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Excerpt

Scene 1

Toronto, 1925. ESCA is in his garden in Lawrence Park. A magnolia tree may be shedding petals, and he sits amid them in wonder. He is neatly dressed; even when gardening he looks dapper. He also holds a drink, and an opened letter.

ESCA: Everything in my garden is from somewhere else. My magnolia tree is a hybrid from China. I purchased it at a nursery in Ottawa because I couldn't find the right variety here in Toronto. Those irises -- I bought the bulbs at a botanical garden in New Jersey. That white pine? Transplanted from my cottage just east of Kingston. (Holds up letter.) And me? According to this, I just stumbled out of the backwoods of Ontario.

(Music effect to take us back slightly in time, and across an ocean.)

Scene 2

London, England, a few months earlier. The interior of the Brooke home, upstairs, in Ranee GHITA's dressing area. GHITA sweeps in and eventually begins shedding her Edwardian-era clothes for her battle dress: a version of a baja kurung, a knee-length blouse worn over a full length dress. Like ESCA's magnolia, it too is a hybrid; one of GHITA's making, and designed for maximum impact.

GHITA: I will give him this: he's punctual.Crawford said he was yanking on the doorbell at the dot of three. But I'm a very un-punctual Ranee. When you hold all the cards, it's more fun to lay them down slowly. I'm going a little native for our little native. (Holds up the baja kurung). A baja kurung. Very Sarawak. Every time I put this on I can hear my mother's warning: "Do think this through, Ghita. Do you really want to live England, go all the way around the world -- to someplace no one has ever heard of -- (Different pronunciations.) Sarawak Sarawak Sarawak -- a place that sounds like a parrot? And live in a jungle with head-hunters? And marry that Charlie Brooke? He's so much older than you. And Charlie's reputation is so -- dubious."

"Dubious reputation." Those words were catnip to this kitty.

 

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Excerpt

Scene One

Samsara Station. In the Ether. 1960. Sounds of a train leaving a station.

RUKMINI: (Off.) Wait! Wait for me.

(Wrapped in a white sari and clutching a handbag, an elderly woman, Rukmini, hobbles onto the platform and gazes anxiously after the receding train.)

RUKMINI: Oh no. It's gone. I missed it. How did I miss my train?

 

(Checks her watch.)

It's only ten past. Why did it come early? I've got my ticket -- they're expecting me. It wouldn't go without me, would it? No, calm yourself. That train is on its way to somewhere else.

That wasn't my train.

(She walks up the platform and sits on the bench, clamps her old-fashioned suitcase between her knees and dabs her nose with a handkerchief.)

RUKMINI: I hate goodbyes. I couldn't bear saying goodbye. Not again. That's what it seems my life has been -- a series of good-byes. You say hello, then you say good-bye and you never know the distance between those two poles. Of course, sometimes the poles meet when hello and goodbye happen simultaneously... like when a mother dies in childbirth. It's so fleeting an event that no child could possibly remember the love of a mother who died bringing her into the world.

(Looks at her watch.)

Still fifty minutes left. I came early. Those old steps up there are pretty steep and it's hard to cross that slippery bridge all the way across to this platform, especially in my condition. I've seen plenty fall before they got here... and this bench? This bench is the best spot to get on board and into the right berth. Trains stop for such a short time and not all the doors are open. Some passengers wait back there and have to scramble up here when they realize they've been holding themselves back in futile all this time. They run up here out of breath, some don't make it and they have to get on wherever they can... and walk all the way through every berth and you never know where you'll end up... if you know what I mean? Takes all types you know?

(Opens her handbag. Lays out a series of gold items on bench.)

This is Mummy's gold set. Mummy wore these rubies at her throat when she married Daddy and I wore them when I got married.

My astrologer said that I will have ten great grandchildren in all.

I will leave these chains to them and maybe these bangles to remember me by.

(Sings:) NEENEE BABA NEENEE

MUCKHAN ROTI CHEENEE

MUCKHAAN ROTI KHAA-GEE-YAH

CHOTA BABA SOW-GHEE-YAH

(Footsteps are heard. Rukmini gathers the jewellery and stuffs it back into her handbag.)

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How to Fail as a Popstar

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