Abhinav – student
Vinay – student
Chetan – student
Pradeep – person in 2114
Ravi – person in 2114
Shiv – person in 3114
Setting: A time machine is kept at the centre-back.
Narrator: Mankind has travelled a long distance from the time we evolved out of the apes. Somewhere along the way, we became civilised. We started living more like human beings with reason and imagination than like animals with endless hunger. We leant to respect others, their languages, religions, cultures. We learnt to cooperate rather than compete. We replaced kings and dictators with elected leaders. We opened up national borders in the name of globalisation. The world has become a global village. Everyone is linked to anyone in the world. The smartphone and the internet, chat zones and the digital technology – together they had made our life very easy, comfortable and lovely. But is it really a world better than the past? Will the future be better than the present? Kabir House brings to you a short play titled ‘Time Machine’. We invite you to take a peep into the future and then the past, and decide whether our civilisation is indeed developing or shrinking.
Here are three school boys completing their manufacture of a time machine. They read H G Wells’ novel The Time Machine, and started manufacturing one of their own. Let us see if they have completed it.
Abhinav, Vinay and Chetan are working on the Time Machine.
Abhi: Could you pass me the screwdriver?
Vinay: Our time machine is almost ready, isn’t it?
Chet: Why almost? It is ready. In a few minutes from now, we can take a ride in time.
Abhi: We can go back to 1869 and see Mahatma Gandhi as an infant sitting on his mother’s lap.
Vinay: Go further back and conduct and interview with Ashoka the Great.
Chet: We can go still back and meet Lord Rama.
Abhi: And ask him where exactly he was born.
Vinay: Yeah, and avoid the confrontation in Ayodhya.
Chet: We could meet Hitler and request him not to kill the Jews.
Abhi: But we can only see the past, not change it.
Vinay: Oh, yes, we can only see the past, not change it.
Chet: So, let’s go to the future.
Abhi: Yes, the future. The future beckons us.
Vinay: Can we change the future?
Chet: No, we can’t change the future.
Abhi: We can see the future.
Vinay: And change our present.
Chet: Yes, the present. The present is important.
Abhi: The present is the only time in which we can do anything.
Vinay: Indeed, the present is the only time in which we can do anything.
Chet: The present is for action.
Abhi: The past is gone.
Vinay: We can’t retrieve it.
Chet: The future is yet to come.
Abhi: We can’t act in it.
Vinay: The present is the time for action.
Abhinav and Chetan together: The present is the time for action.
Vinay: Let us start our action.
Abhi: Let us begin our journey.
Chet: Here we go.
Vinay: Into the future.
Abhi: Into the future we go.
They enter the time machine and pull a lever. Music – sound of a rocket.
Narrator: The Time Machine whirred its way into the future. The boys landed in the year 2114. A hundred years from now. What will the world be like a hundred years from now?
The boys come out of the Time Machine.
Vinay: Hey, where have we reached?
Chet: This looks like some desert?
Abhi: No human beings in sight?
Vinay: There’s someone coming.
Chet: Not one, but two.
Pradeep and Ravi enter. One of them is holding a bow and arrow, and the other has a spear. They wear very simple, rustic dress.
Prad: Who are you?
Ravi: You look total strangers here.
Prad: Have you come from some other planet?
Pradeep and Ravi touch and examine the boys’ clothes. The boys are slightly frightened.
Abhi: We are not from another planet.
Vinay: We are from the year 2014.
Chet: We are time travellers.
Prad: You came from the past?
Ravi: From our glorious past?
Prad: Yes, we have heard that story.
Ravi: About our past civilisation.
Prad: When people lived in luxury.
Ravi: We have heard about cars and computers.
Prad: Robots and rockets.
Ravi: Mobile phones and digital cameras.
Abhi: Do you mean to say that you have none of these things?
Vinay: Do you mean to say that there is no hi-fi technology in your world?
Chet: Did we travel into the future or the past? Did we make a mistake?
Prad: No mistake, boys, no mistake. You are in the year 2114.
Ravi: 43 years after the third world war.
Abhi, Vinay and Chet (together): Third World War?
Prad: Yes, third world war.
Ravi: It destroyed the human civilisation.
Prad: It destroyed all that our ancestors had created.
Ravi: It destroyed the cars and computers.
Prad: It destroyed the robots and rockets.
Ravi: It destroyed the world.
Prad: A few thousand people survived.
Ravi: We are the children of those people.
Vinay: But why did they fight?
Chet: Why was there a world war?
Prad: For water.
Abhi: For water?
Ravi: Yes, for water.
Prad: The population on the earth had crossed ten billion. And all those people could not find enough drinking water.
Ravi: Rich countries like America and China started amassing water for their own people. Water sources were privatised. Multinational companies started buying up rivers and lakes.
Prad: People from many countries started dying of thirst. They cried for water and their governments did not listen.
Ravi: The governments had sold the water to multinational companies.
Prad: Little children cried for water.
Ravi: Infants died of thirst in their mother’s wombs.
Prad: People killed one another...
Ravi: And those who survived drank the blood of the killed.
Prad: Pools of blood replaced lakes of water.
Ravi: Riots and revolts broke out...
Prad: In every nook and corner of the planet.
Ravi: Countries took out their missiles and rockets...
Prad: And fought wars with atom bombs.
Ravi: Everything was destroyed.
Prad: The planet was scorched.
Ravi: Life had to begin again.
Prad: And it grew again.
Ravi: From the beginning.
Pradeep and Ravi move away and vanish.
Vinay: My God! Is this the future that is awaiting us?
Chet: We should go back and tell everyone...
Abhi: To use water sparingly,
Vinay: Not to convert our planet into a desert.
They get back into the Time Machine.
Narrator: The boys pulled the lever of the Time Machine in a hurry. They were in a hurry to reach back home and tell everyone what they had seen. But due to the hurry they pulled the lever in the wrong direction and reached a thousand years further in the future. They landed in the year 3114.
Eerie sounds in the background. Frightening sounds. Sounds of humming and droning insects, crawling creatures... Ghostly music. The boys hesitate to get out of the Machine.
Abhi: Where have we reached?
Vinay: (Goes and looks at the dial of the Time Machine) Oh! We made a mistake. We have reached the year 3114.
Chet: Look at the world! It looks dead. And horrible.
Abhi: It’s a desert.
Vinay: The little water over there looks like a pool of filth.
Chet: It’s black in colour.
Abhi: See, someone’s coming.
Vinay: He looks terrifying.
Chet: Is he a monster?
Abhi: Shall we get into our Machine and get away from here?
Vinay: No, don’t panic. He can’t even walk properly. He’s staggering.
Chet: Oh, yes. He looks like a tired, old man.
Enter Shiv, looking like a weary savage. The boys and Shiv stare at one another.
Shiv: [frightened] Who are you?
Abhi: We are boys from one thousand and one hundred years ago.
Shiv: One thousand one hundred years ago? [He calculates something using his fingers and some gestures.] I think I can understand. I remember what my forefathers taught us. They taught us that there was a time of great technology. A time of computers and great machines.
Vinay: Yes. We belong to that time.
Shiv: Why did you come here? You are responsible for this. [He points to the world around.] Your machines and your lifestyle. They brought about this on the planet. You people threw all your plastic and electronic waste all over the planet. And the planet died. You killed the planet. You are murderers. [He coughs like a dying man.] You killed mankind. You killed the animals and the plants. You killed life.
Chet: But... but, we didn’t know.
Shiv: Didn’t know! Yes, you didn’t know. You should have known. Should have known. Should have known. [Walks out slowly as he mutters those words again and again.]
Abhi: My God! Is this the future of our planet? Is this how our beloved planet earth going to end?
Vinay: It is a sad future indeed.
Chet: We should do something to prevent this.
Abhi: We should do something to save the planet.
Vinay: Come on, let’s get back to our own time. We should do something about this.
They get back on the machine and pull the lever. They disappear.
Narrator: The boys did not get back to their own time. Did not ever. No one knows what happened to them. Did they go back in time and arrive in some beautiful time and place in the past? Did they decide to live there, in a world where people lived a relaxed life, without computers and mobile phones? Without rockets and missiles? We don’t know what happened to them. But we know what can happen to us, to our planet unless we take care of the planet with love and tenderness. Let us learn to love the planet. Let us learn to avoid wastage of all sorts. Let us shun strife and hatred. Let us cultivate love and compassion. Make me a channel of your peace, oh heavens above. Let this be the prayer of each one of us. Thank you.
Note: I wrote this skit for my students and it turned out to be of no use to anyone in the end. So I have put it up here. Let it find some use for itself. The skit was highly inspired by the novel of the same name by H G Wells.