his table, addressing Anjana his sole employee. She is also a lawyer who is married to a drunkard and to take care of her kids, uses Gopalan’s office to meet her own clients. She can’t afford to take out another office on rent. She has just been meeting a client who wanted some property documents verified before buying it.

                                                      Gopalan

              Who was that person at your table?

                                                       Anjana

He was a client who wanted to divorce his wife because she beats him up for beating her up. I told him we don’t do divorce cases.

                                                      Gopalan

Anajana, did I tell you about the time back in the 90’s when Justice Krishnamurthy commended me on my oratory skills.

“                                      Anjana

No Sir, I never heard that before Sir.

Gopalan elaborates on the incident which Anjana is hearing for the umpteenth time.

Interior – Gopalan’s office – Cochin – Morning.

Anjana comes out of Gopalan’s room and takes her place at her table. Douglas is seated on a stool near her. Claire is at her table typing a document.

                                                      Douglas

              Which story was it this time?

                                                       Anjana

              The Krishnamurthy story.

                                                      Douglas

              That old man has not been inside a court for the past 20 years. He is scared of Judges.

                                                       Anjana

              Yeah I know. But one needs to take care of their kids. So I listen.

We see Gopalan step outside and call Claire into his room. Anjana and Douglas look at each other and smirk.

                                                       Anajana

              The old man has taken quite a liking to her.

                                                      Douglas

              Yeah. I was just wondering how I could make a few bucks out of this situation.

Interior – Gopalan’s house – Cochin – Evening.

Gopalan enters the house. Seema is seated on the armchair drinking vodka and smoking. On the couch is seated a man in his mid 40’s wearing a T- shirt with the words “Nirvana” embossed on it paired with a knee length shorts. This is Rajesh, their son, the rocket scientist.

                                                      Gopalan

                                                    (In delight)

              Rajesh!

                                                        Rajesh

              Dad!

                                                      Gopalan

              Get up and give me a hug.

Rajesh gets up and gives Gopalan a hug.

                                                      Gopalan

              How long are you here?

                                                        Rajesh

              Forever dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              Forever?

                                                        Rajesh

              Yeah I achieved Nirvana dad?

                                                      Gopalan

              Nirvana?

                                                        Rajesh

              Yes Dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              What is Nirvana?

                                                        Rajesh

              It is a state of mind dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              What is a state of mind?

                                                        Rajesh

              Well Nirvana cannot be explained in words dad. The truth is wordless and formless.

                                                      Gopalan

              How did you achieve Nirvana?

                                                        Rajesh

              I mediated on the sound of one hand clapping dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              So what do you propose to do here?

                                                        Rajesh

              I want to participate in and win Roadies reloaded- The redemption season 14 dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              What is roadies?

                                                        Rajesh

              It is a reality show dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              All the best son.

                                                        Rajesh

              Thanks dad. See you later dad. Let me go up to my room.

                                                      Gopalan

              All right son.

Gopalan also goes upstairs to his room.  Seema who is sitting and watching this blows out a smoke ring.

                                                        Seema

              Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Interior – Gopalan’s car – Morning

Douglas is at the wheels and Gopalan is at the back.

                                                      Gopalan

              My brother wants to buy my property in Trivandrum Douglas.

                                                      Douglas

              The brother who was in jail for tax evasion Sir?

                                                      Gopalan

Yes. He is a good soul though he is a fraud at heart. Anyway I need the money. Vodka is getting costlier by the day.

                                                      Douglas

              Is he paying in white?

                                                      Gopalan

50 % white, 50 % black. What do you think my chances are with Claire? I have lost some more weight.

                                                      Douglas

As good as Salman going to jail , Sidhu stopping laughing and that bastard Sateeshan paying up on the bet?

                                        Gopalan

Who the bloody hell is Sateeshan?

Interior – Gopalan’s office – Morning

Anjana is at her table talking to one of her clients. Gopalan enters the office and after smiling at Anjana enters his office. Gopalan asks Claire to come into his room, who follows him into his office. Gopalan goes and sits on his chair.

                                                      Gopalan

              Do you have a boyfriend Claire?

                                                        Claire

              No sir.

                                                      Gopalan

Good. Have you heard about the time Justice Krishnamurthy praised me for my oratory skills.

                                          Claire

No sir.

                                        Gopalan

Are your parents forcing you to get married?

                                          Claire

No sir. I first want to become a beautician. Then get married. I have discovered a new beauty treatment Sir. I want to patent it.

                                        Gopalan

What beauty treatment?

                                          Claire

The first day I applied Papaya juice on my face.

                                        Gopalan

Yeah my wife does that.

                                          Claire

The second day I applied watermelon seeds on my face.

                                        Gopalan

Yeah my wife does that.

                                          Claire

Third day I applied the slices of Domino’s pizza on my face.

                                        Gopalan

With or without toppings?

                                          Claire

Just the crust Sir.

                                        Gopalan

Great. Now you want to hear about the time Justice Krishnamurthy praised my oratory skills?

                                          Claire

Yes Sir. I would love to.

Exterior – Gopalan’s House – Evening.

Gopalan’s car drives into the house. He gets out to encounter a strange scene. Rajesh in a t-shirt and shorts is using a rope and climbing up a coconut tree in the yard.

                                                      Gopalan

              Son! What are you doing climbing up a coconut tree?

Rajesh stops midway up the tree and looks down.

                                                        Rajesh

              I am preparing for the tasks on roadies Dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              You might fall down and die. Be careful.

                                                        Rajesh

              It won’t hurt Dad. I have achieved Nirvana.

                                                      Gopalan

All the best Son. Pluck a few coconuts while you are up there. We are running short of coconuts in the kitchen.

                                         Rajesh

I will dad.

Seema is standing by the window watching and listening to all this. She is holding a glass of Vodka in her hand.

                                                        Seema

              Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Interior – Gopalan’s car- Morning.

Douglas is at the wheels while Gopalan is at the back.

                                                      Gopalan

              I love Claire, Douglas. I want to marry her.

                                                      Douglas

              You should Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              How do I declare my love to her?

                                                      Douglas

              Just tell her Sir. You are quite a charming man.

                                                      Gopalan

              What are the chances she will accept, Douglas?

                                                      Douglas

As good as Chetan Bhagat winning the Booker prize, Priyanka Chopra winning the Oscars and that bastard Sateeshan paying up on the bet.

                                        Gopalan

Who the bloody hell is Sateeshan?

Interior – Gopalan’s office – Evening.

Gopalan steps out of his room and calls for Anjana. Anjana goes into Gopalan’s office.

                                                      Gopalan

              Take the day off tomorrow Anjana. You need a break.

                                                       Anjana

              Sure Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              Where is the glue kept?

                                                       Anjana

              It is in the cupboard near my table Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              Ok. Thanks Anjana. Will you ask Claire to come in here?

                                                       Anjana

              Sure Sir.

After a short while Claire enters Gopalan’s room.

                                                      Gopalan

Claire, I need some important documents typed tomorrow morning. Can you come early in the morning tomorrow?

                                          Claire

Sure Sir.

                                        Gopalan

Can you ask Douglas to come in?

                                          Claire

Sure Sir.

After a short while Douglas enters Gopalan’s room.

                                                      Gopalan

              Douglas, take the car home and take the day off tomorrow. Tell Seema I have work to                  finish, and so won’t be home tonight.

                                                      Douglas

              Sure Sir.

Exterior – Gopalan’s Office – Evening.

Claire steps out of the office. Douglas is waiting for her outside the gate.

                                                      Douglas

              Claire, can I talk to you for a moment?

                                                        Claire

              Yeah.

                                                      Douglas

              I have heard you mention you want to be a beautician. I have heard you talk to Anjana.

                                                        Claire

              Yeah, that is my plan.

                                                      Douglas

              You will need some money to start your own spa won’t you?

                                                        Claire

              Yeah.

                                                      Douglas

              Gopalan Sir is in love with you.

                                                        Claire

              He is? Jeez. I am young enough to be his daughter.

                                                      Douglas

              That has never stopped him.

                                                        Claire.

              So?

                                                      Douglas

We can con the old man out of some money. He sold a property and is sitting in on some black money.

                                                        Claire

              How?

                                                      Douglas

              Tomorrow he is going to declare his love for you.

                                                        Claire

              How do you know?

                                                      Douglas

              I know. Trust me.

                                                        Claire

              Ok.

                                                      Douglas

              So when he declares his love for you, lead him on. Then tell him you need some money.

                                                        Claire

              For what?

                                                      Douglas

              Tell him you are building a house in your native town or something.

                                                        Claire

              Then?

                                                      Douglas

Then when you get the money, take off to Bangalore. I have heard there is a market for new Spa’s there.

Claire thinks this over.

                                                        Claire

              How much cut do you want?

                                                      Douglas

              50:50.

                                                        Claire

              Let me think it over.

                                                      Douglas

              What is there to think over?

                                                        Claire

              Yeah that is true.

                                                      Douglas

              Deal.

                                                        Claire

              Deal.

Interior – Gopalan’s office – Next morning.

Claire opens the door and enters. Gopalan is sitting in the middle of the room on his knees with a bouquet of roses. All over the walls are placed huge posters with the line “I LOVE YOU CLAIRE”.

Claire acts a bit surprised and delighted.

                                                      Gopalan

              I love you Claire.

                                                        Claire

               I have always secretly been in love with you Sir.

Gopalan grins widely.

                                                      Gopalan

              Really?

                                                        Claire

              You are a charming man and have such great oratory skills.

                                                      Gopalan

              Yeah I do. Justice Krishnamurthy has told me that once.

                                                        Claire

              He was not lying.

Gopalan gets up and sits on a wide couch placed in the room for visitors to be seated.

                                                      Gopalan

              Come here sweetheart.

Claire goes and sits beside Gopalan. Gopalan takes her hands in his.

                                                      Gopalan

              Will you marry me Claire?

                                                        Claire

              I will Sir. But…

                                                      Gopalan

              But?

                                                        Claire

I come from a very poor family. I had promised my parents I would build a house for them. That is why I came to the city and started working.

                                        Gopalan

Oh that is not a problem. I will give you the money. How much do you need?

                                          Claire

20 lakhs will do Sir.

                                        Gopalan

That is all right. Let us meet at Subash Park tomorrow. I will give you the money. But you must get married to me immediately.

                                          Claire

I will Sir. But what about your wife?

                                        Gopalan

I will divorce her.

                                          Claire

Ok Sir.

                                        Gopalan

Let me go home. I was up all night pasting these posters.

                                          Claire

You are very imaginative sir.

                                        Gopalan

Yeah I know.  Justice Krishnamurthy once told me that I have a great sense of imagination after he saw some of the documents I wrote and submitted to him regarding a case.

                                          Claire

He was right Sir.

                                        Gopalan

I know. Let me go home. See you tomorrow sweetheart.

                                          Claire

Yes Sir.

Exterior – Gopalan’s house – Morning.

Gopalan steps off an auto and enters through the gate. A spare tyre on fire is hanging off a mango tree in the yard. Rajesh runs towards it and dives straight through it.

                                                      Gopalan

              Son what are you doing?

                                                        Rajesh

              I told you yesterday right? I am preparing for the tasks on Roadies.

                                                      Gopalan

              You might hurt yourself.

                                                        Rajesh

              It won’t hurt. I have achieved nirvana.

Gopalan enters the house to be greeted by the sight of Seema on the armchair with a glass of Vodka in her hands.

                                                        Seema

              Where were you last night?

                                                      Gopalan

              I was working Seema.

                                                        Seema

Was it the old poster on the wall trick? Be careful, she might sue you for sexual harassment like the old secretary did. We don’t have any money.

                                        Gopalan

                                     (Protesting)

I was working Seema.

Seema does not answer. Gopalan goes upstairs. Seema blows a smoke ring.

                                                        Seema

              Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Interior – Gopalan’s house – Afternoon.

Seema is on her armchair nursing her vodka. Rajesh pulls up a chair and sits beside her.

                                                        Rajesh

              Have you seen Roadies?

                                                        Seema

              No son.

                                                        Rajesh

Well the thing is if you have to get into the interview room first you have to get through the group discussion round.

                                          Seema

Ok.

                                         Rajesh

So I thought I will have to show I am different from the usual contestants.

                                          Seema

And how will you do that?

                                         Rajesh

I will remain silent during the discussion.

                                          Seema

And?

                                         Rajesh

After everyone has finished shouting I will put up my hand and say “Silence is golden”

                                          Seema

Great.

                                         Rajesh

That should impress Raghu and Rajeev.

                                          Seema

Who are Raghu and Rajeev?

                                         Rajesh

They are the Judges. Now I must leave. I have to practice standing up on my head and doing 10 push up’s.

Rajesh leaves. Seema blows a smoke ring.

                                                        Seema

              Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Exterior – Subash park- Evening.

Gopalan and Claire are seated on a bench holding hands. A briefcase lies on the bench beside Gopalan.

                                                      Gopalan

I have made the arrangements at the registrar office. We must get married day after tomorrow.

                                                        Claire

              Yes Sir. Have you bought the money?

                                                      Gopalan

                          Yes I have. Here take it.

Gopalan hands over thee briefcase to Claire.

                                                        Claire

              I must leave now. It is getting late.

                                                      Gopalan

              I will be waiting for you at the Registrar office day after tomorrow Claire.

                                                        Claire

              Yes Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              I tried to invite Justice Krishnamurthy, but turns out he is dead.

                                                        Claire

              Bye Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              Bye sweetheart.

Exterior – Ernakulum Railway station – Night.

Douglas and Claire are standing at the corner of the road. Claire hands over a bag to Douglas. Douglas checks the contents of the bag.

                                                      Douglas

               When is the train to Bangalore?

                                                        Claire

              It is in half an hour.

                                                      Douglas

              All the best.

                                                        Claire

              Thanks.

Exterior – Registrar’s office – Evening.

Gopalan is standing outside the office holding 2 huge garlands. Douglas is standing beside him.

                                                      Gopalan

              She is late.

                                                      Douglas

              Yes Sir, by 5 hours.

                                                      Gopalan

              Let us drive up to her hostel and find out where she is. Maybe she is sick or something.

                                                      Douglas

              We must.

Exterior – Ladies Hostel – Evening.

Gopalan’s car drives up to the hostel.

                                                      Gopalan

              Go in and check where she is Douglas?

                                                      Douglas

              Yes Sir.

Douglas goes into the hostel and comes out after a few minutes.

                                                      Gopalan

              Where is she?

                                                      Douglas

              She is gone Sir. The warden says she packed her things and left yesterday evening.

Gopalan slumps down on his seat. Douglas gets into the car and drives off. After a few minutes Gopalan speaks.

                                                      Gopalan

              What do you think are the chances of her returning Douglas?

                                                      Douglas

              As good as that bastard Sateeshan paying up on the bet Sir.

                                                      Gopalan

              Who the bloody hell is Sateeshan?

Interior – Gopalan’s house – Night.

Gopalan enters the house and slumps down on the couch. Rajesh is seated on a chair looking rejected. Seema sits on her armchair nursing a vodka.

                                                        Rajesh

              Why do you look so sad Dad?

                                                      Gopalan

              Nothing Son. Why do you look so dejected?

                                                        Rajesh

              They cancelled Roadies Reloaded- The redemption Season 14 dad.

                                                      Gopalan

              Why?

                                                        Rajesh

Raghu and Rajeev have decided to float a political party with all the other Roadies winners’ dad.

                                        Gopalan

Oh!

Seema blows up a smoke ring.

                                                        Seema

              Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

                                                      Gopalan

              Seema. Can I ask you something dear?

                                                        Seema

              Yeah Gopalan.

                                                      Gopalan

              Who the bloody hell is Sateeshan?

                                                      The End

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