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Casula Powerhouse Museum is holding an exhibition titled No Added Sugar on now till 8 July 2012. Last Sunday as part of the exhibition the musuem, JAAN teamed up with the exhibition and hosted a Women’s performance event which was a great success. Women of all ages, races and creeds got together to celebrate the great diversity of art and drama which makes us so unique but also unified.

One of my oldest and closest friends, Asma Yusra, who is also part of JAAN (remember the reading circle blog I wrote? JAAN organised that too!) had a crazy idea that we should bare our souls in a daring drama performance! (daring because neither of us has ever performed anything before!)

It actually went really well and so I’ve decided to share the script below. Yes its corny and lame but you know what, I’m confident we arn’t the only ones to have hit such a rock bottom at one point in our lives. So .. I hope you can relate!

Synopsis: This piece is about two intelligent, empowered women who are in control of everything in their lives except their wayfaring hearts. It shows them hitting rock bottom and then standing up tall again

Scene 1 – Afternoon setting.

(Phone rings)
A – Hi Gary have you submitted those process flows yet?
S – They were due last week, I don’t understand what the hold up is
A – I’m giving you the rest of the day, have them on my desk by 5pm
S –  My company prides itself on meeting deadlines and keeping our clients happy so chop chop
(Phone rings)
A – Yes Mum, whats up.
S – I’m kind of in the middle of something, can I call you back
A – I can’t really talk about my divorce in the middle of work mum
S – I know ma, I saw his picture and the 15 emails you sent me. I read them. I am thinking.
Both – I need more time
A – This isn’t a decision to buy a dress or a pair of shoes! A divorce doesn’t have a return or exchange policy! You raised me on your own when Dad left. I don’t need a man in my life either.
S – I understand you want the best for me but I need more time! I know you think I’ve ‘studied too much’ and ‘no one wants to marry and overly smart woman’ but this is me! I need to forget ‘him’ before I can marry this amazing man you have found for me’
A – I’m tired Mum. Can we please talk about this later.
S – Even after four years of trying to get over him I can’t stop comparing him to every guy I meet. You think I don’t want to get married? I’m 26 Ma and I know as an Indian Muslim woman I am ‘past the due date for marriage’ and you’re worried sick.

A & S (looks to audience) – I am 26 and my life is nothing like I’d planned. If my 22 year old self were to meet me now she’d kick my ass for being so pathetic.

A – I just need time mum. I’m broken.
S – I’m stronger than I think? Thanks ma. I wish I believed that.
A – I will talk to you soon.
(Hangs up phone)

Scene 2

(Looks to audience. Hand gestures, walk around)

A – 26.
S – Unmarried.
A – Getting a divorce? This isn’t how it was meant to be. I married early. We brought out the best in each other. We defied all odds and graduated, worked on our careers. We travelled. We made it. So why choose her?! After how much we had to fight for this. I had a line of guys waiting for me before he came along and that line will still be there, so his loss! I swear he doesn’t deserve me!
S – I knew what I wanted all along. A great career. A fast car and all those friends I made along the way. I saw the world and made my place in it long before you came along and ill be damned if he gets to unseat all my hard work.
(Pause)
A – 18. We were young and you didn’t have that paunch which made the sex that much better. But whatever. Any guy can make me feel that good… Right? I brought him home and fought long and hard to show everyone he was mature enough to take care of me. He’s not like Dad. I built my life around him and now my whole life’s just collapsed.
S – Yeah I missed a body to warm my bed all these years but men could wait. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to fall in love but watching mr darcy and Elizabeth made me want .. not just love for today and tomorrow but true love forever and ever and for that … I was prepared to wait.
A sings: Could’ve been your princess, you’d be a king. Could’ve had a castle and worn a ring, but no you let me go. You stole my star. La la la la…
S – (Starts talking as La la la starts) 23. I thought my wait was over when I met you. You had the potential to be my Mr. Darcy. You swept me off my feet… No one had called me their shooting star before.
A – 25. Honey moon period is over.  I remember your face when we got the news from the doctor. I wonder how you would have reacted if we were told it was your fault. I can’t have children. Does that make me less of a woman? Is she more… complete than me? 
A & S – I should have seen it coming. You were too good to be true.
S – Why is it that men always move on to another woman when we finally… totally give ourselves up to you.

Scene 3 – Night time setting.
A is on the phone and S logs into Facebook. Stare at profile pic of ex.

A – We’ve been married for 8 years… please… don’t throw it all away. We can make it work. We haven’t tried EVERYTHING.
S – There’s nothing left.
A – I sacrificed my LIFE for you. I put your dreams before my own. You promised me…
S – Stop living in the past.
A – What am I going to do without you? We planned everything for our life together. Remember Rome? Remember Paris? Remember the way you held me. 8 years love, 8 years. I don’t care about her. We’ve got 8 years DAMN IT!!! What happened to ‘first and last’? What was all that? Just bullshit? What?! How could you say that to me!!!! What do I tell my family, my friends? I’ll stay here, I’ll wait for you. I’ll wait…
S – So much drama. It’s so annoying.

A  Slams down the phone
S–Slams laptop shut.

A sings Set me free/Leave me be/I don’t wanna fall another moment into your gravity/Here I am and I stand so tall/Just the way I’m supposed to be/But you’re on to me/And all over me

Scene 4
Stand looking at one position. Throughout the poetry, we’ll be standing facing the audience. Eye contact, body language and hand gestures at play. Don’t move around or audience will lose focus.

A –          How do we say the harshest things to each other
After wishing we’d grow old together
After saying we’d stay forever
Like a Street Fighter we just keep knockin’ each other down‘til we’re K.O.
‘Til we’re oh no… damage has been done.
Rage takes over (pause) And at that split moment my insides sync with the crying moans
Of the cat next door
My hand doesn’t reach fast enough to close my ears
My teeth don’t clench hard enough to stop my tongue
Could the nights we shared of laughs and smiles
be enough
To recompense our bruised egos and broken hearts
Men walk in and out of my life and offer the world to me
Friends come in and out of my home
But home to me is being wrapped up in a blanket of you

Pause loaded with emotion

S –           There was a time where you and I cherished being Us
A time when you would scan the world to protect me
To fight off any danger that threatened us
Baby I remember when you took my hand and called me your shooting star
My heart is yours and the world is ours
And Nothing can stop us but us!!

A –          Now I open my eyes and you are no longer here.
In the silence you have left behind all I have are Fragments
Bits and pieces of who I was before you

S –           Fragments of our soured memories I wish wasn’t real
Fragments I’ve been trying to piece together.
Both – If only we could swallow our pride and appreciate each other

A –          We’re no longer adolescents
                Selfish beings who require self proclamation
                When will we learn that this is unacceptable.

Both sit on the floor. Helpless.

S – I am Wondering where I fit. In the shards that I have left.
A – I have no more love to give. Bound by the shackles of my own emotions.
S – Now – I will finally welcome this feeling of absence.  Just now.
A- Each cell in my body will summon every tear of rejection, every sweat drop aching in disappointment. Here. Now. Alone.
S – Still… I miss you.
Before you I was Spinning dreams from romance novels.
Watching others love and lose
I sat patient, sometimes impatiently
Waiting for the unseen knight in shining armour
I chose you.

A – Petals wilted and the leaves they darkened and fell
On a short sharp winters night
We first clashed – then met
And I chose you.

S – Time would not let us mature
Love soured and I tasted bitter anger
Separately we cried – turned away
Still I chose you.

A – Sitting alone while the years have passed
Wondering where all that time has gone
Everything I gave you – my hope, my heart
As the first tears fell –

Both: I regret that I chose you. Love without God is like air without oxygen.

Lights out.

 Both: Love without God is like air without oxygen. Life without God IS air without oxygen.

Both lie down on a pillow/cushion/table and sleep.

Lights still off. Sad instrumental music.

A – It’s me. Love isn’t what sustained our marriage. It’s respect, it’s loyalty… it’s… look. I don’t care if I’ll be a divorced woman at 26. I can’t do this anymore. I am coming over.  Have the papers ready. We will be divorced.

S – Hi Ma.. it’s me. I am ready to meet him. I deserve someone to treat me right. I’m coming over. We can talk about this.

Scene 5 – Bus stop, it’s morning. Birds chirping, sun’s out.

 A – And in the alteration of day and night… are signs for those who reflect. It’s a brand new day. I decide to clear out the space in my mind that I used to obsess over you – to leave it a vacuum – for God to place His love there.

Silence.

 S – I look up to the blinding sun bursting through the leaves
A new bud burgeons with the promise of a bloom in the morrow
A morrow of hope renewed, of life without you.

Both – I chose you once, not anymore.

A – The sunlight warms my battered heart
Falls on my skin and winks at me with promise
Today – here and now
Both – I choose Me.

\End.

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The cool tiles calm my frenzy as I step out of the throng
Sitting prone on the edge of movement, there is peace among

I sit cross legged and look up at the square
Solid and sturdy, withstanding centuries of wear

Stillness pervades me as I feel a presence nearby
Somber yet serene it almost makes me sigh

A dialogue ensues which I will never forget
My life thus far becomes meaningless and the present set

‘How do you love?’ the question arises
‘I love as you loved.’ I proudly surmise

In the silence pride gives way to doubt
‘I love as you loved?’ I repeat with less clout

‘Do you love you parents with the utmost reverence?’
Is your love for your deen overshadowed or immense?’

My shoulders droop and guilt overcomes me
But a gentle smile overcomes the anxiety

This journey you’ve undertaken was no small feat
The role of a model muslimah you must now meet

I have walked here before you and thousands shall follow
Remember, without unity this Ummah is hollow

Follow in my footsteps and do as I did
Hold firm to my Sunnah and from Shaytan you shall be hid

With these words I was left staring up at the sky
Al-Haram overshadowing me – how could my eyes remain dry?

As I wept at the enormity of what had just passed
I prayed in ernest the feeling would last.

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A loving complaint

Prithee kind sir sway not from thy constancy
Near to thee is begotten all source of myne own esteem

That redemption which hath forsook me so wantonly
Beckons hazily from thine eyes as if a dream

Thy arrogance extraordinaire mayst leave others appalled
They knoweth not ye scathing cynicism hast become thy armor

Enshrouded thus the world awaited stonewalled
Bravely, nay stupidly, alone went forth I with myne heart to barter

Alas! Thou art a charmer indeed!
Takest thou in cold blood myne innocence

 ‘I do love thee.’ Thy words did win, myne heart  did I concede
Forgotten reality that cold stone hit us hence

But Time she shall not betray the purity of a love in earnest
Even if the world forgets a love in its unrequited brilliance.

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Shattered, the walls were – the skin tore and the eardrums exploded.
Flying, he was – through the roof, in the air, hitting the dust crumpled.
Blood, everywhere – in his eyes, in his ears, pooling around him in its vastness.
Remains, scattered bricks and wood, his house now a pile of rubble.

He could no longer hear, but God had not yet taken his life nor his sight
Endowed thus, drowning in his own blood and silent screaming, he watched.
She lay only metres away, moments ago she had been feeding their child.
Now she lay Prone. Silent. Dead.

His young bride with her playful eyes and rosy lips lay spread across the dirt.
A gaping raw hole seeping a river of red pulsed through her open chest
Her leg skewed, shattered bone protruding like wizened fingers grip his heart
Every nerve screamed movement and yet he could not.

He looked down.

Stumps of burnt  smoking flesh, drenched in flames, blood and dust greeted him
Where were his legs? There. Scratched Red. Mocking him with their distance.
He tried to crawl but his right arm was slit open as if by a surgeons hand.
Each vein pulsating like crazy to pump the blood that seeped out of him.

The left hand moved to his head grasping at blood, metal and pieces of his ear
Silent anguish flooded his vision blurring the open carcass of his wife.
Blood that rushed out of him now seeped backwards gluing him to the dirt
Close his eyes. Wait for Death. He had no wife, no daughter to live for.

His Daughter! His eye flew open and scrambled in desperation, Where?
There! A delicate tiny hand rested on his wife’s shoulder.
A mother had made the ultimate sacrifice and her baby was unharmed.
Tears soaked through his open wounds as his baby girl sat crying. Helpless

As if the silence allowed him to see more clearly, he saw her face explode.
Open mouthed target for the bullet which rained shreds of flesh
They jumped down from their tanks and stood over mangled flesh.
Laughing at the remains of his life.

He closed his eyes.
Helpless.
There was nothing left.
Death.
He wanted Death.

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I Chose You.

Spinning dreams from romance novels
Watching others love and lose
I sat patient, sometimes impatiently
But I chose you.

 Petals wilted and the leaves they darkened and fell
On a short sharp winters night
We first clashed – then met
And I chose you.

Time would not let us mature
Love soured and I tasted bitter anger
Separately we cried – turned away
Still I chose you.

Sitting alone while the years have passed
Wondering where all that time has gone
Everything I gave you – my hope, my heart
As the first tears fell – I regret that I chose you.

I looked up to the blinding sun bursting through the leaves
A new bud burgeons with the promise of a bloom in the morrow
A morrow of hope renewed, of life without you.
I chose you once, not anymore. 

The sunlight warms my battered heart
Falls on my skin and winks at me with promise
Today – here and now
I choose Me.

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An ode to poetry

I love poetry.

I love the power of words to slide off the paper and slip effortlessly through the tongue only to pierce one’s heart with enlightenment and understanding. The gravity of words oft spoken, oft thought, oft quoted, which uncover new worlds of meaning each time they are encountered. Poetry is the poor man’s novella – short fluidity encapsulating all the depth and meaning contained in many chapters.

In particular the poets of the Romantic era bring out the best in that which is Poetry. Keats and Wordsworth so eloquent in their words. How I covet the gift of such writing… the power to evoke in others not only that which you want them to feel, but to bring out their innermost thoughts and lay it bare on the uppermost surface of their consciousness. to make then confront and understand not only that which surrounds then but that which is also within them.

 Wordsworth with his love of Nature so sublime:
“Look for the stars, you’ll say that there are none;
Look up a second time, and, one by one,
You mark them twinkling out with silvery light,
And wonder how they could elude the sight!”
                       – CALM IS THE FRAGRANT AIR

 The sombre reflections of Keats:
“When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain”
                       – WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE

 And last but not the least, no ode to Poetry would be complete without one of my most favourite poems of all time.

 “And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, ” ‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.””
                           – THE LADY OF SHALOTT

The power of poetry brings men and women to their knees.
Poetry. That feisty woman that is no one’s mistress and everyone’s lust.
Poetry. she who sulks, flirts, rages and roars at a whim, at a word.
Poetry. Emotes and withdraws like a swordsmen duelling a dance with his conscience.

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Daydream delusion
Limousine Eyelash
Oh, baby with your pretty face
Drop a tear in my wineglass
Look at those big eyes
See what you mean to me
Sweet cakes and milkshakes
I am a delusion angel
I am a fantasy parade
I want you to know what I think
Don’t want you to guess anymore
You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we’re going
Launched in life
Like branches in the river
Flowing downstream
Caught in the current
I’ll carry you. You’ll carry me
That’s how it could be
Don’t you know me?
Don’t you know me by now?

This poem is from one of my favourite scenes in one of my favourite movies.

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