Ba-Si-Ra

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Act 2: The case of three cans, a rotund Vizier and an era within an age within a universe

Scene 3

The sombre mood in the room was marked by silent observation. Sidharth had immersed himself in the finer points of the case; reading the hastily drafted case file. The keenest minds in the kingdom’s police had worked tirelessly for two days and three nights to uncover all the missing links of this most perturbing case. Despite their efforts, they hadn’t made any headway into finding poor Batindra’s missing handkerchief.

“You understand why we called you here,” the Grand Vizier addressed Sidharth. But his eyes were riveted on the file containing statements taken from the staff at the Viceroy’s palace. Seeing his friend’s terrible sense of societal courtesy, Raafae decided to jump in.

“Please forgive my friend’s terrible manners, Your Excellency. He obviously missed the lesson on social etiquette.”

Sidharth, completely oblivious to the conversation taking place within a metre of him, shouted with excitement – abrupt as ever.

“The chamber maid.”

Stupefied, all eyes stared in his direction.

“Her statement’s missing from this file,” continued Sidharth.

The Grand Vizier stomped on the floor; his cheeks blown with anger. “Such incompetence. How did the police miss the chamber maid?”

Raafae intervened. “It’s alright, Your Excellency. We are here to control the situation. I assure you, we will find the perpetrator.”

The Grand Vizier nodded his head; his eyebrows furrowed and lips as stiff as his starched kurta.

“I’ll leave you gentlemen to it,” said the Grand Vizier. “Once you’re done here, Bansi will accompany you to the Viceroy’s palace.”

“Papa,” a voice came from the edge of the entrance to the mehmaan khana*. Sebastian’s eyes twirled with excitement as he heard the serenading voice.

“Come in, my dear,” said the Grand Vizier. Sebastian’s sight was set firmly on the young woman walking elegantly and with utmost care towards them.

She wore a pink dance dress; its fall just above her ankles. The borders were laced at the bust. An enchanting silk scarf caressed her soft neck as she moved.

“These are the three sleuths you were eager to see,” the Grand Vizier addressed his daughter.

“Buds blossom on spring’s arrival, my lady.”

Sebastian held the young woman’s gloved hand and kneeled to kiss it.

“My daughter – Mahjabeen Cornwallis,” said the Grand Vizier.

“The name matches the effervescence of your grace, my lady,” said Sebastian. His eyes gauged Mahjabeen’s blushing cheeks. He wanted to immerse himself in the comfort of her soft skin that glinted under the sunlight, passing through the gilded bay window.

“The time’s here,” shouted Sidharth; his abruptness unapt and inept as ever.

“Time for what,” replied Raafae.

Sidharth’s eyes widened and a pursed smile appeared across his face.

“It’s time to travel.”

*Drawing Room

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Ba-Si-Ra

Follow three idiotic geniuses on their quest through quirky parallel worlds and lop-sided alternate realities

Twisted Caricature: Ba-Si-Ra

Three main characters journey through the land of the unknown; two willingly, one forced. Meet our heroes who twist and turn the tides of time and reality in search of (no, not truth!) crippling adventure and gut-busting punch lines.

Sidharth: A budding particle physicist, his incredible invention opens a portal to new realities. A reserved and non-engaging person, he is known for a qualified non-existent sense of humour. Part of the brain-drain generation of India, he migrated to England with the noble intention of conquering the scientific world.

Sebastian: A practitioner of vernacular pomposity, he is obsessed with the great Romantic poets of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A hopeless romantic, he has a regular habit of falling in and out of love, fuelled by the Shakespearean desire of being in love with the idea of being in love.

Raafae: An archaeologist in training, Raafae is the string that ties the other two to the outside world. As a child, a visit to the history museum in Lahore, Pakistan, changed his life forever. A history buff, his thirst for learning brought him to Cambridge and in eventual contact with his two eccentric friends.

Act 1: Three Main Characters

The dim lighting in the living room mirrored the vacant chasms of Sebastian’s mind. He was bored. Toying with a set of colourful marble balls he had collected from his last visit to India, he was incongruously mixing his wails of tedium with the knocking sound made by the balls.

“Stop it,” whispered Raafae in a cringing tone. His hand was over his lifeline; the Holy Grail of digital communication – his cherished mobile phone. “Can’t you see I am trying to have a conversation here?”

“You are having sweet talks over the ring machine,” replied Sebastian, “while my heart sinks in the depths of an empty well of sorrow and destitute.”

“Stop your rumblings of an antiquated lover,” cried Raafae. “Your penchant for the dramatics is sickening.”

“What do you know about the soul of an artist – his suffering, his pain?”

“The self-proclaimed artist speaks again.” Raafae arched his eyebrows and let out a sardonic sigh. “I think I’ll have to call you later,” he said to his girlfriend and placed the mobile on the palm wood coffee table lying adjacent to the grey crumpet sofa he was lounging on.

“I didn’t mean to be a drawbridge between lovers,” proclaimed Sebastian.

“I am not her lover,” replied Raafae dismissively. “I am her plaything.” He pictured himself cuffed to his girlfriend’s wrought iron bed-stand blindfolded as she spread her legs across his chest.

“Ah! The digital age’s disdain of love,” sighed Sebastian. “Where’ve gone the days of old; when birds twittered the songs of summer’s arrival in harmony; the days of Shelley, Keats and Byron.”

“These days, birds tweet on a webpage in one hundred and forty characters,” chuckled Raafae.

“Laugh, my cruel friend, while I paint my words on the canvas of life. Undeterred, I shall plod on and conquer all.”

Before Raafae could get a chance to come up with a cheeky reply, the entrance door flashed open. Sidharth stood with his hand firmly placed on the door, his large dark brown eyes almost bulging out of their sockets.

“I have done it,” exclaimed Sidharth, his eyes deranged like a madman’s.

Raafae looked at his friend with comical irreverence. “What have you done now?”

Sidharth fished out a small metallic cube from his trouser pocket and held it in the air between his thumb and index finger. There was a momentary silence. His friends were waiting eagerly for him to speak. With his eyes firmly planted on the cube, he finally spoke.

“This cube has six sides.”

Raafae stared at him with candid stupor. He reclaimed his bearings after a second and rose from the comfort of the soft sofa cushion.

“Thanks for enlightening us ‘O Genius One’.” Raafae bowed with his hand neatly placed against his stomach. “Your esteemed observation will forever be etched in our memories.”

Fully immersed in his own world, Sidharth continued as if he hadn’t heard Raafae at all. “In this cube lies the mystery of the universe. It produces gateways to other worlds – worlds yet to be discovered; to be explored.”

Raafae pursed his lips and shook his head. In the company of his eccentric friends, he was a beacon of normality, bridging the vague with the real. He cleared his throat, mocking his friend’s deluded exposition and said, “Sid. Now you’ve officially lost the plot.”

Sebastian raced to his friend’s aid, excited by the mystery of his words. “You have piqued my curiosity with your fine words. Tell me…tell me all about it.”

“Stop indulging him Bassy,” interrupted Raafae.

“Stop,” said Sebastian with animation. “Is that your word of the day?”

Raafae sneered at Sebastian’s remark and moved in the kitchen’s direction. “I don’t have time for this. I’m going to fetch myself something to eat.”

Sebastian turned his attention back to Sidharth. “Ignore this enemy of the creative. You were saying?”

“I have torn the fabric of reality,” said Sidharth, as abruptly as ever. “Do you want to see it?”

Sebastian rubbed his chin as he gazed at the metallic cube. “I would very much like it my dear Sid.”

“Brace yourselves for a rough ride,” replied Sid.

Raafae popped out of the kitchen, munching on a chicken and bacon sandwich. “Brace ourselves for what?”

“Ba-Si-Ra,” muttered Sid. The cube dropped on the floor from Sidharth’s hand by itself. It kept rolling. All eyes were transfixed on its shaking numbered sides, waiting for the cube to reveal the number. It kept rolling and rolling beyond the normal frequency of turns of a normal dice. And then, without any visible sign of deceleration, it stopped.

Number three.

“Let’s see where it takes us,” exclaimed Sidharth.

A stream of light emanated from the top of the tiny cube. It began to expand, forming an arc in the air on both sides. The space above the cube began to deform, creating ripples visible to the naked eye.

Horrified at the sight of this amorphous space killer, Raafae’s heels seemed to move on their own accord. “What the fuck is this?”

The sandwich dropped from his hand. Instead of hitting the floor, it stopped midway and swirled in the direction of this rising wormhole.

“See you on the other side,” announced Sidharth and his body disintegrated into the portal. Sebastian looked at Raafae’s horrified face and passed a goofy smile at him before disappearing into the wormhole behind Sidharth.

Terrified, Raafae tried to turn from the wormhole’s pull, but its massive weight attracted his human mass in its direction. His shriek remained buried in his dismantled throat, as shreds of his atomic existence descended into the portal.

“Stop,” shouted his consciousness as it saw chunks of its physical abode travel faster than the speed of light.