Literature

Snatch and Run or Marriage by Abduction [Telfo bekisE] (Part 1)

by MENGHESTU LEMMA

NOTE ON THE PLAY

"
Snatch and Run, or Marriage by Abduction," was performed in Addis Ababa
at the Haile Sellassie I National Theatre during the Ethiopian
Christmas week, January, 1963.

It was directed by Ato Tesfae Gessesse, one of the promising young Ethiopian men of the theatre. The cast was as follows :—

Wondayehu ………………………….Merrine Jembere Belay
   Gelagle ……………………………….Getachew Debalke
   Bezabih Tori …………………………Haile Worku
   Aregga ………………………………..Negash Zeleke
   Yesahak ………………………………(a) Makonnen Amena (b) Tesfae Gessesse
   Taffesech ……………………………..(a) Mulumebet Haile Mariam (b) Asnefech Worku
   Negadras ………………………………Workineh Birru Fikre Ayele
   Hapte ………………………………….Lemma Worke
   Fitawrari Merrine Tekwas …………..Makonnen Abebe
   Wolde-Cherkos ……………………..Sahlou Ezineh

 

 Wondayehu Merrine, Gelagle, Bezabih Tori, Aregga, Yesahak:

Childhood and school-day friends, all eligible bachelors of the modern generation.

Taffesech: A girl, 19 years of age.

Negadras Workineh Birru: A rich merchant and the father of Taffesech.

Habte : Servant to the Negadras.

FlTAWRARI MERRINE Tekwas: A patriot and the father of Wondayehu.

Wolde-Cherkos: Filawrari's servant.

 

CONTENTS :

Act I—

Scene 1—Saturday Afternoon, the living room.

Scene 2—After Lunch, the same room.

Act II— After Supper, the bedroom.

Act III— Sunday Morning, the living room.

Time : Present-day Ethiopia.

Place : About 30 Km. from Addis Ababa.

ACT I—Scene 1

When the curtain rises we see the living room of Fitawrari Merrine Tekwas' villa about thirty kilometres
from the city of Addis Ababa. Part of the country home is used by his
son, Wondayehu, as a week-end vacation retreat, especially in the
disagreeable Addis rainy season. His friends often use the house as a
retreat and feel per­fectly at home. The living room which we now see
appears comfortable and inviting. The presence of a record player and
telephone indicate not only the comfortable wealth of the owner but is
also a witness to the extent modern civilization is invading the
peaceful Ethiopian countryside.

To
the left we see a huge mirror set in a heavy gilt frame. On the
opposite stage is an impressive portrait of a man whose hair is done in
the traditional
" Gofere" style which can only be managed by the traditional wooden comb. A " mandolier " or
cartridge belt passes round his waist twice, then crosses his broad
chest and passes over his shoulder. He wears sandals and puttees. From
his left ear huge male golden earrings are suspended. In his left hand
he holds a light machine gun, while his right hand rests on the butt of
a pistol. He stands proud, legs apart, with knitted brows and eyes
staring boldly. Obviously this man was a great Arbagna (leader of the
resistance)during
the Italian occupation and a crack shot with the pistol. A coat hanger
stands near the door on the left with a hat on it. Through this door
the bedroom and dining room may be reached by a corridor, as well as
the kitchen and bathroom.

The
most imposing architectural feature of the living room is a large bay
window which fills the back wall, through which the audience sees the
top of eucalyptus trees. The sky is cloudy and overcast but the room is
gay and brightly decorated with paper buntings. The electric bulbs are
gaily decorated with hats and skirts of bunting, indicating a festive
event. A large assortment of bottles is visible on the bar.

It is a Saturday during the late rainy season. It is almost 1 pm.
A few rays of sun break through the window and stretch across the floor
of the living room. Into this setting, Wondayehu Merrine enters from
stage left whistling the latest hit song. He almost dances rather than
walks and slams the bedroom door with a bang. Wondayehu is short,
lightly built and looks decep­tively young for his age. Coat less and tie less
with his shirt sleeves rolled up, he appears ready to tackle a job. He
wears fashionable shoes and bright socks. Wearing a super-modern
haircut with the front part zooming forward like the horn of a rhino,
he looks like a wild bull ready to charge. Nevertheless, Wondayehu
Merrine appears preoccupied. He bites his nails, studies the room but
is lost in thought.

Wondayehu : Well, what more to do ? (Turns toward the bedroom?) The sheets have been changed. (Nervously searching for a bunch of keys in his pocket, he extricates them) Yes
! This might be for the dining room. The rats alone are punishment
enough for the prisoner ! An ideal prison ! I told that Wolde-Cherkos
to get poison and fill up the rat holes. Who can make him listen to
anything ? This is for the bedroom. Good ! Now—have I forgotten
anything ? Drinks ? (He kneels down, examines the bar and hurriedly counts the bottles) And cigarettes ? We have plenty.

(Standing up with flowery declamatory gestures, he addresses a mythical audience.) The
bridal chamber is prepared. The prison is ready. What more do you want,
my brothers ? Everything is spick and span ! So God speed you, good
luck, and may you return gloriously victorious !

(He
whistles and hums and starts the record player which plays a popular
song. Dancing to the bedroom door, he suddenly remembers it is locked,
backs up, pulls the key from his pocket. When he finally opens the
door, a corner of the bed can be seen. He re-enters the living room
straightening his tie. He looks at himself in the mirror, and seeing
the reflection of his father's picture from the opposite side, he
musingly begins to speak to it.)

Well, Dad ! What do you think ? We are proving we are men today ! You're going to have the surprise of your life ! (Worriedly he looks at his watch.) They should be here by now. (The front door bell rings.) Right on cue !

(He dances gleefully and quickly draws the curtains on the front window.) Welcome conquerors ! Lion-hearted ones, come in, come in ! Welcome home ! Come, all is ready ! (He
unlocks the door and opens it wide. When he sees the stranger standing
at the door his face immediately registers disappointment.)

Oh ! It's you !

(The
unexpected guest is Gelagle. He is of average height, casual and
completely at ease. His face carries the dignified expression of the
Greek philosopher, Socrates. Although rather homely he has an engaging
personality. We know immediately he is on the plump side because his
shirt front does not button. In addition, we know he is a "philosopher
" because
his tie is askew, his shirt wrinkled and his over-long trousers
ill-fitted. All in all, it would appear that his clothes have never
been ironed. He is badly in need of a shave, hat mishapened, pockets
bulging with books, wearing glasses, and holding a raincoat and bag in
hand)

Gelagle
: Hi, Wondayehu ! How are you ? What's the matter ? You look annoyed.
Anything wrong ? I hope I'm not gate-crashing into a private party. (When he takes off his hat, we suspect he is an intellectual for he is quite bald.)

Wondayehu : I thought you had gone to Dessie. (He closes the door and receives Gelagle's belongings.)

Gelagle
: Changed my mind. Infact, I didn't expect to be coming here but I
couldn't stand those damned rains in Addis. They got on my nerves.
Nowadays, the rain lurks behind the clouds ready to pounce like an
enemy. It waits until you're ready to leave the office then maliciously
appears.

Wondayehu : Well, wear your raincoat and you needn't suffer. (Turning his hat in his hand.) You still have this same old hat ? (He peers out through the curtains and then looks at his watch.)

Gelagle : Stop moralizing. (Places luggage on the table) You're all the same. " Why did you go bald ? " " Why don't you have your shirts washed ? " et etcetera. Amen, I say,. Amen ! (He stretches out comfortably on the sofa, closing his eyes) Thank
God for the never questioning countryside! When one gets bored with the
noise and din of shallow city life, there is always this cathedral of
therapeutic recuperation.

Wondayehu:
Stop complaining. We advise you for your own good. You're overplaying
the role of the philosopher. You're still young. Get out like the
others, wash yourself, dress decently—you would literally rock the
heart of any damned girl or woman in town. You're always complaining
you can't find the right one, the one and only. Well go on, go on
meditating and hesitating and you will die hesitating. What do you
expect at your age. You can't grow horns!

Gelagle:
Well, leave mine alone. So, what about you or that great Bezabih? Have
you two been so successful ? Have either of you found the girl of your
dreams? You and that Bezabih who dreams of saving humanity and can't
sleep because of it—you're just jealous of what I've got.

Wondayehu:
I can assure you it was an accident. You did nothing on your part to
deserve it. How is she? Your Belaynesh ? I understand you're at it
again.

Gelagle:
Same old thing. One reason why I'm here. She can't live with me and she
can't live without me. She tells me she does not love me, that she
hates me, and when she does not find me by her side the flood of her
tears is ten times more than the downpour of the month of July.

Wondayehu: Have a drink. You need to cool off. (He pours a glass from the bottle) Yesahak says as long as you don't hate whiskey it doesn't matter if others hate you.

Gelagle: Not now. After dinner. I hope you'll have some chicken watt for dinner.

Wondayehu: (Looking at his watch.) Well,
if she loves you that much why doesn't she marry you and have done with
it. Don't tell me you don't know her well enough after running after
her for four years.

Gelagle : You mean to say why don't / marry her ?

Wondayehu: You're still not civilized. Marry! What difference does it make whether you marry her or she marries you. It's all the same. That is what we say.

Gelagle: We? And pray say, who are we?

Wondayehu: We? That is—us. Myself, Bezabih, Yesahak and Aregga.

Gelagle: As long as you don't include me in that list you can be as mad as you like.

Wondayehu : When the day comes, when the day of action arrives, who will want a philosopher like you, Gelagle? If you were a man you
would have abducted Belaynesh a long time ago and married her. A
marriage by abduction! A romantic marriage fitting for a philosopher
hero!

Gelagle:
Thank you for your kind advice! As one would say in the new Anglicized
Amharic: " Your advice is supported by a walking stick of brotherly
sentiment." But, when I marry, / will marry her, and she will not marry me. And when I marry it will be in strict accordance with the practices and traditions of our fathers.

Wondayehu: We all know you are a radical tradi­tionalist! A reactionary obstacle to modern civilization. (Laughs.) But
what fun it might be! You the warrior abductor, Belaynesh the screaming
abductee! Me, Bezabih Tori, Aregga, Yesahak—the best men! A real
marriage!

Gelagle:
(Opening his eyes and sitting up.) You mean to tell me that I should
inform her in advance saying: " On such and such a date, at such and
such a time, I am going to abduct you at such and such a place!" Don't
make me laugh, my friend! (He stands.)

Wondayehu:
You don't understand my meaning. If you abduct her by prior
consultation and agreement, it would spoil everything. It would no
longer be in the tradition of our fathers, no longer in the hallowed
custom of our country.

Gelagle : The ancient customs of our country must be respected, you know.

Wondayehu:
Quite true! The ancient customs must be respected. Then why not
abduction? It has been used by our fathers, grandfathers, great
grand­fathers and forefathers. They never complained—it served them
well. There is only one difference between our times and theirs. In
those days men were men and women were women! The country was not
suffering from an over-abundance of philosophers like yourself, my
friend.

Gelagle: (Noticing the picture on the wall.) But
all joking aside, how is the old man? How is your father? How I enjoy
sitting at his feet listening to the stories of the good old days.
Those days of great deeds, romance and real manhood! Do you think we
are made of the same stuff as they were? I doubt it. How I envy them!
How lucky they were! The kind of cleverness of today which is called
education didn't tie them hand and foot. They were free agents! Is
Fitawrari home?

Wondayehu: (Looking through the window.) Father has gone hunting. He may return Tuesday or Wednes­day, not before.

Gelagle : (Noticing for the first time the gay decora­tions.) By gosh! What's all this? This Gala Field Day.

Wondayehu: It is a reception. We are abducting a beautiful young lady from town.

Gelagle:
Still the clown. People ask you serious questions and you go on joking.
As long as that roman­tic Bezabih Tori is still around, I can't expect
you to talk sensibly—even for a joke. I remember when I was here about
a month ago, the joke of the day was something quite different. What
was it . . . ?

Wondayehu:
The programme for today is based on the proposition that we should not
detach ourselves from the roots of our tradition. Our slogan for today
is: " let us stick to our customs, to the ancient customs "— and our
Holy Book of Tradition orders—abduction! Abduction without prior
knowledge on either side. And we have agreed to carry out the spirit of
the ritual literally.

Gelagle:
Well, at least you are trying to be con­sistent. There is nothing like
modern consistency with the traditions of the past.

Wondayehu: Stop being funny. I hope you didn't expect to spend the night here.

Gelagle:
Well, I certainly didn't come thirty kilometres to listen to your
gibberish about abduction. No, you're quite mistaken. I am here and I
intend to pass the night in this very house.

Wondayehu:
That's what I was afraid of. " My very fear has come upon me," as the
old proverb goes. Well, you are our honourable guest. Our one and only
guest.

Gelagle: What is brewing in this house?

Wondayehu: We are celebrating the Feast of St. Michael. We are going to drink the Tebel (beer).

(The noise of a car
suddenly stopping is heard.) 
   
Shhhh.. . Shhh . . . Listen! Be silent! (Runs to the window and looks out.) Yes, they are here! They are here! They have come! Well, Ato Gelagle, we must get ready to receive the bride immediately!

 Gelagle : I think you are crazy today. You are not your normal self. (From
outside a whistle given as a signal is heard. Wondayehu opens the main
door and Bezabih Tori enters. He is on the tallish side, head erect and
with a natural inborn pride. He has piercing eyes, high forehead and
the air of a quiet, determined and highly serious young man. In his
dressing habit, he appears only to care for cleanliness and nothing
else. Even then, what­ever he wears looks well on him. He is now
wearing a dark long-sleeved pull-over, but no coat or tie. Bezabih is
not only a man of thought and contemplation, but he puts a strong claim
on being a man of action as well. As a consequence, numberless varied
theories spring from his fertile mind,, some of them outlandish enough.
Many he keeps to himself and many he shares with his friends. His
friends, having taken due notice of his qualities, have nicknamed him
"Bezabih Tori," although Tori is not his father's name. He is so-named
not so much out of derision but of respect and admiration for most of
his friends are his camp followers. The word Tori seems appropriate for
him. It is derived from the English word
" theory" and his name being Bezabih means " too
many theories." According to Bezabih we must combine western
civilization with our own tradition and culture, but we must choose the
good in both of them and combine these two and create a new compound
that will be superior to either. Bezabih thinks that this can and
should be done. As a result of all this thinking and theorizing,
Bezabih has developed premature gray hair.)

Bezabih : Is everything ready ?

Wondayehu: (Saluting in a military fashion.) Yes sir, everything is in order.

Bezabih: Good. (He exits.)

Wondayehu: (Moves around the room distractedly putting on the last touches of the arrangements.)

Gelagle: What's going on? How is it Bezabih sees me here, goes out again as if he has not seen me ?

Wondayehu: Patience my friend and in five minutes you will know everything. (Bezabih returns and stands in the doorway. He calls Aregga off-stage.)

Bezabih : Aregga, bring in the prisoner. Wondayehu, go and help them. (Wondayehu exits without a word.)

(Taffesech,
the prisoner, enters with head bowed and hands tied at the back by her
own silk handkerchief. Her handbag hangs around her neck, breasts
heaving and eyes bulging in anger. She is pushed into the house by
Aregga followed closely by Wondayehu. Taffesech is a little more than
nineteen years of age, dressed in the most modern style. She is
beautiful in an unobtrusive way with hair done up in a long pony tail.
She wears heavy lipstick, huge earrings, a heavy gold bracelet on her
arm, and nylon stockings. She has no shoes on. But looking at her on
the whole, the man who gets her either by purchase, force or through
legal marriage cannot complain of anything lacking in her. Her guard,
Aregga, is a tall man of few words and serious disposition. He is
dressed soberly by contrast.)

Bezabih: (Angrily) Who removed the gags and bandages from her eyes ?

Aregga : (Calmly.) She promised not to cry or shout.

Bezabih: Take her and lock her up immediately. If she escapes, I am not responsible. I have spoken.

(Crosses
his arms and stands like a statue. Aregga unties her hands with the
help of his teeth; the prisoner exercises her numbed fingers. She
brushes her hair away from her forehead; looks up and glares at Bezabih
with the deadly stare of a poisoned arrow. While doing this
she detaches her handbag from her neck:, clutches it and, without
taking her eyes off Bezabih approaches him slowly, as if she is going
to slap him soundly across the face. Bezabih calmly waits for her,
steeling himself for the worst. She stands in front of him and
deliberately spits in his face. She turns her hack on him and walks
away. Bezabih does not flinch, but he struggles to control the surging
anger visibly rising in him. Suddenly he breaks out in a hoarse cry.

Lock her up.

 

Aregga
and Wondayehu take her to her prison which is the dining room. Bezabih
slowly takes out a handker­chief and wipes his face.)

Gelagle, what are you doing here? (Again he is angry.) Well,
Wondayehu! What was the agreement? Didn't we agree that nobody other
than the four of us would be involved in this? No visitors, no matter
who, would be allowed? (There is a pause.) Answer me! Aregga, I call you to witness!

Aregga : Well, Gelagle! Why the surprise, you black­bird of Maskall It's been weeks since we've seen you and now all of a sudden you're here!

Wondayehu:
We've just begun, Bezabih, and already you are angry. Gelagle is
Gelagle. He is not a visitor, not a stranger. He is one of us!

Bezabih: (Cooling down a bit.) But the idea of it!

An agreement is an agreement! Nobody was to enter the house!

Gelagle: Now that you've mentioned it, I don't like the look of things myself. I don't feel very comfor­table here.

Aregga: Come on, Gelagle. You know how Bezabih is. He never really gets angry at anything specific—its always the idea, or the notion, or the meaning, or the significance of something. I know you would like to go but where ?

Wondayehu: And how? The bus doesn't come till tomorrow afternoon.

Gelagle: Forget me for the moment. What about her? Who is she? She looks like the daughter of Dejatchmatch Awraris, the Rhinoceros!

Wondayehu: Always picking bones, you old hyena!

Aregga: As a matter of fact she's second choice. We thought of someone else but couldn't find her. So this will have to do.

Gelagle : You're not serious ? It's a joke pigeon.

Bezabih : Who cares who she is, what she is ? She is a woman, that is enough.

Aregga: She was coming out of her office, going home for lunch, when we found her.

Gelagle:
She must be a commercial school graduate. The daughter of some big
shot. Did you notice the gold bracelet she is wearing?

Aregga: She looks like one of those super-modern gals—educated abroad.

Wondayehu : (Pours out drinks and serving the round. Bezabih refrains.) Well, how about a drink to wash down the nasty business. But what happened to Yesahak? (He goes to the front window and looks out.) Hey, the car is not there!

Aregga: Don't worry, he'll be back soon enough. He knows the way. I'm tired. (He sits down.) Well, Gelagle, it seems you are our only wedding guest. Cheers!

Wondayehu : But remember, no squealing!

Gelagle : You fellows are mad. Insane! I can understand Wondayehu and Yesahak—but you Aregga, I thought you had a little sense.

Wondayehu:
Don't try to understand something beyond you, Gelagle. But what
happened Aregga? I am dying to know the details of the operation. How
did it go? (He rubs his hands impatiently.)

Aregga: Wait for Yesahak, he'll give you all the tidbits and spicy details.

Gelagle:
I tell you gentlemen I do not look with favour on either the idea or
the practice of this madness. It is inconsistent with the nature of
things. (He paces the room.)

Bezabih: (Flaring up.) And we say it is right! The very idea of it is right! What can you do about it?

Wondayehu
: Come on, boys, no argument. We have talked this thing over, and,
Bezabih, you have convinced us, all of us, as one man and in one voice
we have accepted it. We are one—so stop this bickering. You and Gelagle
are always arguing over something. But today is not the time for
arguments. Today is a day for laughter, for happiness. Today is a
wedding-day!

Aregga : I support your thesis, Wondayehu.

Gelagle: (Resuming again!) So you did it. In broad daylight, on the main street, in the very centre o the city! (Sits down.)

Wondayehu: I'll tell you how it happened … It was easy. We planned it last Sunday, didn't we Aregga.

Aregga: " For those who are sitting on the ground the sky is very near," they say. Go on, we are listening,

Wondayehu:
You want to mystify everything, Aregga. What else is there to it ? you
said : " Miss, can we be of help? Can "we drop you somewhere? " As Miss
enters the car, you drive away as if you are making for her
house and then turn sharp, and dash to this place. That's that. What is
there to be mysterious about ? There is no mystery at all.

Aregga: To tell the truth, our best ally was the rain. If it had not been raining, she would not have accepted our offer.

Wondayehu: This abduction must have been blessed by the gods!

Aregga : Have you noticed the way she smiles, Bezabih? She's not bad, is she? Not bad at all!

Bezabih : That is not the main thing. That is something irrelevant, unnecessary.

Wondayehu:
Thank God for the rain. You know, some girls would welcome the chance
to pull up their skirts and show off their legs. They all take
advantage of it.

Aregga: You are speaking of those who wear the traditional Ethiopian dress.

Wondayehu
: No, I mean all of them. Whether they wear short European skirts or
the traditional dress, they all want to attract. I know them all. I
know all their secrets, even those reserved for the father confessor!

Gelagle:
Say whatever you like, but one thing is certain. That girl has guts!
Bezabih, I must say that you, too, acted in an extraordinarily
civilized way. I hope the good manners continue.

Bezabih: She's a brat! Cheap and ill-mannered! (Makes for the bedroom.) But what difference does it make? Our purpose is something quite different. I'd better wash the spit off my face. (Exits.)

Wondayehu: (Sitting beside Aregga.) Well then, Aregga …

Aregga:
It was easier than I would have dreamt. As soon as she came into the
car, I introduced her to Yesahak and Bezabih. She struck me as the
sweet quiet type, very proper. The trouble came later. As soon as we
passed Shola Michael, began to suspect something. Apparently her house
was in Gulele. (Wondayehu laughs hysterically.)

Gelagle: Well go on—laugh. I don't think it very funny! (The telephone rings.)

Wondayehu: This telephone is possessed of the devil today. This is the seventh time it has rung. (Takes off the receiver and places it off the hook. At this point, a loud knocking is heard from the front door.)

Voice: (A loud, coarse voice is heard violently calling.) Open up! This is the police!

(The three are riveted with fright. Again, another loud knock as if pounded with the butt of a rifle.)

Gelagle:
Didn't I tell you? Didn't I tell you this is no laughing matter? Now I hope you get what's coming to you! I hope you enjoy it!

Wondayehu: (Voice faltering.) Shhhh . . . Shhhh . . . Silence! (Aregga takes a quick drink to calm his nerves.

As the door is pounded for the third time, the hinges almost fly off.)

Voice: Open up or we're going to break into the house, you dirty bunch of crooks!

(Absolute
silence descends upon the room. Wonda­yehu's knees are shaking, but
Gelagle, whose prophecy has been proven true, surveys the two sinners
with righteous superiority. Obviously Wondayehu is in agony.)

Wondayehu:
How could it be the police? I told Wolde-Cherkos to keep a sharp eye
out for the police. Can I help it if Wolde-Cherkose is no zabanya (guard).

(Aregga
goes to the window and after looking to his left and right opens the
door calmly. Yesahak enters with a care-free smile on Ins face, with
zebra striped scratches all over his face. He looks as though he had
been attacked by a blunt-nailed cat. He carries a pair of high-heel
woman's shoes and wears a plastic rain coat. His hair has obviously
been messed up in a fight. An ascot replaces the conventional tie and a
vest embellished by the seven colours of /he rainbow proclaims his
artistic nature. Yesahak is an eager chap and moves c/quickly.)

Yesahak: So this is how you brave fellows face a critical situation, eh? So these are the men we are

counting on! (He laughs.) This is how your courage would show if it were the real police? Eh? (He paces the room and scrutinizes each one.) You—you're
as white as a cadaver! You each deserve a medal for bravery! Not even a
little mouse dies without putting up some struggle! (Gelagle cruelly disappointed sits glumly.)

Wondayehu: (Incensed at the cheap theatrical joke.) Enough! Enough, I say! Enough is enough! (He gets up and exits in anger. Aregga is silent. Me, too, exits without a word. Absolute silence.)

Gelagle:
What you have done is cruel. They are worried enough by their stupid
act, and on top of that you play this farcical comedy! I thought it was
really the police and was happy because that would have put an end to
this childish game.

Yesahak: (Acting the man terribly wronged.) All
right! Stop pestering me, all of you! So this is the thanks I get for
all the good work I've done! It was only to help them out that I did
it! (Throws the pair of shoes in anger.) Listen Gelagle, what
did the poet say about such situations? " Can iron become strong if it
is not hammered ? " Isn't that what he said ?

Gelagle: Yes, but the word is "hammered" not shivered!

Yesahak:
You're a philosopher, you don't under­stand! In everything in life,
practice makes perfect. The best antidote for fear is practice in being
frightened. Don't you know that? Napoleon used to drink a beaker of
poison early every morning upon getting from his bed—like an aperitif,
you know? This was his precautionary defence against being poisoned by
his enemies.

Gelagle : Yes, I am listening.

Yesahak: And besides—what on earth are you doing here? This is no place for a saintly philosopher! (He takes Gelagle's drink and empties it.) I
feel so thirsty! Oh! oh! Have you ever seen a tigress with a new-born
cub? Yes, that was what she was like, an absolute beast of prey! Not to
mention her mule-like kicks which I still feel on my chest. My
intestines have been battered into spaghetti. But what can you expect
from a girl wearing heels a cubit and a half high? She almost dislodged
my appendix! After three or four of those kicks, on the fifth round I
struggled for dear life and removed her deadly weapon—her shoes! (Looking in the mirror.) And
my face! Nothing is left of my face, absolutely nothing! Everything is
gone! And my hair, look at it! It has been taken out from its very
roots.

(Sits by Gelagle's side.) Well, how shall I put it to
you my dear friend ? That I am walking on this earth alive is in itself
a great miracle. Her grip . . . it is like iron! You can't imagine the
strength of her arms. When I think of it now—I know how wrong I was!
The whole grand mistake was committed by the Ministry of Education and
Fine Arts! That they should allow such a study as physical culture and
things like that for our young sweet girls is the blunder of the
century. It was Madame Asqualetch, a great lady who said, " 'Gymnastics
is unfit for a proper lady," and she refused to send her daughter to
school for this very reason. What a fool I was to criticize her
position. It is only today that I realize the wisdom of that great
lady. She was a giant of a woman, ahead of her times! I must go to her
one of these days and ask her forgiveness for ever contradicting her.
My dear fellow, if a girl is soft and willowy, what does it matter if
she becomes a bit fat and comfortable ?

Gelagle: And then what happened? (He gets up, picks up the shoes from the floor and places them respect­fully on the tabled)

Yesahak
: It is no matter. For the sake of progress and civilization, let alone
being scratched and kicked, I suppose one can and should go through
harsher torments and tortures than this. The great Christian martyrs
didn't earn their crown of glory by doing noth­ing, you know, old boy!
They had to suffer! (Goes and lies full length on the sofa. Gelagle pours another glass of beer and gives it to Yesahak?)

Gelagle: Drink this … I know you deserve it. I can't help but feel sorry for you. (Yesahak takes the glass lying down and takes a long gulp.) But why were you so late in coming ?

Yesahak:
You know, we came together at first. Having deposited the " cargo "
here, I had to go back and see how things were in town—you know, a
little intelligence work. (Empties glass.) We should thank

God for this. Nobody followed us, nobody even showed the least amount of suspicion. Everything according to plan. (Gets up and starts pacing.) Do
you know Gelagle, had I not been over-ruled by majority vote, she would
not have been the one for this abduction. Not this wild cat! There was
another chick, one we had seen earlier. She was the one we had first
thought of.

Gelagle: (Ironically.) Well,
it was not the will of God that she should profit from this great experience. Obviously, the stars were not right for the poor girl, the
unlucky one.

Yesahak:
Poor thing! What an experience she has missed! You have no idea what
she looked like! Shall I show you the way she walked? Have you ever
seen a real double-breasted chick? A real doll! Lend me you
handkerchief.

(Gelagle
gives' him his handkerchief. He takes Gelagle's and his own scarf,
makes them into two balls and puts them under his vest as breasts. Then
he takes another handkerchief from his pocket, holds it with the tip of
his fingers with his right hand and waves it delicately. He places his
left hand on his hip. Then he demonstrates the walk of the Kubkuba that
is of a sophisticated town girl. He shows her manner of walk by shaking
his hips and waist in a highly exaggerated and comical manner, looking
to this side and that side while winking in every direction. He finally
exits while Gelagle is looking on amused and the curtain falls on the
first scene of Act one.)

To be continued…

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