Silence! The Court is in Session

by

Vijay Tendulkar

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Benare Character Analysis

The play’s protagonist, Leela Benare is an unmarried teacher in her early thirties and a member of the cast of the Living Courtroom. Benare has been carrying on an affair with Professor Damle, another member of the cast; after she became pregnant, however, he cut her off. Benare has also recently been fired from her job, as her superiors view unmarried motherhood as sinful and worried she would somehow pass on her immorality to her students. Now, pregnant and unemployed, Benare is committed to figuring out a way to make a life for herself and her unborn child. She’s asked some of her courtroom collaborators, Ponkshe and Rokde, to marry her and help her raise her child, but has been rejected. She understands the stigma both she and her child will face if it is born without a father and worries about how to move forward. The stress Benare is under in her personal life comes to the surface when Kashikar jokingly charges her with infanticide during an improvised mock trial. Over the course of this trial Benare’s real troubles are brought to light, and her collaborators and ostensible friends take the opportunity to insult what they see as her loose, immoral, progressive lifestyle. At the end of the play, although her castmates collect themselves and try to tell her that her prosecution was just a game, Benare has been totally emotionally broken.

Benare Quotes in Silence! The Court is in Session

The Silence! The Court is in Session quotes below are all either spoken by Benare or refer to Benare. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Silence! The Court is in Session published in 1996.
Act One Quotes

SAMANT. […] I mean to say, I’m not in the habit of walking so fast. You do set a very lively pace, very lively.

BENARE. Not always. But today, how I walked! Let’s leave everyone behind, I thought, and go somewhere far, far away— with you!

SAMANT [in confusion]. With me?

BENARE. Yes, I like you very much.

SAMANT [terribly shy and embarrassed]. Tut-tut. Ha ha! I’m hardly…

BENARE. You're very nice indeed. And shall I tell you something? You are a very pure and good person. I like you.

SAMANT [incredulously]. Me?

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant (speaker), Ponkshe , Balu Rokde
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

BENARE. In school, when the first bell rings, my foot’s already on the threshold. I haven't heard single reproach for not being on time these past eight years. Nor about my teaching. I’m never behindhand with my lessons! Exercises corrected on time, too! Not a bit of room for disapproval—I don’t give an inch of it to any one!

SAMANT. You're a schoolmarm, it seems?

BENARE. No, a teacher! Do I seem the complete schoolmarm to you? SAMANT. No, no… I didn’t mean it like that…

BENARE. Say it if you like...

SAMANT. But I didn’t say it at all! A schoolmarm just means … someone who—teaches—instructs!—children—that’s what I meant to say...

BENARE. They’re so much better than adults. At least they don’t have that blind pride of thinking they know everything. There’s no nonsense stuffed in their heads. They don’t scratch you till you bleed, then run away like cowards.

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant (speaker), Ponkshe
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

BENARE. I’m used to standing while teaching. In class, I never sit when teaching. That’s how I keep my eye on the whole class. No one has a chance to play up. My class is scared stiff of me! And they adore me, too. My children will do anything for me. For I'd give the last drop of my blood to teach them. [In a different tone]. That’s why people are jealous. Specially the other teachers and the management. But what can they do to me? What can they do? However hard they try, what can they do? They're holding an enquiry, if you please! But my teaching’s perfect. I’ve put my whole life into it—I’ve worn myself to a shadow in this job! Just because of one bit of slander, what can they do to me? Throw me out? Let them! I haven’t hurt anyone. Anyone at all! If I’ve hurt anybody, it’s been myself. But is that any kind of reason for throwing me out? Who are these people to say what I can or can’t do? My life is my own—I haven’t sold it to anyone for a job! My will is my own. My wishes are my own. No one can kill those—no one! I'll do what I like with myself and my life! I'll decide . . .

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

Oh I’ve got a sweetheart
Who carries all my books,
He plays in my doll house,
And says he likes my looks.
I’ll tell you a secret—
He wants to marry me.
But Mummy says, I’m too little
To have such thoughts as these.

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant, Professor Damle, Benare’s Uncle
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

BENARE. But Samant, ‘spreading enlightenment is also one of the Prime Objectives behind our programme’. So our chairman Kashikar will tell you. Kashikar can’t take a step without a Prime Objective! Besides him, there’s Mrs Hand-that- Rocks-the-Cradle. I mean Mrs Kashikar. What an excellent housewife the poor woman is! A real Hand-that-Rocks-the- Cradle type! But what’s the use? Mr Prime Objective is tied up with uplifting the masses. And poor Hand-that-Rocks-the- Cradle has no cradle to rock!

SAMANT. You mean they have no—[He rocks an imaginary baby in his arms.]

BENARE. Right. You seem to be very bright, too! Mr Kashikar and the Hand-that-Rocks-the-Cradle, in order that nothing should happen to either of them in their bare, bare house—and that they shouldn’t die of boredom!—gave shelter to a young boy. They educated him. Made him toil away. Made a slave out of him. His name’s Balu—Balu Rokde. Who else? . . . Well, we have an Expert on the Law. He’s such an authority on the subject, even a desperate client won't go anywhere near him! He just sits alone in the barristers’ room at court, swatting flies with legal precedents! And in his tenement, he sits alone killing houseflies! But for today’s mock trial, he’s a very great barrister. You'll see the wonders he performs! And there’s a‘Hmm! with us! [Puts an imaginary pipe in her mouth.] Hmm! Sci-en-tist! Inter-failed!

SAMANT. Oh, it does sound good fun!

BENARE. And we have an Intellectual too. That means someone who prides himself on his booklearning. But when there’s a real- life problem, away he runs! Hides his head. He’s not here today. Won't be coming, either. He wouldn’t dare!

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant (speaker), Ponkshe , Mr. Kashikar, Mrs. Kashikar, Balu Rokde, Professor Damle
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

SAMANT. You’re quite right. The great sage Tukaram said… at least I think it was him—

BENARE. Forget about the sage Tukaram. I say it—I, Leela Benare, a living woman, I say it from my own experience. Life is not meant for anyone else. It’s your own life. It must be. It’s a very, very important thing. Every moment, every bit of it is precious—

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant (speaker)
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Our feet tread on upon unknown
And dangerous pathways evermore.
Wave after blinded wave is shattered
Stormily upon the shore.
Light glows alive again. Again
It mingles with the dark of night.
Our earthen hands burn out, and then
Again in flames they are alight.
Everything is fully known,
And everything is clear to see.
And the wound that’s born to bleed
Bleeds on for ever, faithfully,
There is a battle sometimes, where
Defeat is destined as the end.
Some experiences are meant
To taste, then just to waste and spend . . .

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant, Sukhatme, Ponkshe , Balu Rokde, Professor Damle
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

MRS KASHIKAR. I say, Benare—[stroking the garland in her hair] I did mean to buy a garland for you too—

BENARE [in Ponkshe’s tones]. Hmm! [Ponkshe bites his lips angrily.]

MRS KASHIKAR [to Mr Kashikar]. Didn’t I, dear? But what happened was that—

BENARE [laughing heartily]—The garland flew away—pouf! Or did the dicky-bird take it? I never want garlands. If I did, couldn't I afford to buy them? I earn my own living, you know. That’s why I never feel like buying garlands and things.

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Mrs. Kashikar (speaker), Mr. Kashikar
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two Quotes

SUKHATME. Why are you so grave all of a sudden? After all, it’s a game. Just a game, that’s all. Why are you so serious?

BENARE [trying to laugh]. Who’s serious? I’m absolutely—light- hearted. I just got a bit serious to create the right atmosphere. For the court, that’s all. Why should I be afraid of a trial like this?

[…]

SUKHATME. Kashikar, you've really picked some charge! A first-class charge! There’s no fun in a case. unless there’s a really thundering charge!

KASHIKAR. Did you notice, also, Sukhatme, that this charge is important from the social point of view? The question of infanticide is one of great social significance. That’s why I deliberately picked it. We consider society's best interests in all we do. Come on, Miss Benare. Rokde, my gavel.

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Sukhatme (speaker), Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Ponkshe , Balu Rokde
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

SUKHATME. Motherhood is pure. Moreover, there is a great—er —a great nobility in our concept of motherhood. We have acknowledged woman as the mother of mankind. Our culture enjoins us to perpetual worship of her. ‘Be thy mother as a god’ is what we teach our children from infancy. There is great responsibility devolving upon a mother. She weaves a magic circle with her whole existence in order to protect and preserve her little one—

KASHIKAR. You've forgotten one thing. There’s a Sanskrit proverb, Janani janmabhumischa svargadapi gariyasi.

‘Mother and
The Motherland,
Both are even
Higher than heaven.’

MRS KASHIKAR [with enthusiasm]. And of course, ‘Great are thy favours, ‘O mother’ is quite famous.

BENARE. Order, order! This is all straight out of a school composition-book. [Bites her tongue ironically.] Prisoner Miss Benare, for abrogating the authority of the court, a reprimand is once more issued to you! [Pretends to bang a gavel.]

SUKHATME. I am deeply grateful, Milord, for your addition. In short, ‘Woman is a wife for a moment, but a mother for ever.’

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Sukhatme (speaker), Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Mrs. Kashikar (speaker)
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

I think he’s gone there, inside. I'll do it myself. [At a bound, goes and fetches the dictionary. Placing his hand on it] I, Raghunath Bhikaji Samant, do hereby swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. True enough for the trial, I mean. Of course, what’s true for the trial is quite false really. But I'm just taking the oath for practice. [His hand is stall on the dictionary.) You see, I don’t want the sin of falsehood. [In apologetic tones] I'm quite religious . . . The oath’s over. Now. [Enters the witness-box again.] Go on. [This is to Sukhatme; then, to Mrs Kashikar] You see? I'm not frightened. I just get confused because I’m new to all this. [To Sukhatme] Well, you may go on.

Related Characters: Samant (speaker), Benare, Ponkshe , Mr. Kashikar, Balu Rokde, Karnik, Professor Damle
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

It’s all become quite unexpectedly enjoyable—the whole fabric of society is being soiled these days, Sukhatme. Nothing is undefiled anymore.

Related Characters: Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Benare, Samant, Sukhatme, Ponkshe , Professor Damle
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Three Quotes

SUKHATME [Looking at Benare as he puts on his gown ceremoniously]. Milord, in consideration of the grave aspect which the case before us has assumed, it is my humble submission that if your lordship were to wear your gown henceforth, it would appear more decorous.

KASHIKAR. Exactly. Rokde, give me my gown.

[He puts on the black gown that Rokde unpacks and hands to him. After that, his gravity and dignity increase.]

SUKHATME. Mr Samant, Mrs Kashikar, Ponkshe, Karnik, seat yourselves there exactly as you should. [He straightens up, closes his eyes, and meditates for a while. Then, slapping himself piously on the face, he raises his hands to his forehead in prayer twice or thrice.] My father taught me the habit, Kashikar, of praying to our family god at the beginning of any new enterprise. How pure it makes one feel! The mind takes on new strength.

Related Characters: Sukhatme (speaker), Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Benare, Samant, Balu Rokde, Professor Damle
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

All right. She’s not less than thirty-four. I'll give it to you in writing! What I say is, our society should revive the old custom of child marriage. Marry off the girls before puberty. All this promiscuity will come to a full stop. If anyone has ruined our society it’s Agarkar and Dhondo Keshav Karve. That's my frank opinion, Sukhatme, my frank opinion.

Related Characters: Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Benare, Sukhatme
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

MRS KASHIKAR. What better proof? Just look at the way she behaves. I don’t like to say anything since she’s one of us. Should there be no limit to how freely a woman can behave with a man? An unmarried woman? No matter how well she knows him? Look how loudly she laughs! How she sings, dances, cracks Jokes! And wandering alone with how many men, day in and day out!

SUKHATME [Disappointed at the ‘proof’]. Mrs Kashikar, at the most one can say all this shows how free she is.

MRS KASHIKAR. Free! Free! She’s free allright—in everything! I shouldn't say it. But since it’s come up in court, I will. Just hold this a minute.

Related Characters: Sukhatme (speaker), Mrs. Kashikar (speaker), Benare, Ponkshe , Mr. Kashikar
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Discipline means discipline.

Related Characters: Mrs. Kashikar (speaker), Benare
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

KARNIK. For instance, the accused had attempted suicide once before.

SUKHATME [Radiant]. That’s the point! There is a precedent for the bottle of T1K-20.

KARNIK. I can’t say that exactly. I can only tell you what happened. My information is that the accused attempted suicide because of a disappointment in love. She fell in love at the age of fifteen, with her own maternal uncle! That’s what ended in disappointment.

MRS KASHIKAR [Totally floored]. Her uncle!

SUKHATME. Milord—her maternal uncle—her mother’s brother. What an immoral relationship!

KASHIKAR. In other words, just one step away from total depravity. Fine, Sukhatme, very fine!

SUKHATME. Milord, why do you say ‘fine’? The present conduct of the accused is totally licentious. We know that. But it now seems that her past, too, is smeared in sin. This shows it as clear as daylight.

Related Characters: Sukhatme (speaker), Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Mrs. Kashikar (speaker), Karnik (speaker), Benare, Benare’s Uncle
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

SUKHATME. Do you know the accused?

KASHIKAR. Only too well! A sinful canker on the body of society— that’s my honest opinion of these grown-up unmarried girls.

Related Characters: Sukhatme (speaker), Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Benare
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

The woman who is an accused has made a heinous blot on the sacred brow of motherhood—which is purer than heaven itself. For that, any punishment, however great, that the law may give her, will be too mild by far. The character of the accused is appalling. It is bankrupt of morality. Not only that. Her conduct has blackened all social and moral values. The accused is public enemy number one. If such socially destructive tendencies are encouraged to flourish, this country and its culture will be totally destroyed […] Motherhood without marriage has always been considered a very great sin by our religion and our traditions. Moreover, if the accused’s intention of bringing up the offspring of this unlawful maternity is carried to completion, I have a dreadful fear that the very existence of society will be in danger. There will be no such thing as moral values left. Milord, infanticide is a dreadful act. But bringing up the child of an illegal union is certainly more horrifying. If it is encouraged, there will be no such thing as the institution of marriage left. Immorality will flourish. Before our eyes, our beautiful dream of a society governed by tradition will crumble into dust. […] Woman bears the grave responsibility of building up the high values of society. […] ‘Woman is not fit for independence.’ . . . That is the rule laid down for us by tradition.

Related Characters: Sukhatme (speaker), Benare
Page Number: 114-115
Explanation and Analysis:

Life is a book that goes ripping into pieces. Life is a poisonous snake that bites itself. Life is a betrayal. Life is a fraud. Life is a drug. Life is drudgery. Life is a something that’s nothing—or a nothing that’s something. […] Sack it from its job! But why? Why? Was I slack in my work? I just put my whole life into working with the children . . . I loved it! I taught them well! I knew that your own flesh and blood don’t want to understand you. Only one thing in life is all-important—the body! You may deny it, but it is true. Emotion is something people talk about with sentiment. It was obvious to me. I was living through it. It was burning through me. But—do you know?—I did not teach any of this to those tender, young souls. I swallowed that poison, but didn’t even let a drop of it touch them! I taught them beauty. I taught them purity. I cried inside, and I made them laugh. I was cracking up with despair, and I taught them hope. For what sin are they robbing me of my job, my only comfort? My private life is my own business. I'll decide what to do with myself; everyone should be able to! That can’t be anyone else's business; understand?

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Mr. Kashikar, Professor Damle, Benare’s Uncle
Page Number: 116-117
Explanation and Analysis:

It’s true, I did commit a sin. I was in love with my mother’s brother. But in our strict house, in the prime of my unfolding youth, he was the one who came close to me. He praised my bloom every day. He gave me love…. How was I to know that if you felt like breaking yourself into bits and melting into one with someone—if you felt that just being with him gave a whole meaning to life—and if he was your uncle, it was a sin! Why, I was hardly fourteen! I didn’t even know what sin was—I swear by my mother, I didn’t! […] Again, I fell in love. As a grown woman. I threw all my heart into it; I thought, this will be different. This love is intelligent. It is love for an unusual intellect. It isn’t love at all—it’s worship! But it was the same mistake. I offered up my body on the altar of my worship. And my intellectual god took the offering—and went his way. He didn’t want my mind, or my devotion—he didn’t care about them! [Feebly.] He wasn’t a god. He was a man. For whom everything was of the body, for the body! That’s all! Again, the body! [Screaming.] This body is a traitor! [She is writhing with pain.] I despise this body—and I love it! I hate it—but—it’s all you have, in the end, isn’t it? It will be there. It will be yours. […] And now it carries within it the witness of that time—a tender little bud—of what will be a lisping, laughing, dancing little life—my son—my whole existence! I want my body now for him—for him alone.

Page Number: 117-118
Explanation and Analysis:

Prisoner Miss Benare, pay the closest attention. The crimes you have committed are most terrible. There is no forgiveness for them. Your sin must be expiated. Irresponsibility must be chained down. Social customs, after all, are of supreme importance. Marriage is the very foundation of our society's stability. Motherhood must be sacred and pure. This court takes a serious view of your attempt to dynamite all this. It is the firm opinion of this court that your behaviour puts you beyond mercy. And, what is more, the arrogance with which you conducted yourself in society, having done all these things, that arrogance is the most unforgivable thing of all. Criminals and sinners should know their place. You have conducted yourself above your station. The court expresses its indignation at your presumptuousness. Moreover, the future of posterity was entrusted to you. This is a very dreadful thing. The morality which you have shown through your conduct was the morality you were planning to impart to the youth of tomorrow. This court has not an iota of doubt about it. Hence not only today’s, but tomorrow’s society would have been endangered by your misconduct. It must be said that the school officials have done a work of merit in deciding to remove you from your job. By the grace of God, it has all been stopped in time. Neither you nor anyone else should ever do anything like this again. No memento of your sin should remain for future generations. Therefore this court hereby sentences that you shall live. But the child in your womb shall be destroyed.

Related Characters: Mr. Kashikar (speaker), Benare
Page Number: 118-119
Explanation and Analysis:

The parrot to the sparrow said,
‘Why, oh why, are your eyes so red?’
‘Oh, my dear friend, what shall I say?
Someone has stolen my nest away.’
Sparrow, sparrow, poor little sparrow . . .
‘Oh, brother crow, oh, brother crow,
Were you there? Did you see it go?’
‘No, I don’t know. I didn’t see.
What are your troubles to do with me?’
O sparrow, sparrow, poor little sparrow . . .
Act Three

Related Characters: Benare (speaker), Samant
Related Symbols: Sparrows
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
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Benare Character Timeline in Silence! The Court is in Session

The timeline below shows where the character Benare appears in Silence! The Court is in Session. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Samant and Benare unlock and enter an empty meeting hall. Samant carries a lock and key, a toy... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Samant had picked up Benare and the rest of her troop from the train station, but Benare had rushed ahead... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
...to a magic show he saw in the meeting hall. As Samant talks about it Benare moves close to him and asks him about the performance. Embarrassed, Samant backs away, Benare... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Samant still wants to talk about the magician, but Benare has moved on. She is a schoolteacher, and—in reference to her delayed colleagues—insists that she’s... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Samant asks if Benare is a schoolmarm but she corrects him, preferring to call herself a teacher. She tells... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Benare’s mood brightens again and she begins to wander around the room. Samant suggests she sit... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Benare places her hand on her stomach as she delivers her monologue. As she trails off,... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Samant asks Benare is she is feeling well. She says she is, and sings a song to prove... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Benare wonders if Samant understands the event happening that evening. He knows it has “something to... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Benare hears Sukhatme, Ponkshe, and Rokde arrive outside, and suggests to Samant that the two of... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Samant begins to quote Tukaram, a great sage, but Benare cuts him off, explaining that she, “a living woman,” is speaking from her “own experience.”... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Benare reinserts herself, telling the men that, surprisingly, she was quiet and reserved as a child.... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Rokde likes Benare’s poem and tries to commit it to memory. Excited by an opportunity to play the... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
...Karnik if he thinks the room is suitable for their trial. Karnik thinks it is. Benare exclaims, “our mock court tonight should go over well! Just like a real one.”  The... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Benare says if she were Karnik she’d buy his wife daily garlands. Sukhatme enters the conversation,... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Benare changes the conversation and asks Samant (whose name she has forgotten) to start setting up... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Mrs. Kashikar tells Benare she meant to buy a garland for her, too, but Benare brushes her off. Benare... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Rokde, suddenly remembering, goes to Mrs. Kashikar and informs her Professor Damle hasn’t arrived. Benare becomes silent, then goes to talk to Ponkshe who refuses to engage with her. As... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
...role as usher. Sukhatme suggests Samant, who has no acting experience. Mrs. Kashikar asks what Benare thinks of Samant, and she responds that she thinks he’s “lovely,” clarifying that she is... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
...a mock trial, Sukhatme will have him “word-perfect before the show.” Kashikar suggests rehearsing, and Benare agrees, as she’s forgotten a book to occupy her. Kashikar jokes she must be reading... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Benare complains that the troop has performed their planned trial, about atomic weapons, seven times already.... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Ponkshe and Mrs. Kashikar send Samant to get cigarettes and pan. Benare leaves to room to wash her face and freshen up. While she’s gone Karnik, Sukhatme,... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Kashikar wants Benare to be charged with something of “social significance.” The men huddle, and Ponkshe gives suggestion... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Benare returns newly clean, singing about a parrot and its friend, a sparrow, who has been... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Ponkshe ambushes Benare and announces that she has been “arrested on suspicion of a crime of extremely grave... (full context)
Act Two
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...where Act One left off. Kashikar repeats the last line of the previous act, asking Benare if she is guilty of infanticide. Benare, still in shock from the accusation, doesn’t answer. (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...arrived with pan and cigarettes. He hands them out. Sukhatme tries to offer some to Benare but she declines, flustered. Sukhatme wonders why she’s so “grave,” since it is “just a... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Hearing Benare laugh, Samant wonders if he’s missed a joke and Karnik explains Benare has been charged... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...break to spit out the pan. The men discuss the amount of time needed, criticizing Benare when she interjects. They talk for over a minute and a half. (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Benare tries to address Rokde, calling him by his first name, Balu, which angers him. Kashikar... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Benare pleads not guilty, arguing she couldn’t even kill a cockroach. Rokde sets up a book... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...of motherhood, infanticide is the most “devilish thing on earth,” and he aims to prove Benare is guilty. He calls Ponkshe has his first witness, announcing him as a “world-famous scientist.”... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Sukhatme grills Ponkshe on his relationship to Benare. Ponkshe describes her as a “schoolmarm” which Benare protests as she is “still quite young!”... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Sukhatme asks Ponkshe if Benare’s conduct is “like that of a normal unmarried woman?” Benare objects that Ponkshe has no... (full context)
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Kashikar returns, and although Benare jokes about leaving herself, and Karnik seems fed up, Kashikar insists they continue. Sukhatme resumes... (full context)
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Karnik explains he knows Benare through their theatre troop. Sukhatme wonders what descriptions of mothers are like in the plays... (full context)
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...give straight answers and save his performance for the evening.  Sukhatme asks Karnik’s opinion of Benare’s conduct. Karnik clarifies “in this mock trail, or in real life.” Sukhatme says in real... (full context)
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Karnik then reveals that although he has not seen Benare in a “compromising situation,” Rokde has. Sukhatme calls Rokde to the witness box. Rokde is... (full context)
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Sukhatme tries to question Rokde, who remains speechless. Benare provokes him, calling him Balu and laughing, until finally he snaps. He tells how he... (full context)
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Benare gets agitated, arguing that her private life is off limits. Sukhatme insists she calm down,... (full context)
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Requiring prompting, Rokde explains he saw Benare in Damle’s room. He though something was amiss because Damle normally invited him in but... (full context)
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Benare adds she and Samant were recently alone together, but Samant clarifies that she behaved “in... (full context)
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Sukhatme beings to question Samant. Samant thinks Benare is a “very nice lady,” although Sukhatme argues that his opinion is not “reliable in... (full context)
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Sukhatme invents a scenario in which, after Rokde saw Benare with Damle, Samant arrived at Damle’s home. Samant pushes back that he wasn’t there and... (full context)
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Samant continues, reporting Benare called Damle “heartless,” and Damle responded, “nature is heartless.” Benare had told him that if... (full context)
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Samant agrees that he is lying. He explains he’s pulling his story from a novel. Benare threatens to leave or break the set if the play continues, and Mrs. Kashikar asks... (full context)
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Benare becomes more frantic and begins to cry. She runs to the wings. Samant sympathetically wonders... (full context)
Act Three
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...Two let off. Sukhatme and Kashikar, speaking more formally than in the previous acts, usher Benare to the witness box. She will not move. They order Rokde to help, he refuses,... (full context)
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...it makes him feel, and how much strength it gives to him. Finished, he insists Benare take an oath. She remains still and silent. Samant urges her to cooperate, as it... (full context)
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Mrs. Kashikar places Benare’s hand on the dictionary, and though she still will not speak Mrs. Kashikar argues they... (full context)
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Sukhatme asks Benare how she has managed to remain unmarried at such a “mature” “advanced” age. She remains... (full context)
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Sukhatme asks Mrs. Kashikar for proof that Benare has behaved promiscuously. Mrs. Kashikar points to the free way Benare acts around men. She... (full context)
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Mrs. Kashikar tries another strategy, wondering why Benare needed Damle to walk her home after performances. Sukhatme wonders if Damle was just doing... (full context)
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...Kashikar and calls Rokde as a witness again. As the players shift positions he tells Benare that the “game’s really warmed up.” (full context)
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...Rokde, but Mrs. Kashikar continues to urge “Balu” to speak. Rokde admits eight days ago Benare held his hand after a performance. He shook her off, arguing it was improper, and... (full context)
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Rokde says he slapped Benare after she threatened him and promised to tell someone. Mrs. Kashikar is surprised, as Rokde... (full context)
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Ponkshe asks to be called as witness and swears upon the dictionary. Benare stiffens as he begins to speak. He announces that Benare has a bottle of TIK-20,... (full context)
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Sukhatme prompts Ponkshe to discuss the meeting. Benare shakes her head, asking him not to share, but he ignores her. He says Benare... (full context)
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Ponkshe offers to give a full account of the conversation. Benare stands and shouts “No!” but Kashikar silences her, insisting this is a “matter of social... (full context)
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Benare comes towards Ponkshe but Mrs. Kashikar, at Kashikar’s urging, takes her back to the dock.... (full context)
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Ponkshe resumes his story. He recounts how Benare mocked the members of their theatre troop calling Sukhatme’s practice unsuccessful and speculating Kashikar mistreats... (full context)
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Ponkshe continues. He explains Benare asked him if he was interested in getting married, hypothetically. He was not, explaining he... (full context)
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Benare, still talking about her “friend,” explained that for this woman “it’s the baby that comes... (full context)
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Ponkshe continues his story, recounting that Benare begged him to marry her “friend,” but he told her he’s insulted she thinks he’s... (full context)
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Sukhatme dismisses Ponkshe. He suspects that after failing to convince Ponkshe to marry her, Benare turned to Rokde. Karnik asks to be called to the stand. He reveals that he... (full context)
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Karnik has more evidence to share. He knows one of Benare’s cousins, who revealed that Benare had attempted suicide in the past. She fell in love... (full context)
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Benare attempts to stand and leave but Mrs. Kashikar pulls her back. Kashikar reveals that, although... (full context)
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Kashikar begins to give his evidence. First he insults Benare, calling her and “grown-up unmarried girls” like her “a sinful canker on the body of... (full context)
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...had sinned, and that she was morally unfit to teach. Kashikar assumes the teacher was Benare. Benare is shocked by this revelation. (full context)
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Kashikar is sure Benare was the subject of the phone call, although he has no evidence. Benare, in the... (full context)
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...prosecution, jumps up begins. Kashikar tells him to be brief. He is not. Sukhatme accuses Benare of having made a “heinous blot on the sacred brow of motherhood,” and calls her... (full context)
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Sukhatme argues Benare’s greatest crime is not infanticide, but unwed motherhood, and her intention to be a single... (full context)
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...statement. As the defense Sukhatme admits the crime is serious but asks for mercy for Benare. (full context)
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Kashikar asks Benare if she wishes to speak. He gives her ten seconds. Before Benare speaks music bings... (full context)
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Benare then begins to think of her own employment status, how good she was at her... (full context)
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Benare admits she “did commit a sin,” falling in love with her uncle at fourteen. Her... (full context)
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As an adult, Benare fell in love again. She assumed it would be different than when she loved her... (full context)
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Benare finishes her speech. She explains she wants her body for her baby. She wants her baby... (full context)
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...Rokde retrieve his wig and puts it on before delivering the verdict. He announces that Benare will not be forgiven, for the sake of society and social customs. However, he thinks... (full context)
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As Benare cries, someone unlocks the door from the outside. A townsperson peeks in, and wonders if... (full context)
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The group turns to Benare, who is motionless on the ground. Mrs. Kashikar comments on how sensitive Benare is, and... (full context)
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Benare and Samant are remain onstage. Samant goes to collect the cloth parrot he brought with... (full context)