Mahesh Dattani's play, '30 Days in September', focuses on the lifelong damage of child sex abuse
By Shevlin Sebastian
Eminent playwright Mahesh Dattani's play, '30 Days in September', at the JT Pac, Kochi, begins with 26-year-old Mala Khatri, (played by Ira Dubey) staring at an empty chair, where, presumably, her counsellor would be sitting. “Today is February 29, 2004," she says. "And my name is Mala Khatri. Why not? Why shouldn't I use my real name? I want people to know. It is he who should be changing his name, not me. It is he who should be hiding. It is he who should be ashamed to show his face anywhere on this planet. I know I can only make it happen if I use my real name.”
“I am talking about all those times that he would do things to me,” says Mala. “First when I was seven, then eight, then nine. You would always be busy with your puja or the kitchen. I would go to daddy crying, and before I could tell him why I was crying he would send me to you. And without saying anything you would say I should just eat and sleep and all the pain would go away. And it did go away. But it comes back. It keeps coming back. It never goes away.”
And a despairing Shanta shouts, “I am the one to blame. Because my tongue was cut off years ago. How could I save her, when I could not save myself? Have you seen the pain in my eyes? Nobody saw anything, not my cousins, not my brothers, not my parents.”
Says businesswoman Anita Goyal: “This is one play I just could not stop thinking about since the day I watched it. There is so much food for thought. So much to ponder on. So much to debate about. Although the main subject was child sex abuse, there was also the complicated relationship between mother and daughter. And the psychological help extended by the boyfriend towards his partner's woes was intertwined in the most harmonious way.”
Meanwhile, there was one amusing moment at Kochi. During one period, lightning and rain could be heard on the soundtrack. But to Lillette's visible surprise – she kept looking upwards – the rain did not stop on cue. Instead, it continued for several minutes. But it was not the sound technician's fault. It was actually raining outside: Kerala's monsoon was making its presence felt.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)