Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabviah ( did spell that right? )
- quick skit, finished sometime 98.
Tea 4 2...
Setting: Tea party with Mrs. Minnies and Mrs. Crawford. Both are laughing wholeheartedly, reminiscing old times. The scene opens with the two already sitting down drinking tea and conversing on different topics.
Minnies: Oh, that day was absolutely dreadful! Ugh, I can't believe you still remember that!
Crawford: Oh, I hated every second of it as well! I sincerly agree with you.
Minnies: Yes, yes... that was a dreadful bore, wasn't it?( sips tea, and Crawford does the same. There is silence for a while before she speaks. The Indian servant enters carrying a plate of cookies, and a large fan that is in the shape of a leaf)
C: ( sips tea, and stops ) Mmm.. Incidentally, did you happen to see Olivia's place today?
M: Why, yes. Quaint place. The piano is beautiful. Stunning.
C: Mmm.. and?
M: ( nibbles on a cookie delicately ) It's not my style. I didn't think much of her place. I did try not to show it, but I believe she figured it out.
C: Hmm. She is quite clever isn't she? And easily bored by us as well...sigh. I suppose we should partly take the blame for not being quite close to her, eh? But you can't blame her. She's only been here for a short matter of time.
M: I did try to console her during my visit... and when she was with us, didn't we give her advice on putting the khas tatti ( in the background the servant hold up a sign in one hand that says " khas tatti = screens used to cool and perfume the air " and in the other hand she is still fanning Mrs. Minnies ) screens during the hot weather...and how to instruct the ayah ( servant holds another sign that says " ayah = maidservant ) to wash her crepe de chin blouses, and why those blouses must, under no circumstances whatsoever, be given to the dhobi ( sign that says " dhobi = laundryman )...
M: Yes, that too. But after all that the only question she could ask was about the Nawab...
C: ( raises an eyebrow )Do you think? Oh, of course not. She seems to be in love with Douglas wholeheartedly. But, then again, you never know if she is keeping a secret or not.
M: True, true. Ohhhh... Remember when we were talking about suttes in the Nawab's Palace?
C: Oh yes. I believe I claimed that I would never die when my husband did. Much less burn myself. That would be too much for me.
M: right. And you remember what Olivia said?
C: Of course! My, that girl is quite passionate. She must really love Douglas. I can't imagine someone burning themselves for such a stiff man like him.
M: Quite, quite... ( sips tea and there is a thoughtful pause before she speaks again ) I wonder if she'll ever get used to the heat.
C: ( girlish giggle ) Like us? Even WE aren't accustomed to it. I really would prefer to wear one of those Indian kapras ( servant holds up sign that says " kapras = clothing " ) that they wear ( point to servant ). They certainly do look comfortable. Comparing those Indian fabric with our lace and hot dresses.
M: Those things? True, they are cooler, but they do look positively .. slovenly. ( muffles small giggle ) Reminds me of Mrs. Saunders.
C: Mary! What a thing to say!
M: Oh, I am dreadfully sorry, Beth. But I just couldn't help but notice it.
C: Well, what did you expect? She is not of the same high cut caliber like us.
M: ( smile on lips ) Oh, who's being dreadful now?
C: ( giggle ) Well.. yes. That wasn't very nice of me was it?
M: No, it was probably worse than what I said! ( silence and sipping of tea )
C: ( after sipping tea, she breaks the silence ) Say. Do you think I'm flat chested?
M: ( spits tea out back to cup ) What? Oh, Beth.. really now. Just because those servants of the Nawab take to pointing at you, calling you a hijira ( sign: hijira= eunuch )...
M: Ha ha! It really is amusing to see, though. O, what do you think of my new painting? The one you saw on your way up here? It's of an Indian peasant girl I invited to model for me. Quite good, don't you think?
C: Yes, but I've seen you do better.
M: O, you're just being sour. ( playful pout )
C: Really though. That painting reminds me of the young servant girl my grandmother had.
M: Ohhhh yes. I remember her. Quite a handful wasn't she?
C: Mmm.. ( to servant ) More tea please.
M: Chai Dalo ( sign: pour tea )
Servant: Yes, Burra memsahib. ( pour tea )
M: ( to Craw )Yes, yes. She was.. Even my grandfather thought so.
C: Oh, can you imagine living during those days of our grandfather's? Or even before them? sighhh...
M: My my. It really is hard to believe how long our ancestors have lived here. And most of our members served the India forces one way or the other.
C: That is until the Mutiny..
M: ( nods head ) True, true.
C: Can you imagine them administering provinces, fighting border battles, advising rulers...
M: Ugh. I can't possible imagine anything more dull than doing that.
C; Neither can I for that matter ( giggles with mouth hidden in kerchief )
M: ( giggles ) Oh, we do think alike, don't we?
C; well, we have been friends for an impossibly long time...even our grandfathers have been friends
M: ( sips tea again ) Ah, yes. O! Look Beth! It looks like a dust cloud is going to come by. We must get indoors immediately.
C: yes. You're right. Besides, it's getting tremendously hot in here. Let's go. Oh, ( servant girl ) get the tea will you? ( As Mrs. Minnies and Mrs. Crawford leave, the servant looks at the cookies, and sits down. She then takes a cookie bites it and murmurs with a bored tone: hijiras )