We need money-power to live on earth

A rhyming play, based on the story We need money-power to live on earth by Sri Chinmoy. Performed for Sri Chinmoy’s students in Dubrovnik on January 11th 2015. The actors played their parts behind large masks on sticks, while their lines were read aloud off-stage.

2 Husbands
2 Wives
2 Doctors

[Enter Husbands]

HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
Dearest friend, it must be twenty years since last we met!
So much time has passed, yet here’s a face I’d not forget!
In fact I must confess it comes to me as some surprise
to see you so unchanged, is it the failing of my eyes?
No, even up close I see it is indeed the truth
What’s your secret? Tell me, how have you retained your youth?
How’d you come to keep yourself so vigorous and strong?

HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Friend, I’m glad to see you back, it has been far too long!
Yes I have a secret, let me give you the whole tale
Of how I have remained through age so hearty and so hale
To tell the truth at first I suffered throughout nineteen years
These twelve months have been a breeze since I have switched careers!
Amongst my many ventures great, a café was the first
Where customers could while away their hunger and their thirst
At tables on a terrace, soaking up the midday sun
Or in gentle evenings when their working day was done
But of course I never had the heart to charge enough
No I was too soft, to turn a profit turned out tough
So within a year I’m sad to say that business failed
I defaulted on my taxes such that I was nearly jailed
Then I came into a little money from an aunt
And set about applying to the council for a grant
I opened up that very year a trendy art gallery
I was sure I’d draw the crowds and then a big salary
Soon I realised my mistake in choosing the location
Half a mile from any road and four miles from a station
So in very little time another dream had folded
You should have heard my wife by then! Oh how she raged and scolded
She had no time for what she called my castles in the air
And that was just my second chance, I hardly thought it fair!
Another thirteen businesses of mine would bite the dust
But here comes the secret as to how I’m so robust
I let go my ambitions of attaining earthly wealth
And now you see all the results reflected in my health
I’ve renounced it all, and have no need to strike it rich
I cannot say what brought the change, I simply lost the itch
Who wants to wither out his days weighed down by gems and gold?
All that responsibility would make a young man old
Who needs to own a yacht or have a name at the casino?
Who wants a brand new sports car from the showroom? Oh, not me, no
I have watched in wonder as my own desires decrease
Growing in their stead only new happiness and peace
I’m turning my attention to a quiet, simple life

HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
I am with you brother, but if only were my wife!
You’re a radiant example of your spiritual ideal
But I know exactly how my other half would feel
How I wish that I could be as practical as you
Then I would be happy, carefree, therefore healthy too
Yet alas I know she will not take the same position
She has her mind on other goals, a woman of ambition
Never satisfied, she always wants a higher rank
A shrewd and watchful eye on how much money’s in the bank
I work my fingers to the bone, I toil away all hours
I’m certain that convincing her is far beyond my powers

HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Can you believe brother that I share this very plight?
My own wife as well as yours has failed to see the light!
She’s set up her own business now, and hopes to make a mint
No, she’ll never understand the perks of being skint
I forget now what it was she said she plans to sell
Dresses, handbags, chocolate, oh who knows and who can tell
It’s all the same to me of course, this giddy women’s stuff
But one thing is certain, you and I have had enough!

HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
So have countless others like us, since the fall of man!
But now listen brother as I have a cunning plan
Let the women work together in their shared pursuit
And sell whatever’s sweet or fragrant, delicate or cute
And make a fortune doing it if that is what they need
You and I forever from our bondage will be freed
We’ll spend our days in quiet leisure, deep inside the woods
Far beyond the cares and woes of all our worldly goods!

HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Brother you are right, of course, our problems will be solved!
It is not their fault they can’t be spiritually evolved
Let us leave them to their life of working and of wishing
We can build a hut from logs and spend our mornings fishing
So with little effort we will have our food and shelter
While the women chase after their fortune helter-skelter
Let us go and give them a brief outline of the news
Then grab a bite and slope off to the garden for a snooze

[Enter Wives]

HUSBAND 1:husband-1a
Dear, my friend and I have found an excellent solution
To the parting of our ways in terms of… evolution
We’re leaving for the forest, you can keep the car and house
From this day on you need no longer think of me as spouse

HUSBAND 2:husband-2a
Dear, it seems the crux of it has already been said
Bye then, don’t forget to put the cat out before bed

[Exit Husbands]

WIFE 1:wife-1a
Just like that they change their minds, and yet they call us fickle?
Just like that they walk away and leave us in a pickle?

WIFE 2:wife-2a
Sister, I confess it comes to me as some relief!
My husband and his harebrained schemes have gone beyond belief
First he tried to make the world into his own possession
Then doing nothing, earning nothing, soon was an obsession
I have wondered night and day how we could make ends meet
And realised the time is past for taking a backseat
I’m tired of going hungry, never mind his lofty goals
My clothes are full of patches and my shoes are full of holes
I’d already decided I can’t take it anymore
If only I had realised my folly long before
But now at least I tell you I am growing more astute
And I believe the future is in… vegetables and fruit!
Many people nowadays are looking to the diet
for the causes of diseases, I’ve researched it on the quiet
There’s a profit to be made in salads and fresh juices
The simple reason is that many people make excuses
Having little time for washing, peeling, grating, chopping
Adding yet more tins and packets to their weekly shopping
So last month I went to meet the farmers down the lane
And in the very little time it took me to explain
They’d given me their blessing and the use of an old truck
and the pick of their own goods, can you believe my luck?
They said it saves them time and effort taking it to market
Next door even have a spare garage where I can park it
So around the village I deliver door-to-door
Vegetables and fruits, salads freshly made, and more
But my friend I’m certain: this is just the very start
It’s a winning formula, I know it in my heart!
The work is hard, I won’t deny, but how it brings me joy
To be of use, and all of my capacities employ
For some good purpose every day, a reason for my labours
To pay the bills, and also be of service to my neighbours
Say you’ll join me, sister? I have more work than I need
Can you see we have not been abandoned, we are freed!

WIFE 1:wife-1a
Yes, my friend, I’ll join you, and I thank you for the chance
Now that both our husbands have led us a merry dance!
Mine was not so wealthy as he’d like to have you think
Little wonder that he’d turn and leave it in a blink
He says he works but actually he’s decadent and lazy
All our early hopes and dreams were starting to grow hazy
The house is mortgaged to the hilt, the car is hire-purchase
As for making ends meet, I have done my own researches
Recently my money worries also have been mounting
So I went to evening school and studied cost accounting
Book keeping and all manner of services financial
Over time my mental wealth was growing quite substantial
And my friend, this new-found knowledge soon relieved my tensions
Just for fun I learned about indemnities and pensions
Then of course remembered the predicament at hand
What’s the point in thinking of a future safe and grand
When here and now there are so very many bills to pay
All the answers to my prayers it seems have come today
What if I can tell between a bond and a debenture
Little good it does me without starting a new venture
Sister, it does look as though our darkest hour has ended
I believe between us we can create something splendid!

[Exit Wives, Enter Wives with older and happier masks]

So it happened that the men and women parted ways
And were very satisfied with how they spent their days
The men in simple peacefulness, released from worldly cares
The women tired but happy in the selling of their wares
So it was for many years, that is at least until…

[Exit Wives, Enter Husbands with older and unhealthier masks]

HUSBAND 2:husband-2b
Brother, I do not believe I’ve ever felt so ill
Every passing mosquito just bites me as it pleases
I suppose the bugs out here are riddled with diseases
I’m burning with a fever, yet I shiver with a chill
Every day is worse, I’m going rapidly downhill
Every joint is aching and my head is in a vice
I can’t find any comfort… and it isn’t very nice

HUSBAND 1:husband-1b
Brother, I believe this lifestyle starts to take its toll
Once I used to hanker for a life without a goal
For a time it seemed idyllic moving slow and lazy
But I have a feeling it’s just served to drive me crazy
First I spoke in riddles and I didn’t bother shaving
Then I thought I was a goat, that’s positively raving
Now I barely know my name, I only sit and stare

HUSBAND 2:husband-2b
Yes my friend between us we are quite a sorry pair
I believe the hospital’s about a mile away
Let us start our journey now on foot without delay

[Enter Doctors]

DOCTOR 1:doctor-1
Sirs, you cannot wander in here of your own accord
First we need to see some proof that you are both insured
Or have you sufficient funds to cover all our fees?
Contrary to legend, money doesn’t grow on trees
It’s plain to see you’re vagrants and have nothing on your person

HUSBAND 1:husband-1b
Help us please, I beg you, for our symptoms only worsen
As you rightly guessed we two are penniless and poor
Won’t you listen first, instead of showing us the door?

DOCTOR 2:doctor-2
Do you think you’re living in a world of milk and honey?
We are busy people here, and frankly time is money
Hence we must abide by all the rules and regulations
Family may pay the bills though, have you no relations?

HUSBAND 2:husband-2b
Yes, we have, I mean… we sort of… used to… have our wives
But I fear they’d chase us off their property with knives
Long ago all people and possessions we renounced
So you see it’s… awkward… if we turn up unannounced
All we wanted was a simple life, just to be happy

DOCTOR 1:doctor-1
All right, let us talk to them, we’d better make it snappy
The pair of you need treatment and you clearly need it fast
Or in such a desperate state who knows how long you’ll last
Who can really blame you two for seeking an escape
from all your worldly bondage, but it’s left you in bad shape!

[Exit Husbands, Enter Wives]

WIFE 2:wife-2b
No, why should we help them, they are scallywags and fools!
They wandered off and left us here to toil away like mules
Paying off the mortgage and a mountain of their debts
Too bad if they changed their minds, we now have no regrets

DOCTOR 2:doctor-2
Madam, I can understand, but now your husbands suffer
Their decisions left them both without financial buffer
They need urgent care now, and we need your help to treat them
Their conditions worsen, and such ailments could beat them
Come with us, we really would encourage you to visit
Just to see them for yourselves, that’s not a big ask, is it?

WIFE 1:wife-1b
Fine, then let us see them, but it will not change my mind
Based on past experience, I’m quite far from inclined
to bail them out of hardship they have brought on their own heads
But we could pay a visit if they are on their deathbeds

[Exit Doctors]

WIFE 2:wife-2b
Sister, I am thinking time has passed, we have no quarrel
To leave a husband dying there is… probably immoral
I might change my mind again when I yet see his face
But let’s see, I’ll take along a credit card in case

[Enter Husbands]

WIFE 1:wife-1b
Fools! Who wanted you to become very, very rich?
Just we didn’t want to end up living in a ditch!
And… to have a few nice things, you know how I love shoes
It’s not as though I wanted you to take me on a cruise
It was… mostly in your heads, you had the wrong impression
What’s so bad in seeking a respectable profession
Just enough to pay the bills, a simple occupation
Perhaps a little in the bank to guard against inflation

WIFE 2:wife-2b
You decided that the time had come to turn a page
You believed too long we had you living in a cage
Now where has your freedom led you? Do you call this peace?
Who’d have thought we’d come to save you, wonders never cease
We admit, initially we were a little greedy
But we couldn’t stand to end up with the poor and needy
We had no idea just how hard we’d end up working
Partly to pay back the debts accrued by all your shirking
Yes it’s fair to say we had not done our share before
But such a claim is certainly not valid anymore

WIFE 1:wife-1b
We’ve all learnt our lessons now, each one has since matured
Let us pay the doctors, and in time you will be cured

[Husbands change back to their healthy masks]

Soon the husbands were released to their respective spouses
Then to live a normal life in two adjoining houses
All four shared the work of selling vegetables and fruit
So they each could put behind a very long dispute
We need money power so that we can live on earth
But giving it too much attention takes away life’s worth

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