(The setting of this short play is the normal arrangement of a rich-looking parlour. MRS. VOLTA, a woman of middle age, is seen sitting on an expensive armchair. She is richly endowed in an expensive and colourful bubu with scarf to match. She is sickly, but the illness is not visible. She carries herself with gentle ease, for she is in a tender, delicate condition. Her youngest son, SMADA, who is at the prime of his young adulthood, is seen standing, leaning lightly against the small dining table, wearing a white shirt unbuttoned at the collar, black trousers and a black belt and expensive black boots, and a dark-grey dinner jacket. His elderly sisters, NEERI and DANGE, are seen sitting on the small expensive settee. The former is dressed in a cream-coloured lady-like trouser suit, while the latter is clothed in a black designer T-shirt, blue skimpy jeans shorts and designer platform shoes. The atmosphere is somewhat tense with everyone expectant and anxious. Smada walks to the settee and then later returns back to his former position. Enters DOCTOR.)
NEERI: Aw, welcome, doctor.
DANGE: Good evening.
MRS. VOLTA: Thank you so much for coming to our home in such short notice, doctor.
DOCTOR: It was a good thing that I told all of you to be in your home until I brought the medical report of President Volta’s health and condition. This is a very delicate issue.
SMADA: Doctor, tell us what you have.
MRS. VOLTA: How is my husband?
DOCTOR: There were visible traces of hemlock in his bloodstream.
DOCTOR: Yes, and its concentration was so high that it hampered his immune system. Also, there were bits and pieces of apple found in his alimentary system.
MRS. VOLTA: Doctor, is my husband going to be alright?
DOCTOR: I’m sorry, Mrs. Volta. This was an autopsy report.
(Everyone displays shock.)
NEERI: So, he is dead then.
DOCTOR: He died before we could get him to the surgery room.
SMADA: Were the press around?
DOCTOR: No. No press.
SMADA: Where was Sir Inesu all this while?
DOCTOR: He made the arrangement for his body to be put in a sack.
SMADA: (sarcastically) Ha! He will be buried the Muslim way.
(The doctor goes over to Mrs. Volta and gently holds her hand.)
DOCTOR: Are you alright?
MRS. VOLTA: I’ll manage.
(Neeri stands up and walks up to her mother. She stands beside her.)
NEERI: Any other news, doctor?
DOCTOR: None so far.
SMADA: What about the four women he was with?
DOCTOR: (nonplussed) What four women?
SMADA: The four apple-ladies he slept with.
MRS. VOLTA: (sternly) Smada! Shut up!!
DOCTOR: What apple-ladies is he talking about?
MRS. VOLTA: Never mind, doctor.
SMADA: He ate apple, didn’t he? One of the apple-ladies was bound to give him the apple to eat.
DANGE: (sternly) Smada, keep quiet!!
DOCTOR: President Volta was a very good person, Mrs. Volta. I am truly sorry that such a tragedy should befall him.
SMADA: Humph! You know nothing about tragedy, doctor. You are now waiting to be handsomely tipped. I strongly advise you, doctor, to depart from here immediately.
NEERI: (sternly) Smada!!!
SMADA: He is just like everyone else – good one minute, bad the next. Better return to the hospital.
DOCTOR: (stands straight) I understand how you feel, losing your father like this. It is certainly a big loss for everyone and for you. I understand perfectly well. But let me tell you something. I was a faithful doctor to him. I worked my medical fingers to the bone for him, and I will not have anyone insult my integrity, even if that person is a member of his family.
SMADA: (sarcastic) My most deepest condolences for castigating your profession to your face. And thank you so much for offering us your cold shoulder to cry on.
DOCTOR: (ignores him) I will try and come back to check on you, Mrs. Volta.
MRS. VOLTA: Please do, and thank you very much for coming.
SMADA: (coolly) Doctor, if you make ‘any’ attempt to return to this family, your medical occupation will be at stake.
DOCTOR: I will come back. I’m a doctor.
SMADA: (angrily) And I am Smada telling you to get the hell out of here! You are lower than nothing, doctor!!
(Exits DOCTOR, angrily.)
DANGE: (confronts Smada) You were nasty, Smada.
SMADA: (ignoring her) Well! President Inas Ahcaba Volta dies on the eighth of June of an apple containing hemlock, while the press might probably tell the nation it was a heart attack. (pause) He was too old for sex, so he takes in Viagra, a large quantity of it. But poison kills all. Ha! Idi Amin reincarnated, though a modernised version.
DANGE: Smada, please shut up about this.
SMADA: Mama, it is funny that you closed your eyes to your late husband’s glaring infidelity.
MRS. VOLTA: Son, what could I do?
SMADA: (coolly) You could do lots of things, mama. Lots – of – things. But you chose to do nothing. Now that the tyrannical Head of State of this noble country has died, what do you intend to do now?
NEERI: Smada, Daddy was not tyrannical.
SMADA: What are you saying, Neeri? Why does he have to die after he has stashed over sixty-five billion rompees in the banks of foreign countries?
MRS. VOLTA: He did that to save our nation’s economy.
SMADA: And who in his right senses will believe that, mama? Doesn’t that answer sound ridiculous to you? He hanged Sir Nek Oras Awiw, who was a famous social critic and writer. He injected and killed Sir Ray Auda who was the real father of late Miharbi Ahcaba Volta, and Sir Doohsom Aloiba who was the husband of late Madam Tariduk Aloiba. He incarcerated Sir Opidalo Ayid because of assumed coup attempt, and he first of all kicked Sir Tsenre Nakenohs out of interim government in order to assume sweet power over this nation. I always reserve the first for last. (pauses) His second-in-command, Sir Haimerej Inesu, is another wonderful human being. He is a frequent visitor to this house, an ardent lover of women and a bastardiser of national geographical plans. (pauses) I can still tell you more about President Volta. He was also the founder of the inhuman gun squad Strike Force, created with the nation’s money of course.
DANGE: (sternly) Smada! That is enough coming from you!! Restrain your tongue!!!
SMADA: And why should I, Dange? Just look at you. One more letter to your name and it would have spelt DANGER. The S. S. S. is on you twenty-four hours a day, and yet you are a notorious scarlet woman. And as for you, Neeri, I can only utter the biblical quotation of John 4:18, which says this: ‘You have been married to five men and the man you live with now is not really your husband.’
MRS. VOLTA: Keep quiet about this, Smada! No one must know about this.
SMADA: Ha! We are now in the fourth republic, mama. Nugesulo Ojnasabo is now ruling us after the brief and profitable reign of Imalasludba Rakabuba. This family cannot show its face in the public anymore. It is as if we are under intense house arrest. Everyone will certainly get to know about the tragedy of the Voltas.
NEERI: (disgusted) What can you say about yourself, Smada? Nothing! You are absolutely nothing more than a total wastrel with no future ambition. You stand here, lashing your filthy, smelling tongue at us when you cannot even speak for yourself. You are not even worthy to be a Volta.
(A dramatic pause.)
SMADA: Funny enough, Neeri, I am not even one.
DANGE: What! What are you saying, Smada?
SMADA: Listen carefully. My stepbrother, Trams, has told me everything I need to know about this Volta family.
MRS. VOLTA: Where is Trams? He is supposed to be here, with his family.
SMADA: I don’t know. He probably went out of sight. Maybe he is not worthy to be in this family, too. Anyway, that shouldn’t be any of your business. (pauses) Trams told me about Miharbi not being President Volta’s son. Men, Miharbi died in a private aircraft crash and the press already smothered the nation with that piece of news. Condolences came from nowhere, left and right. Church masses were held for someone that was barely known, just to gain financial approval. Even when mama turned fifty, the same nonsense happened again, all for the same goal – money. We are doomed in this family! Trams’ own mother is a prostitute. Can you believe that!! The wind has certainly exposed the anus of the fowl.
SMADA: Listen to me! I am not President Volta’s son as well. So, as soon as he discovered I was not his son, he did something very disgusting. He sent his son Demmahom, Sergeant Sregor and La Ahpatsum to do a dirty job on me. They drugged me and did it. My blood was washed away and the following day, I woke up as if nothing had happened. (pauses) Mama, I am not a man anymore. (Everyone displays shock.) Yes. I now drink too much. You were right, Neeri. I am a total wastrel with no future ambition. (with difficulty) M-M-My chances of being a father are…are…forever wiped off from…from the face of this earth.
MRS. VOLTA: Oh my Lord!
NEERI: My God! How could something like this happen to you?
SMADA: When I found out, I never forgave him. Afterwards, Trams told me that he wasn’t even my father. Damn, how happy I am that he is now dead!!
DANGE: I swear we did not know about this, Smada. I swear to my God!
SMADA: Of course you didn’t know. You couldn’t know. You both were completely engrossed in your private and personal problems. Sregor, Demmahom and La Ahpatsum are now presently in jail for the murder of Madam Tariduk, a crime committed more or less half a decade ago. Am I correct?
(A weak nod from his sisters)
MRS. VOLTA: (gets up with effort and pleads) Oh, Smada my son, I had no idea…
SMADA: Shut up, mama! You knew, and as usual, you chose to do nothing.
MRS. VOLTA: (approaches him) Please, Smada, let us first mourn his death.
SMADA: Mama, I will not waste my time mourning someone who is not my father. I want to know who my father is.
MRS. VOLTA: You are an ungrateful beast! After all that your father and I…
SMADA: Mama, I am not his son and you know it! You knew about this all along. And what has that bastard done for me, eh? He took care of my education at one of the universities in Michigan, USA, and he once made me a reputable managing director in one of the budding oil companies in the country…after which he took my manhood, relieved me of my job and turned me into an incessant drunkard and drugster. (pauses) Now mama, I ask again, who is my father?
(Mrs. Volta, unable to bear the force of his words, faints to the floor. Neeri and Dange rush to her aid.)
DANGE: You are very inconsiderate, Smada. Mama is not well. Can’t you see that? She is not fit to hear such words from you.
SMADA: Oh really? Well, she is paying for her age-long silence, as you can see. Listen, mama, you can faint as many times as you like. If you will not tell me who and where my real father is, I will certainly find that out by myself. I don’t care if he is a beggar, a cripple, a gutter-cleaner, a plumber, or anything. I will find him and I will be with him. (exits)
MRS. VOLTA: (weakly) Please, Smada, come back.
NEERI: Mama, he has gone.
MRS. VOLTA: Oh! What have I done!
DANGE: (desperately) Neeri, we are done for!!
NEERI: (consoling) Don’t worry. Everything will be alright.
MRS. VOLTA: (very weakly) N-N-Neeri.
NEERI: Mama, I am here.
MRS. VOLTA: I am so s-sorry … f-for everything. (dies)
NEERI: Mama, please don’t say that. (Silence) Mama. (Silence) Mama! (Silence. Shakes her) Mama!! Wake up, please! Don’t leave us, too! Please, mama!!
DANGE: Mama?? Mama!! (shakes her) No, please!!!
NEERI: It’s too late, Dange. She has gone.
DANGE: (wails bitterly) Oh my God, no! No!!
(The sisters weep bitterly. Enters POLICEMAN.)
POLICEMAN: Good evening, misses.
NEERI: (wipes off tears) Yes, policeman. What can I do for you?
POLICEMAN: This is the Volta’s residence, is it not?
NEERI: Yes, it is.
POLICEMAN: The wife of President Volta is to come to court for questioning on the murder of Madam Tariduk.
NEERI: How come?
POLICEMAN: Well, her son Demmahom mentioned her name. So, she will have to come down to the station with me and be there till the following day when she will face a witness trial.
NEERI: (sadly) I’m sorry, officer.
(The policeman goes in and crouches over Mrs. Volta’s body.)
POLICEMAN: What happened to her?
DANGE: (sorrowfully) She gave up.
POLICEMAN: Oh God! (stands up and shakes his head)