by Maleeha Sofi
SRINAGAR: It is something that is basic to almost everybody – Tankha, the salary. It is always a matter of concern for everybody working for the government or private sector. This was the theme of the fourth play in the ongoing Theatre Festival Kashmir 2023. The play is written by Rashid Gamgeen and presented by Dilshad Cultural Forum.
As the curtain raised, a farmer offered greetings to everyone. The man was worried about the barren land and chose to work on it to make it fertile again. A woodcutter, a Hindu, and a Sikh joined him.
Everyone asked him about what he was doing there and shared it. They all mutually intend to follow the path of brotherhood to bloom the barren land and they dance together. This segment was the opening and the actual play followed later.
Tankha revolves around a family of four, Mohammad Amin, Maimoona, and their two kids Zamrooda and Tariq. The scene starts with a small house set up and a lady – Maimoona ranting about the miseries she faces all the time with respect to her work, lack of resources, and inability to live a better life. Her husband, Mohammad Amin who works on an honorarium basis returns from his work and questions her behaviour. She complains about his little salary of Rs 3000, jammed salary of two months and not fulfilling any of her demands. They get into an argument while both of them complain about their problems.
In another scene, an office with some clerks is shown where Mohammad Amin works. All of them have faced the same issue in their homes. They talk about the debt, load of work, less salary, corruption, and apart from all this the misunderstanding that people have about them having huge amounts of money. They even consider business is better than their job.
At home, when Mohammad Amin offers prayers and asks for respite from debt, a voice responds to him saying that might is right and he should not follow the right path always. He gets scared about this suggestion and asks him where the voice is coming from. The voice replies, “I am your soul.” This scene somehow shows a person’s fight with himself to follow the righteous path at a time when choosing the wrong one can resolve your problems.
The debtors frequently visit Amin’s home asking for their money. The couple assures them of returning it soon. As soon as Amin gets his salary of two months, he distributes it among the debtors and the rest to his children for some school activities. The whole salary goes into it and the couple gets into the argument again. Maimoona has to attend her brother’s wedding and she demands certain things for it.
Mohammad Amin fell ill and had a high fever. His wife doesn’t believe it at first, but later on, seeing the condition worsening, she believes. Amin gives her the money and things she demanded. Maimoona was shocked after knowing that Amin had sold his watch and scooter. He had done it out of love for her wife as she used to fight and cry over the issue. She feels bad about it and the couple gets emotional.
The play shows the efforts put in by such employees to meet the ends of their families. He suggests his children opt for government school instead of private but they refuse by giving the reason that everyone goes to private schools. His wife also timely compares herself to neighbouring ladies and their lifestyle. It shows the reality that people instead of focusing on rightly managing their lifestyle compare with other people and add to the miseries.
The play is written by Rashid Gamgeen, presented by Dilshad Cultural Forum, directed by Dilshad Mustafa, assistant direction by Akash G.M Bahar, and set designed by Saleem Yousuf. The cast line included Mukhtar Ahmad as Mohammad Amin, Shahida Alvi as Maimoona, Ghulam Mohammad Bahar as Bilal, Mohammad Yousuf Dar as Akram, Ali Mohammad Mir as Hilal, Aamir Ahmad Malik, Tasaduk Hussain, and Sajad Hussain as debtors, Mohammad Yousuf Ganie as Dervish, Ghulam Hussain Hak Nawaz as his assistant, Shazia Akhter as Zamrooda and Munawar Ali as Tariq.