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    “PICTURE PERFECT” 

    ~A PLAY~

    By

    BARASA ONGETI

     © AUGUST 2015

    This play has been written for purposes of stage performancefor entertainment and education. No performance or

    reproduction rights are attached it. However, many hoursof typing were put into the production of this script so please acknowledge the writer if you wish to perform it.

    That is, tell your audience who the writer is.

    Contact Detail: Facebook.com/BarasaOngeti Tel: 0711 18 43 23

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    CHARACTER BRIEF

     Mother: Mother wants her family to be the model family in the

    town and she will stop at nothing. She inherited a successful

    business from her father. We at time get the impression that

    she is the one who wears the pants in the house.

    Father: Is the head of the home. He is a pastor who is well

    known in the town. He likes to keep a level head and is non-

    confrontational.

    Selina: Is the House help. She has ambitions of starting her

    own company to get out of the rut that her past experiences

    have put her in.

    Chebet: She is the second born daughter of the Family. She is

    in her late teens and in probably in high school. She is jumpyand wants to live on the first lane of life.

    Johnny: He is a sober gentleman just about to commence his

    college years. He wishes to be a pastor in life to follow in

    his father‟s footsteps. He is attracted to Selina.

     Ambrose: Ambrose is the last born in the family. He has

    minimal dialogue because he is mentally challenged and rid on

    a wheelchair. His communication is restricted to gleeful claps

    when he is happy and facial contortions when he is not pleased

    and a lot of mumbling and grumbling.

     Nurse: He appears in the last scene.

     Man 1: A police officer of the stereotypical Kenya Police kind

     Man 2: A police officer who seems to know what he is doing

    SYNOPSIS:

    The play takes place in the living room of a well to do

    family. Father is a pastor and mother is a successful businesswoman. They head a family which is admired in the town and

    mother will do all it takes to make it a picture perfect

    family. It takes place over an undefined period. During this

    period, a number of tragedies befall the family.

    It touches on family values, and tragedies that we experience

    in this day such as HIV and Cancer. It talks of building

    relationships. It talks of enduring tragic events and

    experiencing comic events in your average family.

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     NOTES FOR THE DIRECTOR:

    This play will rely heavily on the acting prowess of the

    characters and proper casting. The stage set will also be

    used to carry the story. The play is set in a well

    furnished living room that shows the owners are a well to

    do family. Music and live band may be incorporated, butis not necessary. A sample stage set is on the picture

    below. While the set is the same, the play takes place

    over an undefined period. The director may use creative

    ways of telling the audience that time has moved on, for

    example by use of well-noticeable change of clothing by

    the characters. However, the script already makes certain

    key indications to the audience that time has moved on.

    While stage directions and actor directions have been

    provided, these are only indicative and a lot of

    creativity will be required in the production andblocking.

    The running time on stage can be paced to one hour.

    Significant hand props required include a hammer, a

    telephone, a pullover, a wheelchair and others as the

    director may see fit.

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    1

    (Curtains open/Lights on to a stage set up. A well furnished

    living room indicating a well-to do family. There is a

    fancy couch to the right. On one side stairs lead to the

    bedrooms and on the other side is the kitchen door/exit.

    On the left is a dining table where a family of four isseated having dinner. Soft music fades. Normal family

    chatter which elevates to some sort of argument)

     Mother: Chebet I am very sure your school does not allow you

    to roll up your school skirt the way you have done. 

    Chebet: What you fail to realize is that I am a grown up mom,

    and I do not need you to tell me what to do. 

    Father: Chebet! That is no way to talk to your mother. I am

    going to ask you to apologize

    Chebet: I am sorry. (Enter Johnny ) Morning Pastor. This

    house, this house needs prayers.

    (Chebet digs in to her food)

     Mother: Chebet! What is Rule Number Four in this house?

    Chebet: (quoting ) “We say grace before eating any meal.” 

     Mother: Exactly, now be a good girl put your cup down and letus pray for the food.

    Johnny: For what is before us...

     Mother: Ah ah ah! Hold it! Chebet, what do we do in this house

    when we pray?

    Chebet: We close our eyes.

    Johnny: (completes prayer after everyone closes eyes) For what

    is before us, we thank you Lord.

    Father: Chebet, when did you say your parents‟ day is? We need

    to go and have a word with your physics teacher. You

    aren‟t doing so well in physics. Long ago people used to

    say that sciences aren‟t for girls but in today‟s world

    the sciences are very important.

    Chebet: I know dad, It‟s just that I – 

    (Mother interrupts with a loud shriek)

     Mother: Selinaaaa!!!(Selina, the maid, rushes in wearing kitchen apron.)

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     Mother: Taste this – (offers her cup) What is wrong with that?

    Selina: There is not enough sugar, mom.

     Mother: Don‟t mom me! I always tell you to count the spoons ofsugar you put in the sufuria. What is wrong with you?

    Weka vijiko saba vikubwa kwa sufuria ndogo, kama ni

    sufuria ile kubwa weka vijiko tisa na nusu.

    Selina: Sorry mom, I‟ll – 

     Mother: Ah ah! shooo! Go away. Maids like you are the reason

    there is no peace in the family. Go! And don‟t come back.

    No, go and come back with a sugar dish. But sugar should

    be cooked in the tea. Adding sugar in tea is the reason

    we get kidney diseases.

    (Selina leaves hurriedly to the kitchen) 

    (Mother fans herself, closes her eyes and counts to three, as

    would somebody on anger management)

     Mother: Sorry about that people. Shall we continue having our

    breakfast?

    Father: So Chebet, when is your parents day?

    Chebet: On the last Saturday of next month.

    Father: Okay, your mother and I will make a point of attending

    and speaking to all your teachers. But don‟t you worry

    about that physics. I was never good in physics anyway

    Chebet: That is why you ended up in Theological School.

    Father: Haha. No, I always tell you theological school was a

    calling. It is not something you go to because you failed

    to get the university grades.

     Mother: A calling just like Johnny has, isn‟t it Johnny? 

    Johnny: Yes mother. I have this burning feeling that I can

    succeed being a pastor and reach out to many people just

    like dad.

    Father: But do not get into it because your father got into

    it, or because your mother says you should. You should

    get into it because it is what you want to do. Because

    you feel it is the right thing to do, a calling.

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    Chebet: (suddenly)  Oh my goodness, look at the time. I am

    going to be late for school. Mom, dad hurry up we go! (To

    Johnny) Apostle John, have a nice day.

    (exit Chebet)

     Mother: Selinaaa! Wapi huyu msichana? Haoni tunachelewa?Selina?

    Selina: (Comes with wet hands)  Sorry, mom. I was bathing

    Ambrose.

     Mother: You put down whatever it is you are doing whenever I

    call you, is that clear? I have left a list of things you

    will need to get from the shop at the kitchen table. Make

    sure you get all of them. And bring back the change. We

    are dropping Chebet to school then carrying out some

    errands. Go back to what you were doing.

    (exit Selina)

    Father: Make sure you give Ambrose his medication okay?

    Johnny, I need you to fill out the applications to the

    American Universities, are you going to do that?

    Johnny: But dad – 

    Father: You can be a pastor even with a degree in engineering,

    just fill out the forms and send them. It won‟t hurt willit?

    (Johnny exits)

    Father:(to mother ) You don‟t have to be so harsh on the house

    help you know? She really does a lot of work around here.

    You can explain things to her politely without being so

    harsh.

     Mother: (fixes his collar) I am sorry about that. She just

    irritates me at times. She... Chebet is getting late, webetter hurry and get her to school in time.

    (Exit father and mother) 

    (Enter Selina to clear things from the table. She is pushing

    Ambrose on a wheelchair. Ambrose is disabled and seems to

    have a mental disease, that renders him unable to speak.

    He only utters unintelligible sounds and flaps his arms

    about excitedly.)

    Selina: (Singing  ) Mungu wewe, wajua kwa nini...

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    (choir)

    Selina: Ambrose. Your family really is the perfect family

    isn‟t it? Mommy inherited a successful company. Daddy is

    a pastor. Son wants to be a pastor. Daughter is a bright

    girl at school with a bright future, she will probablyend up being a successful career lady. No wait... There

    is you. Awww, poor Ambrose. (Walks to him and wipes his

    nose with her own sleeve). What happened to you? Look at

    you. You will never go to school. Do normal things...

    Fall in love... You will never be human. Very, very, sad.

    But don‟t you worry. God has a purpose for everything. I

    have plans too, Ambrose. Do you have plans? I don‟t plan

    to be a maid forever. One day I shall own my own catering

    and hospitality company. Just wait I save enough money.

    You will come and pay me a visit won‟t you Ambrose?

    (Selina breaks into song: soko ugali)

    Johnny: (slow clap) Wow! Why didn‟t you audition for last

    year‟s TPF? You really have talent! 

    Selina: You are trying to be funny. I won‟t laugh. 

    Johnny: Come on it was just a joke. I know your ambition is to

    start a catering school.

    Selina: A catering and hospitality company.

    Johnny: Yes, that. You deserve much better than being a maid.

    You are worth much more than the kind of work you do

    here. I look at how my mother treats you, and I don‟t

    like it. (silence).I wish I could do something. (silence)

    Say something.

    Selina: What do you want me to say? You have a mother. At

    least appreciate that. Some of us don‟t know how it feels

    to have a mother. We long to have a mother. Any mother.

    Even one who shouts all over as if she is the OCS.

    Johnny: Haha. You are funny. Have I ever told you that?

    Selina: (Acts oblivious and heads over to Ambrose) Ambrose!

    Time to take your medicine and have some rest. Come,

    come, young man.

    Johnny: Eerr... You are funny, Have I ever told you that?

    Selina: Unafaa kumake application za university, na mimi nafaa

    kusafisha nyumba. Kila mtu na kazi yake.(Exit Selina with Ambrose)

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    Johnny: (shouts after her) I said you are funny. I have ever

    told you that!

    (Selina returns after a moment)

    Johnny: Sasa utajifanya mpaka lini?

    Selina: Kujifanya nini?

    Johnny: I do not have to put it in black and white do I?

    Selina: Put what in black and white?

    Johnny: You know what.

    Selina: Sorry sir, I do not speak in cross word puzzles. (goes

    back to getting busy )

    Johnny: You know exactly what I mean. But it is all good. I

    know one day we will sit down and have a really long chat

    about what we want in life. That day we will learn that

    our destinies are not very separate.

    Selina: (Starts to speak then holds herself. Turns and pushes

    Ambrose away into the kitchen and then…) Oh by the way,

    you really have a way with words. (smiles sheepishly and

    exits)

    (Johnny remains in the living room and opens a Bible for a

    while. Enter Father and Mother )

    Johnny: Ei. That was fast. You are back already.

    Father: We only needed to drop her at school and come back

    before going out for our day‟s agenda.

    Johnny: Did you find out when her parent‟s day is? 

    Father: Yes, It is on – Oh my goodness! I can‟t remember thedate! We have just been told. Mama Johnny when was it?

    Johnny: Haha. You are growing old.

     Mother: It was on the First Saturday of next month if I

    remember correctly.

    Father: That girl needs to get serious with her education.

     Mother: No, it is not her fault. It is the teacher‟s faults.

    How can you say something that implies my daughter is onthe wrong.

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    Father: Correction. She can only be „our‟ daughter. Not „my‟

    daughter or „your‟ daughter.

    Johnny: Eeer.. I think I will excuse myself from this

    conversation. (starts to tiptoe away )

     Mother: Hold it right there. Where do you think you are going?

    Family matters concern all of us and they need to be

    discussed as a unit.

    Johnny: That was not a family matter it was more like an

    argument between Father and Mother with son standing

    awkwardly in between.

    Father: (coughs, a throaty cough) Ah this cough of mine won‟t

    go away. About Chebet, she will pull through like we allhave.

     Mother: Yes, our family is and should be the model family in

    this town. We cannot let teachers bring down our

    daughters potential. If she continues performing poorly I

    promise I will pull her out of that good for nothing

    school.

    Father: Don‟t you feel that maybe you are rushing to blame the

    teachers?

     Mother: I know I am not. I know my daughter. I know my familyand our calibre.

    Father: Okay then. Let this discussion end here. I need to

    rush for a meeting. I shall be back later in the evening.

    Johnny: I will leave with you too. Bible study.

     Mother: Selina! Come here. Have a seat, I don‟t bite. 

    Selina: (Enters from kitchen pushing Ambrose on the wheel

    chair and holding a kitchen towel through her teeth, to

    show that she was busy with more than one thing at a

    time) Yes mom.

     Mother: What were you doing in the kitchen?

    Selina: Just the dishes.

     Mother: Ah. Those can wait. I have something important to tell

    you. Go on, take a seat.

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    (Selina pulls a dining table seat and sits, a distance away

    from Mother )

     Mother: What is happening between you two?

    Selina: Nothing. I have just finished feeding him

     Mother: Not him you halfwit. What is happening between you and

    Johnny?

    Selina: Johnny?

     Mother: Yes. You heard exactly what I said.

    Selina: There is nothing.

     Mother: Oh. Nothing. Remember, I was once a young girl just

    like you are. And perhaps I was even naughtier than you.

    So I know exactly what “nothing means” 

    Selina: I do not understand what you mean.

     Mother: Oh you do not understand? You will not understand when

    my palm moves through the air at ninety feet per second

    and slaps you.

    Selina: I am sorry mother.

     Mother: Oh not yet. You are going to be sorry if I ever see

    you give my son as much as a look with those naughty eyes

    of yours.

    Selina: But we have never done any – 

     Mother: Eish! Nyamaza! I will explain something to you. I

    inherited a successful business from my parents. I am

    married to a pastor of good standing in this town, you

    understand. We have three –  (stops herself midsentence

    and glances at Ambrose at the wheelchair, fuddling as

    usual) –  we have two successful children. We are a

    picture perfect family. You understand that?

    Selina: Yes mother, I understand.

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    8

     Mother: Good girl. I have big dreams for my family and I can

    assure you none of those dreams feature my son getting

    married to a maid. Is that clear?

    Selina: Yes mother.

     Mother: (Smiles plastically ) Great. Now where were we? Oh poor

    Ambrose you must be feeling cold. (She reaches for a

    sweater and goes and tries to put it on Ambrose. It is a

    struggle and she gets frustrated ). Ambrose (sweetly at

    first) Vaa sweater baba, kuna baridi. Ambrose? Ambrose!!

    (Mother slams the sweater to the ground in frustration)

    Selina: Let me help you with that. (She goes over to Ambrose)Ambrose baba, kuwa mtoto mzuri uvae sweta. (In one motion

    she puts the pullover over Ambrose and he cooperates)

     Mother: (swallows) Okay young girl. Go back to the kitchen and

    finish what you were doing.

    (She starts going and then…)

     Mother: Selinaaa... Come back here.

    (Enter Selina)

     Mother: I need you to get some things for me from the shop.

    There is a list in the kitchen on the fridge. And Selina,

    don‟t go to this shop here at the corner. I want you to

    go to the one near the junction.

    (Selina leaves)

     Mother: (Monologue) Ambrose. Fourteen years ago you came into

    our lives. You were meant to be the last born. You were

    meant to bring joy to our family. You were meant to

    complete the picture, a picture perfect family. But look

    here. You are stuck in a wheel chair. We need a maid to

    keep you alive. We need fifty thousand shillings every

    month, to buy your medicines and for your therapy

    sessions. Fifty thousand, just to have you here. Fifty

    thousand shillings. Children are a blessing from God. But

    are you really a blessing?

    (Ambrose mumbles)

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     Mother: See? What blessing is there in a child whose mother

    talks to and does not talk back? What blessing is there

    in me seeing you like this every day? You know what

    Ambrose? You are not a blessing. You are a curse. You are

    a curse to me and your father. But I will put you to rest

    and end all your misery. I will solve all your problems.From today, you will cry no more.

    (Mother says all this while standing behind Ambrose. Ambrose

    senses the danger and starts scampering away. Mother

    holds the wheel chair firmly.)

     Mother: (Whispering ) Shhh!!! It‟s okay my baby. I am helping

    you. Shh… 

    (Mother  takes a hammer and smacks Ambrose repeatedly. Ambrose

    whines until his whining becomes a whimper. Then stops.1

    )

     Mother: I am sorry Ambrose. Rest now, child. (Goes calmly to

    the sofa and sits. Cleans the hammer, pauses for a moment

    then starts saying out loud, rehearsing ) He hit his head

    on the corner of the table. He was trying to walk. (Ahem)

    He fell down on the stairs and hit himself on the head. I

    tried calling you but my phone battery had died…

    (Enter Selina)

     Mother: Selina! Help. Call Baba Johnny! Now! Something hashappened to Ambrose.

    Selina: What happened?

     Mother: He was trying to walk. He fell down on the stairs and

    hit himself on the head. I tried calling you but my phone

    battery had died.

    Selina: And how did he get there, behind the sofa?

     Mother: Young girl! Uko na maswali mengi sana wewe! Can‟t yousee this is an emergency?

    (Selina dials on her phone as mother goes over and kneels over

    Ambrose)

     Mother: Oh my Ambrose. What happened to you? Oh Ambrose

    1 This scene can be produced easily using masking techniques and some tomato sauce. For example, Ambrose

    can be dragged to behind the sofa, where a lamp casts a shadow at the far wall of the living room. The action ofhammering can then only be implied and scene by the audience on the shadow cast at the far wall. When Mother

    gets up, she will have blood all over her.

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    Selina: Hallo! Baba Ambrose, there has been an accident… 

    Hallo! Network iko na shida. (Moves away towards the

    kitchen)

     Mother: Oh Ambrose. My Ambrose, (wails but her “tears” dry up

    as soon as Selina leaves the room)

    Selina: I have called him, he says he is – (notices the hammer

    in Mother’s hands. Mother suddenly realizes it is still

    in her hands and throws it away .)

    Selina: You killed him! Umemuua?! (Starts to scream but mother

    rushes over and covers her mouth with her hand )

     Mother: Shut up, you filthy animal. Shut up! Sit down there

    and listen to me. Sit!

    Selina: How could you?

     Mother: You are going to shut up and listen to me. Listen to

    me. That piece of –  that boy was a burden. He was a

    burden to me. He was a burden to my husband. He was a

    burden to everyone in this house. For heaven‟s sake, he

    was even a burden to you! Think about it as one less job

    for you but at the same salary.

    Selina: That does not give you the right to – 

     Mother: You are not going to tell me my rights in my own

    house. Before I picked you from the streets you were

    nothing. So unless you want to get back to that you are

    going to calm down and let me tell you what happens.

    (Selina starts sobbing )

     Mother: You are a good girl aren‟t you Selina? Well I have to

    admit that sometimes you are good for nothing, but mostly

    you are a good girl. Now this little matter that is in

    our hands, we are going to handle it like best friendsdo. We are not going to tell anyone okay. Poor Ambrose

    fell from the stairs and hurt himself. You had gone to

    the shop so you did not see anything at all. Is that

    right?

    Selina: (sobbing ) Yes.

     Mother: Yes. I know you are a good actress. I see how you act

    around my son and I know you are a good actress, acting

    like there is nothing between the two of you.

    Selina: There is nothing between us!

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     Mother: Wonderful! That is exactly how I want you to deny

    everything if anyone asks you any questions about this

    matter. Deny, deny, deny! Is that clear?

    Selina: Yes mother.

     Mother: Yes. As I said, you have too many benefits in this

    house and you do not want to go back to nothingness, do

    you? I mean, we all know that you are saving up to start

    a hairdressing school -

    Selina: (interrupts) A catering and hospitality company.

     Mother: Yes, a catering school. So you really, really need to

    retain your job here. Now, get up. They could be here any

    minute now. Get into character and remember, you were

    away at the shop so you did not see a thing. Come on girlact normal, wipe your tears – no don‟t wipe them. We need

    them.

    (Enter Father in a rush)

    Father: What happened? What is going on? Selina you said – 

     Mother: He is dead. Ambrose is dead. He fell down the stairs

    and hit himself on the head.

    Father: (Rushes over to Ambrose) Selina where were you, youwere meant to be taking care of him? Oh Ambrose. What has

    happened to you my child?

    (Enter Johnny and Chebet together)

    Chebet: What‟s the problem, guys? What happened? 

    Father: Your brother is dead.

     Mother: He fell down the stairs and hit his head on the table.

    Father: (composes himself ) There is nothing we can do right

    now. Johnny, do you have the number for Jamii Hospital? I

    want you to call them. They will help us to transfer the

    body – to transfer Ambrose to the mortuary.

    Chebet: (Moves over to father, sobbing. They huddle together).

    I want to know why this had to happen this way. Can‟t we

    just have peace in this family?

    (They all close in together in a group around Ambrose’s

    lifeless body. Johnny covers him with a bedsheet. Selinais away from the group but crying )

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    12

    (Slow song. Lights dim and out)

    ***

    (Johnny is alone in the sitting room. Rehearsing )

    Johnny: Let me just encourage you, that…. (Ahem). Let me just

    encourage you, that I know the plans I have for you. To

    give you a future and a hope. Let me tell you people,

    weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the

    morning. Take two. Weeping may endure for a night, but

    joy comes in the morning. Can I get an amen?

    (Father enters and Dennis is oblivious of his presence at

    first)

    Father: (Slow clap) Wonderful. You really have something in

    you.

    Johnny: I – I - I didn‟t realize you were there. How long have

    you been watching me?

    Father: For as long as it mattered. You know, this life is

    about chasing after your dreams and fulfilling your

    purpose. But in everything you number your days becausethere will come the day it all ends and you will have to

    give an account of it all.

    Johnny: Yes I know that and that is why I am committed to

    following in your footsteps

    Father: Listen my son. (goes to sit, Johnny joins him) My

    journey to becoming a pastor was a long one. I never

    dreamt of it when I was young like you are. I know the

    reason you want to be a pastor is that you look up to me.

    Johnny: Yes, mostly, yes. You know you are an inspiration to

    many people in this town.

    Father: But that was my story. You need to chart your own path

    and discover your own destiny. I can also tell you that

    being a pastor comes with its own challenges. It is a

    calling and not a career. You have to be called to this

    ministry

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    Johnny: But I feel like I am called

    Father: (coughs, a throaty cough) Only you can know that for

    sure. But you also need to know that you can minister in

    your own market place and you do not have to stand in the

    pulpit to send the message. Whether you are a secretary

    or a cook or a sweeper, your life should be the shining

    light. (coughs again)

    Johnny: Yes, we are called to be the salt of the earth.

    Father: Good boy. I just wanted to tell you that. (coughs

    again)

    Johnny: Are you okay. You are coughing again. That cough hasbeen persistent don‟t you think we should go get it

    checked?

    Father: No, no don‟t bother. I am fine. I‟ll just (cough) get

    some medicine. (He gets up to go toward the kitchen then

    falls down in a heap)

    (Johnny rushes over to him)

    Johnny: Calling out. Chebet! Call mother, hebu get funguo za

    gari!

    Chebet: What‟s wrong? What happened?

    Johnny: Just get the car keys and tell mom that something has

    happened to dad.

    (Chebet rushes out, Johnny manages to get Father on to his

    feet and supports him to his shoulder. As they go outMother runs out asking what is wrong )

     Mother: What is it?

    Johnny: Quick we have to go to the hospital!

    (Chebet remains in the living room anxiously paces about for a

    moment then spots Johnny’s phone lying on the couch. She

     picks it up and sends a text. After a while it rings) 

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    Chebet: Hi! Thanks for calling. I am very lucky imagine

    wametoka tu sahii, I was wondering what story I would

    tell. Yes, I think I have a chance to step out. No I know

    they won‟t be back tonight. Okay! Bora you keep your

    promise, hebu come with your Audi not that other ugly

    car.

    (runs upstairs)

    (Johnny Returns from the hospital to find Selina cleaning up

    the dinner table)

    Selina: (eagerly ) What happened? Is he okay?

    Johnny: (sighs) I don‟t know. The doctors have said he has tobe admitted. We won‟t know yet until further tests are

    done. Mother has remained there and may spend the night

    in the hospital.

    (Selina enters from upstairs. She is dressed skimpily as one

    going to a party she seems to be in a rush and is putting

    finishing touches to her make up)

    Chebet: Hi Johnny. (Notices Selina) Awww.. Look at you two.

    Standing there fifty metres apart. I am a young girl but

    I can feel there is something in the air in this room.

    (Ignored )

    Johnny: Dad has been admitted at Tumaini Hospital. They are

    running the tests on him but the initial guess is that it

    is the tumor and that the tumor is growing. They just

    want to see how far it has spread so that we get more

    details. 

    Chebet: Oh my goodness. This is very sad. I hope he pulls

    through.

    Johnnie: I am sure he will.

    Chebet: Sad news. (jumps up from the couch where she had been

    seated fastening her high heel shoes) But, it won‟t

    derail my plans for tonight. Si mum will sleep at the

    hospital? Johnny can I have your phone for a second.

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    Johnny: (hands her the phone) Eer… Where are you going?

    Chebet: For a school trip.

    Johnny: A school trip? Dressed like that? People go to school

    trips in school uniform.

    Chebet: Look. I know you have all this “big brother” thing

    going. But just as the word says, you ought to remember

    you are my brother , not my mother. So stop mothering me.

    Johnny: I was only asking. But you are right. It is none of

    my business. So you are just going to be disrespectful

    and wait for the day your mother is out in the hospitalwith your sick father and go to the disco?

    Chebet: Ha! Who calls it “disco.” Kweli you are a pastor!!

    (laughs) Try calling it something fancy. Like… I don‟t

    know… Rave? 

    Johnny: And where did you get the money to go to this rave?

    Chebet: A girl has her ways. We only live once. YOLO. We were

    given assets, we have to learn how to use them. Isn‟t it

    there in the Bible? You remember the guys who were given

    a set of talents some buried it and some used theirs?

    ( puts on earrings, a dash of cologne) Yup, I am the one

    that used mine.

    Johnny: Do not make a joke out of something serious. (Almost

    angrily ). Where did you get the money?

    Chebet: Ey! Calm down. I never knew you could get angry.Anyway, you just said it is none of your business.

    Johnny: Look Chebet. I know you think it is all fun and games,

    but I will tell you one thing. And I am not being preachy

    about this to you, I am just giving you brother-to-sister

    advice here. Bad things happen to good people. You are a

    good person and I do not want anything bad to happen to

    you. You don‟t have to go out there and do things just

    because your class mates are doing them. You are solely

    responsible for your own life, the decisions that you

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    make and the things that will happen to you because of

    your choices.

    Chebet: If you do not have anything more left to say in your

    sermon, Mr Reverend, I beg to leave. (Does sign of the

    cross, bows and exits shaking her head in dismay )

    (Enter Selina and she and Chebet bypass at the entrance)

    Selina: This is a picture perfect family, isn‟t it? Wow. 

    Johnny: Pardon?

    Selina: Nothing. Where is she going?

    Johnny: I don‟t know. You are the girl you should know what

    you girls do for fun and where you get money for it. I

    don‟t know.

    Selina: You should advice her. It is not all that fun. I have

    been there.

    Johnny: What do you mean you have been there?

    Selina: Nothing. Have you heard anything about how your father

    is doing?

    Johnny: Don‟t change the subject. Why do you always try to 

    evade the topic when I want to try to know you?

    Selina: You want to know me? I am Selina. Nice to know you.

    Bye. (turns as if to leave but Johnny grabs her )

    Johnny: Is it because I say I want to be a pastor? Is that whyyou do not like me?

    Selina: (sigh) You would not understand

    Johnny: What tell me! Explain it to me like a three year old.

    I see it in your eyes whenever we are alone in this

    house. Tell me, you don‟t want my mother to find out that

    me and you are interested in each other?

    Selina: You won‟t understand.

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    Johnny: You are right. I do not understand. You want a bad

    boy. That is what all you girls want. You want to leave

    us nice guys who promise to respect you and treat you

    well. You want to leave us for the bad guys right? You

    want someone who smokes bhang and sags his trousers up to

    here (demonstrates). Is that what you want?

    Selina: Don‟t get worked up, I – 

    Johnny: (shouting ) I am not worked up! Selina I love you. Ever

    since you came into this house I saw something in you. I

    saw not only a maid but someone with promise; someone

    with a purpose. And I want that someone to be my helper

    as we walk the path of life, together, just as Godordained it. That someone is you Selina.

    Selina: (almost crying. Makes as if to hold his hand then

    restrains herself ) Just leave me Johnny. Get back to what

    you were doing. I am sorry. This can never be. (Tries to

    turn and go but is grabbed again)

    Selina: Stop it Johnny

    Johnny: I just want you to tell me

    Selina: Tell you what?

    (She tries to break free and in the scuffle a vial of pills

    fall out of her apron pocket. She rushes to pick them up.

    Johnny tries to help her but she grabs them away )

    Johnny: (Puzzled ) What are these for?

    Selina: Nothing

    Johnny: They can‟t be for nothing.

    (He grabs the vial from Selina and looks at it like a banknote

    against the light)

    Selina: Now you see why you would never understand?

    Johnny: (Moves over to the seat in dismay ). Are these yours?

    Why are you taking these pills?

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    Selina: Why would anyone take ARVs? Because I am HIV positive.

    Johnny: Why didn‟t you tell me? 

    Selina: I should have told you. I should have told you ages

    ago. What? So that you become the pastor who is married

    to a HIV positive maid? If you must know, I worked as a

    prostitute to raise 10,000/- to register for my

    secretarial course. You know how much of that I raised

    before I quit? 514/-. Five hundred and fourteen shillings

    for selling my body. I did that filthy job for eight full

    months, two years before your mother found me and

    employed me here. Every morning I woke up knowing that I

    need to raise my college fees. Every night I went and

    showered. And however hard I scrubbed myself I couldnever erase that filth.

    Johnny: Is that the only way you could raise money? When did

    you contract it?

    Selina: I am not going to stand here and let you interrogate

    my life and cast judgement on me because of my choices.

    Johnny: (Gets up) Look. Selina I am sorry. I still love you

    and – 

    Selina: Love. Ha! Love is a word that only exists in the

    bubble that you middle class people live in. In the real

    world, there is no love. There is pain. There is

    struggle. There is poverty and hunger and death. There is

    no love.

    Johnny: I won‟t judge you just because you – 

    Selina: And I do not expect you to. Now that you know this

    about me, I hope you will let me continue living my life

    and you yours. (Makes for the exit)

    Johnny: Wait, Selina. Selina! (Follows her and both exit)

    (After a moment Johnny returns and sits back on the couch,

     pondering. His phone rings)

    (Selina returns)

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    Selina: If you don‟t mind… Would you give me that ( pointing to

    the vial of pills)

    Johnny: Come. Come sit here.

    Selina: I don‟thave strength for this Johnny.

    Johnny: Just come and sit we have a chat.

    Selina: (Goes to sit) Johnny, I am sorry about all this. No

    matter what I want in my life, or who I want I can never

    erase the past. You are a pastor, a good guy. I am a bad

    girl. We can never mix.

    Johnny: We all have pasts that we wish to erase. I have mademistakes of my own

    Selina: (scoffs) Hmm. Mistakes. Like what? You stole change

    from your lunch money in class four.

    Johnny: You are funny. Have I ever told you that?

    (pause)

    Johnny: Look. Even though I have found out a lot of things

    about you this evening; and it is big news and maybe I am

    saying things without thinking clearly first. But I still

    think that you are the part of my rib that is missing.

    You are the part of me that needs to feel complete. I

    want you to join my side and make it complete.

    Selina: (as if to audience) Na si huyu pastor ako na poetry!?

    (Phone rings)

    Johnny: (Picks phone) Hi mom? Yes. What!!? What happened? Yes

    she just left here a few minutes ago. I tried telling her

    not to – Yes mom. We are just in the house. Okay. We‟ll

    be here.

    Selina: What happened? What is it?

    Johnny: It is Chebet. She was in an accident and the

    Samaritans took her to the hospital. Coincidentally she

    was put in the bed next to where father is.

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    Selina: What?

    Johnny: Can you imagine that.

    Selina: Is she hurt?

    Johnny: I don‟t know. (Snaps) She must be hurt. Why else would

    she be taken to a hospital?

    (They pace about the room for a while. Johnny sits and stands

    up again to pace about.)

    (Enter Mother she goes exasperatedly to the couch and slumps

    down thoughtfully )

    Johnnie: What happened?

     Mother: I always knew that girl was up to no good with her

    shenanigans 

    Selina and Johnnie: (in unison) What happened?! 

     Mother: Your sister. She got an accident. She was in a car

    full of teenagers going I-don‟t-know-where and it rolled.

    She was picked by good Samaritans and taken to hospital.

    You know which bed?

     Mother: I need a glass of whiskey.

    Johnnie: Eer. Mum, no one drinks in this house.

     Mother: Get me a glass of something. Anything!

    (Selina runs out and comes back with a glass of water )

     Mother: What did we ever do wrong? We were meant to be the

    picture perfect family. We were meant to be the model for

    society. Now my only daughter is in hospital. What will

    people say when they hear about her? That she was out

    drinking and partying. The daughter of a pastor and a

    successful businesswoman?

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    Johnnie: With all due respect mother, I think we should worry

    more about her well being than about what people will

    say.

     Mother: (Gets up) This was not how it was supposed to be1

    (Hurls the glass of water ) We were meant to be perfect.

    We were meant to be a model.

    (Mother becomes hysterical. Sits, gets up, mumbles. Selina and

    Johnnie are puzzled as they watch her going nuts)

    Selina: What is happening to her?

    Johnnie: Mother? Mother I think you need to sit down and relax

     Mother: (mumbles nonsense) Where is my ugali. Ugali and

    carrot. Sukumawiki Toyota rubber plastic.

    Johnnie: Oh my goodness.

    (Knock on the door )

    Selina: (Runs to open. Two burly looking men enter.) Who is

    it?

     Man 1: Sisi ni afisa wa polisi kutoka kitengo cha CID. Na

    tumekuja kuuliza maswali mbili tatu

    Johnny: I am sorry officers but right now my mother is having

    a seizure or something and we need help. Can you come

    back later?

     Man 2: Actually we are here because of her.

    (Mother sees them and runs even more hysterical. Johnny andSelina restrain her.)

    Johnny: (exasperated) Couldn‟t you choose a better time to

    come and ask your questions!

     Man 2: Actually it involves your brother

     Man 1: And your mother.

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     Man  2: We have been doing some investigations based on the

    autopsy and we have reason to believe that he was not

    murdered.

     Mother: He fell down a tree – he fell down the stairs and hit

    his head on the corner of the table! Leave my son alone

    he is dead!

     Man  1: Hapana madam. The autopsy report shows that it was

    repeated blunt trauma to the head.

    Johnny: My father is sick and admitted in the hospital. My

    sister just had an accident. My mother is running insane.

    And you are here to tell me about blind drama?!

     Man 2: Blunt trauma

    Johnny: Whatever!

     Man 1: Kijana heshimu kirauni, eh?

    Johnnie: With all due respect I can only handle one problem at

    a time.

     Man 2: We also have reason to suspect that he was murdered

    right here in this house. We cannot prove it, but we are

    detectives and we can say for sure that he was struck

    with a hammer to the head.

     Man 1: Yaani sisi ni watu ya intelligence.

     Man 2: Does anyone of you have any details that might help us?

     Mother: He fell down the stairs. Tell them Selina!

     Man 2: (To Selina) Young girl. You know you are the prime

    suspect. You are the only person with a motive to kill

    this

    Selina: I didn‟t do anything. Tell them mother! 

    (Man 1 goes over and grabs her ) Sasa wewe inaonekana utalala

    ndani mpaka ujue kujibu maswali.

    Selina: (breaks down) I saw it. I saw her she did it?

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    Johnnie: She did what?

    (Mother goes totally bonkers and tries to run through the

     police but they get hold of her )

     Man  2: We are arresting you and taking you to the police

    station for more questioning. Once we gather our evidence

    we will present you in court.

    Johnnie: You cannot just arrest my mother like that in our

    house.

     Mother: I didn‟t mean to kill him! Yes I killed him. I hit his

    head with a hammer. (laughing crazily ) I counted it.

    Selina and Johnnie: (in unison) Mother!?

     Mother: He was a burden. He was a burden to all of us!!! He

    was - (unintelligible whimpering )

     Man 2: Well she is now the prime suspect and we have a witness

    here ( points at Selina). I am sorry young man.

     Man 1: Ushawai sikia polisi akisema I am sorry? Uko na bahati

    sana umepata wale wazuri. Ungewekwa ndani pia wewe na hii

    kiherehere yako.

    (They start dragging mother away, who is now just mumbling

    intelligible words and is calm one second and rowdy the

    next)

    Selina: Johnnie, maybe we need to go with them to the police

    station.

     Man 1: No you two stay here. There is nothing you are going to

    do at the police station. Hakuna chai ya serikali huko.

    (Exit Man 1, Man 2 and Mother )

    Johnnie: How could you know what she did and keep quiet about

    it?

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    Selina: I am sorry Johnny. She threatened me. She threatened

    me with my job and you know how much this means to me.

    Johnnie: ( pauses for a moment) It is okay I understand you.

    What an evening this has been. (Johnnie goes to the couch

    and kneels facing away from the audience in silent prayer

    for a moment.)

    Selina: (when Johnnie is done) I hope you can find it in your

    heart to forgive me. I am sorry all this is happening in

    one day.

    Johnnie: It is okay. I will pull through. Hii yote ni mipango

    ya Mungu. Whenever a rock goes through pressure over time

    it comes out the other end as a diamond. Gold is only butdirt which has to be put through three thousand degrees

    of fire to gain its value. The Lord's goodness often

    comes to the door of our heart while riding on the black

    horse of tribulations.

    Selina: (awed for a moment, then manages to stammer ) N-n-now

    do you go and visit your father and sister in hospital or

    do you go see your mother in the cell.

    (Selina steps close to Johnny and they almost engage in a

    clumsy hug before disengaging abruptly )

    Johnnie: (heads to the couch to sit) It is well.

    Selina: Somehow you make me believe you will be okay. (Goes

    and joins him)

    Johnnie: Yes. We can and we will.

    (They hold hands as seated, this time firmly. Lights fade and

    out)

    ***

    The following scene is to be executed meticulously and in a

    non-“preachy” manner. The actors are to be as casual yet

    as dramatic as possible, all the while remaining in

    character as per their roles. This is sort of an

    epilogue, as is usually seen in some movies after the

    credits have rolled.

    (Music, upbeat tempo)

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    (The following characters make an entry one by one, recite

    their line and leave on the other end of stage)

    Johnny: Well, I know you all want to know how the story ended.

    Now that you know we were never a picture-perfect family,

    I am sure you are curious where we all ended up. Johnnynever made it to be a pastor, but he landed a good job

    somewhere -

    Chebet: Chebet finally found her peace. She became more

    focused on the serious things in life. She got a

    scholarship to go to Denmark for her bachelor‟s degree.

    The traffic accident was nothing serious and after three

    days in hospital she got out. She learnt her lesson. The

    hospital chaplain who prayed for her in the three days

    she was admitted asked her to seek the Lord. She is now a

    committed Christian. By the way, the chaplain was a veryfine young man just recently out of the seminary – Chebet

    saved his number, you know, for future use. Just in case.

    (Enter mother being pushed on a wheelchair by a man in nurse

    clothing. She is gesticulating as someone with a

     psychotic disorder would )

     Nurse: As for mother, she is now admitted in a mental

    institution. She talks to herself half the time and the

    other half, she talks to people we cannot see. As her

    children, we can only feel her pain and hope one day shegets out of it.

    Johnny: (Makes re-entry ) I know you all think this is a happy

    story with a happy ending. You are expecting Father to

    walk in here and say that he made it and the cancer went

    away. Well, he did not. The cancer ate him up; he fought

    back but lost the battle. We remember him fondly.

    Selina: Selina managed to save up enough of her salary and

    applied for Uwezo fund. She got enough money to start her

    catering and hospitality company, she runs the technicalside and her manager runs the financial side until she

    goes back to college. Though she is living with HIV, she

    is living positive. She even got married to the love of

    her life.

    (Selina does not leave like the rest)

    Johnny: The great job that Johnny landed? Johnny is Selina‟s

    Marketing Manager at her Catering and Hospitality

    Company.

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    Selina: And he is her husband. (They embrace side by side and

    smile at the audience. Lights fade and out.  Music e.g:

    ♪♫In our family portrait♫♪)