Naveen Sridhar: Drama

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(Naveen Sridhar, Marl Germany, 23rd November 2001)


Dramatis Personae:


Traveller – A foreigner. Just arrived

More Travellers – Motley. Just arrived

First Borderman – A young  sentinel at a Port of Entry

Second Borderman- An elderly  sentinel at the Port of Entry

Angel – Guardian unto Traveller

Usher  – A Counsellor for Immigrants


–                       –                       –

Scene 1

Heaven. Angel centre-stage. Music

Angel (sings):


A drunken sailor from a sunken ship

With an unsung song on his shrunken lip.

Whispered of the days in a far-off land

Of freedom and love; no foreigner banned


If you cross now the seas and enter a land,

They give you forms, not a helping hand:

Eyebrows raised and questions asked

Hurdles raised, your life unmasked.


Sleepless and unnerved after hours of travel,

Sapless, you feel nude as your secrets unravel.

Hapless you reel as suspect in a police raid.

Helpless you blush akin to a bashful maid.

–                       –                       –

Scene 2

The desk of Immigration and Customs. Angel in the Background, Two Sentries or Bordermen


First Borderman:     Methinks I hear a noise. A ghost? Stand-ho, who goes there? A friend to this ground?

(Enter to them a Traveller)

Second Borderman: Art thou a terrorist or a mere apparition? A journeyman? A vagabond? Answer me. Unfold thyself!


Traveller: (mumbles in an alien tongue)


First Borderman : Ha! An Alien! Hearken! Hold thy twisted tongue!

(Traveller holds)

Who paid thy passage, what dost thou earn?

Looking for work or got money to burn?

Knowst thou thy sex? Why wast thou born?

How’s thy health, on feet any corn?



Second Borderman (inspects his papers):


Origin Caucasian? Thou art almost an Asian!

What? Art thou Eurasian? Oh, where’s that location?

Any Martian a relation? Thy dog an Alsatian?

What? “Created equal”? Only Men and in this nation!


First Borderman (whispers unto the Traveller)


Whether thou tour’st or toilst, thou immigrant stranger!

Beware the mace-bearers and the indignant Ranger!

Speak, what hidest thou in thy bags? Tea, fruit or wine?

A bomb or agro-terror with sponges bovine?



Second Borderman : (Enter more Travellers)


Stay in line, but follow, if it’s blue.

Don’t cross if yellow, ‘less I call you!


Subdue your voices, do not bark or bray.

Make no noises; your turn is nigh, no need to neigh!



(unto first Traveller)


Empty thy pockets, open thy bag.

Stand erect, if thou seest our flag!

Spread thy fingers and give fingerprints.

Aye, we store them all, of a Pimp or a Prince.

Open thy mouth, raise thy arms. Stoop forwards.

Now lift a leg and then move onwards.


(Traveller attempts, merriment among fellow-travellers)




First Borderman (to the other travellers):


Be serious folks, we like no jokes.

In this nook, we decree that one smokes.

Abstainer! Go forthwith to the other side

For shame! Don’t exude here thy Dioxide!                      (Abstainer exeunt.)


(Others light smokeware and puff.

Borderman turns to a second traveller.



Ha! A Duty-free Drunk! Don’t smirk like a clown!

We can sniff a skunk; don’t irk us with thy drone.

In booze thy eyes dunk, try to focus them on thy own.

Thy thoughts we’ll debunk, shouldst thou utter words unbeknown.


Second Borderman (unto first Traveller):


Sign in our script, and laugh in our language

Or we’ll send thee home with bag and baggage.

Kneel before us or we shall put thee in a cage.               (Traveller kneels)

Don’t gibber in thy tongue and cause us rage.


This is a Port of Entry not the Tower of Babel

Nor Noah’s Arc, nor a zoo, nor a stable;

Whether Prince of Denmark or Merchant of Venice,

For us art thou a boor, a moor, meaning only malice.


(stamps about wildly)


Here’s thy wretched passport, Othello, but beware!

As an alien here, thou art ever in a snare.

Fight shy of attention, smoke only if asked to

Stay off payrolls, moon-shining without ado.





Fortune sent thee here, to our nation sublime.

We see in thy advent no reason nor rhyme.

For thy visit we give a damn, not a dime.

  (gives him his papers, aloud)

Here we go! Enjoy thy stay, have a nice time!




During your sojourn, sir, mark our Way of Life.

You’ll come to learn, sir, that you walk on a knife.

Ere you flock together, with birds of your feather,

Learn to chew our food, be it fine steak or leather.


Be a Hamburger in Hamburg, a Roman in Rome.

So move with the crowd, when you roam in our home.

Submerge and dissolve on the spot, melt in this Pot.

If you stay with your lot, in a ghetto you’ll rot!


Mark with care the words: “Trespassers will be shot!”

For, such once-only sinners will be slain when caught!

Keep off our social turf serene, hold back your lust.

Our lawn shall stay ever green, without your gust.


Make friends, make money and make love as you please.

But drop your old habits and shirk before sleaze.

Beware the shadows, there lurk agents of crime

Like dealers, gamblers, whores and such slime.


Keep your distance from hustlers who clash

With nocturnal war-lords or just smugglers of trash.

Don’t cross swords with sneaky jugglers of cash

Or drug barons and such bucklers of swash.


They spy, pry and eye, they can sniff you all suckers.

In a dark lane you’d perish, alone when death occurs.

You live ever in peril, watch your step and mind your head!

Keep vigil; watch your neighbour, his wife and his bed!


Fare you well!      (Usher recedes. Traveller is approached by Angel)





Angel (sings unto Traveller):


Like the vibrant worm wriggling early for the bird,

An ignorant prey stalked by a prowling leopard,

Or a vagrant beast straying far from its herd,

Or a migrant worker in a merciless world.

You’re exposed and bare; ask not if it’s fair.

Try to grin and bear; fold your hands in prayer.

Do swallow your pride but never despair.

Sigh and inhale when you reach fresh air.


With your honour ablaze, the ego in a haze

O deluded dupe, stagger on in the maze!

Your poor hurt feelings you may caress and nurse,

But you chose this Fate, which you can not reverse.


Teeth you may grit, lips you may purse,

Hands you may cup to hiss out a curse,

Your eyes may roll, jaw may jut, fists may clinch,

Dance to the guards’ tune, they won’t budge an inch.


(Guards’ tune in the background. Exeunt dancing Traveller accosted by Angel)  


Second Borderman (soliloquy):


They come in droves, in thousands and more;

Daily and nightly they knock on our door!

How can we resist, which fears can we dismiss?

Right of entry is for them almost a promise!

Unshaven, unkempt, unruly and uncouth,

                  Half-dressed, ill-mannered, dishevelled the youth,

Some with teeth as crooked as their minds wicked

All armed with a visa and an air-line ticket!

Disabled and distraught the sick and the old,

            Children at large, ill-disciplined and bold

Slipping past barriers, running berserk, amok,

Helter-skelter, wreaking disorder and havoc.

Hurricane and deluge pale before this stampede,

But I’m bound by my duty, to the rules I do heed.

Barbarians ante portas, “Handle with care!”

All “Fragile”, to be questioned, if we ever dare.



Oh, Daedalus! Cursed be your brain and its flash!

Though your son flew sunwards and ended in a crash,

He, Icarus gave us the Wrights to take wing.

            Now all cross the skies; ‘twixt continents they swing.

Odysseus, your wanderlust is now en vogue.

Aliens raid us, cum rebel, rascal and rogue,

They daily mock us, trotting on the globe around,

For like Telemachus we stick to our ground.

We guard this paradise like Petrus at Heaven‘s gate.

We never say, „No admittance“, albeit irate;

For Pete’s sake, “Go to Hell!” we never dare say,

Yet vouch for safety; our country we shan’t betray.

As of Argus guarding fair Io, our eyes do burrow.

Our land reaps what we sow, for we save it the throe,

Planned by all undaunted ghosts and unwanted guests.

We assure that our countrymen rest in their nests.


I swear by the soaring pressure of my blood!

I shiver and I sweat, my tears swell and flood

“Most honourable” entrants give us the jitters.

To host onerous truants we’re babysitters!

Call them tourists or salesmen, scholars or students.

Some are smugglers or of terror the grim agents

With sinister aims and desires unsound,

Who seek and loot niches where riches abound.

When jobs turn redundant, the jobless abundant,

Who for vacancy hunt, as their plight takes the brunt,

Posing as tourist also a migrant saunters.

They’re agile and feline, these job-robbing haunters.

Ruthless are such impostors, brash infiltrators,

Of our goodwill exploiters and impish traitors.

We drudge, bearing a grudge, as we sort out this mess.

We judge ‘em, it’s our pledge to save us from duress.


Like the infernal watchdog Cerberus, we smell

Mongers of mischief, whom we do give here the Hell.

Each bag in their hand could be a little Trojan horse.

They smuggle bombs, drugs, germs and all things one abhors.

Like Sisyphus who rolled the stone up the hill

Or Tantalus who sought his dire thirst to still

We’re helpless as the human waves wax and not wane.

Our efforts to ward off these hordes are all in vain.



Damocles whined as that sword dangled for a day!

Day after day, we face foul-play, fray and foray.

So blessed be this effort, for which taxpayers pay,

While the invasion they downplay, hip, hip, hooray!

For this frailty of our leaders is there a cure?

We’re the guards at the gate for this lunacy pure.

For our land we keep a watch, to keep it secure

Trapped under this burden, like Atlas to endure.


Scene 3

(Heaven..  Angel centre-stage)


Angel (sings):


Back home in Heaven, I think of that sailor.

To be treated as a guest he needed no valour.

That welcome was a ship, the one that now sank.

The love of the hosts was the rum that he drank.


His words only whispered and so muted his voice,

He travels in his memory; he has that better choice,

To dream of the days when he was still young.

Now I sing alone the song from his tongue.



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