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Play Denial Pension

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SCENE ONE

SCENE ONEEFX:

BLEATING GOAT, CHIRPING BIRD, BARKING DOG ETC. SOUND OF SWEEPINGPAPA: Im ready o.

MAMA:

So soon?

PAPA:

Yes.

MAMA:

Must it be today? I would have preferred we went to the farm today. You can go to Abuja tomorrow.PAPA:

I have to go today. The longer I delay, the longer it takes for this pension money to be paid.

MAMA:

Na wa o! How many times do they want you to go to Abuja before this money thing is settled?

PAPA:

My dear wife, I dont know o. You need to see the old men that come to work their money out. Tired, hungry, weak old men. The last time I went, about six of my fellow pensioners fainted and died. Only one of them came around after he was given food.MAMA:

Food! That means it was hunger that made him faint.

PAPA:

Yes o.

MAMA:

This country eh!

PAPA:

What can we say? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. You work and at the end of the month your take-home pay cant take you home.

MAMA:

And the prices of things keep going higher and higher every day.

PAPA:

Not to mention the unstable price of petrol. Maybe at the park, well be asked to pay more that we paid the last time I travelled. We dont have enough to eat but I must use the little we have to travel to Abuja.

MAMA:

Na wa o! After putting in so much time in serving our country, this is what you get. No appreciation. No pity. No compensation. Must we suffer and shed our blood before the government even gets the hint that were human beings? Cant you protest?

PAPA:

Thats the worst of all. Wholl listen to you? Even when you complain, nobody cares. They just make noise but nothing is done. MAMA:

Angela is still preparing. Must she go with you?PAPA:

If she doesnt go with me, how do I take care of myself there? I cant always cross the road to buy food. Who will be on the cue for me? Shes still young. She can withstand the heat of the sun more that I can. I dont want to faint like those pensioners I told you about.MAMA:

But that will be extra money. Feeding and transportation. Shey you said you sleep outside.

PAPA:

Yes. On the corridors.MAMA:

I think its better she goes with you. After all theres no money for her to continue her education. No money for SSCE. If she goes with you, you can stay in Abuja for as long as those pension people want.PAPA:

If they like, five months o, well stay. Kpatakpata, well start begging.

MAMA:

God forbid! You will not beg.

PAPA:

Lets pray so.

MAMA:

What is this girl still doing in the room now? Angela, what are you still doing in the room now? Your father is waiting o. Shey you know Abuja is very far from here.SCENE TWONoisy background

KINGSLEY:Oooooooooooo! You these old men, behave yourselves now. Just see the way you acting. Like children.PAPA:My son, please, talk to us gently. Were old enough to be your father. Some of us are even older than your father.

KINGSLEY:

Mr. Man, did I mention your name? Er? Did I mention anybodys name? I dont know why you wont respect yourselves.

PAPA:Young man, mind your tongue.

KINGSLEY:

Ah ah! Oga, what is your own now? Are you the only person here? And for your information, this is my office.

PAPA:And so you should treat us as if were pigs?

KINGSLEY:

Oga, when you were in office, didnt you do more? This is my time. Moreover, Im only doing my job. And if youre not comfortable, you may go hit your head against that stone.

PAPA:How dare you insult me? I dont blame you. If the government had paid me my pension, I wouldnt be standing in front of you. Small boy.

KINGSLEY:

Hm! Old age is really a curse.

PAPA:KINGSLEY:

Mr. Man, are you cursing me? See. Your file will remain on this table until you come back next time. And for those of you who met me yesterday, you know what to do for your file to move fast. Abeg Oya, you, where is your file? Old man, you over there, I said where is your file?SCENE THREEVillage setting. Phone rings. Click.MAMA:

Hello?POLICE:Good day. Am I speaking with Mrs. Ambrose Ameh?

MAMA:

Who are you?

POLICE:

Im Inspector Ade Shola. Is this Mrs. Ambrose Ameh?MAMA:

Yes? How may I help you?

POLICE:

Do you know any Mr. Ambrose Ameh?MAMA:

Yes. Hes my husband. What is it?

POLICE:

Where is he now?

MAMA:

He travelled with my daughter last week. They should be on their way to the village by now. What is it? Why are you asking?

POLICE:

I Im Listen to me, Mrs. Ambrose Ameh, you have to come to Apex Care General Hospital tomorrow.

MAMA:

Why? What is it? What happened to my husband and daughter? Are they all right?

POLICE:

You must calm down, please. The said people were involved in an accident two hours ago.

MAMA:

What?! What do you mean? Are they all right?

POLICE:

Im really sorry to say this. But madam, you have to come to the morgue to identify the bodies of your people by morning tomorrow. Youll have to come with {Mama only laments out of shock}

SCENE FOURMorning.

PAULINE:

Darling, are you not taking breakfast? Youve already picked your bag.

KINGSLEY:

No, I dont want to eat this morning.

PAULINE:

Why? You woke up this morning complaining of hunger. Now you wont eat?

KINGSLEY:

I said I dont want to eat this morning?

PAULINE:

And I ask why?

KINGSLEY:

Who are you to question me about my actions?

PAULINE:

Oo! Im sorry o. No problem. What about the money for that wrapper?

KINGSLEY:

I dont have any money for any wrapper.

PAULINE:

What do you mean by that? Every other woman in my family meeting has bought her own. Its just me. And Ive been singing it into your ears for the past three weeks now.

KINGSLEY:

Ive told you that I dont have any money right now. When I get some, youll bye your own wrapper.

PAULINE:

Im not going to wait for ever o. Do you want people to laugh at me?

KINGSLEY:

Why wont people laugh at you when all you do is spend money on unnecessary things?

PAULINE:

Unnecessary things?

KINGSLEY:

Unnecessary things. Everyday I make sure I come back to this house with money. Do you know how I get it? Its not even part of my salary. But what do you do? You sit down at home and spend it like water drawn from a well.PAULINE:

Is it my fault that I spend money? What do I buy, anyway? Is it not what will keep me healthy? Is it my fault that Im always visiting the hospital? You never allowed me do family planning. Mary was three months old when I got pregnant. What did you do?

FLASHBACK EFFECT.KINGSLEY:

{Heated argument} Pauline, you must abort this pregnancy.

PAULINE:

No, I wont. This is my baby and Im going to have him whether you like or not. Period.KINGSLEY:

You have to abort it. My colleagues will laugh at me. Gosh! How can I have two babies in one year?

PAULINE:

And how can you sleep with your wife more that once in one year?

KINGSLEY:

Listen to me, Pauline. You must abort this thing youre carrying.

PAULINE:

Dont you dare call my baby this thing. How dare you? Youre concerned about your reputation. Have you stopped to think about what could happen to me?

KINGSLEY:

Nothing will happen to you. You wont be the first to commit an abortion. And you wont be the last. And if you choose to have this baby, youre OYO. O.Y.O. On your own.FLASHBACK EFFECTPAULINE:

I aborted it and since then, Ive not been able to have another baby. KINGSLEY:

Is it my fault that you cant have another baby?

PAULINE:

No. Its because something happened. Because YOU pushed me into it. Because God is angry with me for killing no slaughtering my own baby.KINGSLEY:

Its enough!

PAULINE:

No, its not enough. I spend that money on a monthly basis because I want to have more children. If you hadnt forced me to do it, I would have two, or maybe four, children now. Kinsley, give me the money I need now or youre not leaving this house today.SCENE FIVEMAMA:

{Crying} God, what is this that you have done to me? How can I survive without my husband? How could you take two souls from me in a day? What have I done to deserve this from you?

{Cries bitterly}

Theres no food in the house. The children have been sent home because they havent paid their school fees. My husbands farmland has been taken away from me by his brother. And Reuben cant go to the university because theres no money. He passed his JAMB. God, my son passed his JAMB after writing it for the third time. Even the little business I was doing has died down completely. Where would I get the money to start afresh? Where? Where? If only my husband hadnt left me! If only

DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES. FOOTSTEPS COME ON MIC.REUBEN:Mama, are you crying?REUBEN:

Is it because Christmas is coming ad theres no money to celebrate it? Is that why youre crying?MAMA:

No. Im not crying. Why would I cry now? Reuben, your food is in the kitchen.

REUBEN:

Mama, youve been crying again. What is it now? Do you want to die and leave us too? Is it not enough that papa and . Are no longer with us? What is it now?

MAMA:

Reuben, Im sorry. Its just that the problems are so many I dont know where to start. Reuben, where are you going? Reuben!

FOOTSTEPS GO OFF MIC. DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES.MAMA:

Ah! God, please, help me.

SCENE SIXKINGSLEY:

This meal was delicious. Who prepared it?

MARY:I did, dad.

KINGSLEY:

Mary, my Sweety, you did?

PAULINE:

Its a lie. She only helped me do some things.

MARY:

Mum, its not fair. I cooked this meal.

KINGSLEY:

Okay, you did, honey. Yes, you said you wanted to tell us something.

MARY:

Yes. Dad, mum, I you see I want you to meet someone.KINGSLEY:

My babys in love. I can feel it.

MARY:

Dad! Dont jump the gun, please.

KINGSLEY:

Okay.

PAULINE:

Whos the lucky guy?

MARY:

Hes name is Reuben. Hes a nice guy. Very caring. His father is dead but his mother is alive. He has three younger ones.

KINGSLEY:

What does he do for a living?

PAULINE:

Is he rich?

MARY:

Ahm Well Not really. But hes a very bright guy. He got admission into the university but

KINGSLEY:

But what?

MARY:

He couldnt continue his education because there was no money. But he intends to. Hes trying to get a job now with his diploma result and he intends to further his studies later.

KINGSLEY:

God forbid!

MARY:

What?

PAULINE:

God forbid! Mary, how could you ever think that

KINGSLEY:

Mary, how long have you known each other?

MARY:

Four months now.

KINGSLEY:

You will stop seeing that church rat immediately.

MARY:

Dad!

PAULINE:

Yes. If I ever see you with any beggar, I will cut his head off.

MARY:

Mum, why do you hate him so? You dont even know him.

KINGSLEY:

I dont need to know him to know hes not good for you.

MARY:

Why?

KINGSLEY:

Because hes a pauper. A beggar. A nobody. A riffraff.

PAULINE:

He doesnt even have a job.

MARY:

Dad, that was why I wanted you to meet him now. You could connect him with your friends who can get him a decent job. Please, dad. Mum, please.

KINGSLEY:

No, Mary.

PAULINE:

Never. Ah ah!

KINGSLEY:

My daughter must marry an already established man. A man who will give her the life that she deserves. You must not stoop so low, Mary.

MARY:

But dad

KINGSLEY:

Thats final. And dont ever bring this topic up again.

PAULINE:

Mary, I know what I suffered marrying a man who was trying to start life from the scratch. You will not go through the same thing.

KINGSLEY:

Pauline, what do you mean by that?

PAULINE:

Kingsley, you know exactly what I mean. Excuse me.

FOOTSTEPS GOING OFF MIC.KINGSLEY:

{Going off mic} Pauline, you wont walk out on me until you tell me what exactly you meant by that statement. Come back here.

DOOR OPENS AND CLOSESMARY:

My God! What do I do now? I love Reuben so much I would rather die that live without him. His mother has been nice to me. Please God, tell me what to do. I have to call Reuben. PHONE BUTTONS BEING PRESSED. DIALING TONE. CLICK.REUBEN:Hello. Mary, how are you? Is the road clear?

MARY:

No. Its very crooked. Ill see you at 7.00 Oclock this evening. Ill come to your house.SCENE SEVENLoud music. Music under voice.

RAMBO:Reuben, you cant continue like this. Youll destroy yourself.

REUBEN:

Rambo, were suffering. My family is dying. We dont have anything to eat. My mother used all her savings to bury my father when he died last year. Since then shes not been able to bounce back. My younger ones are out of school. And worst of all, my only sister is dying in the hospital. The doctors have refused to treat her because theres no money. They want us to deposit money first. RAMBO:

Then do something. Remember that Christmas is around the corners.

REUBEN:

Rambo, what do I do. I cant live to see my family suffer like this.

RAMBO:

Guy, you see why you must join us? Ive tried to make you understand that we love you. We want the best for you.

REUBEN:

My mother would die if she finds out that Im

RAMBO:

Then she must not know. My people only know that I work in the city. Nobody knows what I do for a living. Its a dent on your manhood if your people continue to suffer while you live. Your father would never want that for then, you know.

REUBEN:

If only they had paid my father his money the way they pay those in the new pension scheme! My father wouldnt be dead. My sister would be alive. And wed all be in school. Dam the old pension scheme! Dam it!RAMBO:

So what do you say to my proposal? Are you in or out?

REUBEN:

When do I meet your friends?

RAMBO:

Good boy!

SCENE EIGHTHospitalMAMA:

{Crying}

STELLA:Mama, Im sorry. I never intended for it to turn out like this.

MAMA:

But why, Stella? Why?

STELLA:

Mama, I wanted to help. I needed to help. I really wanted to write my SSCE. And there was no money. What could I do? All my friends had paid their fees but I hadnt.MAMA:

Stella, youve not told me who did this to you. Who got you pregnant?

STELLA:

One of my teachers. No, three of them.

MAMA:

Three?

My English, Maths and Literature teachers. Each of them promised to give me the money I needed. I also wanted them to tutor me privately in those subjects so I would pass them in my SSCE. I didnt want to sit for any exams the second time.MAMA:

But during weekends you washed clothes and cleaned the houses of three families.

STELLA:

How much did they pay me? They only used me because they knew I was desperate. All those times I said I was going to work, I didnt go to them. I went to my teachers houses. And the little change I get from my boyfriend is what I bring home.MAMA:

So you dont even know who got you pregnant.

STELLA:

No, Mama. And a quack performed the abortion on me.

MAMA:

The problem now is, how do we get the money to treat you? The doctor I should take you out of the hospital on Friday if we still cant get the money.

STELLA:

Dont worry. Reuben said he would come with the money on Monday. Ill be fine. Youll see.

MAMA:

God, Ive lost my husband and first daughter. Please, dont let anything happen to Stella, I beg You in the name of your Son.

SCENE NINENight. Clanging plates and spoons.Laughter.

Kingsley:

So much food.

PAULINE:

Just make sure you finish it. Both of you told me you were very hungry and I prepared so much food. Now you wont eat much.

MARY:

Mum, its not our fault now. The food took so long to come. So we drank some juice before it came. Now we cant even eat anything.PAULINE:

Just make sure you finish it.

DOGS BARK OFF MIC.MARY:

Why is Puffy barking?

KINGSLEY:

Let me check.

DOOR OPENS FORCEFULLY AND SHUTS. FOOTSTEPS.RAMBO:

Everybody down.{Confusion}

KINGSLEY:

What do you want? Please, dont touch us. Take whatever you want and go.REUBEN:

Not so fast. You Kingsley, do you recognize me?

KINGSLEY:

No, sir.

REUBEN:

Come on, look at me. Look at my face, stupid man.KINGSLEY:

My son, I cant. Please, go to the bedroom on your right, there are three bundles of one hundred thousand naira just beside the bed. Take it and go, please.

RAMBO:

Heh girl, your face down.

MARY:

Reuben, please, dont do this to us. Dont do this to me.

REUBEN:Gosh! Mary, what are you doing here?

MARY:This is our house. Please, dont hurt my parents.

RAMBO:Nonsense! Guy, this girl knows you.

REUBEN:No, she doesnt. I dont know her. Shes only

RAMBO:We cant let her live.

GUNSHOTS. SHOUTS FROM PAULINE AND KINGSLEY.REUBEN:

Noooooo! Guy, why did you do that? I didnt ask you to shoot her.

RAMBO:Shes a threat to us.

REUBEN:

Kelvin, all this is your fault. You refused to pay my dad and many other pensioners their monies except they bribed you. My father and sister are dead because of you. My younger sister had to sleep with men to make ends meet. All my siblings are out of school. And now Im like this. Struggling to make ends meet. See what youve done to me? See what youve done to yourself? Madam, Im sorry your daughter is dead. POLICE SIRENREUBEN:

Kelvin, you called the police on me? How dare you?

GUNSHOTS.{Pauline shouts}

POLICE:

This is the Nigeria police. This house is surrounded. You have no option but to surrender and come out now with your hands on you heads. Come out now.RAMBO:

My guy, this is the end of the line. See you in hell.

REUBEN:My mother! My mother! God, my mother!

POLICE:Come out now. Your hands on your heads. All of you.PAGE 30