Silence! The Court is in Session

by

Vijay Tendulkar

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Ponkshe Character Analysis

A failed academic who works as a clerk and is a member of the Living Courtroom. Gopal N.Ponkshe is insecure about his professional status but tries to elevate himself by insulting and degrading those around him. Ponkshe is unmarried, and a few days before the events of the play, Benare asked him if he would marry her and raise her unborn child. Ponkshe saw Benare’s request as an insult, a sign that she doesn’t respect him and believes he doesn’t respect himself. Of course, Benare likely asked out of desperation and because she hoped he would have empathy for her situation. Ponkshe is the only member of the cast, aside from Benare, who knows Damle is the father of her child. He reveals this as a witness during the mock trial.

Ponkshe Quotes in Silence! The Court is in Session

The Silence! The Court is in Session quotes below are all either spoken by Ponkshe or refer to Ponkshe . 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. 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:

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:
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:

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

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:

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:
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Ponkshe Character Timeline in Silence! The Court is in Session

The timeline below shows where the character Ponkshe appears in Silence! The Court is in Session. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
...says the Kashikars have turned into a slave, and mocking Sukhatme’s unpopular law practice and Ponkshe’s academic failings. Finally, Benare notes there’s an “intellectual,” who refuses to face real problems, but... (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 them hide and... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Ponkshe returns and Sukhatme jokes that although Ponkshe has failed his science exam twice, and works... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
...Benare offers to tell the men a story and has them sit like children. Annoyed, Ponkshe leaves the room. Benare begins a poem, about “a battle … where / Defeat is... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
...to start setting up chairs. Samant, who has set up some of the chairs, addresses Ponkshe as sahib and tells him to sit. Ponkshe is flattered but declines. Ponkshe asks Samant... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...and informs her Professor Damle hasn’t arrived. Benare becomes silent, then goes to talk to Ponkshe who refuses to engage with her. As Rokde worries that Damle will miss the performance,... (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... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
...Kashikar immediately chastises her for speaking up. Sukhatme suggests Rokde, but although Rokde is enthusiastic Ponkshe shoots him down. Kashikar wants to be the accused but cannot also be the judge.... (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 the audience is unable to hear. The group breaks up and arranges the... (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... (full context)
Act Two
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...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.” Ponkshe swears upon the Oxford... (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... (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... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...leaving herself, and Karnik seems fed up, Kashikar insists they continue. Sukhatme resumes his questioning. Ponkshe says sometimes Benare’s actions make no sense, beginning a story about when she tried to... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
...manner.” Kashikar wonders how Benare’s conduct with other men this is relevant, but Karnik and Ponkshe insist Sukhatme continue on arguing it is “just a rehearsal,” and only a game.  (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...and had never met Damle. Karnik points out that “the crime itself is imaginary,” and Ponkshe adds, “only the accused is real.” Samant finally understands the game is he is meant... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
...responsible for two deaths. In the courtroom, Benare cuts Samant off, accusing him of lying. Ponkshe responds, “of course [he] is. So?” (full context)
Act Three
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Ponkshe asks to be called as witness and swears upon the dictionary. Benare stiffens as he... (full context)
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Sukhatme prompts Ponkshe to discuss the meeting. Benare shakes her head, asking him not to share, but he... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Ponkshe offers to give a full account of the conversation. Benare stands and shouts “No!” but... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Benare comes towards Ponkshe but Mrs. Kashikar, at Kashikar’s urging, takes her back to the dock. At Mr. Kashikar... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Ponkshe resumes his story. He recounts how Benare mocked the members of their theatre troop calling... (full context)
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Ponkshe continues. He explains Benare asked him if he was interested in getting married, hypothetically. He... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...“friend” worshiped the baby’s father’s mind, but he only wanted her body. In the courtroom, Ponkshe slips and reveals the child’s father was Professor Damle. He says he swore not to... (full context)
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
Ponkshe continues his story, recounting that Benare begged him to marry her “friend,” but he told... (full context)
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Sukhatme dismisses Ponkshe. He suspects that after failing to convince Ponkshe to marry her, Benare turned to Rokde.... (full context)
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...Benare, in the dock, brings a bottle to her lips but Karnik bats it away. Ponkshe picks it up, and sees it is TIK-20. Sukhatme rests the prosecution. Kashikar calls the... (full context)
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
...on the ground. Mrs. Kashikar comments on how sensitive Benare is, and Kashikar, Sukhatme, and Ponkshe reassert that the whole thing was just a game. Mrs. Kashikar shakes Benare to try... (full context)