Descent into darkness

How do you process the loss of your loved one? For the characters in this play, the answer is a sincere 'NO.'

Photo: Sarwanaam Theater

Written initially by Govinda Bahadur Malla in 2013 BS, the book 'Chyatiyeko Parda,' which loosely translates to 'Ripped Curtain,' revolves around a once upper-middle-class family made destitute by the death of the family's breadwinner.

Presented at Sarwanaam Theater, the book is adapted into the play by La Herr art court.

Mannaani, the play's central character, begins the first act by reading a book as her younger brother Prakash plays around in the room. The recent loss of their father is exposed as the story develops. It becomes evident that none of the characters have fully processed the loss of the family's head.

As the story progresses, the viewers learn that the once-affluent Mannaani family is now operating a Bhatti (a small hotel that serves alcohol) out of Mannaani's home with her mother, Janaki.

Seemingly okay at first glance, the relationship between Janaki and Mannaani is much more cynical at the core. Struggling to provide for the family all by herself, Janaki insists her daughter use physical charm to lure men in to drink.

Mannaani's elder brother, stuck in a stagnant job as a typist, loses all sense of individualism amid his struggle to put food on the table for the entire family as he is fixated on relocating to Madhesh on the mistaken belief that it is the center of 'corruption.'

Prakash, the youngest of three brothers and sisters, resorts to gambling to make cash.

The condescending tone of Janaki, the ramblings of her older brother, and the persistent annoyance of Prakash drive Mannaani to take the jarring decision of running away with a married man.

The desperation to alleviate themselves from the economic ruins brought on by the father due to failure in business leads the entire family down a dark road.

How do you process the loss of your loved one? For the characters in this play, the answer is a sincere 'NO.' Despite being the natural order of things, death is always a grim affair. Although different, everyone has a way to "escape" or deal with a traumatic situation.

The play's characters, however, are never given the opportunity to come to terms with the true significance of their 'provider's' passing. In the first act, Prakash confronts his sister with questions concerning their father's death and its impact on their lives. Though it is subtle, we can argue that both Prakash and his sister are unfamiliar with the idea of death.

Janaki, now the head of the family, responsible for putting food on the table, is crushed by the weight of such a Sisyphean task. She serves drinks to the men who constantly insult and belittle Janaki in her house. She sells a bit more of her soul with each drink she serves.

To keep the business afloat, Janaki frequently stipulates that her daughter uses her 'perfect physique' to lure men into drinking at her Bhatti. Mannaani protests her mother's unorthodox ideology but finally gives into her notion after being beaten by the daunting fact that she has to step up for the family.

Mannaani tells her mother, Janaki, that she wants to be a prostitute, and the two have an excruciatingly agonizing conversation about it. Janaki realizes what's unfolding. She understands that she has caused her daughter's decision to become a prostitute by projecting her reservations onto her.

However, Janaki's realization might be too late… 

The play, presented at Sarwanaam Theatre, is open till May 23 at Sarwanaam Theatre, Dillibazar, every day at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM.

Publish : 2023-05-23 13:09:00

Give Your Comments