Hakawati #1: The Story of the Third Son
(SFX #1 We hear Fairuz singing. The storyteller sits in his chair. She opens the old book. She gently flips the pages, till he finds the story he thinks appropriate.
This is the story of The Third Son. (She snaps the book shut. The music stops.)
His name was Karam, named for the village to which his mother and father had fled when they defied their parents’ wishes and fell in love. In the village of Karam they were married. This was during the civil war.
Karam’s brothers did not like having a sibling named after a village, so they called him Kevin. That seemed more appropriate for a boy growing up in the fabled, faraway kingdom of Granville South, the place to which his parents had further fled, when the war and their marriage had overwhelmed them and they needed to…breathe.
Kevin was the third son, and his older brothers always taunted him. Oh, he was good at sports, which was a definite asset in Granville South. Every afternoon after school – ‘every arvo’ as they say in the local lingo – he could be seen doing cartwheels and round-offs, proving he was quite ‘the athlete’. But this was not good enough for his brothers. They called him a sook, a bit of a mama’s boy. And it had to be admitted he was very handy around the house. Particularly in the kitchen. His mother would call him
“My little helper”
and when she left the house to do the shopping at the wondrous Westfield Shopping Town, she would instruct her youngest son to
“Clean the house, change the nappies on your cousins -“
Stinky little twins whose family had come to stay, in the bungalow out back, for six weeks and stayed…six years
“Make the twins take their nap, take the bread out of the oven when the bell rings and then cook one of your specialties. I like the fasolia bi zait.”
“Go easy on the salt. Remember, it is precious.”
Kevin’s culinary skills had become so complete that his brothers preferred his cooking to their mother’s. But, over the years, Kevin got no credit for this, especially from his father, who did not approve of words like ‘okay’ or ‘Kevin’ or sons who wore aprons and cooked beans.
“You are a complete mystery to me.”
His brothers didn’t understand him either. Underneath, they suspected he was not like them. Ali, the oldest brother, liked the music of AC/DC. Pash, the middle brother, liked Prince. Kevin liked…Kylie Minogue.
“Oh yes, I was instantly her No 1 fan, the first time I saw “Never Too Late” on Video Hits, which I got to watch when dad was in hospital with that ulcer. After that -(SFX #2 We hear a bell) Shit, the bread.”
(SFX #3 We hear “What Kind of Fool”, the Kylie Minogue song. Kevin sings along.)
Sometimes Kevin would get so wrapped up in Kylie and cooking –
“What kinda fool do you take me for?
I don’t wanna see your face no more -“
that he would be mid-kitchen choreography when his father came home from work.
“Karam! (The music stops abruptly) What is this? Dancing around the house like some whirling dervish! What kind of son, are you? What kind of man will you become?
“It’s not dancing, dad, it’s acrobatics.”
“Whatever it is, it’s shameful! And it’s scaring the life out of Bibba and Bubba-“
The twin cousins, gob-smacked in their play-pen.
“And what is this music? Where is the sound that links us to the homeland? Where is Fairuz and her magical recordings? They stopped a civil war but they are not good enough for my own home?! I do not want you book-facing. And I do not want to debate with you again whether the baba ganoush should be, what nonsense do you call it? Gluten-free.”
Aggh! His father’s face was volcanic and left the room for prayer.
Everyone else said that Kevin’s father had left the war back in the homeland. But Kevin thought perhaps, just perhaps, he had brought some of it with him to Granville South. Indeed, some nights the house was a bit too much like a war zone, and his mother sobbed, his brothers fled, and Kevin hid himself in the hallway cupboard that he had converted, with some style, into a cubby-house.
When he was in his own private world, lit only by the light from his laptop computer, Kevin was often visited by his fairy godmother – a small winged creature who looked remarkably like Kylie, as the Green Fairy, in Baz Luhrmann’s excellent feature film, Moulin Rouge (Slide #4) which Kevin had been forbidden to see, but saw anyway when his dad was hospitalised for the second ulcer.
The fairy godmother’s job was to advise and encourage:
“Don’t put too much mustard in the shish tawook, Kevin -“
She sounded a little like Kylie, too
“- it burns your father’s stomach and makes him grumpy.”
“Chin up Kevin. Remember. Everybody, even a poor, put-upon “mother’s little helper” who lives in a cupboard and is a mystery to his father, can have his happy ending.”
And, as he closed the lid of his laptop, all Kevin could think was:
“I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.”
(We hear a thump on the door)
“Karam! Get out of that rat-hole.”
His father –
“I need everyone in the front room. I have news. Family news. So everyone must gather.”
Everyone did. Even the family from the bungalow, except for Bibba and Bubba, whom Kevin had tucked into bed shortly before hand and read to them the tale of Aladdin and his magic –
“Show some respect. (Pause) I’ve gathered you all together because…I am returning to the homeland.”
There was an intake of breath.
“And I am taking with me…my first born and my second born sons. We will visit the village where your mother and I were married, where we began our journey together. This trip will be a reward to my sons for the efforts they have made in our struggle to preserve our most precious possession: the Family.”
“Aren’t I going too?”
His father laughed.
“You? No, you must stay here and be ‘mother’s little helper’. Help her to support us from afar, as we make our Family important again, in the village that gave you your name. And from now on you will be known by that name, Karam…And don’t interrupt.”
Karam was distraught. But not as much as his brothers.
“What am I gonna tell Lollie-“
Ali’s girlfriend, whom his father had forbidden him to see.
“She will kill me if we miss the Akka-Dakka concert-“
And Pasha said:
“I’ve got my Year 11 formal. I’ve already put a deposit on the suit -“
Kevin fled to his cupboard and pleaded with his fairy godmother.
“Can’t you do something?”
“Well, I could do a lot of things-
Said Kylie –
“I could summon up a magic carpet and have you land in the homeland in a thrice. But what would be the point? The homeland, and what it holds, is not your destiny Kevin.”
And she flew very close –
“What is the message of my latest single?”
“Better the devil you know”.
“Exactly. Do what you know, Kevin/Karam. Cricket practice and your acrobatic classes. And remember, Kevin, there is always a twist in these stories. It’s called irony.
thought Kevin, mis-hearing.
“What sort of ironing can my story contain?”
But a week later there it was. Out of the blue, his Uncle Masid appeared, with several suitcases full of clothes. His mother ordered the third son to get the ironing board out of the cupboard and start ironing. Kevin did. He quite enjoyed it really. There were two single-breasted suits, much nicer than Pash’s rent-a-tux for the Year 11 formal. They had lovely satin lapels. You had to be careful with those. Then six yellow dresses embroidered with flowers. And then a beautiful, full-length wedding dress and two – (Pause) Kevin froze…
“Mum, are these what I think they are?”
“Keep ironing, Karam. Your Uncle Masid is in a hurry. He must fly to the homeland…to prepare for the wedding. And here is the chain your brother Ali will wear on the big day. It’s a shame we cannot be there with him when he walks, in the traditional manner, down the aisle with his betrothed – but money is scarce – and we will have a second wedding when he returns home… with his wife.”
“Yes, that is what your father and our Family have arranged. Ali will marry his cousin Zobeide – a lovely girl who perhaps needs some dental work, but is warm and willing – and Pasha will be his best man (Pause) Karam. The iron.”
The iron was lifted. No damage had been done. At least, none that could be seen.
“But mum. You and dad married for love -“
“We married in a war.”
Then she cried. Kevin made his mother a cup of tea. No further words were spoken, so he retreated to his cupboard and played Kylie.
(SFX #4 We hear Kylie and Nick Cave’s “Where the Wild Roses Grow”)
Six weeks later, Karam received the dvd of his brothers’ ‘holiday’ in the homeland. His hand trembled as he pushed the disc into the machine.
The hijinx of the Layliyeh, the party to announce the wedding. (We see the video) His brother entering the room on his uncles’ shoulders. His father laughing and clapping. His brothers wearing smiles that didn’t seem all that forced.
They looked like his brothers, but at the same time, they weren’t.
And then the wedding (We see the video)…all Karam could hear was the advice given by one over-joyed member of the family after another:
“Give us children. Lots and lots of children.”
and the message sent by his mother
“Love will come, Ali. After.”
Happily ever after.
(We hear a sombre chant)
Once upon a time, in the fabled, faraway kingdom of Granville South, there was a man who kept a war-torn suitcase under his bed. In it, were three precious things. A collection of recordings that held the voice of the woman they knew as “the neighbour to the moon.” Fairuz. Her songs, sung for the martyrs, were the salve that healed the wounds of a Civil War.
Beside them, wrapped in an old oil cloth, the lamp of his father and his father’s father…When he was young, his father had said: Rub the lamp, my son, and you will feel the spirit of the Family move through your fingers, to your chest, to your heart. It is the blood of the generations, keeping us strong.
And beside the lamp, the photographs of his father and his two older brothers. The uncles. Both handsome and stern but with the hint of a smile, in the frames of cedar and hessian he himself had fashioned. He had given them to his mother the day his father and brothers went away, to fight. SLIDE #5
We will come back, they promised. After. When we will all live ‘happily ever after.” He closed the suitcase the day he learned the harshest lesson of all: there is no happily ever after.
said Kylie, as the wedding disc ejected from the laptop.
“That is not your world. (Pause) Don’t you think you should, you know, talk to your dad about this, about you and…your future?
Karam, Kevin, or whatever his name was, knew she was right. He had to have what in the local lingo they called ‘a man to man’ with his father.
He devised a plan, based on a clip he’d seen on YouTube: He would lie in wait just outside the kitchen door when his father came home from work and had his usual glass of Arak. Then, just as he placed the glass on the kitchen sink and turned around…Karam would make his move. He’d do two forward somersaults with a round-off finish and force his father to catch him, circus-like, legs wrapped around his waist. His father would say:
“Karam have you gone mad?”
And they would be nose to nose, so close Kevin would be able to smell the anise on his father’s breath.
“No, dad, I’ve never been saner. I’ve decided to do what my brothers couldn’t. I need to get your assurance that you will never do to me what you have done to Ali.”
His dad would no doubt say something like: “I would have thought a wife was the last thing on your mind.”
“You haven’t got a clue what’s on my mind. But know this. When I give myself to somebody, whoever they might be, it will be a giving from the heart. Heart to heart -“
And he would move his hand from his own heart to his father’s.
“Like you and mum. Which I must believe happened in love, not war. (Pause) Do I have your assurance?”
There would be a long pause, then his father would say:
“Yes, my son. You do.”
And then third son would do a magnificent, flawless cartwheel, take a big bow in the kitchen doorway and exit with the words –
“And I’m changing my name to…Aladdin.”
He ran the plan past the fairy godmother. Kylie was encouraging but cautious.
“I’m tired of answering to what other people call me. I want to be myself-“
“Well, I like the way you make your point (shes mimics the heart to heart move). Very Baz. You’re my hero, Aladdin.”
And with a giggle she was gone. On the night of the much-anticipated ‘man to man’ – which actually took Karam, Kevin, Aladdin three years to summon up the courage to do – the third son dressed in his taekwondo whites. His father got home late and was in such a dark mood he drank two glasses of Arak. But eventually he took his last sip, letting the final drop of the liquid kiss the floor in a tribute to those souls who’d been lost in war. Then he placed the glass on the sink and turned to see…a cyclonic white blur bearing down on him.
Rather than wrap his legs around his father’s waist, the third son collided heavily with his father’s private parts. After an ambulance had been called, there was another night spent in hospital.
Aladdin, or Karam, or Kevin, once again fled to his cupboard. Kylie flew very close. He could feel the gentle breeze from her wings.
“Well, at least you tried, Aladdin.”
The boy just sat there, his head in his hands.
“What’s to become of me? My father hates me, my mother only puts up with me because I’m a better cook than she is, my brothers are embarrassed by me because I’m…not what they want me to be. Even Bibbi and Bubba – “
About to turn eight and no longer keen on Kevin tucking them in at night.
“Here’s an idea. Why don’t you come and watch me perform next Saturday night? I’m the surprise “Act” at the Mardi Gras… It’s going to be something special.”
“The Mardi Gras? But I’m not-“
“I know. But you live in a cupboard and you’re good at cooking – you’re heading in the right direction.”
“What would I wear?”
“Cowboy style, I think. Your father has that old leather apron that you could magically transform into chaps. Or, now that you’re called Aladdin, what about something traditional? Whatever you decide”
“Remember: things can only get better.”
And she was gone.
(We see a mirror ball and SFX #6 hear Kylie’s On a Night Like This.)
At Ali’s second wedding, much to his parents’ regret, Karam’s seat remained empty all night, while, at the other end of Parramatta Road, Aladdin and Kylie danced the night away…together…in what the locals would call “a marriage made in heaven”…And as the lights flashed and the music swelled, into the hall came –
(The restaurant door opens and the waiters appear)
The second course.
Hakawati #2: The Story of the Woman Who Loved Bread
(The Hakawati enters chanting. She sits in her chair. She opens a book, which appears to be an old cookbook. She blows on the pages. There’s a cloud of flour.)
H2: This is the story of the woman who loved bread.
She was born in a time of great turmoil. But when she was born, something magical happened. There was suddenly a promise of peace, and her village erupted with much rejoicing, music, singing…because…she was the sign of a better future.
But, it must be admitted, there was also some ill-feeling. To some, this child was the fruit of a very bad union. Her mother had married not only someone from outside of the village, but outside the tribe. Her husband was a member of the other tribe, those who had been responsible for so much sadness in so many lives. But she loved this man fiercely and she knew he was pure of heart, and she begged her family, her tribe, to overlook what he might have been and see who he truly was. And accept their child.
Miraculously, they agreed.
On the day of the child’s Christening, all the aunts and uncles lined up to give their blessing and a small token of their hopes for a better life. Given the poverty that afflicted the war-torn village, their gifts were simple… just pieces of bread. Ah, but what bread! There was lavash, chorag, pida, katah, matnakash, from savoury to sweet, all bought or bartered for from the Hatz Baboog, the bread godfather.
“Bread is life” he said.
Everything at the Christening was going swimmingly, until the twelfth and last relative – an aunt so scarred by tragedy that she had lost all joy in living – greeted the child NOT with bread, but these words:
(the music stops)
“This child is cursed! Because of the sins of her parents, she will live and die a slave! She will never earn the bread of life! And nor will her children! Her family wears this curse… like a noose… around its neck.”
The mother was in shock. The father, infuriated. The rest of the village went:
“Hmm. What a bitch. What’s she on? See, I told you so.”
And a pall overcame the christening. The fate of the child and her parents had been sealed. Except…
There was a thirteenth aunt, one renowned for being late on everything occasion, even to her own funeral. She was always in two minds about what to wear –
“The dress or the tunic. The white veil or the red? God in the heavens above, please give me a sign!”
(SFX #1 We hear a booming voice: “The white dress…and the blue edged veil.”)
Inspired, she arrived just as her sister was uttering the final words of her curse.
Shouted the thirteenth aunt at some volume.
“This child will not die a slave. But, as a woman, of course, she will have to work like a slave for many years and get little reward for it etc etc…However, this will only be until…”
And the village held its breath
“ A person of royal blood breaks the curse…with a kiss.”
Said the village
“That’s novel. What a turn-up for the books. I’m down with that.”
But the child’s mother said:
“Hang on a minute, that’s marvellous, but what about the other bit about never earning the bread of life? Never earning?!!!”
“Oh you misheard,”
Said the good aunt.
“My tortured sister said: ‘She will never burn the bread of life’.”
And the crowd said:
“Oooo. Now I understand. That’s cool. I’m glad we got that sorted.”
The person of royal blood did not appear (oh) The cursed child grew to be a young woman, who was quickly married to her cousin from the next village and transported to the fabled, faraway kingdom of Granville South. (Slide #1)
Somehow, along the way, she found the time to give birth to twins, Bibbi and Bubba. For six years, she and her young family lived in something called a ‘bungalow’ (Slide #2) behind the house of another village relative, his wife and their three sons, the youngest of whom was a very able babysitter..
But miraculously, after six years of slavery – for both husband and wife – as cleaners, labourers and, for a short time, the manager of the Seven Eleven in Rouse Hill – the wife remembered the words of her mother:
H1: Do what you know.
H2: So, the couple moved out of the bungalow to which they had gone for six weeks but stayed six, long years, and opened their own business. A bakery in Auburn, which, on the wife’s insistence, they called The Life Bakery. (Slide #3.)
It was hard work, of course – and the woman still slaved 24/7, doing the first chore of the day, baking bread. But what a chore! And what bread!!! Her hands had inherited all the gifts and talents of her Bread Godfather. Her buttery lavash could be soft and flexible or crisp and cracker-like. And always cooked traditionally, out back, in a pit lined with bricks. And people would come from miles around to taste her Lahmahjoon. You’ve never had pizza until you’ve had Lah-mah-joon! And travelling to the Life Bakery, entering it, was a magical experience. In traditional culture bread is sacred. And the Life Bakery embodied this.
“You always feel welcome in the Life Bakery” said the Parramatta Advertiser. “You will never see a crumb of bread fall to the floor and just lie there. It will be scooped up, kissed, then held skyward in prayer and fed to the birds.” And true to the modified curse, the Bakeress never, ever burnt the bread of life.
The only shadow over this mother’s life was cast by her twin daughters. Bibbi and Bubba, whom she and her husband adored BUT they grew up as strangers. Oh the mother tried to teach them the traditions of the tribe – “the bread of Life” – but Mari and Anna, as they became known at school, just weren’t interested. (Slide #3) Then there were the televisions, the i-phones, the high school musicals. She would often say to family friends:
“You have never known pain until you have watched your off-spring sing and dance their way through something called Bye Bye Birdie.” Their father would not even enter the school hall. He stayed in the car and cried.
And then, shortly after their sixteenth birthdays, Mari and Anna… disappeared. (Slide #4 The slide acquires a MISSING heading, and beneath HAVE YOU SEEN THESE GIRLS? The hakawati sings her lament.)
Despite this tragedy in her life, the Bakeress kept on baking…baking…baking. (She takes some bread from the table)
A loyal customer said:
“Your breads are works of art. You should be up there on Masterchef not those “foreign” amateurs.”
She was flattered, but un-persuaded. She still did not watch what the locals called ‘the idiot box’. Well, she did sneak a peek every now and then just to keep up with the Kardashians, and she was tempted by glimpses of Missing Persons Unit, as the handsome host reminded her of her late, sorely-missed husband. Oh, did I not mention? The Bakeress bore a double tragedy, as her husband had died suddenly – of a broken heart – shortly after his daughters disappeared. He had been found dead, in a KFC carpark, with a piece of fried chicken in his hand. Strange, she thought, for he never really ate outside the bakery and its lahmahjoon.
Of the missing girls, no one heard a word.
The mother feared a horrible fate: death, or worse, that they had become….actresses… (SFX #4 The shop bell rings)
But then, just as she was about to give in to despair, through the doorway stepped…A vision, in giant sunglasses, a sun hat, and around her shoulders, a shiny wrap of old Hollywood satin with a hint of fur. She was surrounded by a dozen cameramen (We see two of them) and a great deal of hubbub. (SFX We hear it)
“Quiet please,” (Silence)
She said in a dull but effective monotone… (Pause)
“I’ve come half-way round the world – and while it’s true I’m actually here to launch my new handbag range at David Jones tomorrow night and maybe visit something called the Melbourne Cup (pause) what…I desperately need, crave, is the taste of your lahmahjoon.”
And she pointed at the woman behind the counter.
“The fame of your lahmahjoon has reached even the hills of Hollywood. And I, being the celebrity that I am, just have to have, everything that is ‘NOW’. And your lahmahjoon, if Perez Hilton is to be believed, is “VERY NOW”. Do you use fresh or dried mint?”
“Cool. I’ll have mine rolled with a splash of lemon juice. Are you getting this boys?”
And the cameramen rushed closer to the Bakeress as she worked her magic. (They do) There were cameras in her face, in her oven, even capturing the ‘Have you seen these missing girls?” signs still adorning the Life Bakery walls. (The slide returns)
When the lahmahjoon was ready, the Bakeress presented it to the vision, who removed her two huge sunglasses to reveal beautiful, laughing, anticipating eyes lined with kajahl (Slide #5) and said:
“You do know who I am, don’t you?”
H2: Said the Bakeress,
H1: “You’re Princess Kim.”
H2: “Correct. And what you have just done is to prepare a feast, fit for a princess.”
She laughed at her own joke (She does), then took a dainty bite of the pizza.
All eyes, every camera in the room – and eventually all of the Princess’s twelve million devoted fans in twenty-six countries around the globe – watched, as that impeccable, lip-sticked mouth embraced the lahmahjoon… in Auburn.
The Princess swallowed and looked blank. There was a moment of unnerving, televisual suspense. Then, she said:
“As you know I am recently divorced, after only 85 days of marriage – and although I don’t really feel in the right headspace at the moment to talk about the split and the terms of the settlement, I simply have to say that… had your lahmahjoon with mint and a twist of lemon been in my life this time last year, my marriage may have lasted a whole lot longer than 85 days.”
The Princess gobbled down the rest of the pizza and, having wiped her hands with a floral lace handkerchief embroidered with a giant K, held the bakeress by the shoulders:
“I am going to kiss you.”
“Yes, I am. As soon as the cameras get into position. (Pause, as they do) Nothing Lesbo or anything, just a delicate coming together of four lips – two with a gloss of my own creation – the Colour of Kim – and the other two…well… the colour of Auburn.”
The Princess puckered (she does)
(SFX #5 We hear the sound of a kiss, the lipstick result on the screen, Slide #6)
And the Princess and the Bakeress, kissed. And instantly, there was a flash of blinding light. (We see it.) And the sound of magical music. (SFX #6 We hear it). And the Princess said:
But the Bakeress knew what it was. It was the lifting of the curse.
And over a herbal infusion with a hint of sage, she explained to Princess Kim about the curse, the bungalow, her husband’s untimely death in a KFC car park, the Life Bakery and, of course, her missing daughters. And the Princess said:
“And that witch said ‘earn’ not ‘burn’? Well did she ever get it wrong. Honey, let me tell you, you are gonna earn, earn, earn, now that you’re coming to work for me and my reality tv production company. You’re gonna be on Kim’s Kable.”
“I am going to set you up in a bakery in LA – I know the perfect spot on Wiltshire Boulvard. Something very traditional, I think, in line with my Armenian heritage, something that would make my daddy proud –
Said the Bakeress – The Princess looked blank, which wasn’t a stretch.
“I can’t go anywhere until I find my daughters.”
The Princess considered this.
“All right. I’m making a momentous decision. I won’t go to the Melbourne Cup. My researchers and my camera crew will embark with you on a search for the missing twins. We’ll call the episode ‘Babycakes’ or “Baby Ganoush” or -“
And the search began. Within two days the Princess’s team did what the New South Wales Police Force hadn’t been able to do in two years. They discovered the whereabouts of the first twin, Mari. She was working in a nightclub in Adelaide, as a stand-up comedian. The Bakeress, beside herself with joy – well, actually, beside the main camerman, who was strangely attractive (The cameraman waves at her) – flew to confront her daughter.
said Mari, when her mother entered the City of Churches Comedy Central Nightclub.
“Thank god you’re here. I got a terrible review in the Adelaide Advertiser and I haven’t sold a bloody ticket. You’re my only audience. Sit there and…if you love me, laugh.”
So as if nothing had happened in the intervening two years, the mother, along with the bemused cameraman, sat in the empty nightclub and watched her daughter tell jokes. It was a little bit better than Bye Bye Birdie, but not much. She laughed, but what did it all mean? “Can oral be halal? And what on earth was a Hijarbie? (As an aside) A Barbie doll dressed in a hijab.
“But we’re Christians.”
Said the mother.
“I’m a comedian,”
said her daughter,
“Commenting on the whole stupid mess.”
But then a miracle occurred . Her daughter asked:
“I don’t suppose you brought any of your drizzled nutmeg cake with you, did you? The other night I was onstage in the middle of my act when ‘wham’, there was this flash of light. And I thought SFX #7: nutmeg cake. Nutmeg cake.”
“As a matter of fact…” (Slide #7)
And the mother produced a tin in which there was an entire drizzle cake, plus a couple of nazooks for good measure – and mother and daughter, and the Princess’s cameraman (he waves), feasted happily on cake together until:
“Mari. Look at me. You must tell me, in all honesty, what has happened to your sister Anna. Do not lie to me. Is she also standing up to be funny? Or worse, is she dead?”
“Don’t be silly.”
Said the daughter.
“She’s in Surfer’s Paradise, working at McDonald’s. And by the way, she’s not Anna anymore. She’s Ayisha, her birth name. And I’m…Zamira.”
The stunned mother gathered up the camera crew and and flew to the Gold Coast. And there she found her second daughter, Ayisha, not only working as the early evening manager at McDonald’s – (They give her a drum) – but playing a darbuka. (She does a short riff).
“The other day in the McKitchen there was a burst of light SFX #8 – too much fat on an open flame I guess – and I had this flash of inspiration: What the McSperience is lacking is McMusic. So every night now we have “Burgers and Darbuka” – (A short riff) traditional music of my own creation.
Then the daughter explained why she had run away.
“I just couldn’t see the future mum, trapped between two worlds. Yours and mine. And then, when dad died, I felt guilty, and just couldn’t return. By the way, I’m married. That’s my husband over there making the Malteser McFlurry. You’ll remember him. He’s Pash, the middle son from the family who lived in the fibro in front of our bungalow. He drew you that lovely mother’s day card. He is such an artist.”
But that’s another story.
(SFX doorbell) And then Princess Kim walked into McDonald’s and caused the biggest McFlurry ever seen this side of the Murrumbidgee.
“I looooove this Gold Coast.”
Said the Princess.
“I have just kissed a dolphin on the nose. It’s like I’ve died and gone to Aussie heaven. I’ll have a double cheese-burger with fries. Hold the pickle.”
And as they watched the Princess devour her pickle-less burger – and explain the details of the new future she had planned for them all in the City of Angels…
“I see cro-nuts!”
SFX #9 (Intro to “Make It With You”) The woman who loved bread gathered the ingredients of her new life – her daughters, a son-in-law and a camerman, who kept waving at her (he does) – and prepared to re-open the Life Bakery, in another fabled, faraway kingdom on the other side of the world.
And then, there magically appeared –
(The doors open and the waiters appear.)
The main course.
© HP 2016
Hakawati #3: The Story of the Three Brothers and the Bikie Gang
The story-tellers enter and sing “Kids” from Bye Bye Birdie:
“Kids, I dunno what’s wrong with these kids today
Kids, who can understand anything they say
Kids, they are disobedient, disrespectful oafs
Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy loafers – and while we’re on the subject
Kids, you can talk and talk to your face is blue
Kids, but they still do just what they want to do
Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way…”
H3: (Reading from an i-Pad) The story of the three brothers and a bikie gang. (the other hakawatis walk away humming)
It was the eldest brother, Ali, who joined the bikie gang first, though he didn’t at the time actually own a motorbike. He had put all his savings, earned from his shifts in the kitchen at KFC – finger likin’ good with eleven secret herbs and spices – into a third-hand 1991 Mercedes two-seater sedan. But he fudged the answer to the question:
“What sort of beast do you have, cobber?”
asked by the head bikie when Ali tried to join the local bikie gang, ‘The Rebels with a Definite Cause’.
“I have a mythical beast”
“A Alcyon.” (Slide #1)
A classic French bike named after a mythical bird.
Said the Rebels, very somewhat confused.
“But it’s in the shop, being re-fitted” Poof! (The slide disappears)
The Rebels let him join anyway. Their clubhouse was in a concrete bunker, in the back streets of North Parramatta. The chapter had sixty members. Unfortunately, most of them were in their 60s, and looked like die-hards from a Z Z Topp tour. This disappointed Ali a bit. A lot actually. All the greying beards, fading tattoos and applications for pension cards…The Rebels didn’t live up to their name. And they certainly didn’t plan drug heists or swap bloody stories about gun battles at Sydney Airport…they just drank beer, lots of it, and ate fried chicken covered in grey gravy from white grease-soaked boxes. It wasn’t even KFC.
But Ali hung in there. He had to. He had to belong, he needed to belong…to something.
“Life with mum and dad and Zobeide-“
His wife, the cousin with the bad teeth
“is, like killing me. It’s like being trapped in the Big Brother house, except you’re not allowed to do anything…except, like, learn to dabke –
A form of traditional dance
“And listen to Fairuz records.”
One of the most famous singers in the Middle-East. His dad’s favourite.
“I can’t smoke, I can’t watch Netflix unless it’s in the loo with headphones on because Zobeide needs peace and quiet to study for her Family Law TAFE course. I can’t even walk around the house in my undies.”
“Show some respect!”
Says his mum, magically appearing in the bungalow where Ali had moved, at the back of his parents’ house, with his wife, who is his cousin, and three screaming kids, who seem to be endlessly teething and ‘in the wars’ and hell-bent on driving Ali stark, raving mad.
“Mum still gives me Karl Gibran books for my birthday!”
To soothe him.
“Books! Can you cop it? I mean, I like the Doggies, not dabke, Facebook not Fairuz. Why can’t they see that? I can’t live in their world where, like, the Saturday night entertainment is still story-telling and…arm-wrestling!”
Most of this was said to his youngest brother, ‘Din, who used to be Karam then used to be Kevin. Ali didn’t really like ‘Din all that much, but he needed a sympathetic ear. ’Din stopped listening to his Kylie Minogue ‘Best of” download and sympathised.
“Okay bro. (Slide #2 We see a slide of Ali’s wedding).
But who the hell is that back in the homeland having a ball on his so-called ‘holiday’? You don’t seem to be doing much moaning there, bro.”
“That was different”
“That was dad. And the Family. And then I met Zobeide and she was sooooo beautiful, when she didn’t smile too much. The second I saw her it was like…”
“Nah, we just hugged, though we did kiss at the wedding.”
“So what are you going to do, bro?
“If I get evicted from the Big Brother House…If I leave my family, I got nowhere, like, to go. There’s Fasaal’s place, I ’spose. But he’s bad news, man. Like, likely to be turfed at any mo’. And his farts are, like, like lethal…great big flowery woof woofs. I might as well bunk in the storage room at KFC and end up smelling like, the eleven secret herbs and spices. Maybe I could sleep rough in Parra Park with, like, the winos and the war vets? (Pause) Or do I join the Rebels with a Definite Cause, who would let me hole up in the clubhouse, which has a shower and little soap cubes and everything, and they could, like, shield me from Cyclone Zobeide?”
“I guess it’s the Rebels,”
“But I feel they might need a bit of a makeover.”
“How so, like?”
“Well I think their look is too…Village People. You’ve got to get rid of all that tired, black leather with the diagonal, asymetrical zippers. and, spare us!!! those the studded leather caps…The ‘with it’ bikie these days is wearing a Camperdown Address hoodie or a Milano Peg Leg Raglan, under a Dainese light leather Riding Jacket with matching mesh gloves. Hair-wise, the mullets just have to go, and the beards should be trimmed to hipster lengths – I recommend Uppercut Matt Clay pomade and accompanying Mo Wax, kept in a Larry wash bag. Do you have a leather tool roll?”
“Not to worry. The most important thing is: the boots. You don’t look very crepe sole to me so I’d put you in Red Wing Iron Rangers. They’ll look perfect when you’re on a Fatboy or a Heritage Softail.”
“I don’t have a bike.”
“Not even a Vespa.?”
“Just the two-seater Merc.”
“Not to worry…I read online that not having a bike in a bikie gang these days is very hot.”
“Really. You just cruise behind the pack in your car, wearing your Sylvester Trucker cap and look as if you paid for the whole thing. Don’t wear boots. Wear sneakers. Nike Air Prestos.”
“Ooooo. A Nike biikie.”
“Yes. You’ll be dope, bro. The thing to remember is: You’re professionals. And you have to dress accordingly. Whether you’re stand-over merchants, or drug dealers or simply fronts for the local tow-truck company -“
“you have to look the part. Real Pro’s. ”
Ali took his brother’s advice and took an Armani catalogue to the next Rebels’ meeting –
Spat the head bikie, nearly choking on a drumstick.
Ali retreated, while they did the heimlich manoevre, and lying on his bunk at the back of the clubhouse, reached a life-changing decision. He would form his own bikie gang.
“I’m going to call us, like, the Thieves.
He said to ‘Din.
“Like the Thieves?”
“No. Just, like…The Thieves.”
“Shouldn’t it be, like, the Forty Thieves? That’s more traditional.”
“I want nothing to do with tradition. That’s what’s killin’ me, bro. That and Zobeide.”
But after a beat –
“But you’re right about one thing, bro. No one in the Thieves should be over forty.
“And I shall be your first recruit,”
Said ‘Din, beaming.
Ali thought about it.
“Okay. You can be in charge of the uniforms.”
“And Pash -”
The middle brother
“He’ll be recruit number two.”
Pash was dubious.
“I don’t even do the bike at the gym, bro.”
“You can cruise with me, behind the pack, in the Merc. We can look as though we paid for everything. You just need to buy a pair of Nike Air Prestos.”
“But they’re 250 bucks!!!”
“You can get them cheaper on eBay. Just do it!”
Ali then had to tell his middle brother that to gain full membership of the Forty Thieves, he had to pass an initiation test.
“You have to prove to me that you’ve got what it takes bro to be in, like, an upwardly mobile bikie gang in modern Western Sydney.”
“And how would I do that?”
“You have to break into the Life Bakery in the middle of the night and find out what the mystery ingredient is in the Bakeress’s Lah-mah-joon.
Yes, everyone in the fabled, faraway kingdom of Auburn wanted to know what the secret ingredient was in those irresistible pizzas. But the bakeress, jealously guarded her key ingredient: The Za’atar (SFX #1 We hear some magical music), a combination of spices so rare Colonel Sanders was said to be employing a Wikileaks team to track it down.
“If we discover the secret of the Bakeress’s Za’atar (Music SFX #2),”
“We will have unlocked the secret of Life…well, at least, like, the secret of the Life Bakery. And if we can mass produce the Za’atar (SFX #3 Music) and sell it on the streets of Sydney through, like, all the usual ‘outlets’, then, before you can say: Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on, like, a sesame seed bun” we’ll be moving to, like, Rouse Hill.
The next night at 2am, the middle brother, with his older and younger brother as, like, back-up, approached the locked and darkened, but still welcoming, Life Bakery, wearing Nike Air Prestos and matching Armani ski masks. Pash was confronted by an electronic keypad security alarm.
“What should I do,”
“Punch in ‘open sesame’,”
He did. (He uses the i-Pad. SFX #4 We hear it) Nothing happened.
“Try the usual, “
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. That’s all people over fifty can remember.”
He did. (SFX #5 We hear it) The door magically opened. A silky recorded voice said:
H2: (In the style of Kim Kardashian SFX #6) “Welcome to Life.”
H3: The three would-be Thieves made their way across the white tiled floor, resisting the temptation to eat the lavash, chorag, pida, katah, matnakash, both savoury and sweet, that had been left over from the day’s trading – okay, almost resisting – and stood before a large, wooden door that they knew just had to contain the secret of the Za’atar. (SFX #7 Music) The secret spice of Life.
(He’s eating bread) “Open sesame!” yelled Pash, with a mouthful of lavash.
“Ssh, bro, ssh.”
Said Ali, spitting his chorag.
“There’s no lock on the door. Just turn the handle.”
And Pash did. And the wooden door, like a stone in front of an ancient tomb, rolled open (SFX #8 We hear it) to reveal… a dead man, hanging from a rope, attached to the highest beam.
The oldest and the youngest brothers dropped what was left of the stolen bread, and fled, but Pash just stood there, looking at the tortured face of the man who had hanged himself.
He picked up a note from the floor. It read:
“My life is cursed. And my daughters are lost. They were my life, my loves, and without them, I have no reason to live. They were…the secret of Life…”
The other brothers crept back in.
“Pash what are you doing, we have to get out of here. The Bakeress will be here soon, like, baking.”
“No, we can’t leave this man. We know this man. He came to live in the bungalow behind our house for six weeks and stayed six years. We cannot just leave him here. In his…what do they call it?”
“Yeah. His despair. His family will be ruined. The Life Bakery ruined. This is the sin of the Holy Ghost – it’s the one sin that can’t be forgiven.”
“You’re starting to sound like Karl Gibran.”
Pash turned to his brothers and said: “And what he has done, he has done for nothing.”
The brothers were stunned and looked at Pash.
“What do ya mean, bro?”
“His daughters are not dead. One is in Adelaide, practicising to become a stand-up comedian and, I think, a lesbian. The other is on the Gold coast… waiting for me.”
“For you?” the brothers chorused.
“We’re gonna get married and then enter, like, (He is nervous, this is his coming out) the film industry. I do digital animation, she writes the music. We already have a pitch document in with Pixar on a kids’ version of 1001 Nights… in 3D. Geoffrey Rush is interested. (Pause) You, know, from the Pirates of the Caribbean. (In a pirate voice) The Curse of the Black Pearl.” (Slide #3)
“You mean all that scratching and doodling you did on the toilet walls at Westfield meant something?”
“It was like, my training, bro. Well, what was I supposed to do? Sit around and do nothing all my life? Just wait for dad to jet me back to the homeland like you and marry my third cousin from the left, who probably has got no teeth at all? Besides, Geoffrey Rush has won an Academy Award, bro.”
When Ali and Din had recovered from the shock, they helped Pash cut down the body of the cursed man and, when the coast was clear, re-sealed the Life Bakery.
H2: (SFX #9 as Kim) “Thank you for your custom.”
H3: They found the cursed man’s car and drove it to the local KFC, which, luckily, was open 24 hours. They bought a bucket of fried chicken – Ali got his staff discount – and ‘Din arranged what he called the mise en scene to suggest the villain in this sad tale, was not despair, but fried chicken. Then they called the family doctor, Dr Asif, who, in the past, had been so very helpful in these unusual circumstances. They got him to certify the cause of death:
“A heart attack caused by saturated fats.”
There was no further enquiry. Well, none was needed, was it? The deceased was just another part-time manager at a local timber yard who helped out in his wife’s bakery. (Pause) No one, really.
The brothers walked home at dawn in a sombre mood. Ali was agitated, mainly because he hadn’t worn socks with his Nikes –
“They are, like, killing me, bro.”
At their house they stood in the backyard and looked at the bungalow, where Ali now lived with his family – the Big Brother House, as he called it. They looked and looked. But all they could see were the former residents: Bibbi and Bubba, the Bakeress and… the hanged man.
The founding members of the Forty Thieves, then, in the manner of all good bikie gangs, pledged they would never, ever speak of this night. Not to anyone.
Eventually, Ali did recruit forty Thieves. To his chagrin, a couple of them were already in their forties, but someone said:
“Relax, bro, Life begins at 40.”
Ali, who’d left the Rebels’ bunker and moved back into the Big Brother house with Zobeide, could hardly wait, especially as his 40th would coincide with their 25th wedding anniversary. But on that occasion his wife, the lawyer, bought him a mythical bike, an Alcyon . So a new life did begin. The Thieves turned out to be ‘good guy’ bikies. They never got into drugs – just a fortified protein powder they sold to local gyms; and a low-calorie energy drink they called: Za’atar. (SFX #10 Music) And they always looked ‘hot’ on the highways in their Tom Ford bandanas and their full-colour insignia designed – at no cost – by Pash. (Slide #4)
‘Din continued his gymnastics lessons and worked hard at the gym. Well, it meant he didn’t have to go home and argue with his dad. And as the muscles grew he found fewer guys were inclined to pick on him. Even his brothers laid off a bit. And always, Kylie was in his headphones, offering advice.
“Everybody’s doing a brand new dance, now…”
Well, not always. Sometimes, in the dead of night, there was another voice. The silky voiced Sharif, offering him exotic things like…
H1: Immortality and peace.
H3: But that’s another story.
Pash re-sold his ‘only-worn-once’ Nikes and used the money to fly Jetstar to the Gold Coast. There, he shacked up with his intended, Anna, now known as Ayisha, and worked hard at McDonalds to buy the 2-d ‘cel’ animation applications – Toon Boom and Flipbook – he so desperately needed to increase his chances with Pixar. And for her birthday he bought, Ayisha, whom he truly loved, even though she was his boss at McDonald’s, a new Oud. (SFX #11 Music, which continues under) He did not tell her about the last time he saw her father. In many of his stories though, her family curse was mentioned, and sometimes it was lifted, when someone of royal blood – a Prince or a Princess – entered the heroes’ lives and ended the curse (The music stops. Slide #5 appears) with a kiss.
(SFX #12 We hear a bell) And then, through the door of the restaurant stepped –
(The door opens and dessert is served.)
Dessert. SFX #13 The oud music reprises.
© HP 2016
Hakawati #4: The Story of the Boy Who Left Home
H4 (as DJ Krust): (SFX #1) He looks at the other three hakawatis, one by one. When all are settled.) The Story of the Boy Who Left Home.
H3: Once in the fabled, faraway kingdom of Kellyville, in a street that was simply FULL of McMansions, (Slide #1) a teenage boy strolled the pavement, seemingly despondent, as a lot of teenage boys can, seemingly, be. One consolation was the Spotify app playing on his i-Phone 7, erasing the words of his latest, his last clash with, what the locals call –
H1 & H2: The Olds. (Music stops)
H1 as Dad: Why can’t you be like other sons? His father, had said. Why do you disrespect us with this unholy behaviour? These clothes, this music, these, what do you call them?
H2 as Mum: Websites. Said his mother.
Dad: Who were you talking to? Was it a man? Was it that man? Get out, I don’t want you and your kind in my house.
Mum: Habib, no.
Dad: You are no son of mine. Be gone!
H3: And he was. (SFX #2 we hear a beat) Later, as he approached the last, and grandest of all the McMansions, the house named Halcyon (Slide #2) after the legendary birds that warned sailors when a storm was approaching, a persistent, bass heavy beat infiltrated his earphones and he found himself rapping. (He does).
H3 as DIN: Heavy iz m’burden, and desperate iz m’state
Forsaken by the Ancients, cursed by shitty fate
Others are so certain, and charm-ed is their way
But me, I am so hated, because they think I’m –
Mr S: Hey. That’s very good. Said an older man who had appeared on the balcony of Halcyon House. Are you a rapper?
DIN: No. Said Din. I’m not sure what happened there. But suddenly I heard that beat, and the words just…
Mr S: Well, don’t fret it man. You iz hot. (Pause) Did that sound authentic? I try to be hip.
DIN: You should say ‘that’s dope bro’.
Mr S: Dope? All right. That’s dope…bro.
DIN: You can speak, like, normally to me. I have Kylie on Spotify.
Mr S: Really? (Pause) Why don’t you bring Kylie inside and have some coke? That would be a glass, not a line. Unless…
DIN: Ah, my parents told me never to accept invitations like that from strangers, especially in Kellyville.
Mr S: C’mon bro, you’re seventeen and you’re built like a brick shithouse, said the man. I’m sure you can take care of yourself.
DIN: Do you think so?
Mr S: I know so.
DIN: That’s cool. People don’t usually show me that kinda respect. Usually I’m the butt of their jokes, put upon, spat upon even. That’s why I started to bulk up – to look more, you know, intimidating.
Mr S: It’s working, especially in the Armani jeans. What’s your name?
DIN: My Bros, the few that I’ve got, call me ‘Din.
Mr S: Hi ‘Din. My bros – and I’ve got quite a few – call me… Mr Sin.
DIN: The boy paused. That sounds dark as.
Mr S: It gets worse. Sin Bad.
DIN: You’re SIN BAD?
Mr S: Yes!
DIN: Aren’t you a sailor or something? Don’t you sell yachts to, like, James Packer and Rusty Crowe and-
Mr S: Well, no…
DIN: Oh, you sell, no, don’t tell me, don’t tell me, you sell…Tell me –
Mr S: Camels.
DIN: Right. Said the boy, a little confused.
Mr S: Which some people refer to as “the ships of the desert” so you aren’t that wide of the mark.
DIN: Oh good. So, how did you get into camels? So to speak…
Mr S: It’s a long story. Help yourself to the coke and I’ll tell it to you. (Looking directly at the boy) You do have time to spare, don’t you? No pressing matters?
H2: The boy hesistated It began, in another century. In the fabled, faraway kingdom of… Broken Hill. My grandfather travelled there, over the seas (Coke de-capped) from the homeland, to be a cameleer. That’s someone who tends camels.
(Mr Sin uses a remote control to make the photos appear. Slide #1)
He came on a ship full of dromedaries, destined to be part of the ‘great discovery’, helping the Englishmen conquer this Great Southern – Very Sunny – Land. The camels were perfect for life in an almost waterless world, and my great grandfather was skilled in the art of desert life. He became known as the King of the Cameleers. One of his camels even held the world record for number of miles travelled without water. 600! (Slide #2) Can you believe it?
DIN: Not really.
Mr S: Well, it’s true – it’s in the Guinness Book of Records, page 328. Said the man, a bit annoyed. But then, there came a Great War of Empires and the cameleers were deemed to be the ENEMY of the Englishmen – and they were imprisoned. Not the camels – they were left to roam free. They just kept multiplying, of course – they love procreation – and they grew to be over one million in number, roaming free, enjoying life Downunder. (Slide #3)
(Pause) The man drew closer to the boy. Meanwhile, during his internment, my grandfather made a momentous decision. A choice. He decided he would stop being a cameleer and, instead, join…?
DIN: The Communists?
Mr S: The circus.
DIN: The boy’s jaw dropped. You’re kidding, right? Wasn’t he pissed off? Didn’t he want revenge on the dirty Poms?
Mr S: No, He set about entertaining his former enemies, not chastising them, He trained his camels to do amazing things. They posed, They preened. They even performed a little ballet – Camel Lake – and he became:
H2: (imitates a trumpet, then) Lufti of Arabia, and his Dazzling Dromedaries. (Slide #4)
Mr S: And his reward was to be proclaimed: a legend. He and his son, who had inherited his father’s love of camels, played all the great circuses – they even appeared at the Royal Easter Show – and his camels became the celebrities of their day – on bubble gum cards, in magazine articles, even posing for portraits on the front of cigarette packs. (Slide #5)
H2: But then… disaster struck! Most of the circuses died. Someone had invented… television.
Mr S: My grandfather was distraught. Said the man. How could he survive and feed his family in this new Age of Television? In this war between the past and the future, he had to make a choice: Go forward… or perish. And so he invented…?
DIN: TV commercials?
Mr S: The camel-hair coat.
DIN: The boy’s jaw dropped again. Oh my god, I remember those. At least, I’ve seen pictures of the one Jackie Onasis wore. (Slide #6) Double breasted with horn buttons. So stylish.
MR S: Yes. But he didn’t stop there. Oh no, he invented camel-hair everythings. (We see them: Slides # 7,8 & 9)
Trousers (Slide), tea cosies (Slide), even camel-hair toilet seat covers (Slide). The man came even closer to the boy. But my father did not care much for his father’s camel rag trade. He rebelled and made his own choice. He became…? Starts with a V –
DIN: A vet?
MR S: A ventriliquist.
H2: (trumpet again) Cadi and his Talking Camel. (The camel appears)
H1 as CAMEL: Hello everyone. My name’s Sesame, what’s yours? (To audience member.) Yes, you. What’s your name? (Gets it.) Paul? Well that’s a very boring name, isn’t it? Very common.
H2: Cadi and Sesame were a great hit on…Children’s TV.
CAMEL: I’ve got a joke. What do you call a camel without any humps? (Pause) Hump-free. Get it? Humphrey. (To audience member). Paul, did you get it? (He did) Great.
H2: And on the strength of this humour, they graduated to the big time: the New South Wales Club circuit. Sometimes their material was what the locals called, “a little bit blue”.
CAMEL: I say, I say, I say: How do you have sex with a camel?
H2 as CADI: I don’t know, How do you have sex with a camel?
CAMEL: One hump at a time.
Mr S: My father’s big break came when he and Sesame were asked to open for, wait for it, Sammy Davis Junior on his first Australian tour. (Sammy with Sesame: Slide #10)
MR S: Midst that success the phone rang and it was America calling: a guest spot on the Ed Sullivan Show (Ed with Sesame: Slide #11)
Mr S: Then a cameo on I Dream of Jeannie (Slide # 13)
Others: Ooooo. She was lovely. Nice teeth.
Mr S: My father conquered the very thing that had threatened his family’s existence: telly! Of course, there was only one place this story could end: (He musicalizes, as Elvis) “Viva Las Vegas”. They became a resident act at the famous Desert Sands casino.
CAMEL: And, later, the even more famous Sahara. (Slide # 14)
Mr S: That’s where I was born, neath the neon lights of Sin City. Hence my name.
DIN: So you went into showbiz as well?
Mr S: No. I export camel meat. (Screen goes blank) I didn’t have my father’s affection for the animals and, well, they are a menace in the outback. So I supply several high-class restaurants in the Middle-East with fresh camel meat. It’s made me very rich. In fact, a camillionaire. In my spare time I do a bit of dee-jaying. DJ Krust? That’s Krust with a K. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?
DIN: No but I have heard of your son, Once upon a time there was another boy who left home.
Mr S: (He sits. He finds it hard to tell the tale) Yes. On a certain day, in a certain mood, he went to a certain beach and never came back. Oh, his arms and legs – his body – came home. But not his mind. He says that was turned by the violence and hatred of that day. Thereafter, he displayed the great attributes of his ancestors even some of their bad jokes. But my son, my own beautiful boy, applied them to a darker purpose.
DIN: Your son. Said Din. Is the Hatz Baboog, the Bread Godfather.
Mr S: Yes. Said the man, smiling. He makes a lot of bread. Not all of it above board. But that’s another story. The man and the boy were now face to face. (Pause) I know why you’re here, Din. I know you have a gun tucked into the back of your designer jeans. I know you’ve come to rob me of my most prized possession.
DIN: You seem to know an awful lot. So do you know what I’m going to do next?
Mr S: Take my life?
DIN: No, take the lamp.
Mr S: Oh the lamp?!! Oh, you don’t need a gun for that. I will willingly give it to you. And from the crystal cabinet at the back of the room there appeared…A centuries old, ornate oil lamp. (The lamp appears) Or fact simile.
SEZZA: (to audience) Pass it down to him.. As fast as you can. For goodness sake don’t rub it, that’ll ruin everything. (The lamp gets passed to Din).
Mr S: Take the lamp, Din, with my blessing. And rub it three times. You aren’t the man your so-called friend Sharif wants you to be. Oh yes, I know about him. Your bro on the dark net, promising you this, giving you that, if only you break into Halcyon House and steal Mr Sin’s lamp. What for? To pay for the ticket, the one-way flight to immortality. Is that it?
DIN: And the jeans.
MR S: Take your hand off the gun and rub the lamp. And your new life will become possible. Something…more peaceful. The man stared at the boy with such intensity. Make the choice.
H3: The boy took his hand off the gun and held the lamp.
Mr S: Rub it!!! Said the man.
H3: Aladdin did. Three times.
(There is a small explosion and the genie appears. She carries an i-Pad.)
H2 as the GENIE: Sorry about that. Said the Genie. I used to work at New Year’s Eve. Okay, three wishes, in any combo you want. (She looks at the i-Pad) You can have the basic Happy Deal which includes revenge, reversal and a touch of remorse; or you can try the triple whammy with a twist which comprises sudden wealth, mindless minions and several mistresses on the side. And I’m bound to ask: would you like media coverage with that?
DIN: Whoa, whoa. I’m not that sort of wisher. I still like Kylie and it’s a plastic gun.
GENIE: Oh, an “alternative” wisher. Said the Genie, wising up. (She swipes the i-Pad) I’m chill with that. What are your fabulous wishes, darls? I don’t do plebiscites.
DIN: Hey, don’t categorise, just…customize. (Pause) My first wish would be for… peace.
GENIE: You mean, like, world peace?
DIN: No, I’m a Millennial. I mean peace for me. I want all the voices in my head, just to piss off. I want peace of mind, so, once and for all, I can find out who I am and what I’m meant to be.
GENIE: Deep. (She types on the i-Pad) Okay, that’s sorted. I’ve just booked you on a Qantas flight to Sweden. There’s a bit of a layover at Heathrow but I’ll put you into the Magic Carpet Lounge. Now, I can assure you will find all the peace you desire… courtesy of Helga (SLIDE #16) Nice teeth – you are just a teensy weensy bit interested in girls aren’t you?
DIN: I like Kylie –
GENIE: Okay, Helga’s got over a thousand Twitter followers. She will help you find the ‘peace’ you need. It’s only premium economy I’m afraid – budgets! what can you do? – but I’ve got you in an emergency exit aisle so there’s extra leg room for those firm, acrobatic thighs of yours. Second wish?
DIN: Could we make it business class? This is about building up my self-esteem after all.
GENIE: Okay. Said the Genie with just a hint of pique. Business class it is. (She looks at him.) Third wish.
DIN: I wish my mother and father liked me.
GENIE: You mean ‘like’ as in a Facebook like?
DIN: No. Just liked me period. Said the boy. In life.
GENIE: But your profile says they’ve done so much for you –
Dad: Is it that man? (No answer) Get out. I don’t want you and your kind in my house.
Mum: Habib, no.
Dad: You are no son of mine. Be gone!
GENIE: Right. Said the Genie. You can’t be what they want you to be. My parents were the same, wanted me to work wonders 24/7 but most days I could barely get out of the lamp. (Pause) And you think Sharif is the answer? (Pause) Oh yes, we don’t miss much in the old lamp.
DIN: At least his family respects me. Likes me.
GENIE: I don’t think you can be what sharif wants you to be either. (explosion) My advice: Go to Sweden. Get to know Helga… find peace…and then your third wish…well, we might just be able to pull it off. Are you sure you don’t want to swap it out for winning Lotto or something like that? Last chance?
DIN: No thanks.
GENIE: I might just throw in a few random Scratchies. You seem a little ‘under-wished’ if you ask me. I like the jeans. Said the Genie.
GENIE: And she vanished. (The Genie throws some confetti SFX #3)
Mr S: So Aladdin made his choice and set off on his voyage to Sweden, in business class, and met the girl called Helga.
H3: One year later, with a little bit of help from Mr Sin, who just happened to bump into the boy’s mother in the Westfield food court –
MUM: They have curried camel there now – who knew?
H3: The boy’s family had Skype installed on their new MacBook Pro, which Mr Sin happily donated to the family cause.
Mr S: The mother mastered the MacBook Pro, joined Facebook and downloaded Skype and searched for her son’s name, internationally. (We see the details on the screens) There he was. In a place called –
H2: She put in something called a contact request. (We see it)
H3: The boy hesitated. Did he want to run the risk of disturbing this magical peace he had found in the arms of Helga in the fabled, faraway kingdom of-
H3: But Helga said:
H2: I think you should go for it Dinnie. Let’s see if we can get them to like you as much as I do.
(SFX #4 We hear the Skype call sounding. Mum says, as she’s running: “What’s that strange noise? It’s very spooky. Oh it’s Skype.” Mum answers the call)
Mum: Hello? Hello? Hello?
DIN: Mum? It’s Din.
Mum: Oh why do you use that stupid name? Where are you? Your father’s almost apo-po –
MR SIN: Pleptic
MUM: with rage.
DIN: Whoa. Doesn’t have to be like this, Mum. Can be more peaceful.
MUM: Why did you leave us?
DIN: You threw me out.
Mum: But we thought you would go to live with one of your, what do you call them?, your –
MR SIN: bros,
MUM: Bros, not fly away overseas and join – (She sobs) Oh, dear god!
DIN: What’s wrong?
H1: At that point the father overcame his indifference to the new technology and joined the call!
Dad: I can’t believe you’d end up with those murderers. Don’t you realise they throw people like you off buildings over there?
Mum: Oh dear god, no. No.
DIN: Hi dad. Nice to see you, too. But I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about.
Dad: ISIS, you clown, on that Facebook-ey nonsense, it says you’ve joined ISIS –
MUM: In Maaaalmoooo.
DIN: No, it’s I.C.A.S dad. ICAS. That’s the International Circus Academy (Sweden). You really should get those glasses fixed. I’m a student here. In Malmo. I do adagio. This is my partner, Helga –
H3: And Helga joined the call.
Helga: Hi Din’s mum and dad. I’m very pleased to meet you. Your son is the best adagio partner I could ever have wished for. He is so very strong and manly and he designs all of our costumes – (Pause) I think the picture is frozen.
DIN: Well, these Skype calls are free, so –
Dad: No, we are not frozen. Said the father.
Mum: And the mother said: You ran away to join the circus?
DIN: Well, sort of. I was talking to Mr Sin about –
Mr S: But the Skype call was suddenly filled with the most joyous laughter the boy had ever heard, as his mother and father celebrated their son’s return and their own-
Dad: The circus!
Mum: We like it.
DIN: Yes, but do you like ME. Dad? There was a pause.
Dad: Now that you have an attractive young girl at your side…
DIN: Dad, she is my work partner. We are just friends.
Dad: But it’s a start.
DIN: No dad. Forget Helga. It’s just me. I want you to like me. For who I am. For what I am. Please.
Dad: It’s not that easy, boy. Said the father. There is, what we have been for centuries. And there is the war, in here –
DIN: No, that is over! It is just relics in a suitcase under your bed. You have to let it go dad, it’s time. You have to acknowledge me. For what I am.
Mr S: And the father froze in real life. He already had one son who worked for something called Pixar, and another who ran a motorbike gang without a motorbike. Could he embrace a third son who was…an acrobat?
Dad: Well maybe if you showed me what you’ve been doing at this school, said the father, with this Helga. Maybe that would help me.
DIN: Help you to like me? Dad…
Mr S: (SFX #6 “Confide in Me”) And the third son had to make one more choice. (He indicates the side door, as it opens and the adagio couple enter. ) And as the music began – a lovely DJ Krust re-mix of one of Kylie’s early hits – two parents watched, as their son and his partner, revealed their life’s work and brought, to the world of Skype, a bit of peace and understanding.
(Din acknowledges the male acrobat and the adagio couple performs.)
© HP 2016