[ bilingual version | english-only version | notes on translation ]


suggestions for performance by children

a key decision is: should there be a character acting out khokA's role?

there is considerable dramatic interest in the battle, in khokA's
horse, the clash of swords, etc.  however, from the poem's perspective,
it is really the power of the child's imagination, and not the
battle per se, that is the narrative focus (e.g. the "useless
things" of the last stanza, or when the mother picks him up onto her

for this reason, perhaps the main character should be only the
narrator, and there shouldn't be a khokA character that participates in
the drama.

stage directives

dark stage.  in the front right corner, a spot comes on.  a little boy
enters the spot from the wings, wearing an innocent dress (e.g. a white
pyjama-kurta or dhoti-kurta).

the lights brighten slowly towards the end of the stanza, revealing
a backdrop of barren gorsebush plain, with a dead river nearby.

    just imagine mother, that you and i
    are travelling far (can't remember why)
         your palanquin's rocking to and fro
         with four beherAs going heiyA-ho
    besides them i'm trotting along
    on my little red pony, singing a song.

at this point four people enter from the left, carrying between them a
long rod with a cardboard painted palanquin stuck on it.  they are
barefoot, all wearing sleeveless banyans and off-white dhotis or
shorts.  they are shouting heiyA-ho and vigorously stepping in rhythm.
if you have more actors who would like to participate, you can have six
people also, (the third line can read "six beherAs..."). The voice
pauses until they are across.

    my hoofdust marks the end of day
    thornbushes bleak in the low sun's ray
         it's barren, barren, every which way
         even the animals have gone away
    imagine it's dark: you can barely see
    we've come to the heaths of jorAdighi

(note on pronunciation: all the "A"s are as in "ah")

in the second half, lights go out slowly, and when it's dark, cicada sounds
start up, continuing through most of the next stanza.
    we are running through the fields of bramble
    it's nearly night, the beherAs scramble
         the path curves - a little ahead,
         we're going over a dead river bed
    in the rhythm of our motion, you suddenly shout
    "are those lights out there, moving about?"

last line: lights flicker up in the dark left corner.  the lights remain
there, in an nearly dark stage, for the next two stanzas

syncing with the voice, but in an orderly way so as not to interrupt the
rhyme, a few voices shout from the left: "hA re re re re":

    just then the cry: "hAre re re re re"
    you can hear them charging; utter disarray
         beherAs running helter skelter
         you're praying to heaven
                    for divine shelter
    but i tell you calmly, "mA don't worry!
    i am here with you, now _they'll be sorry!"
    skins agleam in the flickering light
    twirling lAThis they come, a fearsome sight
         i yell, "wait!", and "stay right there!    
         beware my sword now, don't you dare!
    just one more step and your blood will spray!"
    but they just explode - "hA re re re re re"

this time many more voices in sync, and more unruly.  immediately - stage is
still dark except for the flaming torches - a mass of barechested barefoot
people wearing only black shorts (or girls in black dress), red hibiscus
flowers stuck in their massed up hair, leap across the stage from left to
right, waving sticks and swords and shields and a few brightly flaming
torches, which is their only illumination, shouting "ha re re re re", jumping
up and down and making a dreadful din with their feet.  the voice pauses
until everything is quiet again.
    you tell me, all trembling, "khokA, don't go!"
    i say, "mA, just watch."  and with a "heigh ho",
         i spur my horse into the curdling mass
         their shields ring out on my cutlass
    such a terrible battle,  you'd swoon if i say
    how many heads cut off, how many run away...

soundtrack of swords fighting for the last few lines, lights also come
on dimly and imperceptibly towards the end of this stanza

sound of swords continuing, with human voices groaning and some voices crying
out in pain.  then suddenly a handful of people (2-4) run in, one at a time,
disorderly, running very fast right to left and disappearing.  it's all quiet
when the voice starts.
    at the end you're crying, "my khokA's dead!"
    just then i'm back, all sweaty blood-red.
         i call out, "mA, it's over, the fight!"
         you come out then and hug me tight
    lift me to your lap with a kiss: "khokA dear,
    what _would i have done, if you hadn't been here!"
    such useless things happen all the time
    why can't _this be true at least sometime?
         oh then it would be a real fairy tale
         everyone would rave, and dAdA would rail:
    "pah! how can this be? he isn't even that strong!"
    but neighbours would say, "lucky khokA went along!"

lights come on with everyone, palanquin-bearers, dacoits, coming on stage,
with lAThis and swords and flames etc.  Once the applause is fading, everyone
including khoka leaves in a bloodthirsty mass, shouting: "hAre re re re re."

[ bilingual version | english-only version | notes on translation ]

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