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When Two Strangers Talk

Park setup. Two benches are placed in alignment at the center of stage. A man in plain clothes is sitting on the right bench reading ‘The accidental billionaires’. We hear a man talking loudly offstage. A woman in a suit comes in talking on her cell phone with a laptop bag on her shoulder. She walks and sits beside the man in plain clothes.

SUIT: I don’t care if you have to walk the whole damn city to make it work, do what I pay you to do! And yes, I pay you a fair amount of money so don’t give me any crap about how low your pay is and how you are getting old. If you are getting old, then I am starting to have an inclination to bloody fire you and get somebody else to do your job.

The man in plain clothes moves to the very corner of the bench when the woman in the suit sits beside him and talks.

What was Sensex this morning? I am asking you? I am the CEO of the company; you would think I have better things to do than sitting home and watching some stupid news channel to watch a couple of digits change over the hours. (Pauses for a long time, registering his surroundings)  Okay, just tell me how much down are we? Is that right! Then do something about it. If I don’t have good news in next 10 minutes, you are bloody fired! Call me in 10.

The woman in suit puts her cell phone beside her and takes her laptop out. She takes out another cell phone out and dials a number on it while starting the laptop.

SUIT: Yeah, please tell Dr. Malik to shift my appointment down by half an hour. Something has come up; I can’t commit to anything else right now. Thank you very much.

The woman in the suit tries to work on the laptop but cannot concentrate, puts the laptop beside her and turns to the man in plain clothes.

What are you looking at?

The man in plain clothes shakes his head and goes back to reading his book. The second cell phone rings.

SUIT: (On phone) what is it this time? Of course! You just call me before spending money just as a formality! Even though I don’t approve of it, the money is very well going to be spent at the end of the day. Go ahead! Spend it all! Sometimes you make me feel that you are just another shareholder wanting money, not my daughter!

The man in plain clothes gets fed of the shouting on phone and gets up to sit on the bench on the left. He sits at the right corner of the bench while the woman in suit, seeing this, slides to the left corner of the right bench.

SUIT: (Hanging up the phone) excuse me?

PLAIN: Yes.

SUIT: Why did you move from this bench?

PLAIN: One would say that it is obvious.

SUIT: Yeah, I have a lot on my mind today.

PLAIN: Today?

SUIT: Yes.

PLAIN: Hmm, I would say it is a part of your schedule.

SUIT: I guess it is. Now answer my question.

PLAIN: I moved because you are an aberration in what I come for here.

SUIT: What?

PLAIN: An hour of solitude and peace.

SUIT: Sorry to interrupt you peace.

PLAIN: And yet you did!

SUIT: What is your name?

PLAIN: Oh, I don’t think we have ever met before.

SUIT: That doesn’t answer my question.

PLAIN: It does to mine.

SUIT: What’s your question?

PLAIN: Have I ever met a woman so disturbed?

(BEAT)

SUIT: Who told you I was disturbed?

The man in plain clothes chuckles

SUIT: Okay, I am a bit disoriented! But that is because of other people!

PLAIN: And yourself.

SUIT: Myself?

PLAIN: Whether you like it or not, you are putting too much pressure on yourself.

SUIT: I have to, don’t I?

PLAIN: You don’t HAVE TO do anything.

SUIT: Oh yes I do, there is too much responsibility on my head. I lose or gain money every other minute and people don’t care about it. I have to look out for everything that comes in way or will come in way of my company. And there are hundreds of other employees who depend on the graph of the company. And…

PLAIN: There is an AND to that?

SUIT: And I am terribly tired!

PLAIN: (smiles.) Finally, you have said something that is relevant to your condition.

SUIT: You are bloody philosophical about this!

PLAIN: What? Oh no, I do get a little carried away, forgive me. They call me the GURU in my office.

SUIT: Office?

PLAIN: What, you have never heard of it?

SUIT: Of course! You are a …

PLAIN: Commoner. You guys must be calling me that.

SUIT: You seem pretty jolly about that.

PLAIN: Why shouldn’t I be? I am content.

SUIT: Really?

PLAIN: Oh yes! I am content with whatever is going on in my life.

SUIT: You don’t sound sure about that!

PLAIN: Says the CEO of a company running away from her staff and apparently her family.

(BEAT)

The woman in the suit looks down for a moment. He then gets up and sits beside the man in plain clothes.

SUIT: What should I do?

PLAIN: How can I tell that?

SUIT: Because you seem happy. You seem satisfied. And I want that.

PLAIN: I am not happy because I wanted to. Happiness is not something that you want, you work on it and you get. Happiness is something that you feel involuntarily. That is something no man can tell another, nor can teach anyone to be so.

SUIT: (sighs) what have I done?

PLAIN: You have lost approximately 30 million rupees, just talking to me for one minute.

Both smile.

SUIT: These things are important.

PLAIN: I know.

SUIT: You do?

PLAIN: Of course. My family does not run on happiness. I too work hard. But that is when I am supposed to, in my office. When I am out of my office I am just another man, searching for pleasure.

SUIT: I want to be that, not the man, I mean, the woman. But I cannot.

PLAIN: Why not?

SUIT: Because, I am responsible for more lives than you, no offence.

PLAIN: (chuckles.)None taken. I don’t want your share of tensions.

SUIT: But how come you are so satisfied.

PLAIN: What gave you the idea that I am satisfied?

SUIT: You mean you are not?

PLAIN: Of course I am! But what gave you the idea?

SUIT: Because you are sitting in the middle of a park reading a book, and your face seems like God has just settled you from his palace right onto this bench.

PLAIN: Do I look heavenly?

SUIT: No you look like a satisfied Grandpa.

A man passes by them and neither of them looks.

PLAIN: And my deduction says that you are seriously concerned about your condition.

SUIT: What gives you that idea?

PLAIN: Because a handsome hunk just passed by and you didn’t even look at her. Even for a disturbed married woman that is cold!

(BEAT)

Both laugh.

SUIT: You are right.

PLAIN: I know.

SUIT: So what should I do?

PLAIN: I cannot tell you that.

SUIT: Why not?

PLAIN: Because I don’t know what you like to do, your favorite past-time, when you are all alone.

SUIT: What if I am never alone?

PLAIN: Then find some time to be alone.

SUIT: How do I do that?

PLAIN: I don’t know. But I guess you were alone when you walked into this bench.

SUIT: You mean I need a vacation.

PLAIN: Of course not! Vacation takes a lot of money!

SUIT: Then?

PLAIN: Just sit back and relax. You know what is going to happen in the next few minutes. If you successfully overcome that, you will feel good.

(BEAT)

SUIT: I guess.

PLAIN: All I can say is. You know what your problem is. You are just one step away from completing the answer to it.

Man in plain gets up.

SUIT: What is your post?

PLAIN: Analyst.

SUIT: Education?

PLAIN: Honors in mathematics.

SUIT: That’s it?

PLAIN: No, but that’s how I like it to be. Good luck.

Man in plain exits.

SUIT: Wait? What is your name? Is this a good place to actually read a book? Because I do like reading!

(BEAT)

The mobile phone left on the bench rings. Woman in the suit looks at it. She ignores it and keeps sitting on the bench. The phone ringing stops and the woman in the suit looks at it and smiles. FADE OUT.

 

Written by : Onkar Ghare,

Concept and idea: Anurag Kulkarni 

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