Rama’s garden

By John Fewings


Rama's friends creep into his garden at night to discover what is behind his new fence, but each discovers an incomplete part of the truth. Based on an Indian parable.
Note: The characters in this sketch could be dressed in long flowing robes and turbans. However, it should be carefully considered whether this style of dress might cause unintended offence. Likewise, the use of Indian accents should be considered carefully.




ALI:  Greetings, Karim. Greetings, Sanji.
KARIM:  Greetings.
SANJI:  Greetings to you.
ALI:  Where is Kris?
KARIM: I do not know. My eyes have not been graced with his appearance since last we met.
SANJI:  Nor mine. Perhaps he is delayed.
ALI: That is of no consequence. Let us get on with our business. Did either of you discover anything?
KARIM: Well, after our meeting, when you reported those strange noises in Rama's garden, I decided to check for myself.
SANJI:  Very wise.
KARIM: It is indeed true that Rama has built a high fence around his garden and there are peculiar noises coming from inside. So, last night, I waited until it was dark and there was no-one around. Then I made my way to Rama's land and climbed the fence into the garden. Carefully, for I did not wish to be seen, I crawled on my hands and knees until I found it.
SANJI:  What did you find?
KARIM: I am not sure what it is that causes the noise but Rama is building a sturdy platform for it. In the dark I felt around and discovered four solid tree trunks, one at each corner of the platform. Quickly, for I thought I heard someone coming, I scrambled away into the darkness and over the fence again.
SANJI: Whatever it is Rama is hiding behind that fence, it is obviously very valuable. He has hired guards to protect it.
KARIM:  How do you know?
SANJI:    You were not the only one to go exploring last night. I, too, climbed carefully into Rama's garden to see what  I could find. There was no moonlight to see by, but in the dark I  felt the sharp, curved  spears of the soldiers. Lucky for me, I crept as quietly as a spider or they would surely have heard me and impaled  me with their weapons.
ALI:  Whilst not wishing to contradict your esteemed opinion, nevertheless I must say that you both have grasped the wrong end of the rope (laughs).
KARIM:  What do you mean?
SANJI:  What is it you know from which our minds  are still veiled?
ALI: I know the secret of the strange noise. You see, I too climbed Rama's fence late last night and explored his garden. I was not so scared that  I crawled along the ground. Nor was I afraid of any guards I might meet. No! I walked boldly across the garden with my arms in front of me, until I discovered what Rama is hiding there.
KARIM: And ... ? SANJI Yes ... ? ALI It is ... (pauses for effect) ... a rope!
KARIM:  Why would he build a platform for a rope?
SANJI:  Why would he guard it?
KARIM:  And how can a piece of rope make a noise?
ALI: I do not know, but I know this; when I pulled on the rope I heard the noise. Perhaps it is a magic rope?
SANJI:  So! Why would Rama need a hosepipe for a rope?
ALI: What is your meaning, esteemed wise one (aside) who has temporarily allowed his senses to search for a more suitable home.
SANJI: As I crept away from the guards I came across a length of hosepipe dangling there. It was still wet. (sarcastic) Perhaps Rama is watering the rope to make it grow.
KARIM:  And why would he need to feed a rope?
ALI: (Exasperated) Now there are two lots of senses searching for accommodation!
SANJI:  Kindly explain yourself, honourable friend.
KARIM:  As I crawled away from the platform 1 discovered that Rama is putting out  food for his secret noisemaker. I put my hand  in it. It is true that it did  not taste too delicate but it was freshly cooked; still hot and steaming!
 (The three begin to argue)
ALI: But did it make a noise, this gastronomic delicacy that you have been so fortunate to put your hand in?
KARIM:  Well ...
SANJI: And why would Rama put the food on the floor when whatever it is is up on the platform? Perhaps it was the guards' supper.
KARIM: Perhaps the rope operates a pulley so that the food can be hoisted up to the platform.
(Speaking  simultaneously, they each begin to expound their own particular theories.)
ALI: I fear that peither of  you have appreciated the significance of the rope. You see, my grandfather once met a man with a  mystical rope which he threw willynilly into the air. This rope, which had been enchanted by a holy man, could dance and sing. It could play the sitar oh so beautifully. And in its spare time it used to juggle! Rama has discovered just such a rope, I am sure.
SANJI: The platform is obviously home for some awesome creature that Rama has discovered. But Rama is so fearful he is not so brave as some of us that he is afraid to deliver its food and leaves it lying on the ground. If the rope has any significance at all, it is to tie up the creature to prevent it from breaking loose and wreaking havoc in the neighbourhood. That is why there is a fence.
KARIN:    Personally, I think Rama is very selfish to be keeping all his new found wealth   to himself. It is as clear as holy water from  the sacred river that Rama has  come into some money and he does  not wish for the fact to be  widely known. Why else would he build a fence so high? And why else would he need to guard his garden? If there  is any kind of creature in  the garden it is most surely to frighten away those who discover Rama's secret riches.
(Kris enters whilst they are still speaking.)
KRIS:  Greetings, Ali.
ALI:  Greetings.
KRIS:  Greetings, Karim.
KARIM:  Greetings.
KRIS:  Greetings, Sanji.
SANJI:   Greetings.
KRIS:  My humble apologies for arriving late. Is it a private argument or can anybody join in?
ALI:  We were discussing what makes the strange noise in Rama's garden.
KRIS:  Oh, you mean his new elephant.
ALI, SANJI & KARIM: (Slowly, together) His elephant?
KRIS:  Yes. Rama is keeping it in his garden.
ALI:  But how do you know this?
KRIS:  I've seen it.
SANJI:  Can you see in the dark?
KRIS:  (Puzzled) No.
SANJI:  So how did you see Rama's elephant?
KRIS:  It was daytime.
KARIM: But, if it was broad daylight, did no one see you climbing over the fence?
KRIS:   No.
KARIM:  But why not?
ALI : (Suggests) Because you used magical powers.
SANJI:  Because you blinded them with science?
KRIS:  No. None of those.
ALI, SANJI & KARIM: (Together) Well?
KRIS:  Because I went through the gate.
(Exit Ali, Sanii & Karim, muttering and arguing)
© Copyright John Fewings, all rights reserved.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: 50 Howdale Road, Hull, HU8 9JZ, UK. Email: fewings@fewings.karoo.co.uk