An old woman in a white sari sits on a deserted train platform, burdened by a decaying suitcase and an old jewelry box. She has missed her train. Suddenly a young girl appears. "Can I sit beside you?" she asks the old woman. "I'm going with you." Every second counts in this powerful play about connections and moments of departure. Rukmini's Gold features ten stand-alone yet interconnected scenes set in geographically unique train stations around the world. Through the eyes of the matriarch, Rukmini, the play tracks the passage of one South Asian family, crossing continents and spanning a century. Exploring themes including love, class and caste, women's struggles against patriarchy, colonialism, and the global movement of labour, Radha Menon's cast of characters take us on life journeys where trains are missed, opportunities are squandered, and family members are separated in space and time.
2020 Sanhita Manch Playwriting Contest Winner, 2020 Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Contest
Runner-up, 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival New Play Contest Winner, and Recipient of 2015 Hamilton Fringe Festival Critics' Choice Award.
About the author
Recipient of the City of Hamilton's 2020 Arts Innovation Award and the 2016 Theatre Award, animal fanatic Radha Menon began performing in British theatre and television in her youth. Stateless until age seventeen, Menon emigrated to Regina, Saskatchewan in 1995 where her performance career abruptly ended, and her writing career began. Her plays, which have been produced at theatre festivals in Canada, the U.S., U.K. and India, include Blackberry, Sita's Revenge, Ganga's Ganja, Rukmini's Gold, Rise of the Prickly Pear, The Circus, and The Washing Machine. In addition, Menon is a filmmaker and production designer for art house films, including Nayan & The Evil Eye, (Design Award, Here Be Dragons Int. Film Festival 2015). Menon is tickled pink to be a finalist for the Cayle Chernin Media Award for a magic realism short film, The Sail Tree, currently in post-production. Radha is currently developing a Devi Tripytch and writing her first novel, Death Cry of a Peacock. Menon holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She is based in Hamilton.
Excerpt: Rukmini's Gold (by (author) Radha Menon)
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.)
"A work of graceful eloquence, Rukmini's Gold is a Fringe play that's a must-see." --Hamilton Spectator
"Supporting these performances was a gorgeous script by Radha S. Menon that shifted gracefully between hilarity and heartbreak. Every character Menon has written is given a chance to prove themselves beautifully complex as they explore their connection to their family and their culture, their hopes and their regrets. It is a witty and honest commentary on the way our cultures meet and change, and how family pushes us apart but ties us together." --Mooney on Theatre