Mélancolique

A one act play with three characters: Poet , Muse and Madman.

[By a sulphur bath in the mountains covered with mist, on a dreary day]

Madman: Ma’am, I don’t smoke but may I have a cigarette.

Muse: Ofcourse. As you don’t smoke..

[Attempts to light his cigarette]

Muse: It’s gone out…

Madman: So it has.

[Poet feels a lukewarm interest]

Poet: Why do they say - he’s mad?

Muse: Be careful. He’s not stupid.

Poet: I don’t understand “Faith”. What is it?

Muse: Not to worry. Your grammar isn’t very good….and hence…; It was better at the very beginning.

[Muse smiles endearingly]

Poet: What does “faith” mean?

Muse: My precious; I shall drink some water.

[Muse’s smile stays un-erased]

Poet: Why do they say - he’s mad? He is not. He has faith.

Muse: There are many such lunatics at large here in the mountains. The asylums are closed to them - and their families will not have them.

Poet: We don’t know what madness is. They’re troublesome, inconvenient…

Muse (thinking): He has another fixation now

Poet: Why don’t they let the poor man into the bath; wasn’t he that built it?

Muse: Everyone is afraid he’ll drown himself. Hence they throw him out to “Save him”

Poet: Can we ask him to have lunch with us?

Muse: It is 7 AM, my dear fellow.

[The poet at once looks excited and nonplussed]

Poet: Stop.

Muse: Why?

Poet: You look prettier….

Poet: in this light, your hair looks glorious…

Muse: you think so?

[The poet abruptly looks down and wears a somber expression. The muse turns cheerless, and says….]

Muse: What?

Poet: I am beginning to understand…

Muse. Ok. Let’s find him.

[After walking a while and receiving directions, they find and approach the madman]

Muse: Good Morning. I have brought a famous writer from the plains.

Madman: My life is normal. There is nothing interesting about it.

Muse: We hear you’ve had unusual experiences…

Madman: Ah. I learnt about it too, by reading the papers.

Muse: Tell him all about it

Madman: It’s not worth it.

Muse: Maybe. But this gentleman has come all the way from a faraway place.

Madman: For me?

[Madman starts walking away. The muse walks back towards the poet]

Muse: He doesn’t want to talk…

Poet: What? It is very important. Can you please try again.

[Muse catches up with the Madman, and says…]

Muse: Excuse me? Stop for a minute please…

Madman: Go away. Go Go…

[Muse looks at the poet and says…]

Muse. Look at that!

[Muse feels exasperated and begins to walk away. The poet pursues her saying…]

Poet: Where are you going? What’s wrong? Have you offended him?

Muse: You’ve offended me! He’s crazy. It’s not up to me whether he talks or not. I’m sorry but I’m going. If you care so much, try yourself. If you don’t like the way I work, say so. But believe me, I am not only a good translator, I also improve on the original.

Muse: I’m going back. Our trip’s over.

[Poet, now by himself and a bit desperate, approaching the madman says….]

Poet: Excuse me. I think I know why you did that.

Madman: What? Walk away?

Poet: No. Why you left your family.

[Madman smiles bewitchingly. The intense glint in his eyes scares the timid writer. He says….]

Madman: You are he who is not, I am he who is.*

[Poet walks away feeling sapped. The mountain air is no longer therapeutic to his anxiety-filled nature.]


*Jesus of Nazareth told unto St. Catherine (in a gender appropriate format)

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