HYDERABAD:It’s not easy to write about the bruised heart of a divided land. It’s not easy to write about hearts divided via borders and wars. Mumbai-based writer Farhad Sorabjee tries to bring these two tough tasks together in his play Hard Places staged recently at British council as part of Writers’ Bloc Showcase. The 80-minute long play reading required minimalist’s approach with the artistes involved only in dialogues. It’s between the words that actions happen. What happens in the end is worth sitting and watching the drama unfold.
The dramatic reading of the play opened with two characters Saira and Aziz sitting on chairs and arguing endlessly. Initially it’s not clear what they are so heated up about. A few more minutes and then you get inside their heads, their thoughts. The siblings are fighting over their mother, her love or the lack of it. The conversation proceeds and the argument takes a turn about rescuing the mother, played by actor Shernaz Patel who is trapped in no-man’s land across the border. Land of Golan Heights, parts of which are controlled by Syria and
occupied by Israel. She talks to her children via a shaky megaphone.
The talk between the three continues. Much venom is spewed, much love-hatred is exchanged. Saira gets excited and sides by her mother. As the mother talks about her struggles, her getting close to her husband’s killer – things take a heated turn. She says she wanted to keep her children safe and that’s why she had to do it. She talks about borders, separating people, rail-lines this world and the other world. In fact, she isn’t in this world, nor his her daughter Saira. They both are real yet unreal, dead yet alive.
The playwright maintains the suspense till the end. Even then it’s not clear if the conversation is going on inside his head, or he is really inside a paranormal world. Or whether he’s dead or the other two are alive. The play ends as an imbroglio of confused thoughts, the shrill pain they cause about
existence and non-existence.
Perhaps the writer is exploring the minds of displaced people on no-man’s land, their conscious mind bombarded everyday with no sense of belonging, the depth where the same is stored and surfaces time and again with nothing to show but a sense of existence reduced to a dot behind barbed wires.
The playwright said that he got the idea of the play while he was watching a short clip of the place on TV. It was about families coming on the fence of the border and trying to talk to each other in attempts to reconnect, to disconnect.