My enemy toy
By Shabnam Kheyrulla
One-act solo performance
Character: Girl, young woman aged 28-30
A small room, scantily furnished by household things, it is felt that someone lives in the room. Some of the things are folded and covered with a white cloth. The curtain rises and a girl comes into the room, examining the furniture with interest, lifting the cover hiding long forgotten things from the past. Under the cloth, there is a desk with boxes and drawers.
Voice behind the scenes: Where are you, daughter? We are going to have supper soon
Girl: Wait, wait, mom. I was missing my room so much…Let me satiate myself…(she is walking about the room)…Oh my room! It has been five years since I got married and left. But every time I come home I want to stay alone in my room. To say that everything here is dear to me…No! I was not born here, I only grew up here. But some things kept in this room remind me of the place of my birth and my native home. I have kept them and brought them from my homeland…from Irevan1 (she falls silent…a pause, as if thinking, remembering something)..
(Addressing the audience) Do you think that it is only grownups who resettle? You are mistaken. I was eight then. I understood that difficult times came and everyone was preparing to resettle. I also gathered my things, putting into my schoolbag textbooks, colored pencils, a collection of butterflies and one of my favorite toys (the girl's face changes: grief, love, sadness)…We have changed many homes since then, and began to consider many places as our homeland. And my "camp" – my things – traveled with me. When I got married, I took with me everything except for the dearest thing – my favorite toy (she is opening the box and looking for something). It must be here.
(as if to herself) … Andranik. (She found it at last, she is holding in her hands a threadbare "teddy bear" with torn off ears. She is pressing it to her breast and is addressing the audience with tears in her eyes):
My toy, the most sacred memory from my native land, the sweetest symbol. (She is pressing the "teddy bear" to her breast even stronger). It was bought for me for my birthday in 1980 in Moscow…It was Olympic year. As an inveterate fan, my father went to Moscow to watch the sporting events live and I was born in the very same days. My father was not just a fan, he was a sportsman, worked as a physical education teacher in our school in Irevan. So, while in Moscow, my father got a telegram saying that his daughter, namely I, was born, and he bought me a teddy bear Mishka.
As far as I can remember, I always had many toys as a child, but it is this toy that was special and favorite, I don't know why. Maybe because it was the first one, because my father bought it, or because of what happened later, when the teddy bear was named Andranik, I loved it most of all and never parted with it.
At that time, everyone still called you Mishka (stroking its head). But once I got angry and tore off your ear and at the suggestion of my uncle, who was visiting us, I named you Andranik.
Then my father said smiling, "Once you get into the hands of shaitan, you can even lose your legs." I felt that my uncle liked it when I called you Andranik (addressing the toy).
But my mother got angry every time, and did not allow me to call you this way. At last we came to an agreement that I would not call you by that name among Armenian children, although I did not understand why.
I must say that my mother kept many things secret from me at that time, I don't know whether to reproach her or thank now. I remember that in April my mom did not let me leave home. She said that it would be better if our Armenian neighbors did not see us on that day. My mom did not explain why on that day they called us "Turk-enemy" and "Turk's blood must be shed"2, and I probably would not understand it. Only many years later I learned that it was the day of genocide, of course, invented by them. And on that day they had a tradition to shed the blood of the Turks, that is our blood.
But my mom did not tell us about it then, I remember pretty well that when those events began, my Armenian classmate said, "When will you at last get away?" I came home in tears and told my mom about it. I remember that she tried to find any kind of justification to the girl, she said that maybe I hurt her some way or she did not understand what she said. My mom never told us that they were looking at us with the eyes of an enemy. Even when we were deported from our homes, I did not understand what was going on. When I wanted to say goodbye to our neighboring children, who had stopped playing with me, my mom said, "It is not the time for it" and did not let me go.
Voice behind the scenes: What have you seen there, my girl? Are you talking to the walls?
Girl (pressing the toy to her breast, as if trying to hide it inside herself, loudly): No, no, nothing, mom, I am just examining my old things. Maybe I will take something with me for the kids (and again turns to the audience). Our moving from Irevan appeared not to be easy. My father, with his remarkable health, could not bear it, took to his bed in one of our numerous temporary asylums and died of heart attack (crying). He failed to put up with homelessness and loss of homeland. Less than a year after our resettlement, my younger brother died of an unknown disease, right in the wagon where we lived. My uncle, who named my toy Andranik, was killed soon while fighting "andraniks" in Karabakh. We remained alone in life – me, my mom and my beloved "Andranik".
On one of those hard days, when we remained alone, I opened my schoolbag and took out my favorite toy. Pressing it to my breast, I whispered softly and very, very sweetly, "Andranik, my Andranik." My mom came at that moment. I will never forget that moment and I had never seen my mom that way. With her face distorted with anger, she was snatching the toy from my hands, shouting, "I will kill him." I was trying to snatch back my favorite toy, repeating, "This is a gift from dad, let it alone." We were shouting so loudly that refugees from other wagons crowded near our wagon. No one understood what was going on. There was a drama unfolding in front of their eyes – mother and daughter were standing opposite each other and, shouting furiously, were tearing the toy to pieces. At that moment, it seemed to me that my mom had gone mad: her maddened eyes, distorted face, heartrending cries and words, incomprehensible and dreadful, "It is he who killed my child and my husband. It is he, Andranik. And I will kill him. I will erase him. It is he who took away my house. I will not let him live."
Until now, when I remember those moments, it makes my hair stand on end. But what I wanted then was only to save Andranik.
As a result, I took it away from my mom's hands, threadbare and torn to pieces. Since, in my fear of my mom, I hid it and never took it in my hands again, but I did not throw it away, either.
Many years passed, and I learned who Andranik was and why we got into such a situation. I came to hate my toy. Because it was torn, it was no longer Andranik. But I failed to hate.
I already knew that Andranik, as it turned out, was an Armenian hero, a general. He served in the Ottoman army and they cut off his ear for treachery. In revenge, he organized a mass murder of my compatriots in 1918 and cut off everyone's ears after the killings3.
I would very much like that my children know about this toy, which became a symbol of my homeland to me. But I am scared to tell them about all this. What if they ask who Andranik is? I wonder if we can already tell them about our enemies. They are still small children. Or shall I keep silent like my mom? (now dropping the torn toy, now picking it up and pressing it to her breast, as if deciding whether to take it with her or leave).
Voice behind the scenes: : Well, daughter, did you find something to take to the kids?
Girl: ((as if getting rid of long hesitations, threw down the tattered toy):
- No, mom, I found nothing…let everything stay as it is
P.S. The First Republican Theater Festival for Children and Youth on the theme of Patriotism was held in Azerbaijan in 2011 under the aegis of Milli Majlis. A performance of this play was among the winners at the festival. The producer, however, changed the ending a little.
Excerpt from his interview:
"According to the script, the girl grows up, gets married and looks for toys for her children. I removed all this and left only the children and the toy. Thus, in the performance, the little girl has a favorite toy named Andranik and she understands that he is an enemy. At the end of the play, the girl decides to hang "Andranik." I thought it expedient to hang "Andranik" in the play, because it is a necessity, we must be able to not forgive."
Interview of the actress who played the part of the girl:
-What do you think of the image of your heroine?
-- The character I must play is a young girl of my age. She goes back to her past and fights her toy. I try to carry out the director's concept, adding my own vision to it. It has very important aspects. The girl loves her toy and hates it just as much. I think these aspects will greatly impress the spectators. Also, the main idea has to do with the name of the toy. I would name the play not My Enemy Toy, but The Enemy Toy of Mine. We glorify the enemy in our own eyes. However, presenting them as toys, we would find it easier to give them less significance. In any case, under such an approach, we would assess them more realistically."