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ber infinite services to civilization, India remains to the western world something of a mystery. India , the mother of religions, the founder of sciences, with an art both opulent and spiritual, a culture unique and incredibly rich, is still for most of us a romantic fable, without substance and without meaning. Tb capture something of the flavor of this extraordinary people and to present it with vividness and charm is a worthy and important service nay, more, is an achievement of art as well, for it seems to be an essential of art, and one of the sources of its power, that it comprehends the inner life of a people, its experiences, faiths, ideals, and gives to them eloquent and moving expression, appeal ing to sense and emotion as well as to understanding. Such an achievement is Mr. Mukerji s in this exotic little play which might fairly be called "A Vision of India . From the fabulously rich treasury of Indian culture, he has refashioned in an original and per sonal way a characteristic jewel, having the richness, the luster, the strange play of shifting colors that has made India a synonym for romantic magnificence. In addition to this visual splendor Mr. Mukerji has, with many vivid suggestions that kindle the imagi nation, presented some essential aspects of the many- sided Indian life emotion, intense but sincere and refined; love, fervid and imaginative; genuine and exalted chivalry; the steady and universal pressure [v]
Introduction of spiritual aspiration; the soul-transforming power of religion, with its ideal of utter selflessness all contrasting gratefully with some traits of our western world, with its rather hard directness, with the thin ness and frequent crudity of its emotional life, with its religion so often verbal, conventional, impotent. Of course there are profound and heroic features of Indian life that are not here revealed intellectual subtlety, sublime patience in suffering but the first allegiance of the artist is to beauty, and he must not jeopardize cesthetic unity for the sake of sociological comprehensiveness. But Mr. Mukerji has given us more than a scene out of Indian life; he has transmitted something of its cesthetic genius. Not only is there here much of the tone of the great Indian classics, but something of the spirit of them is transmitted in a way that wins the favor and sympathy of the reader of a wholly different cultural background. This is a consider able and none too common achievement, for the cesthetic genius of any people of genuine individu ality is sensitive, and is frequently unable to survive in the process of translation. The great classics of a remote culture like India s when overturned into English, are, unless the translator have rare power, apt to seem dull and fantastic. For those of us who are not attracted to these, a capital introduction to them and a fair appreciation of the spirit of the foreign culture may be acquired through literary works written in our own tongue by writers born into the ancient culture, nourished on its traditions, dis- [VI]
Introduction ciplined in its ideals,, but at the same time thoroughly familiar not only with our speech idiom but with our intellectual and emotional idiom as well. Mrs. Sarojini Naidus exquisite lyrics in "tfhe Golden Threshold" were written in English; they are excel lent English poetry, but the soul of India has spoken through them, and those who are left indifferent by translated Indian originals are often kindled into ardent enthusiasm through these poems. It is this double success of a rare and important kind that Mr. Mukerji appears to me to have achieved. ARTHUR UPHAM POPE. Berkeley , California March /j, 1916. [VII]
Throughout the first act Majnu is disguised as a beggar. ix]
ACT I. SCENE: In the background a stretch of green meadow- land^ on the hither side of which is a small lake. Gold, saffron, violet and pink sunbeams from the right, dance and sparkle on the lake surface. In the foreground, to the left, is a small white house of Moorish architecture, with red roof, and dark entrance that is open. There is a window of a lesser black shade which also is open. The interior of the house, except for glimpses of its cool white walls, is hardly visible. In the middle of the foreground is a clear yellow-white paved yard, supposedly attached to the house. Behind it is a flight of marble steps leading down to the lake. To the right are pathways that lead from without and end in the yard. As the curtain rises, from within the house are heard snatches of sad Oriental melodies, sung with string accompaniment. The melodies express the soul of a young woman who is hungry for more life. It is hunger for something, though unknown, yet closely related to the heart. They should also express a sense of restraint and dignity. After a [31
while :hc singing ceases; only the stringed instrument is heard, as if moaning. [ Now, walking to the rhythm of the sad, sweet music, enter four women R., one after the other, carrying their -pitchers on their heads. They are barefooted and wear many-colored Oriental costumes. Their ornaments consist of bangles, ear rings and jingling anklets. Slowly, one after the other, they go down the steps to the lake. As they fill their pitchers [ unseen by the audience ] they sing. The gurgle of the water is blended with the music.} THE SONG: Singing, we scoop The limpid pool; The sun s weary smile, Like love s wile, Silently our heart-strings pull. The pale lonely star, Her glances afar, Vainly seeks on earth For her lover s heart That fell from heaven s bower. The gold and red sun sets; The bird seeks her nest; The pool silently lies ui
Under stellar eyes Listening to the sun s last sighs. [ After the song ceases, the mingled noise of their conversation is heard. They, carry ing their pitchers on their heads , come up the steps.] FIRST WOMAN Shall I call Layla? SECOND WOMAN No; let us sit down here for a few minutes. THIRD WOMAN Come, we would better go. Someone may come. FOURTH WOMAN There is no harm if we rest awhile. [ They put their pitchers on the first step, and squat by them on the ground, facing the audience.] THIRD WOMAN I shall have to be home soon. FIRST WOMAN Why? Is your husband back? [5]
THIRD WOMAN Yes (petulantly). He is back. FOURTH WOMAN I hear he has made enough money, last caravan trade, to take another wife. THIRD WOMAN Not much; but enough to buy Mania. SECOND WOMAN Mania! Is she very young? FIRST WOMAN That is why he wants her. THIRD WOMAN [ Angrily ] Why? Am I so old? Am I? There are days yet for me. He will yet have to pray at my feet for many days. I am a Tartar! FIRST WOMAN Tartar? Sing a Tartar song. SECOND AND FOURTH WOMEN Yes, yes; sing one, please.
THIRD WOMAN [Smiling] But you will have to dance. FOURTH WOMAN I do not know the Tartar dance. THIRD WOMAN You three dance; jingle your anklets; I will sing. Dance like fire; that will do. FIRST WOMAN Someone may come. SECOND AND FOURTH WOMEN r <-f ^ e f^ er ] We should not mind. Sing, sing. [ They take hands, stand up, go toward the house, stop near it, then turn around facing R., and wait for the music to begin.} THIRD WOMAN [Amused] Oh, that will not do. Two come here; one stay there. In Tartar we do not dance as here. We dance as if we were going to die. We dance like warriors. Ah, you do not know how great Tartar is!
[ The FIRST WOMAN and the FOURTH come R., turn round, then stand facing the SECOND WOMAN L. The THIRD WOMAN sings with full accompaniment. ] SONG: The lion has ceased roaring; The stars set, one by one; The dawn drives away the night s hosts As ye shall your enemy, heroes of our Tartar clan. Haste, haste, arise from your couch of sleep; Don your ring armor, iron and gold; Shoulder your spears; blow your trumpets; Rush, rush, ye lion-sons of Tartar, noble and bold ! [ This dancing must resemble a war dance. As a rule, Tartars, both men and women, are warlike. As they cease dancing, from without is heard a short Oriental air, played on a flute.] FIRST WOMAN [Hearing the flute] Let us go; someone is coming. [ They lift their pitchers. Exeunt R.] [ The flute keeps on playing. Enter stealth ily R., MOBARAK and SHAH ALAM; the former is copper-brown and tall, while the latter is ivory-complexioned, with dark, cruel eyes and black hair. SHAH ALAM is of medium stature. They speak in [8]
earnest whispers till the flute-playing ceases.} MOBARAK [Aloud] He will die. SHAH ALAM How did you learn of that? MOBARAK There is a slave girl in the palace, who is my mistress; she tells me that his days are done. SHAH ALAM Where is Majnu? MOBARAK The Crown Prince? SHAH ALAM [ Angr U y ] Yes, my brother. MOBARAK No one knows; some say he is with the women and the dancing girls. SHAH ALAM Let him have all the women and the wine he [9]
wants; his days are numbered. By Allah, he will pay for MOBARAK Sh h ! They say he disguises himself SHAHALAM [Mystified] Disguises? MOBARAK He disguises himself as a beggar, and goes about the Capital. SHAH ALAM Ha, ha! Just like him! MOBARAK No; they say he is looking for someone. SHAH ALAM What? Looking for me? MOBARAK No, no. No one knows that you are here. Every one thinks that you are governing your prov ince, far away. SHAH ALAM Let them think as they like. They do not know
me. Even if I am far away, yet I know every thing that is happening in this Capital. Ha! Let Majnu prowl about as a beggar. He can never know what I am going to do next. Bismillah! If I do not make him the beggar that he is playing now, my name is not Shah Alam. I will have the kingdom; the whole empire. I will walk to the throne over Majnu s dead body! MOBARAK [ A s if to restrain him ] What do you wish me to do now? SHAH ALAM [ Taken aback; then suddenly : ] Kill him. MOBARAK Whom your father? SHAH ALAM Yes; kill the Emperor. No, poison him. MOBARAK Poison him? SHAH ALAM Yes; poison him.
MOBARAK No; never! SHAH ALAM Why not, you coward? MOBARAK Coward! Never dare you call an Arab coward again. I will not poison him. If I want to kill him, I will stab him. Poisoning! I leave that to cowards and women. SHAH ALAM Come; you must kill him. MOBARAK Kill a dying man? A man whom I have served so well SHAH ALAM And who had you flogged in a crowded bazaar! MOBARAK [ Snatches at his dagger, then restrains himself.] No! no! I cannot kill him. Why should I kill him? He is dying; let him pass away. He hasn t harmed you. He is old and [12]
SHAH ALAM You won t do it, then? MOBARAK No [ Footsteps and a voice are heard without R.] SHAH ALAM [Agitated] Come; let us away. [ Exeunt R. by pathway.} [ If should be noticed now that the sunbeams have flickered away; twilight has set in. Enter R. by another pathway , MAJNU and jester-attendant. They are in haste, and pant for breath.] JESTER Oh, what a chase! MAJNU You ran so fast. JESTER You ran so slow. MAJNU Did you observe how I ran?
JESTER Certainly I did; you ran like a mad dog. [ With excitement] Hush sh! Look at the shadows. MAJNU Are they coming this way? JESTER No. I know them, it seems. MAJNU Who are they? JESTER One seems to be Shah Alam and the other an Arab. MAJNU Shah Alam! How could he be here? JESTER Why? MAJNU He is far away, ruling his province. He is the viceroy of Maust. That cannot be he. JESTER That cannot be he? It must be his ghost, then. I wonder if the Arab is a ghost too. [HI
MAJNU Stop! [ Looks at the right intently for some time.} No JESTER Are you looking at the star of your birth? MAJNU I am looking at the star of your death. JESTER I wish you could find it. MAJNU [ Not paying any attention ] Did you see Layla today? JESTER No. MAJNU What did you do with my letter? JESTER I left it there. [ Points at the doorstep of the house ^ MAJNU Ah, the wind might have blown it away. Why did you do that? [151
JESTER Because she won t see the face of any man but the beggar s. Since I am no beggar, I left it there MAJNU Ah, she will see me now. Layla, Layla, how I love her! Layla, I am a beggar today beggar at your door. For your sake, I will remain a beggar forever. JESTER For her sake Shah Alam will do that. He will kindly take the throne. MAJNU What are you talking about? Aren t you happy? JESTER Surely, I have to be, for your brother s sake. MAJNU You wretch! Can you not let him alone? JESTER [ Pleasantly ] But he won t let you alone. If he takes the throne from you and then your life, what will happen to me? [16!
MAJNU I will employ you as my jester. JESTER Jester in hell? No, I have lived in it. MAJNU Lived?- JESTER I have my hell here; I live with kings and princes. MAJNU Yes, the court-life is truly JESTER But I love the court. Your Highness, do give up this madness. This woman is a witch, like the rest. She MAJNU How dare you? JESTER I am thinking of your life. Shah Alam, I tell you, will take your life. The court what will the court be
MAJNU Court? [meditatively] Court, throne, kingdom, the empire what are they worth ? Let Shah Alam have them all. I want Layla. Ah, Layla! how I love her! I will give Shah Alam the whole world; but give me Layla. For her sake I ll be a lifelong beggar. JESTER You are moon-struck. MAJNU I am struck by the beauty of Layla s moon-face. Layla, my Layla [ Same voice as before is heard from within the house , sadly singing, The JESTER takes MAJNU by the arm and drags him off stage R. Enter Layla L.; she comes out of the house. She is a model of Oriental beauty. There is a deep look in her face. In the slowly fading twilight her face is like a rose veiled by a thin mist, that instead of blurring one s vision enhances the beauty of the object seen. She is dressed in green, and wears ver- million slippers. It should be noticed that she wears no anklets. Layla walks to the steps and seats herself on the first one, facing the audience. She stops sing- [18]
ing as she takes out of the pitcher a letter and reads it. Then, folding it, slips it underneath her robe, as if to preserve it next to her heart.} She sings: I fell asleep, Hearing melody That fell from lip to lip: The stars sang it To the wind, that took it To the rose shivering in the cold of night; The rose gave it To the nightingale, who sang it Back to the stars, the earth, and sea; And I, to it listening, Fell asleep, dreaming. [ During the last lines, she takes the pitcher and goes down the steps. The last notes end with a gurgle of the water brought out with emphasis by the orchestra. Enter JESTER from R., crawling on his stomach. He goes near the steps and peeps at Lay la. As MAJNU starts to sing without, R., the JESTER hurries of R. Hastily LAYLA comes up the steps with a full pitcher. Hurrying into the house, she shuts the door.] [ Enter MA]N\jfrom R. y dressed as before, in beggar costume. He is singing.]
The night weaves her mystery, The moon mounts her starry height; The birds dream dreams, And I seek your smile. MAJNU [ Going to the door at the end of the song.] Hail, Peace! Allah ho Akbar! Give alms to the Fakeer. [ The door opens, revealing LAYLA S/^.] LAYLA [ Almost unable to speak.] Fakee ! MAJNU Give the Fakeer something to eat. [ Lay la goes in, leaving the door half open.] MAJNU sings: I have seen you at spring morn In autumn s golden garb [ Enter LAYLA wi th a large basket full of rice. MAJNU sits by the doorstep and spreads his cloth. LAYLA slowly pours the rice in a half bending posture. (Exquisite music from now on should interpret the rest of this scene.} They look at each other. The rice keeps on falling. They are [201
simply entranced by each other s eyes. The twilight fades. The stage darkens. There is no more rice in the basket. It has run empty, and over-filled MAJNU S cloth, then has fallen out about him. As LAYLA suddenly becomes conscious of what has happened, the basket nearly falls from her hands. She is half dismayed yet partly conscious. The basket drops from her hands. She rushes into the house and shuts the door. MAJNU stands up as if to follow her. The rice falls all about him from the cloth. The shadows tremble, as if in deep emotion, as the moon is seen rising in the background^ [ CURTAIN ] [21]
ACT II. SCENE: A chamber spacious in one of the wings of the palace. The white walls support a multi-colored ceiling. The ceiling is a network of lines: blue, purple, gold and green. In the back are tall Moorish windows hung with rose-colored cur tains. The windows afford a glimpse of a garden in the center of which is a pool. There dance torrents of light shed by the full moon at her zenith. The floor of the chamber is covered with precious Oriental rugs, except a part of the foreground reserved for dancing. There is a cream-colored divan near the window, piled high with cushions. Next to it are two other divans of pink and orange. The chamber is lighted by three huge crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling with silken ropes. The curtain rises. The stage is empty for a moment. [ Enter two slaves, one an Abyssinian, the other an Arab. They take the cushions from the divans and scatter them in the shape of a crescent, with the cream-colored divan as its center. As they finish arrang ing the cushions, they start to go; they collide.] ABYSSINIAN [ R aising fa fa(] Jahannam! [M]
ARAB [Recoiling] Bismillah! [ Takes the dagger that was suspended from his belt. They scowl at each other. Exeunt L.] [ Enter R.&gt; a SLAVE GIRL, carrying red roses in a large white basket. With great deli cacy and taste she scatters roses about the place. She is humming an Oriental air. The orchestra accompanies and describes her action and song so far as it can be called a song. Enter another SLAVE GIRL with yellow Champaks or aromatic flowers of a similar color. She also follows the movement of the FIRST GIRL and scatters flowers.] [ Enter two more SLAVE GIRLS bearing wine and glasses. The wines are in various bottles on one tray and the many-colored glasses on another tray. They put their trays near the windows] [ All the SLAVE GIRLS wear as few garments as possible. The FIRST ONE is dressed in green satin ornamented with gorgeous red stripes; the SECOND wears a scarlet dress striped with blue and violet; the THIRD wears a garment of pink with folds of yellow, and the LAST wears a rainbow- colored garment. After they scatter the
flowers and put down the wine, they dance. Exeunt R. at the end of dance.] [ Enter MOBARAK stealthily L. He whistles. Enter FIRST SLAVE GIRL R.} FIRST SLAVE GIRL Ah, Mobarak! [ Goes to him, arms outstretched ] ARAB [ Embracing her ] What s the news ? FIRST SLAVE GIRL They will kill you. Why have you come here? ARAB But I saw two men here, arranging the cushions. FIRST SLAVE GIRL [ Giggling ] They are eunuchs. ARAB Eunuchs! Can eunuchs get angry? FIRST SLAVE GIRL Eunuchs are everything here. They whip the slave girls; they kill one another; they are [24]
beasts. {Footsteps without R.] You must go away. They will kill you, if they see you here. ARAB Ah, woman! Who can kill Mobarak, the Arab? Tell me how he is. FIRST SLAVE GIRL He may die at any moment. Go! Run away! ARAB [ Holding her in his embrace ] One word more, my heart. Where is Majnu? FIRST SLAVE GIRL [ Ecstatically ] I don t know. [Embracing bim.} Go! He will be here soon. Go. ARAB I will. So [ Exit L.] [ Exit FIRST SLAVE GIRL R.] [ From a distance without L. is heard a flute , playing in the same fashion as in Act /., only it is a little more melancholy now. Enter FOUR AMIRS L. They are young; dressed according to the customs of their [25]
respective Amirets. The FIRST one is dressed in white silken flowing robes , with a mitre of yellow as a head-dress. The SECOND, yellow-white loose costume of western Kabul. He has a yellow-green turban mounted with a diamond at the front. The THIRD is dressed like a Eokharan. He has a red fez, and a red cloak of velvet, and a white pyjama. His cloak is embroidered with gold. The FOURTH ARAB is wearing a white costume. All four men have pearl-studded shoes. As they enter &gt; they take off their shoes. Enter a EUNUCH. He goes out with the shoes.] FIRST AMIR Have you heard anything new? SECOND AMIR No. The emperor is well, it seems. THIRD AMIR You cannot tell. All these false reports FIRST AMIR Yesterday, when I saw him, he did not seem so. [ A s they sit down, the flute ceases playing without .] [261
FOURTH AMIR They say Shah Alam is here in disguise. SECOND AMIR Now he can put his ability to the test. FIRST AMIR How? SECOND AMIR Start a rebellion. Majnu is always busy with these. [ Points to wine and flowers.} THIRD AMIR Majnu is not a fool. He appears to be immersed in these; but I tell you, he is more crafty than that brother of his. FOURTH AMIR Shah Alam is not good to be the emperor. FIRST AMIR He is cruel. He is a savage. Majnu and he are both capricious; but Majnu has a kind heart. THIRD AMIR A kind heart in a ruler always leads to fatality. [27]
A cruel ruler personally is safe. But a kind one never. SECOND AMIR Yes; kind persons always suffer [ They rise as they see MAJNU enter R., followed by TWO DANCING GIRLS, Theu comes a MAN DANCER followed by TWO OTHER WOMEN. The FIRST TWO WOMEN are dressed in purple, orange, green and blue. Their bosoms are half covered and they are barefooted. MAJNU wears a pale-yellow robe, and a large carbuncle- studded turban. He wears gold-embroid ered, pearl-studded shoes. He does not take them of. The NEXT TWO DANCING GIRLS are dressed in pink and saffron of cooler shades. They wear very few jewels. The MAN DANCER wears pink trousers only. He is bronze in complexion, and has good features. His long black hair falls fantastically about his shoulders. The DANCING GIRL that follows him is dressed in shining, black, gauzy silk. There is a large purple amethyst on her bosom, and a girdle of pearls interspersed with diamonds and a few emeralds. A short strand hangs down to her knees in front of her. The end of this string has a huge dazzling diamond set next to a [28]
medium-sized emerald. On her wrists she wears bangles of thin gold, polished to sparkle. On the backs of her hands she wears, tied with heavy strings of moon stone, two large topazes. On her insteps she wears two large chrysolites surrounded by beads of lapis lazuli, and tied there with strings of turquoise. She wears chain bracelets on her upper arms, studded with immense opals. Her deep dark hair is dressed with careful negligence. Just above her forehead a very large diamond is pinned to the hair. Next to it are two strings of pearls coming down on her tem ples, then reaching almost to the corners of her red mouth. She must be slow to enter after those who precede her. There is a noise of mingled exclamations as MAJNU enters. The first four DANCING GIRLS and THE MAN go and stand by their respective cushions. THE AMIRS salute MAJNU. He looks back for the LAST GIRL, who is slowly entering.} MAJNU Lutfa, come sit by me. [ She goes toward him; he takes her left hand with his right, and leads her to the divan. She sits down. Consternation among the rest of them.} [29]
MAJNU [ Standing before the end of the divan and facing the rest.] Be seated. Amirs. Dance, my man and my girls. [ He seats himself beside LUTFA. THE AMIRS take their seats. The dancing commences. The FIRST MAN comes into the foreground^ and a little later the FOUR GIRLS join him in dancing. The dancing has four movements^ [First: It is dawn. This dawn is in a city where the courtesans dance their last; and the people -, used to keeping late hours , displeased at the advent of the dawn, take their last fill of pleasure.} [ Second: It is noon. Five SLAVE GIRLS enter R. y bringing trays full of flowers and wine glasses. They stand aside. THE DANCERS execute movements to portray the noonday lassitude that generally overtakes voluptuaries . They drin k cool drin ks and shred the flower petals and throw them away in sprays.] [ Third: It is afternoon. They are pre paring themselves for the orgies of the night that is coming.} [THE SLAVES serve wine while the next movement commences.] [30]
[Fourth: It is night. They dance the dance of pleasure. It is the kindling of the senses the consummation of every thing by plunging all into an abyss of purple^ {As the dance ends, THE AMIRS applaud; the SLAVE GIRLS nod approval; MAJNU stands up, does not clap; goes to the win dow and looks out, then comes back slowly. The rest of them talk to one another, not aloud, while the SLAVE GIRLS serve wine. LUTFA looks up at MAJNU, who is leaning against the divan from behind^ MAJNU Dance, Lutfa! Dance! [ All look at him and at her, then at the other dancers. LUTFA begins to dance. MAJNU is looking out of the window at the calm of nature without. LUTFA dances the fire of passion, of the calm of the soul. The passions and the soul are at strife. It is the dance of a struggle, fbe other dancers are about her and supplement her. MAJNU is drawn by it from his contem plation of nature. He is simply trans fixed; so are THE AMIRS. Passion becomes victorious over the soul, The dance is completed. They applaud. Noise with-
out: a woman and a man screaming and shouting. With the ceasing of the noise of applause, the noise without ceases. MAJNU goes up to LUTFA and leads her by the hand to one of the divans. The orchestra resumes playing. The OTHER DANCERS begin to dance. THE SLAVES join in. LUTFA, MAJNU and THE AMIRS watch them from near the windows. This is the dance of languishing passion. It expresses itself through half repose and half movement. It is not the debasement of the human sou!, but that moment of forgetfulness when the soul identifies itself with the senses and loses all desire to open itself to higher influences that uplift} [ The dance ends with a burst of applause from all but MAJNU, who is not much impressed. He leaves LUTFA, who goes to the other dancers; and then he goes to the window and looks out. Noise from with out as at the close of LUTFA S dance. It ceases with the applause as before} EUNUCH {Without L} The court singer. [MAJNU turns around. Enter a white- bearded old man in a white turban and costume} [32]
MAJNU Alekam, Baba! SINGER [Saluting] At your service, Jahanpana. V MAJNU You have been long coming, Baba. SINGER I was singing the Emperor [ at which word they almost wince, and look at him with attention ] to sleep. MAJNU He is better, then ? SINGER Yes; he is. MAJNU Sovan Allah! Sing, Baba, sing; I want to rest. [ They all cease talking and scatter about the room noiselessly. LUTFA goes near MAJNU and stands by him. Some of the dancers, being tired, sit on the floor, here and there \ SINGER What shall I sing, Janab? [33]
MAJNU Sing the song that soothes and calms. SINGER [ Melancholy Oriental strain ] The moon with the stars Holds her tryst: The rose s lips redden with each Amorous kiss, That blushingly she slowly gives To the wind s lips, Not to bring them to her lover nightingale Who, oh - Faithless like her, sings of his love For another. The moon and her dear, smiling stars, Their pure And serene eyes twinkle not to Reproach her; They know ere the sun-glow limns The East With rose s blushes, His broken heart will cease to beat With her numb petals falling each by each. [ As the song ceases they applaud. This time there is no noise without \ MAJNU Sing another, Baba. [34]
[ They all drink wine, served by the slaves. The musician does not take the profered wine.] SINGER: The morning star, Like a beacon afar, Signs the sun from The night s dark bourne To dawn s waveless harbor. The cheery shore-land Sings its awakening welcome; The green silent woodside With bowed head abides To do him honor, the golden sun. [ Hardly have they ceased applauding, when there enters an EUNUCH Z,.] EUNUCH The Emperor sends for the court singer. MAJNU He was asleep! EUNUCH Just awakened with pain SINGER I have to go, Jahanpana. [351
MAJNU Alekam, Baba! [ Exeunt L. SINGER and EUNUCH, after saluting MAJNU.] MAJNU j- ro LUTFA j Will you dance now? Dance the dance of night. Dance. [ LUTFA smiles at him coquettishly, then dances. The other dancers supplement her. It is the dance of passion trium phant. It is not brutal, but at times cruel. It is sensual but not vulgar. It is the dance of passion that is trying to become self-conscious, trying to be majestic like the soul and failing inevitably. Its volup- tousness is taken for its supreme victory. It is weary; it is half -hopeful, yet it is strong. Its languor is its power. Its slow movement is its realforcefulness. It is passion that does not have any purpose, afraid of its own monotony, yet tri umphantly moves on, as if afraid to stop. Towards the last steps of the dance, the same noise is heard from without R. y resembling the quarrel between a man and a woman. The end of the dance is some what awkward, as a SLAVE GIRL, evidently a beautiful Circassian maiden, half- [36]
dressed, enters R. y as if pursued by some one. Her scream is followed by a mans voice shouting without R. He follows her on with a scourge in his hand. The man is an ARAB EUNUCH. THE GIRL fall s at MAJNU S/^/, afraid and suppliant .] MAJNU What is this, in my palace? EUNUCH She has been dancing and neglecting her duty. MAJNU Dancing! Does she know how to dance? EUNUCH Jahapana, I don t know. She left her sword by the door, instead of keeping watch. She danced every time Lut er er dancing was going on here. [ They all look at THE SLAVE who is lying at MAJNU S/^/.] I forbade her twice, yet she danced. I am going to scourge her. MAJNU Scourge her? EUNUCH Yes. She is but a slave. [371
MAJNU Slave! Isn t a slave human? [ The EUNUCH bows bis head.} MAJNU Go; I will attend to scourging her. [ He stretches his hand to raise her. Exit EUNUCH after an elaborate salaam.] MAJNU [ ro TH GIRL j Arise. SLAVE GIRL j R ^ s j Jahapana MAJNU Why were you dancing? SLAVE GIRL The dancing here was so different. MAJNU Different! What do you mean? SLAVE GIRL [ They all gather round her and watch her with great interest^ [38]
In the mountains, people dance so differently. At home, we dance like the stars that are like the soul moving through the heavens. MAJNU Dance like stars that are like the soul? LUTFA Could you dance now? MAJNU Do you dance well? SLAVE GIRL I do not know. OTHERS [ Confusion and noise ] Dance! Dance at once. Dance! MAJNU Dance, then. SLAVE GIRL Someone will have to sing MAJNU Sing what? [39]
SLAVE GIRL Sing of light, of death, and the soul that flies like a bird lost beyond the clouds, into the heavens. [ They all look puzzled.} MAJNU The court singer no 1 may. I will try to sing. Dance. [ The gathering becomes much interested.} [ During the following dance MAJNU sings halfway or so, a wordless melody , then as the soul element enters into the dance- theme his voice lowers and gradually fades into silence, The SLAVE GIRL bows to him&gt; then dances. It is at first a torture of mind and body. The body is intoxi cated with its own exuberant volup tuousness. The senses triumph, although they are unable to hold themselves together. Everything seems to disintegrate under the pressure of this struggle between mind and body. The body could hardly stand any more. Then a numbness sets in. The soul renascent asserts itself. The body submits to the soul. The other dancers come and compliment the SLAVE GIRL. The movement increases intensely and gradually in rapidity. The soul is win- [40]
ning. The body, hitherto wearied, now as if reinforced, makes a supreme effort to stir the success. But the soul wins. The soul leaves the now tired body and flies into diaphanous regions whence it came. There are but few movements now. The spirit has rediscovered itself. The ulti mate is reached. The lights grow dim. Vague light of dawn enters the room through the windows. Faint noise from without R. waxes louder and louder. MAJNU gives a start. Looks R. From without R. a heavy voice says: The Emperor is dead! [ MAJNU appears as if stunned.} [ With those words, a low, weird roll of a drum and a faint sound of a trumpet are audible from without. The dance ends slightly awkwardly.} MAJNU [ Half consciously } Dead! [ The party commences to leave in silent haste. MAJNU looks at the vague light of the dawn. Hardly have they all (except the SLAVE DANCING-GIRL) gone off the stage R. and L., when enters COURT SINGER L., with a stringed instrument in his hands. The instrument has broken strings.}
MAJNU [ Perceiving him; eagerly, almost rushing to the old man.} Baba Dead? COURT SINGER points to the instrument. Both of them now see the SLAVE DANCING- GIRL. She bows. MAJNU can find no words to say to her. The COURT SINGER gently strokes MAJNU S head with his right hand. With the accompaniment of almost inaudible music, the SLAVE GIRL bows to the dawn. Hardly has she finished bow ing, when the roll of the drum without waxes louder. MAJNU is deeply per turbed; tries to control himself. Another roll of drums. The dawn is vague and shadowy. A noble man does not like to show his emotion. Hence MAJNU s grief, if expressed, should be in a subdued fashion.} [ CURTAIN ]
ACT III. SCENE: Five years have passed. First flush of dawn. The stage looks like a playground of fantastic shadows. As with the progress of the sunrise the shadows dance out of sight, a lake like that of the first act is revealed, with a background of green trees, surrounding a cottage with thatched roof. Masses of flowers R. and L. There are broad marble steps leading down into the lake. One long, winding path right and another from the left lead to the steps. Morning melodies are being played on a flute from without R. [ As the shadows disappear completely, enter LAYLA, with a pitcher on her head, hum ming a melody that is in tune with the music of the flute. As she goes down the steps to fill the pitcher, she vanishes from sight. Just at that moment, a mans voice, singing, is heard from across the lake, supposedly from under the thatched roof.} THE SONG: The sun, radiant, embraces the earth with a Thousand golden arms, Like a mother that findeth her lost child After a lifelong search. [43]
The trees shed their tears of dew in sheer Joy and love. Oh! To see such a meeting: to love like the sun! To be found like the earth. [ LAYLA is supposed to fill her pitcher during the song. Enter JESTER Z,., stealthily. He peeps into the lake; then y as the song ceases, hurries off the stage L. LAYLA now comes up the steps with the filled pitcher on her head. Exit LAYLA, hum ming, tfhe flute plays again as before. Enter TWO DERVISHES singing in tune with the flute :\ What was writ has come to pass, like the sun Leading the hosts of light from dark to dark; What is done Lives on. Who can stop Destiny s hand, Gaunt and grim, Moving ceaselessly on the dial of time, Desolate, dim? [ Exeunt L. Flute plays on.] [ Enter LAYLA with an empty pitcher. She is singing in tune with the flute. She goes down the steps to the lake.} What play this? the sun and the breeze Make merry, merry with the rose. The rippling waters cry or laugh I know not. The birds sing sweet and happy; [44]
My heart melts into tears, I know not why; What play can this be! The laughter of the lake and the breeze, While the tears fill my eyes? [ Toward the end of this song, she reaches the bottom step and thus vanishes from sight. From without R. a mans voice sings:} Giving is God s: the giver giveth, As God giveth: the giver giveth God s gift. [ LAYLA comes up the steps with a full pitcher and goes of R. The song is going on from without R., when MAJNU and JESTER enter, almost simultaneously with the ceasing of the song.] JESTER I saw her there filling a pitcher. MAJNU There - [ Perceiving the entrance R. of SHAH ALAM, whom MAJNU cannot recognize owing to the former s gray beard, long gray hair, and oldish features as well as gait.} Have you - SHAH ALAM J _ JESTER Have you seen a - [45]
SHAH ALAM [ Aside thoughtfully ] Allah! He looks like Majnu. JESTER Do you hear? MAJNU Who are you? SHAH ALAM [ f aking eourage ] What are you seeking here? JESTER We are seeking for Lay MAJNU What is your name? SHAH ALAM A poor beggar has no name. MAJNU Are not beggars named? SHAH ALAM But they always call them beggars; so in the course of time, they forget their names. [46]
MAJNU Do you know who lives in yonder cottage? [ Points across the lake to the background} JESTER Does Layla live MAJNU [ After eyeing THE JESTER angrily ] Have you ever seen anyone here who may be in hiding? SHAH ALAM [ As calmly as possible ] Some say a prince is hiding there. JESTER Ah! ShahAlam MAJNU [ Stopping him with a glance ] What is his name? SHAH ALAM I do not know; a beggar knows only the alms he is given, and not the giver of them who is Allah. [47]
MAJNU Is there anyone else with him there? SHAH A LAM Why do you ask these questions, traveler? Do you have to know everything? JESTER We want to find Shah Alam and MAJNU Dervish, have you ever heard whether prince Shah Alam be alive? SHAH ALAM [ With perfect calm ] He may be alive, but it may be a living death that he lives. MAJNU Does the prince that lives there look like him? SHAH ALAM I never can tell. I saw prince Shah Alam but once; that was when he was protecting MAJNU Protecting whom ? [48]
JESTER Yes, yes! SHAH ALAM \ Alarmed \ Two helpless women. MAJNU [ f Q JESTER ] Shah Alam protecting helpless women ? JESTER Even I cannot think of a jest like that. SHAH ALAM Is he not a prince? JESTER Yes; a very cruel one. How can that heart of his pity and protect anyone? SHAH ALAM Do you not jest, my sir? What do you know of the human heart? If you had suffered as he, had you suffered like a beggar, as I, you would not say that. That prince might have been cruel and cunning once, but the miracle of Allah might change even him. [49]
MAJNU If he is changed and his heart has seen the way of Allah, why does he hide with two women? SHAH ALAM Since a man has lost a kingdom, every hope, the things that he thought to be the greatest, have proved to be nothing! Why should he not hide? There is a price on his head. If Majnu had a little heart, he would not pursue Shah Alam from one hiding-place to another, till he is wearied, ill, and willing to give himself up to the headsman. MAJNU I will JESTER Show us where he is. SHAH ALAM So that you can take his head, and get the price money MAJNU If he is what you say, I will forgive him. SHAH ALAM Who are you? [50]
JESTER Oh, he is MAJNU [ Calmly ] I am Majnu. JESTER The king! SHAH ALAM I am Shah Alam! [ MAJNU and JESTER are taken aback.] MAJNU Sha h A-l-a-m! SHAH ALAM Do you not recognize me, brother? JESTER Why, people say you are dead! SHAH ALAM There are no dead. How are you searching for me, if I am dead? MAJNU Wild rumors. How old you look!
SHAH ALAM Five years are no short time when a man has to seek a new place of safety every day. When death stares one in the face as it has been with me these five years one ages fast. A man comes to death s door quicker by avoiding death. [ With the beginning of the following song y MAJNU gesticulates as if be recognized the voice. He is assailed by doubt and belief in turn. A conflict is raging within him.] [ From without R. } LAYLA S voice is heard singing.} Sorrow, you say, spreads her wings To envelop my being! Joy s chariot wheel s roll I hear On the pavement of my dream. Sad this hour, others think Joy s dawn, I seem to see, On the brink of love s eternity. MAJNU [ Speaking simultaneously with the song.} A dream, is it? Who can this be? The cry of my soul I hear! Who is she oh! [ Enter LAYLA R. with the last words of her song. She has a pitcher with her.]
MAJNU Layla! JESTER Lay 1- LAYLA stops short, speechless.} MAJNU Shah Alam, you have lost a kingdom but have found Layla, whom all the kingdoms of earth cannot match. SHAH ALAM [ Signing LAYLA to come nearer ] You wrong me, brother. MAJNU [ Almost furious ] Wrong you? Would not anyone give up king doms for her? Ah, you are a true lover content to live as a beggar if you have her. SHAH ALAM I am a beggar. MAJNU Beggar to whom love has been given as alms. Ah, my fate! Allah! [ LAYLA and JESTER in consternation , do not know what to do.] [53]
SHAH ALAM [ Putting his hand on MAJNU S shoulder :] Majnu, you can have Layla. MAJNU Marry my brother s wife? You talk like a holy dervish. SHAH ALAM Do not hurt me, brother. Layla is not my wife. MAJNU Not your wife? How is she living with you? SHAH ALAM Let me tell you all. Come here, Layla; bear witness to this. In the time of war, when death and devastation were reaping their har vest, I was defeated, and took shelter under the roof of Layla s mother. They needed a man s protection, and I needed them. I have begged to keep them and myself alive, but it was a mother and sister that I was protecting. MAJNU Allah! SHAH ALAM Majnu, you won the kingdom from me. [54]
MAJNU I do not want the kingdom. SHAH ALAM I did not give you the kingdom. I will give you Layla. Take her with love. [ He takes LAYLA by the right hand and joins it to MAJNU S.] MAJNU [ Taking her other hand with his ] Do you give her to me? SHAH ALAM She loves you. MAJNU Layla! [She looks down and blushes .] Shah Alam, this gem of gems [ pointing to LAYLA ], this most gracious of all ornaments, this most wonderful of kingdoms, has no equal. Layla alone can equal Layla. You ask me to take her with love; how poor my love is when I com pare it with the silent love that has grown from a drop into a sea in the solitude of her heart. Oh, Layla! Layla! JESTER It is going to be a mad-day instead of midday. [551
SHAH ALAM Majnu MAJNU Brother, my soul is filled to overflowing. What can I give you in return for what you have given me? You fought for the kingdom once; take it from me with the same love that has made you give me Layla. You will be a just and righteous king. SHAH ALAM I take the kingdom? MAJNU Yes. Ghor, Bonair, Maust, Kandahar, the vine yards of Charut, wheat-yielding plentiful Maust, the city of Balkh with its shawl trade, the Mosque of Aziz, and the paradise city sur rounded by the green hills where the spring comes the earliest and the winter is shortest: I ask you to take them. They are not mine. The crown jewels that have been won through fifty wars in the past three hundred years; the marble city of our capital, all the slaves, the great army, dancing girls bought with their weights of pearl and gold, and the musicians that sing the best in the world they are all yours. Say yes, and the herald will announce [56]
through his trumpet made of molten gold and silver, inlaid with ruby and diamond: that from tomorrow. Shah Alam will be the Patishah, the Emperor. Take it, brother; I give it to you. SHAH ALAM [ As if resisting a temptation ] No, not LAYLA Are you ill, brother? MAJNU Shah A-l-a-m JESTER [ Perplexed ] Bismillah! SHAH ALAM I do not want it; I do not want it. MAJNU I will be happy with Layla in a beggar s cottage. I want to make you happy. Give me an oppor tunity SHAH ALAM I have found my kingdom is?]
MA J NU [ Eagerly ] Accept it, then. Do you? SHAH ALAM [ Triumphantly pointing to his own heart ] Oh, my kingdom is not there; it is here, brother. Allah is my king, and I his humble slave. Ho, Allah! MAJNU You will not take it? SHAH ALAM No. You may be happy in a cottage with Layla, but she will be happiest in a palace. Why take away that happiness from her? LAYLA [ She cannot speak further ] SHAH ALAM I do not need it; I do not want an empire. The free sky, the green earth, the whole world is my kingdom now. All men and women are my brothers and sisters. His rain will bathe my head and His sun will keep me warm. The lakes with their silver surface will serve as mir rors to my worn-out expression; and my dress [58]
will be that which His servants alone wear: the beggar s tunic. Oh, I am free! Layla, sister, be happy as the Papia that sings to the dawn; and noble as the peacock, that queen of the sunset hour strutting majestically on the marble wall of the Capital. Happy, happy, happy; everything speaks of happiness: I have found my kingdom. Majnu, grant me a boon. MAJNU It is granted. SHAH ALAM Some day, when the children come, teach your sons to love their brothers. Jealousy that made us so cruel to each other, let it be banished from your kingdom; let love be the law in your palace as well as everywhere in the empire. Then grant me this boon, too, before I depart. And- MAJNU AND LAYLA Where are you going? SHAH ALAM Calm yourselves. I intend to make a pilgrimage to Mecca [ They all make a short bow as they bear the word Mecca.] 159]
MAJNU What else can we do? One more thing? SHAH ALAM If you please, from this day on, call your Capital The City of Layla-Majnu, which means selfless- love. JESTER Ho, Layla-Majnu, Layla-Majnu! SHAH ALAM [ Proceeding to go R.] Majnu-Layla! MAJNU Will you not come to our wedding? SHAH ALAM Are not your souls married? I will go to Mecca now. On my return, Allah willing, I shall come to see you. I am now a Dervish, Allah s eternal servant. I live at His will, in His eyes. MAJNU In your eyes we are married. You are the priest of Allah who has joined our hands in marriage. Give us your blessing. [6ol
SHAH ALAM [ Going to the extreme end of the stage R., turns around, faces them, raising his arms in benediction.} GalSovan Allah : Illahi II lil la : Allah ho Akbar ! [ Music.] [ The sun, shining on him from behind, almost transfigures him. MAJNU, LAYLA and JESTER kneel, and bow. SHAH ALAM proceeds to go off R.; his face to the light, that smites the two tear-drops from his eyes into almost iridescent lustre^ [ CURTAIN ] [61