Preeti Final Act

  • (Meera and Tarachand are married. Their son Shailu is married to Preeti. They have twin sons, Sanket and Saurabh. Sanket was in a boarding school while Saurabh stayed with his parents. Sanket has just returned from his boarding school after 4 years. They both are eighteen.)

    Scene I

    (It is 6pm in the evening. Sanket, Saurabh and Meera are sitting at the dining table. Preeti is making tea for herself and Meera. Shailu and Tarachand are both out at work)

    Downstairs

    Preeti (excited) – So, how did you like the chicken yesterday huh? Sanket? Saurabh?

    Saurabh – It was really good, Mother. Please make something similar today.

    Meera (to Saurabh) – Oh was it that good, really?

    Sanket – Yes, Grandma, it was. Even I liked it.

    Meera (looks at Sanket) – Was I talking to you?

    (Sanket gives an angry look to Meera, stands up, looks at Preeti behind Meera, then stomps out of the hall and into his own room upstairs)

    Saurabh – Grandma, he just returned from Bangalore. Why are you so harsh on him?

    Meera – I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    (Preeti makes a gesture to Saurabh to go after Sanket. Saurabh follows Sanket upstairs)

    Preeti – Even Shailu told me that he liked my chicken yesterday! I’m going to make something even better for him today.

    Meera – Oh did he say that? He told me he liked the peas. I told him I put the peas only for him.

    Preeti (nervous) – And he said nothing about the chicken?

    Meera – He said that it was overcooked.

    Preeti – What?! Why did he lie to me then?

    (Shailu enters. Preeti serves tea to Meera. Then Preeti walks past Shailu)

    Preeti – Next time tell it to my face, that you did not like my food.

    (Shailu has a confused look on his face, he watches Preeti go upstairs, thinking about what just happened)

    Shailu – Mummy-ji? What did you say to Preeti?

    Meera – I didn’t say anything. (Shouts to upstairs) Saurabh-beta, Saurabh-beta! Please come and give me a foot massage!

    (Meera goes into her room, not looking at Shailu. Shailu goes upstairs)

    Meanwhile, upstairs

    Saurabh – Sanket! Wait!

    Sanket – Do you see? She’s still at it.

    Saurabh – I don’t know what to say.

    Sanket – We are twins, but somehow, I have darker skin than you. Our difference in complexion does not matter to me, but she always pampered you, and treated me like I’m some monster.

    Saurabh – I understand, she is biased towards me but she doesn’t hate you.

    Sanket – Oh, come on. You did not even notice until I told you, what do you know?

    Saurabh – I think you should go and talk to her once, about your studies and stuff, anything.

    Sanket (looking down) – Yeah, I think I should…

    (Meera’s voice comes from downstairs, calling out for Saurabh)

    Sanket – Looks like she needs you.

    Saurabh – She needs either one of us. (laughing) She just has a habit of calling out my name for four years.

    Sanket (laughing) – Yeah, I guess. Look at us! We both used to fight so much before I left for Bangalore, and now, we’re talking like adults.

    Saurabh – Yeah, now go down and do what Grandma wants.

    Sanket – Okay!

    (Saurabh goes to his room. Sanket goes downstairs, passes Shailu who is coming upstairs)

    Sanket – Father! How was work today?

    (Sanket touches Shailu’s feet)

    Shailu – Oh it was a lot, so many clients today. All I want is some good dinner.

    Scene II

    (It is 7pm in the evening, Shailu and Preeti are in their room upstairs. Saurabh is in his room upstairs. Tarachand is at work. Meera is in her room downstairs. Sanket enters her room)

    Downstairs

    Meera (after hearing the footsteps, looking the other way) – My sweet Saurabh-beta has come to help his old Grandma. My legs hurt, I need you to massage them, please.

    (Sanket stops for a second, takes a deep breath)

    Sanket – Umm, Grandma, it is me.

    Meera – Oh, Sanket! Where is Saurabh?

    Sanket – He still has his exams. (smiling) But mine are over so…

    Meera – Okay, come here.

    (Sanket sits down beside her on the bed and starts to massage Meera’s feet)

    Meera – Do it properly, Sanket. Looks like you’ve forgotten how to do it.

    Sanket (laughing) – Oh yeah, four years, right? I’ll become better in no time.

    Meera – You’ll be leaving in a month. Ask Saurabh to teach you, otherwise you’ll just leave without giving your grandma even one good massage.

    (Sanket looks down, takes a few deep breaths, starts to massage harder)

    Meera – Hmmmm, now you’re doing better.

    Sanket – Say Grandma, did Father really find the chicken to be overcooked?

    Meera – Yes, he told me himself.

    Sanket – But mine was cooked okay, it was delicious actually.

    Meera – So what are you implying? Are you saying that I lied?

    Sanket – No not at all, Grandma. It’s just that I remember Father telling Mother that he liked it.

    Meera – So you are saying that I’m lying.

    (Sanket looks down and takes more deep breaths, tightens his grip even further)

    Sanket – No, Grandma. I think Mother is still learning how to make it, and Father just wanted to encourage her. I think she just screwed up Father’s chicken. But you know, mine was amazing.

    Meera – Do not instruct me how to treat my daughter-in-law.

    Sanket – Grandma?! I’m not instructing you. What is the matter with you? Why are you so rude to me? All the time?

    Meera – Oh, so now I am making YOU uncomfortable? All the while you are massaging me like a six-year old.

    (Sanket starts massaging with full power)

    Meera – Ouch! Aah! Stop it, you’re hurting me!

    Sanket (angry, staring into Meera’s eyes) – You wanted it this way, right?

    Meera – No! Stop it right now.

    Sanket (continues to massage) – Oh no, why? I think I am massaging like Saurabh does now. I can see that you like it.

    Meera – Leave my leg right now! You monster!

    Sanket – Oh take it back, have it. (leaving her feet, stands up) I knew it, you hate me. And nobody else sees it, but you hate my Mother too. And yes, I am big enough to say it to your face now. You wretched witch!

    (Meera slaps Sanket hard, then storms out of her room. Sanket stands right there, lowers his head, silently cries)

    Meera (shouting) – Shailu! Shailu! Look how he is talking to me.

    Meanwhile, upstairs.

    (Shailu enters his room, Preeti is sitting by the bed, sulking)

    Shailu – So that is how we greet the hardworking husbands of this country.

    Preeti – Yes, this treatment is reserved for the liars.

    Shailu – Honey. Hmm okay. My chicken was a little overcooked, but it was good.

    Preeti – Was it good only because of the peas that Mummy-ji put?

    Shailu – The peas were good, yes, if that’s what you were asking. Maybe it is just me, you know. Look at Sanket and Saurabh, they both told me they loved your chicken.

    Preeti – Oh did they?

    (Preeti goes to Saurabh’s room)

    Preeti – Say Saurabh, did you like the chicken yesterday?

    Saurabh (laughing) – I thought I told you already, it was delicious.

    Preeti – So, it wasn’t overcooked then?

    Saurabh – Not at all, it was perfect.

    Preeti – Oh, I see now.

    (Meera’s voice comes from downstairs, calling out to Shailu. Preeti and Shailu go downstairs)

    Downstairs

    Meera – Look at this guy! He just called me an evil witch!

    Shailu – What?!

    (Sanket comes out of the room, after wiping his tears)

    Meera – And he also accused me that I hate Preeti.

    Shailu (angry, to Sanket) – Sanket! How dare you talk to your grandmother like that!

    (Shailu slaps Sanket harder than Meera. Sanket stares back into Shailu’s eyes. Preeti pulls Sanket towards her and hugs him)

    Preeti (to Sanket) – Beta, are you okay?

    Meera – See, she is consoling that monster of a son.

    Preeti – MY SON IS NOT A MONSTER! (to Sanket) Beta you go upstairs now, me and your father will be there in a minute.

    (Sanket stands there itself)

    Meera – He needs to be sent back to that boarding school, they’ll straighten him up again.

    Preeti – Why don’t you let me and my husband handle this, huh?

    Shailu – Preeti, now don’t you disrespect my mother.

    Preeti – I see why only Shailu’s chicken was overcooked. It was because you made me wait while you were slowly peeling off the peas. And you made me feel so horrible about that!

    Meera – You have one job in this house, that is to serve good food to my son. And you screw that up as well. Why don’t you go out and try to earn like him?

    Preeti (gasps) – THIS IS IT! This has happened too many times already. I get it, I am not fit to be your son’s wife. You’re never going to see me again.

    (Preeti takes the keys to a car and storms out of the house)

    Shailu – Preeti!

    (Shailu follows her outside the house. Preeti starts a car and leaves. Shailu starts another car and follows her. Meera goes inside her room. Sanket keeps standing there, alone, with his head down)

    Scene III

    Downstairs

    (Saurabh comes downstairs)

    Saurabh – What happened? Where is Mother and Father?

    Sanket (angry) – It was your job.

    Saurabh – What? What are you talking about?

    Sanket – To talk to Grandma, and straighten things up about Mother.

    Saurabh – What things about Mother?

    Sanket – Oh don’t act ignorant. Don’t act like you never saw how she treated our mother.

    Saurabh – Grandma just put up the terms, of giving up medical practice, our mother agreed to those terms.

    Sanket – You are blinded by your love for Grandma, because she treats you like an angel. Mother never agreed, she was forced because she loved our father.

    Saurabh – What are you getting at?

    Sanket – I’m saying you were here for 4 years while I was not, and you saw everything happen around here like a little bitch, and did nothing about it. See now, mother has left home, because of you.

    (Sanket pushes Saurabh to provoke him, Tarachand enters)

    Saurabh – What have I done? Why are you blaming…wait! Mother has left home?

    Sanket (crying) – Yes, because you are a little bitch of a son to her.

    (Sanket pushes Saurabh again)

    Tarachand – Stop fighting both of you! You are adults now.

    Saurabh (ignoring Tarachand) – Oh yeah? Why weren’t you here then, huh? Conveniently kicked out of our school.

    Tarachand – Stop it, both of you! Where is Preeti and Shailu?

    Sanket – Yeah, it is true, but it has been 4 years. I’m not scared of her now. Anyway, she already treats me like a fucking outsider. Like it’s my fault that I’m darker of skin. I thought that she would miss me at least a little when I was gone, but looks like YOU never let it happen, huh? You were always there by her side, her little angel baby, keeping her thoughts about the black demon away, huh?

    Saurabh – Fuck you!

    (Saurabh and Sanket start violently wrestling, Tarachand starts to stop them physically, grunting and shouting on them. Saurabh punches Sanket hard, Tarachand holds Saurabh, Saurabh retaliates and Tarachand falls to the ground. The brothers stop immediately, staring at each other. Then they both rush to help Tarachand stand up. Tarachand keeps looking down, then slowly walks into his room)

    Sanket (to Saurabh) – Who is the demon now?

    (Sanket goes upstairs. Saurabh stands there, his hands shivering. He goes inside Meera and Tarachand’s room)

    Meera – Saurabh-beta what happened? Who did this to you?

    Saurabh – You have no idea what you are doing to Sanket, do you?

    Meera – What did I do to him?

    (Saurabh lowers his head)

    Saurabh – You still don’t realize, there is no point explaining it to you.

    Meera – Beta, what happened?

    Saurabh (crying) – Now I know why we fought so much when we were kids. You always loved me more, I cannot understand why; it is just monstrous to think that a person can consider a kid evil, just because he is of a darker color.

    Meera (voice breaking down) – Beta, I do love Sanket…

    Saurabh – Oh, stop it now, you’re deluded, and I will never believe you. And now you’re going to say that you love my mother as well, but I know better now.

    (Tarachand is silently listening to all of this. Meera gets up to hug him, Saurabh takes a step back to avoid her. Meera starts to cry)

    Saurabh – I’m not talking to you again, until you actually treat the rest of my family better.

    (Meera sobs even harder, buries herself in Tarachand’s arms. Saurabh looks at Tarachand, he has a worried expression)

    Tarachand (slowly) – Where is Shailu and Preeti?

    Saurabh – I’ll call them.

    (Saurabh goes out of the room, dials Shailu’s number)

    Shailu (on the phone) – I’m taking her to a restaurant, take care of the house. (click)