Act 2, Scene 1: Flashback!


Michael: "This is BBC HARDTalk, and my name is Michael Tomasello. A small emirate by the name Dawlat al Nimr has recently made the headlines. One of the most ambitious foreign financed settlemend projects, the reservoir dam at the Jabal Abu Nahla, is threatening to turn into an international financial desaster. Now it seems that the reservoir dam is additionally being held under siege by a local group of partisans calling themselves 'Women of the Al Waha Ta'lab', and the fact that this group truly does exclusively consist of women has been raising eyebrows throughout the muslim world, to say the least. My guest today, here in London, is Dr. Adnan Al-Attiyah, expert for Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Adnan Al Attiyah, welcome to HARDtalk."

Adnan: "Thank you."

Michael: "So, how can something like this happen in a conservative muslim country like Dawlat Al Nimr? Isn't this totally counteracting the foundations of the islam?"

Adnan: "Well, the Qur'an says, that women are equal to men before god."

Michael: "But the sharia says they are not, and women's activities are usually greatly restricted in most islamic countries."

Adnan: "Well, the status of women in Islam is a contentious issue. We're talking about one of the oldest religions here that has aslmost exclusively been interpreted by men in the past. But today, more and more women are achieving high political status throughout the islamic world, like the current prime ministers of Pakistan, Turkey and Bangladesh, just to name a few."

Michael: "Yes, but the partisans at the dam aren't exactly of high political status, are they?"

Adnan: "No, but there is a general new trend of women rebelling in islamic countries. There have been reports from Pakistan, for example, where women openly joined villagers in a revolt against the Taliban."

Michael: "But there are no Taliban in Dawlat Al Nimr. What drives the women to revolt there?"

Adnan: "It's a common fallacy for westeners to think that each end every unrest in a muslim country must be related to religious issues. But the uprising at the dam is about natural resources, nothing else. The people need water to survive, and their own government is withholding it from them."

Michael: "But then again, why is it only the women who revolt?"

Adnan: "We can only speculate. There is a strong gender segregation in many islamic societies, so initiatives that start within the women's society are unlikely to propagate to the men's society. There might also be a genuinely feministic aspect to it, of course. Today, the introduction of satellite television, DVDs and the internet is enabling even illiterate women to learn what their options are. Ignorance is an excellent form of control, and when the ignorance is lost, so is the control."

Michael: "Thank you very much, Mr. Adnan Al Attiyah".

Adnan: "You're welcome."


%HND% Curtain open

%AMB% AMB-05 - Auditorium

%SND% 0501 - Music Cue 1 (Marching Music) - FADES AFTER A FEW SECONDS

%LIG% Main light on (Yellow 100%, Red 50%, white 100%)

Dean Michaels: "Will the candidates for degrees and certificates please stand. Dr. Anderson i certify that these soon to be graduates have completed the requirements of the faculty, of the administration and the board of trustees and I recommend they be rewarded their degrees or certificates."

Dr. Anderson: "Ladies and Gentlemen. By the authority invested in me by the college board of trustees, I enthusiastically accept the recommendation of Dean Michaels and request that the class come forward to receive their certificates and degrees as their names are announced."

%SND% 0502 - applause 1 & 0503 applause 2 (for background)

%ACT% Dean Michaels leaves to [1]

Dr. Anderson (in the background): "John Anthony Ceterra - Jerry Wayne Mellow - George Edward Grey - John Eric Brandon - Jerome Ducker - Berry James Smith - Kyle Brandon Goldbold - Lilly May Kinder - Robby Lee Adler …"

%ACT% Rashid and Mika talk while Dr. Anderson keeps calling candidates, who receive their diploma

Rashid: "Oh, Mika, I'm so nervous! I'm so much older than the other graduates, and I'm also the only arab in the crowd. Everyone will be staring at me!"

Mika: "Don't worry, Rashid. Nobody's going to stare. And if they do, I'm your bodyguard, and I'll take care of it!"

Rashid (giggles): "No, please don't … I'm already getting too much attention as it is."

Mika: "Oh come on. This is your commencement ceremony! Be proud of what you have accomplished! You'll do fine! I love you!"

Rashid: "I love you too."

%ACT% Mika and Rashid kiss and wait for Rashids name to be called

Dr. Anderson: "Rashid ibn Sayyid ibn Abdalla Dawlat al Nimr'iyyun"

Mika: "There, that's you! Come on, let's go! I'll be right behind you!"

Rashid: (takes a deep breath) "Mika … don't get me wrong, but … would you mind letting me go alone? Just this one time?"

Mika: "But this is a pretty open space … I won't be able to cover you from down here."

Rashid: "I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea, and it's just for a few seconds. Okay?"

Dr. Anderson: "Rashid ibn Sayyid! Are you here?"

Rashid (whispers): "I gotta go! I'll be fine!"

%ACT% Rashid gives Mika a quick kiss on the forehead and walks up to the stage

Mika: "But …"

%ACT% Mika anxiously looks left and right, scanning the audience

%ACT% Assassin appears on the far OTHER side of the stage

Dr. Anderson: "Mister ibn Sayyid. Given the fact that you had to break not only the language barrier but also many cultural barriers, you have every reason to be very proud of what you have achieved. Congratulations."

%ACT% Dr. Anderson hands over the diploma

%SND% 0504 - Applause 3

Assassin: "Rashid! You have betrayed Allah and His apostle! And now to Allah you shall return!"

%ACT% Mika jumps from her seat and turns to the Assassin

%ACT% Assassin shoots, and the announcer's hat flies away

%SND% 0505 - Gunshot 1 + Panic!
%SND% 0501 STOP
%SND% 0506 Music Cue 2 (Action)

%ACT% Audience panics and everyone runs away in random directions, distracting Mika

Mika (panics): "Rashid! Take cover!"

%ACT% Assassin shoots again, and hits Rashid

%SND% 0507 - Gunshot 2

%ACT% Rashid screams and falls down

Rashid (screams): "Aah! Mika! Help!"

%ACT% Mika draws her weapon and turns to Rashid

%SND% 0506 STOP %SND% 0508 Music Cue 3 (Rise + Drone) %SND% AMB 05 STOP

Mika (screams): "Rashid! Stay down! I'm going to help you!"

%ACT% Mika turns back to the assassin

Mika: "Hey you! Drop your weapon! Now! Or else …"

Assassin: "Or else what, woman?"

Rashid (screams): "Shoot him, Mika! By Allah! Shoot him!"

Mika: "I … I …"

Rashid (shouts): "What are you waiting for?"

Mika: "I … I can't …"

Assassin: "That's what you get for entrusting your life to a woman's hands, Rashid!"

%SND% 0509 - Gunshot 3 + Wakeup Transition

%ACT% Assassin shoots Rashid

Mika (screams): "No! Rashid! Rashid!"

%SND% 0508 - Stop
%SND% AMB 06 Campfire

%ACT% Mika keeps screaming while the scene changes

%LIG% Main lights change (blue 20%)
%LIG% UV-Lights on

%HND% Scene changes from dream setup to night-at-the-camp setup: A starry sky and a crackling campfire. Mika has a collar and the collar is chained to the ground or a nearby palm tree.

%HND% Everyone disappears except for Mika (she is now in [4-3])

%ACT% Malika appears from below at [3] next to Mika, shaking her

Malika: "Mika! MIKA! It's just a dream! Wake up! Wake up!"

Mika: "Wha … what … where …"

Malika: "Ah, finally. I thought you'd never stop screaming. The girls are hard enough to keep under control as it is. And believe me, the last thing you want is causing a big stir in the middle of the night."

Mika (sobs): "Uh huh? Well, then, feel free to kill me if you want. I don't care. I'm nothing more than a worthless piece of …"

Malika (trying to calm Mika): "Please! Calm down! Nobody is going to kill you. What happened to the strong, self-confident woman that walked into my camp yesterday?"

Mika (defiant): "That's none of your business."

Malika: "You woke up screaming 'Rashid! Rashid!' in complete terror! That's not the kind of dream you have about someone whose name you picked up from the newspaper."

%ACT% Mika turns from sobbing to crying, leaning into Malika's fur

%ACT% Malika sighs and hugs Mika, feeling pity for her

Malika (compassionate): "Oh you poor thing! That dream must have seriously shaken you up!"

Mika (sobbing): "You have no idea!"

Malika (sighing): "Listen, Mika. I may be the leader of this miserable pack, but seeing you cry like this really breaks my heart. Is there anything I can do to help you? Anything you would like to talk about?"

Mika (defiant): "Nice try!"

Malika: "No! That's not what I was … *SIGH* Allright, I can understand why you have a hard time trusting an outlaw like me. But you know what? I haven't always been like that. Would you believe that I used to be a teacher in the old town of Ash-Maqwa?"

Mika: "I don't know."

%SND% 0510 - Music Cue 4 (tragedy)

Malika: "But it is the truth. If you know Rashid, you probably also know about the Emir's challenge don't you?"

Mika: "Yes, I've heard about it …"

Malika: "Adham and Rashid have teamed up to build a new dam at the Jabal Abu Nahla, the mountain in the north, and an all new settlement next to the reservoir lake. They promised their people a life free of thirst, hunger, and a lot of modern amenities, such as better healthcare … and education. I used to be part of what they called "a flagship project". They let me read all the books that were formerly forbidden, so I could teach the people in my town all the things that the Imam could not."

Mika: "But then why are you here?"

Malika: "Well. Rashid went to America to get himself the necessary education, while his brother Adham stayed here to govern the province. Unfortunately, Adham had a very different opinion about who was intended to benefit from their project. During Rashid's absence, he showed his true face, changing plans in favor of his own personal gain. The people of Ash-Maqwa turned out to be worthless in his eyes, because he couldn't find a way to extract any profit from them."

Mika: "And so all the progress in your town never came to pass?"

Malika (angry, sad): "Not only that! What he did was much, much worse. Tempted by the business his investors offered to him if he would finish his project early, he cut off the entire water supply to his own people and used it to fill the reservoir. Many people in my city died. Including …"

%ACT% Malika shakes and sobs (sad and angry at the same time)

Malika (sobbing, angry): "Including … my own children!"

%ACT% Mika gasps, and hugs Malika

Mika (whispers): "Oh my god … I'm so sorry! I'm so terribly sorry!"

Malika (angry): "The men in my city finally decided to give up and leave. And we, their women, were supposed to go with them. But I didn't want to let myself be defeated like that. I secretly gathered all the women around to seal a pact. We swore to take revenge and give the water back to the people it belongs to. During the night, we took the guns of our husbands and left the dying city behind. We fled to the last oasis that hadn't completely run dry yet. This one. Al Waha Ta'lab."

%SND% 0510 STOP
%SND% 0511 Music End

%ACT% Malika breathes in deeply

Malika: "So, that's my story. Now tell me yours."

Mika: "Wow. You must be very brave … Your story makes my problems look trivial in comparison … But, anyway. Here it is."

%ACT% Mika takes a deep breath

%SND% 0512 - Music Cue 5 (Drama)

Mika: "I lost my father when I was still a little kitten, and my mother never had the necessary strengh to teach me how to stand my ground in a men’s world. So one day I decided to join the national school of catfighting to finally build up some self esteem. It was a lot of fun, and I learned fast. I made it to the black belt in just a few years, and when I needed money to go to college, I decided to get licensed as a freelance bodyguard."

Malika: "And where does Rashid come in?"

Mika: "He was one of my clients. His father was obsessed with fear that some extremist American might kidnap his son, so he insisted that Rashid must never leave his home alone. You should have seen Rashid's face, when my boss at the agency told him that I - a woman - had been assigned to be his personal guard. We ended up spending a lot of time together. And eventually, the inevitable happened."

Malika (knowingly): "You fell in love."

Mika: "Yes, we did. Everyone tells you, you're not supposed to fall in love with a client. But let's face it: It's not a free decision. Everything went well for almost four years. Until Rashid's graduation day. It would have been my duty to walk up on stage with him and guard him while he received his diploma. But he insisted to go alone - and I let him. And then …"

Malika: "Something bad happened?"

Mika (shaken): "Yes, he got shot. On stage. Out of my reach. I wanted to shoot the assassin … but … I couldn't. I was paralyzed."

%ACT% Mika breathes in deeply to calm herself

Mika: "I was immediately taken away from the scene by the police. Since I hadn't fired a shot, they checked my license, and let me go. I immediately called all of the hospitals. None of them had Rashid's name on file. I found his apartment empty. The incident was all over the news, but nobody mentioned his name. He was even removed from the list of graduates. It was like he had never existed."

%ACT% Mika gets all shaky and sobby again

Mika (shaken): "For years I was convinced that my lover had died on his graduation day … because of my failure."

%SND% 0512 (STOP)
%SND% 0511 Music End

%ACT% Mika starts to cry again

%ACT% Malika hugs Mika

Malika: "Oh, I can see how that is giving you nightmares. But I have some good news! Rashid is still alive. He is up at the reservoir, together with his brother."

Mika (calming down slowly): "I know! Yesterday, out of the blue, Rashid called me, telling me to come here immediately. I wasn't supposed to talk to anybody on the way."

Malika: "But now you did."

Mila: "Yes! Because it kept eating me up from the inside! Until today, my past with Rashid has been my darkest secret. "

Malika: "And I am the first to hear about it?"

Mika (shy): "Yes."

%ACT% Malika removes the collar from Mika

%SND% 0513 Chains rattling + Music Cue 6 (Fantasy)

Mika: "Wait, what are you doing there?"

Malika: "I'm setting you free. Here we go."

Mika: "What? You're letting me go, just like that, all of a sudden? Why?"

Malika: "Because you put so much trust in me. It feels wrong not to trust you equally."

Mika: "I … I don't know what to say. Thank you. I never intended to do you any harm."

Malika: "And neither did I. But sometimes I have to pretend that I do, because that's the only way a woman can get respect from a man in these parts."

Mika (indignant): "But I'm not a man!"

Malika (chuckles): "I'm sorry, but at first you pretty much acted like one! I wasn't sure what to think of you yesterday, but now I really like you. You're fascinating in so many ways. I've never met anyone from so far away. Everything is different about you. Even your fur. It's like that of leopard, but all black and white! I have never seen anything so beautiful before!"

Mika: "Why, thank you! Yeah, I guess you don't see many snow leopards around here."

Malika (in awe): "Snow! A leopard that lives in the snow! How precious! I've read so much about snow. I've seen pictures of it. It is so beautiful! They say that snow is cool like the night, and it falls from the sky like little feathers. All we have here is dust, which is just hot and dry. It must be wonderful in the snow. I wish I could see it for myself just one time."

Mika: "What makes you think you can't?"

Malika (sighs): "I'll never be able to leave this land. All I own are the clothes I'm wearing. I can only go as far as my own feet will carry me. You must realize that you are a rich woman, Mika. Very rich."

%ACT% Malika sighs

Mika: "I'm so sorry …"

Malika: "Don't be. If fate throws a knife at you, just make sure to catch it by the handle. Anyways, did Rashid tell you why he wanted you to join him so urgently?"

Mika: "No, not really. He mentioned a conspiracy and that I'm the only one he can trust. But no details. All I know is that I'm supposed to meet him at the dam to receive further instructions."

Malika: "Nothing else? No delivery of items, weapons or messages?"

Mika: "No, nothing."

Malika: "That's very mysterious. We've been blocking this road for weeks, and so far they've been refusing any kind of contact. And then Rashid calls for you … unarmed and alone. That doesn't make any sense to me."

Mika: "Maybe I can talk to him on your behalf."

Malika: "Well, they do say, the whisper of a beautiful girl can be heard farther than the roar of a lion … If there is anything you could do to make either Rashid or Adham talk to us … I would be eternally grateful."

Mika: "I will. Under one condition. You must swear that you and your people will never hurt Rashid."

Malika: "I swear, by Allah. And I would like to invite you to be our guest."

Mika: "That is very generous of you, Malika, but I should really get back on my way as soon as possible."

Malika: "And you shall! But there is a storm coming up, you can already see it at the horizon. Unless you enjoy being caught by it all alone in the open, you should really stay here until it's over."

Mika: "Oh, I see. Yes, that sound sensible. Thank you for your help, Malika."

Malika: "You're welcome. Please follow me. I'll make sure you get everything you need."

%SND% 0513 STOP
%SND% 0511 Music Ends

%ACT% Mika and Malika leave

%LIG% Main light off
%LIG% UV Lights off

%HND% Curtain close