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The Names are Switched

The Names are Switched

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Two woman from the story

Subhadeep Banerjee shares this comedy where, the name of the tenant gets switched with that of the land lord, leading to hilarious incidents. Read the play and enjoy.

Illustration by Sid Ghosh

Calcutta, 1943 during the hay days of British Raj – at the office of the Progressive Party, secretary Sunita Chatterjee is one worried woman.

SCENE 1:

(SUNITA GOES THROUGH A PAPER).

Sunita: “What on earth is this? (pause) Looks like an (pause) EVICTION NOTICE! Property to be handed over to government at the earliest for further action or we could be arrested!” This must be some nasty trick of our land lady Radhika Nandy!”

(PROCEEDS TO MEET RADHIKA; WHO IS HAVING A LATE AFTERNOON SIESTA)

Sunita: “Good afternoon Radhika madam.”(in an angry tone),”Why have we been served this?”(shows the notice)

Radhika: “You have been served what?”

Sunita: “THIS!”(hands it over)

Radhika: “So finally you have been served something! I am so glad for you.”

Sunita: This is an EVICTION NOTICE! We have been asked to leave this place.”

Radhika:(teasing) “REALLY? When are you guys leaving? I am so relieved that your LOUD rehearsals will now become part of my midsummer dreams.”

Sunita: “We are the Progressive Party – strictly for social welfare only. We are not into politics!”

Radhika: (taunting)”So what ‘progress’ have you made, other than beating your own drum loudly and paying me PEANUTS for rent? STOP hosting terrorists here or else the police will PERMANENTLY host you in ALIPORE CENTRAL JAIL! Off course you can stage all your dramas there itself!”(sarcastic)

Sunita:”We don’t bring any terrorists here. How much more rent do you need to allow us back?”

Radhika: “You want to bribe me so that you can continue your nonsense here? Nah, you have a week’s time as per this notice. Good bye!”

(SUNITA EXITS)

Radhika (wondering out):”GOOD RIDDANCE! Societal progress, huh! I cannot even progress from AW AA KAW KHAW TO BA BABLACK SHEEP (disappointed)!

EXITS, SCENE ENDS

 

SCENE 2:

NEXT DAY, SUNITA IS ALONE AT HOME AND VERY UPSET

Sunita: (wondering out) “Did anyone complain against us? But why? I think this Radhika is a British spy!”

ENTERS THE GHOST OF BROJO KAKA

Brojo: “Good evening my child!”

Sunita: “Good Lord! Oh it is YOU AGAIN. Why do you always have such a creepy existence?”

Brojo: “Is it not obvious? (smiles) I am a ghost – a ghost can work magic!”

Sunita: “We are going to be thrown out from our drama office very soon!”

Brojo: “Hmm”

Sunita: “What? Oh, the government still looks for the rebel Brojo Mitra dead or alive. You better stay away from this!”

Brojo: (Amused)”You know how SCARY I can be in people’s dreams right? Remember your childhood? (sadistic grin).

Sunita: (sarcastic)”So who exactly do you wish to scare in their dreams NOW? Not Radhika right? By the way, how did you get killed? (curious)

Brojo: (very apologetic) “Well well, let that be.”

Sunita: “No no, I want to hear about your bravado, if you had any (sarcastic)”

Brojo: “Uff! (pause) What to say. I was making a bomb to blow up one British officer.”

Sunita: “Really? That is exciting!” But what happened? Did you succeed?”

Brojo: “Uff no! The bomb never went off; it turned into a FIZZ and filled my lungs with smelly gas!”

Sunita: (taunts) “So sad. Then? But how did you die?”

Brojo: (angry)”Is that important?”

Sunita: “well, I mean (pause) yes; did you die heroically?”

Brojo: “Disgusting question! Why do you have such a MORBID FASCINATION about my death? I DROWNED!”

Sunita: “In a fish pond?” (teasing)

Brojo: “No no, while escaping, the gas made me vomit into our boat; and I drowned.”

Sunita: “Poor you. Nah, I doubt if you can help me in this!”

Brojo: (offended): “Why not?”

Sunita: (mocking) “Why, do you plan to walk up to Radhika and vomit all over her face and drown her in your puke? Eh!

Brojo: “You just wait and see; you do not know about my magical powers POST DEATH. I will prove you WRONG! Good night! (vanishes)

A SHAKE OF HEAD FROM SUNITA, SCENE ENDS

 

SCENE 3:

THE DAY OF EVICTION HAS ARRIVED.

Sunita: “This is really upsetting. I do not know where we will go from here.”

Radhika: “Are you done packing? The eviction officer should be here any moment.”

Sunita: “We should be done by the next one hour.”

Radhika: “One hour is too long; I feel like drowning you in the sewage drain! Renting my house and inviting terrorists!”

Sunita: “Please stop rubbing salt into our wounds.”

Radhika: “Salt, why salt? If I could, I would rather pour hot oil over your rebellious head and fry you until HELL FREEZES OVER.”(Screaming angrily)

SUDDEN ENTRY OF THE EVICTION OFFICER RATHIN DAS

Rathin: “Hello everyone. Nothing is FROZEN until I inspect it. I am here to evict some illegal people; which I am very good at (grinning).”

Radhika: “Yes Sir, good morning Sir. I am so glad you are here. Would you like to have some tea and snacks? He he he, let me call my daughter.”

Rathin: “Oh I like rasogolla and sandesh very much you know, but I have a job to do. By the way, who are you?”

Radhika: ‘Sir, most respectfully, I am the landlady and Sir, this one is the ILLEGAL OCCUPANT. Dipti, please can you arrange for some tea and rosogolla for Mr.?”

Rathin: “The name is Rathin, Rathin Das, I evict freeloaders for a living. I am happy to declare that due to my efforts last month I rescued one house owner’s HORSE. The poor fellow’s stable was taken over by many illegal residents(offended). Now, the horse legally enjoys its pride of place.”(relieved)

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Sunita: “Good morning Sir, you seem to have a familiar voice. Can I see the notice once?”

NOTICE HANDED OVER TO SUNITA

Rathin: “So, here you have been making a lot of trouble I suppose? Should I call the constables upstairs or you will sign on this eviction notice right away and leave?”

Sunita: “Mr. Das, can you read out the contents please?”

Rathin “It is hereby informed to the tenants – The Progressive Party to vacate the said premises # 21A Colonel Biswas Road, Calcutta 19 under Karaya Police Station with immediate effect and handover the premises to the original owner Ms. Sunita Nandy. On behalf of the Progressive Party, its secretary Ms. Radhika Chatterjee is required to sign this eviction notice in acknowledgement after complying with the instructions.”

Radhika: “Sir, I think there is some mistake in the notice, perhaps?”

Rathin: “Oh really? What an insult! You think I will make mistakes in such an important notice?”

Radhika: “No no Sir, I did not mean that, I mean, some names are switched! I am Radhika Nandy, the owner of this house and she is Sunita Chatterjee the secretary of Progressive Party. They are the tenants who need to be evicted, not me.”

Rathin: “I do not care; I will go by this notice only. If this notice says that Sunita stays and Radhika leaves, THEN SUNITA WILL STAY AND RADHIKA WILL LEAVE!”

Sunita: “Yes Sir, we are with you. This Radhika Chatterjee has been giving me a lot of trouble. She never pays her rent on time and brings home all kinds of rebellious people. Please take her away Sir.”

Radhika: “Hey you hopeless ones, stop this game right now! Dipiti, come here at once. Immediately go to the locker and bring ALL the property papers and show them to Rathin babu. That will clear the air as to who is the real Radhika Nandy.”

DIPTI GOES AND RETURNS BUT WITHOUT ANY PAPERS

Dipti: “I am sorry but the property papers are missing, the locker is empty!”

Radhika: “What are you talking about? Look properly, this cannot be true.”

Dipti: “It is true. There is nothing in there.”

Sunita: “See Mr. Das, I told you this woman is a big troublemaker, claiming my property to be hers. Now if you are convinced of her lies, take her away to the police station.”

Radhika: “Enough of this nonsense!”

Rathin: “Oh look who is talking here? The pot calling the kettle black! Shall I call the constables upstairs or you will proceed with me downstairs and explain to the police what is going on?

Radhika: “Fine, I will go with you for now, but I will have the last laugh one day!”

Rathin: “Yes yes, that we shall see. Now come on!”

Sunita: (celebrating)”Oh so he DOES HAVE MAGICAL POWERS!”

RATHIN ESCORTS RADHIKA OUT, SCENE ENDS

 

SCENE 4:

A FEW DAYS LATER, SUNITA IS GOING THROUGH THE MORNING PAPERS. SUDDENLY SEES SOMETHING AND SPEAKS UP IN A SURPRISED TONE!

Sunita: “What kind of news is this? Government eviction officer Rathin Das dismissed from service due to incompetence; admitted to a mental hospital! Claims to have been possessed by a deadly ghost who was controlling his mind! Das had been evicting the wrong people for the past one week! “Oh well, well; it is time for a prayer for our benefactor – OM BROJANONDO BABAJI KI JAI HO, OM BROJANONDO BABAJI KI KRIPA HO!”

________________end_________________

 

Disclaimer: The act will be published in a graphic novel soon. Copyright @ Subhadeep Banerjee and Sid Ghosh

 

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