Mahesh Dattani - Clearing the Rubble
BBC Radio 4: Afternoon Play.
Broadcast: Thursday 17th January 2002 @ 2:15 p.m.
"Clearing the Rubble", a radio play for three voices, is a touching tale of the victims of natural calamity and social discrimination simultaneously. After the massive earthquake on 26th January 2001 that devastated the western Indian state of Gujrat, Mahesh Dattani was commissioned to write a play for BBC Radio for broadcasting on the first anniversary of the tragedy.
While on a train ride from Ahmedabad to Kutch, Toby, an English journalist, begins writing a letter to a former lover, telling his story. If he had told it earlier, maybe they would still be together. He tells of his journey which began about a year ago, on 28th January 2001, two days after a massive earthquake which devastated the land of Kutch, a region in the India state of Gujrat. He was on a bus that was to take him to Naliya - that's were he wanted to go.
For miles and miles, Toby saw no buildings - all had been turned into heaps of rubble with people lining up outside relief camps, waiting for paperwork to be completed before they could have access to meagre shelter and food packets. Due to a split in the road, the bus could not go further so it stopped in a small village outside of Bhuj. It's evening.
The village is completely cut off from the world - not a single telephone in the village is working. There's not a whole building or hut to be seen anywhere, only silhouettes of piles of rubble with people preparing to sleep out in the open. Everyone in the village has lost something or someone. They are not crying - there are no wails; only silence. There's grief everywhere but Toby cannot see it. Only shadows of people going about their nightly routine as if they were still in their homes with their loved ones, having their dinner or singing to their infants, preparing for the night, as if the piles of rubble were part of their lives.
Toby comes across a ruin of what must have been a large building, probably the largest building in the village. Men are trying to pull off the heavy debris but it is too heavy. Finally, they give up in despair and walk away. Suddenly, a boy's voice cries out for help but the men don't seem to pay any attention. Toby moves forward and finds the boy - a young Muslim - who pleads for help as his mother and two sisters are buried under the debris of the fallen hospital. With the cranes not arriving for another week, it will be too late for anyone buried alive, but Toby will try to help....
With Robert Glenister [Toby, an English Journalist], Adam Deen [Salim, a Muslim Boy], and Nina Wadia [Fatima, Salim's Mother].
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer.
Re-broadcast on BBC World Service on 26th January 2002.
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