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Pablo Barrio Ramirez > Extracts


2004 Mama, are you there? | Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa Fundazioa

By way of a prologue

The story is set in Africa. At night under cover of darkness a crowd of local people have been trying to make a hole in the oil pipeline in order to "steal" the crude oil that is produced in their lands and exported. However, there is an accident and a tremendous explosion. Some people perish while others are injured. Among the injured is a woman with a burn on her thigh. The play starts as she returns home with a jerry can full of oil. From then onwards...

The first request that mobile phones should be switched off is heard. Shortly afterwards, when the curtain is about to go up, the same request is repeated for a second time.

Scene 1

We are in sub-Saharan Africa. Most likely in one of those poor neighbourhoods that grow up around fairly large cities. Having come in search of a new way of life that will be better than the one they have left behind, all kinds of people have been drawn by the city and have gathered there. Yet most of them live in squalid huts that are no better than the ones they have left behind. We are in fact inside one of those huts.

Day has just dawned. The hut is still in semi-darkness. In one corner it is possible to make out a mattress on the floor. A young girl who is ill is lying on it. We can barely see her, but she seems to be nervous, anxious and gripped by shivering. If we could see the young girl standing up, we would see that she is dressed in one of those brightly-coloured T-shirts covered with adverts that rally drivers usually wear; the colourful T-shirt is very worn-out indeed. Among the ragged bits we would be able to make out all kinds of anagrams: Repsol, BBVA, Telefonica, Novartis... and perhaps we would also see that of the company EXPAL hidden by one of the creases.

A woman carrying rather a large jerry can enters the hut taking great care not to make any noise. We cannot guess what she has in the jerry can, but whatever the contents might be, it appears to be full. We would not say that the woman is young, but neither is she in any way old. She seems to be limping, she is walking in a funny way at least, as if she were in pain. She is puffing and her dress is torn and dirty. Without letting the young girl see what is going on, she puts the jerry can in a corner and changes her dress.

DAUGHTER: Is that you, mother ?

MOTHER: Yes, my little one, it's me. (She goes up to the young girl ). What is troubling you that your beautiful little eyes are wide open like that?... When your eyelids flicker, they look like the wings of a beautiful butterfly, my love.

DAUGHTER: (Nervously) I'm afraid, Mother. Take me in your arms.

MOTHER: What are you afraid of, my love?

DAUGHTER: I find everything frightening, mother. I don't know. Whenever you are not at my side... the light and shade of this hut... or these shivers that make me tremble... Yes, these shivers more than anything. You know, it is as if I had grasshoppers inside me... that never stop jumping.
She approaches the young girl's bed and puts her hand on her forehead.

MOTHER: (With a forced calm) It's the fever, little one, a bad fever, that is all. I'll tell you a nice story to frighten away all those silly grasshoppers, you'll see how fast that fever of yours goes away.

DAUGHTER: (Almost without hearing what her mother said) No, Mother, I'm only a little child butÓ but I am afraid that this might be the last time I speak to you.

MOTHER: Don't say that, my dear, don't say that (As she moves away from the bed she picks up a jar from the fireplace behind). Have a little sleep now, my dear, while I go to the well. I have to fetch water for the two of us.

DAUGHTER: No, Mother, I'm not going to sleep. I prefer to keep my eyes open... You never know whether a much bigger sleep might be disguised and hiding behind a little nap...

The woman goes out with the jar on her head. Before leaving she picks up an old rag and wipes the drops of blood trickling down her leg.
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