play in 6 acts. My latest play.
A play dealing with temptation and importunities of women, opening the grosser side of a woman’s passion. A comedy of propriety woven with threads of studies of prudery. A tyranny of conventional propriety looking into the flaws of both the moral and judicial system in the so-called high society. A play of morality and integrity, carnal love and true love, honour and dignity.
Solicitations of Abbou, a young servant by a married woman, Nana her master’s wife. He’s tempted but all the more striking is his consciousness of the ultimate sanction of morality. His persisting integrity exemplifies higher power-a world’s influence might invade but would not touch the upright. He does not falter; he rejects her innuendoes and solicitations willy-nilly.
But she takes her revenge-doesn’t take his rejection lying down. The covetous wife turns the tables on him by asserting the opposite of the truth. Makes a covert appeal to the jealousy of the men-servants against the hated Abbou, and to the fears of the society women, whom she represents as unsafe from insults. The women all agree that no man has a right to resist their solicitations. Beauty is spurned. Her distorted account of facts has the desired effect on her husband. And there is the threat of prison for Abbou, and the company of the vilest of men, instead of the caresses of beauty in high places.
The Judge, her husband, can read through their solicitations, and have been busy all along with another similar strange death-row case, a perfect parallel to the false accusation by his Wife to his own servant. Where two brothers living together and the wife of the Elder Brother, accuses the Younger Brother falsely. The Elder seeks to murder the Younger. But being at last convinced of his innocence, he slays his Wife instead.
All these happens against a background of the domineering presence of Big Mama, the Judge’s mother, and who is not only in bad books with Nana, but also is soliciting lobbying, and helping a covetous lass, Minnie, to get married to her son.
Excerpts from the play Benefits of Doubts
A2S4—The Native Return
[Minnie spreads a dark duvet in her king-sized bed which lies strategically in the middle of a room that’s devoid of modern convenience. Draperies and Swahili kangas hang precariously on racks. Smoke from jasmine incense fills the room. An old African mat, faded carpet, etc are adorned by unpacked pastries, snacks, drinks, etc. Minnie’s beaming smile splashes in approval. Enter Big Brother]
Big Brother: [Holding the drinks] Jameson? Amarula? What a sumptuous waste! Who are you indulging this time? [Teasing] One of your classy gigolos?
Minnie: No. I’m not Minnie-coddling anyone tonight. It’s just the justice…
Big Brother: [Anxiously] Say what?
Minnie: What now, are you deaf? I said Justice the just. I’ve prepared for him tilapia stew and marinated chicken tikka-mous-tikka. Feel free and invite yourself to celebrate and share in this auspicious occasion.
Big Brother: [Nonplussed] Excuse you? Who asked you to? Is this the latest overcooked Soap-Opera tactic to snatch the husband of Nana?
Minnie: Stop being ridiculous! You sound so surprised. Well, I don’t see anything about it that goes beyond the bounds of the ordinary.
Big Brother: Then remind me, what would a married man want in our house?
Minnie: [Nodding] Mmh! Indeed! Want or desire; you catch up real quick, bro. real quick. What if his wife can no longer satisfy this need; or want; or desire. But stop judging me now! Tonight I host the Judge. Next, it is the minister himself! [Gyrating her waist] And you say-say Minnie-Minnie Mo has small means! Is it shocking?
Big Brother: [Correcting] Not shocking or even impossible a feat for someone with a bottom like two stale buns! But I’m warning you sister and your itchy groin; to think harder than shaking it to make Nana share her husband…
Minnie: [Teasing] Are you serious right now…
Big Brother: [Firmly] Listen to me you silly goose…
Minnie: Why should I listen?
Big Brother: This is no time for more childish gibberish.
Minnie: Seriously? Only when you want me to listen, it’s THAT serious…
Big Brother: [Sternly] I’m very, very serious, sister-girl. Who says he can just come here and amuse himself? Don’t you realise this is only trouble if you are just his side dish of marinated ‘tikka-mous-tika ?’ Besides, this scheming escapade can only compromise our court case and cause a scandal.
Minnie: I know that, but you too should appreciate the countless times I’ve argued, holding deep debates within my mind but losing all arguments. I’ve told my heart; but it won’t listen—not one bit! What can a damsel in distress do when blissful fortune fastens as a magnet his muscular spirit to her heart? Such a resolve is only a pawn for hopes and a means to her desire…
Big Brother: [Adamantly] You must stop these solicitations. Honour demands it. How shall I to save my face, as his close friend, if he Minnie-coddled and then booted you? This shall be a gross transgression…
Minnie: Objection overruled, my lord! Talking of honour, what’s more nobly honourable than a judge embodying an ideal union? For once in my bosom lies the only man worthy of my virginity, honourably guarded for the white bed sheet on our nuptial night, [longingly] for the ululations of the old maids exulting the honourable stain the morning after…
Big Brother: Virgin? [Laughing] You? Then why do you broadcast yourself on the market as ‘single-and-ready-to-mingle’?
Minnie: My marital status is just a scheme to sample my suitors and test how suitable my caprice is in my amorous adventures. I may only be a little boat looking for a harbour but until today, I have sailed cruising past the assailing sea of desire. And now, as a respite, after anchoring in the apogee of my journey, providing proof of my honour, no one, not even Big Brother can delay my romantic voyager any longer.
Big Brother: Unbelievable! Will you keep too your local gigolos as playthings?
Minnie: I’ve summoned them too, to share in my banquet—all the homeboys—already the maids are in the kitchen.
Big Brother: No doubt to deliver a press statement to your gigolo billy-goats sniffing round you.
Minnie: You and your foul mouth! Is this about your Kiki that I turned down?
Big Brother: I’m just saying little sister. If you indulge the judge and instead of elevating you into a pedestal, degrades you as his footstool, our family will be an object of disgrace, and you will put me in a very awkward situation!
Minnie: I am a woman gifted in untying knotty love chords of any man, seducing him long enough to share in my dream. So stop patronising me with lectures about virtue and respect. [Snapping] Why should I even worry about your honour or your cherished friendship when love spread ahead of me in endless dreams of ecstasy? I’m shrewd; I’ll lay all my cards, not just my little cleavage! The sages say ‘blessed is the hand that gives’ but today I declare, hallowed be the hand that gives a lot… [Noise from without, ululation] and there comes my prince. [To Big Brother] Don’t just stand! Can you usher him. [Bustle outside, offstage voices] Welcome our son! Our loving son!
Big Brother: Why would I welcome him when you no longer listen to me?
Minne: [Desperately] Don’t stand here! I don’t want him to know we are arguing about him. Get out! Get busy, pleee-ase! [Both laugh knowingly as he exits].
Old Woman: [The compound stirs] Welcome my son. They are excited because they have never seen such a big car!
Minnie: That’s what I’m talking about.
Old Man: Park the car near the umbrella tree!
Big Brother: Let me park it for you, my brother!
Old Man: You are most welcome, my son.
Young Man: There you are! A new shining banknote for me!
Judge: And for you, mama, an island Kitenge, my wife wears a similar fabric.
Old Woman: Ooh! Thank you, my son. I will always pray for you to have everything you desire. [With emphasis] Everything, my son!
Judge: And this papa, is all for you. Rolex watch, see? Exactly like mine, we are now a family. [With emphasis] One big family!
Young Girl: Ooh my! All these wads and bundles! What a full-size briefcase!
Old Man: Hallowed be the hand that gives a lot! [Laughing] You always gave a listening ear to the needs of your mama! Mother is supreme. [Laughter and general mirth as the judge comes into the room]
Judge: Oh my dear [Hugging Minnie] Look at you? Like the queen of Sheba!
Minnie: Is why a gracious reception to welcome my kingly Solomon.
Judge: The spiralling incense is already making me feel at home [Sitting on the bed, trying it] and my throne is floating with the whirling uud!
Old Woman: [Aside] Did you see that? Sinking into her bed with no invitation?
Old Man: [Aside] Audacious gesture! Signal his meaning better than words…
Old Woman: [Aside] Spelling his intention… Continue reading