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Monica Pathak

Abstract Drama Tragedy


Monica Pathak

Abstract Drama Tragedy

Pandora 's Box

Pandora 's Box

8 mins 386 8 mins 386

"Abigail could you please play your saung?" Marcus said as he looked towards Abigail.

"Whoa! the Burmese harp! do you play that? Lucky you Marcus!" Sylvia exclaimed.

Abigail played the 'Song of Spring' Marcus' favourite. But no one knew that whenever she played her harp she would travel to the hills of Mizoram. The Lushai hills, where she would sit with sister Jen and play the harp as she played her flute. They would play the music for every evening till the moon became evident in the sky. It was blissful for her but for sister Jen it was liberation. "Gawa! do you know how free it feels after this duo in the evening!"

She would say this everyday, everyone in the orphanage called Abigail 'Gawa', Burmese girl 's name for joy. Their village was located on the border of Mizoram and Myanmar, also everyone had said to from her for a very long time. Abigail was the only one whom she taught the perfect notes of the Burmese harp even in the late evenings, the nurses in the orphanage had told her that when she was brought here the very next day sister Jen had planted a strawberry plant in the backyard and with the strawberries that grew on it, she prepared Gawa 's first birthday cake.

Abigail loved sister Jen a lot but she always had this doubt as to why only her? But she never questioned sister for it would be like questioning her intentions and the years went by. 

Today she was performing at her college fest in Delhi, and Burmese delegates along with other foreign nationals were present so it was a Big Day for her. Marcus had been her secret crush and because he would play the flute he was always near her. Sylvia was his younger sister who had come to Delhi to see her brother perform. 

But today was a big day for Sister Jen too. She wanted to disclose her the very secret she had promised to hide for ever.

Today in February 2029, the generation has never seen war and dictatorship but back in 2021 Myanmar was not a safe place. It was not safer for a month old Gawa too. Her mother Nu was at her ancestral hut in the village on the border of her country. She was planting strawberry seeds so that next year when Gawa would be one she will make a strawberry cake for her from this. Her grandfather had been tilling the land and granny would water the plants. Probably it was like the family believed that sweetness would be passed on to her through the soil and affection. But the pampering could not happen. The regime became dictatorial and their only hope Aung San Suu Kyi was made powerless. Well both Nu and Thet were servants in an aristocrat household. But servants are the ones who know most of the truths of a family, the aristocrats were against the millitary regime and had fled the last night but Thet was caught and murdered. Nu would be next she knew it. But a mother 's love overpowered her and she knew she can flee to no place because her documents will make her an immigrant and Burmese refugees were not allowed in the neighbouring countries. She would be reduced to begging in a foreign land and Gawa will never play the Saung. Thet 's only dream.

A father 's joy was Gawa, Thet had always wished to raise a daughter although he wanted her to be well mannered and Nu wanted her to be a tomboy but if there was anything that Thet had ever wished for was to see her play the Saung in the mayor 's hall of Naypyitaw (Myanmar 's capital). Eversince he got to know Nu was pregnant, Thet had been making a locket with the name Gawa on it and T and N behind it. The locket was in the shape of a petal of lotus. Lotus was Nu ' s favourite and it was made from the woods of Thet 's village. That night when the strawberries were about to come out and ripen, also the other seeds were freshly washed and kept on the table to be planted tomorrow morning. Nu was singing a lullaby to Gawa, surely for the last time.

She cried as the winter winds of the February night were getting colder and she took out the box where she had kept her doll and her only love letter from Thet in 13 years of marriage. A servant in the aristocracy as he was, a man who would listen to music for hours but could not write for long. The letter was just a paragraph long. But Nu read it that night for seventy more times and for the first time in 13 years she was happy that the letter was short because she could read it again and again from beginning till the end. She took one two fresh seeds from the bowl and the locket and kept it in that box.

A love letter from a husband to his wife, a mom 's favourite doll, a family locket and two strawberry seeds. Would seem harmless to anyone across the globe but back in February 2021 it would endanger Gawa 's life in Myanmar. The millitary knows that Nu and Thet knew family secrets of the aristocrats, this dictatorial regime was threatened by mere servants as well and they would kill Gawa too! This realisation shocked her and she could not let that happen. 

The next night she crossed the forest lanes that would lead her to the Lushai hills of Mizoram. That night she shared her childhood gossips with her daughter who could not understand a single letter of what she said. During the day while she was crossing the forest lanes she showed her how the sunlight makes its way through the leaves in the trees, how the sunflower blooms as the sunlight makes its way to the ground, she picked up a rose petal for her and made her touch its softness, they heard the cuckoos and saw the sunrise.

A few hours later the mother and daughter duo reached sister Jen 's orphanage. Sister Jen knew Nu since last two years, actually both of them were of the same age and Nu had come to Mizoram once to sell mangoes and guavas from her father 's fields. That day Thet had accimpanied her too. Jen was attracted by the fair skin of the latter. Actually for the first time she looked at Thet she regretted joining the nunnery. She felt a raging impulse in her to be in his arms and talk to him. She felt guilty of this thought immediately and ran away. But Nu noticed it, she was sad instead of being angry. She knew her husband loved her but she was equally aware of the raging love impulses of a woman and how tough it would be from now for sister Jen to resist it. Thinking this she had decided that she will never come back ro this place. She did not want to hurt her, but today she was about to meet her again and this time with a request that would trouble her forever. But there was no other way out. Gawa was a child, if she lands up in an orphanage then no one would question her citizenship but if Nu will live with her then both of them will land up on the roads of a foreign land as beggars. So Nu must leave ans Gawa must get the love she deserves. 

The evening arrived, Gawa was in the hands of Jen and she held the rose petal from the Burmese forest, a land she will never know was her own. Thanks to the mongolian eyes, genes of a slim body figure and fair skin that the mizos and the burmese share. Jen has kept that box in her locker, she knew if she will tell Abigail the secret of her abandonment the latter will never be ok, for her citizenship will be questioned in terms of the law of our Indian nation. 

'Jen' would be the best one, Nu knew because the former would do nothing that would harm Thet, and Gawa was no more valuable that his breathe. And that night a mother made the right choice, Jen had longed for Thet for so long that she did her best to raise the child. The Saung was brought in the orphanage and every one was taught. Actually although Jen 's favourite had been the flute but the harp connected her with Thet and she had learnt it specifically for him. She never opened the box because it would trouble Abigail, the name in christianity means father 's joy.

Today after eighteen years, Jen was about to tell the truth after the fest. But as the fest got over the Burmese delegate invited Abigail to play the harp at Mayor 's hall in Myanmar 's capital. Listening to this, Jen paused for a while and avoided eye contact with Gawa. She wondered should she say or shouldn't she say it? If she says it will Gawa go to Myanmar and play the harp, will Thet 's dream be fulfilled? Do Nu and Thet deserve to be unknown forever? Gradually she realised the only dream of the one whom she loved must be fulfilled, on some rare occasions goodness matters more than the truth. Maybe its not now.

She hid the box in her purse, the love letter was not read, the locket was not worn, the doll was not dolled up and one strawberry seed remains still to be planted. Meanwhile the saung must be played before any of this. The pandora 's box with harmless souvenir of love must be kept hidden and the music must go on.

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