3.2 The Welcome

Scene I

(A village road. Chaturbhuj Babu has come back to the village after passing his MA examinations, hoping that everyone will make a great fuss over him. There is a plump Afghan cat with him. Enter Nilratan.)

Nilratan : Hello there, Chatur Babu. When did you arrive ?

Chaturbhuj : Directly after the MA exams were over.

Nilratan : Ah, you’ve got a fine cat there !

Chaturbhuj : This year the exams were very

Nilratan : Tell me, where did you find that cat ?

Chaturbhuj : Bought it. The subjects I’d offered

Nilratan : How much did you pay for it ?

Chaturbhuj : I don’t remember. Nilratan Babu, has anybody passed any exams in our village ?

Nilratan : Oh, lots of them. But you won’t see a cat like that in these parts.

Chaturbhuj : (to himself) Confound him, he can’t talk about anything but the cat! It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve just passed my MA! (Enter the Zamindar.)

Zamindar : Ah, Chaturbhuj – what have you been doing in Calcutta all this time ?

Chaturbhuj : I’ve just finished my MA, sir.

Zamindar : Oh, this cat of yours is a stunner, I must say. Why don’t you drop by my place with your cat some time this evening ? The boys would be delighted.

Chaturbhuj : Of course -I quite understand. They haven’t seen me for a long time.

Zamindar : Yes, I suppose so … but what I mean is, even if you can’t come yourself, send Beni round with the cat -I want the boys to see it. (Exit Zamindar) (Enter Uncle Satu.)

Satu : How are you, my boy ? Been away a long time, haven’t you?

Chaturbhuj : That’s right. There were so many examinations –

Satu : This cat of yours –

Chaturbhuj : (furiously) I’m going home. (About to leave-)

Satu : Hey, wait a minute -this cat –

Chaturbhuj : No, Sir, I’ve got work to do.

Satu : Oh come on, now, answer a civil question. This cat – (Chaturbhuj strides away without another word.) Just look at that. It’s education that’s ruining these young people. We know what they’re worth, but they’re stuffed full of conceit!

Scene II

 (Inside Chaturbhuj’s house.)

Maid : Mother, Dada Babu has come home in a blazing temper.

Mother : Why, what’s the matter ?

Maid : I don’t know. (Enter Chaturbhuj.)

Little Boy : Dada, can I have this cat?

Chaturbhuj : (slaps him hard.) Cat, cat, cat the whole day long, is it ?

Mother : No wonder the poor boy’s angry! He comes home after such a long time and these brats start annoying him at once. (To Chaturbhuj) Let me have the cat, son. I’ll give it some rice and milk that I’ve put by.

Chaturbhuj : (furiously) Here, mother, you can have the cat and feed it all you want. I shan’t stop to eat – I’m leaving at once.

Mother : (plaintively) What makes you say such a thing ? – Your meal’s ready and waiting, dear. You can sit down to it as soon as you’ve had your bath !

Chaturbhuj : No, I’m leaving. You’re all crazy about cats in these parts. No one cares for men of worth. (Kicks out at the cat.)

Aunt : Don’t hurt the cat- she hasn’t done any harm.

Chaturbhuj : When it comes to a cat you’re all heart, but you have no pity for human beings! (Exit) Little

Girl : (looking out) Come and see, Uncle Hari – what a big fat tail!

Hari : Whose tail- Chaturbhuj’s ?

Girl : No, the cat’s !

Scene III

(On the road. Enter Chaturbhuj, bag in hand, without the cat.)

Sadhucharan : Sir, where’s that cat of yours ?

Chaturbhuj : It’s dead.

Sadhucharan : How sad ! How did it happen ?

Chaturbhuj : (irritably) I don’t know!

Paran : Hello ! What’s happened to your cat ?

Chaturbhuj : It’s dead.

Paran : No, really ! How?

Chaturbhuj : The same way all of you’ll die – by swinging at the end of a rope !

Paran : Good God, he’s positively furious!