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The Executioner  - Excerpt from a play

By: Sabah Alanbari*

Translated from Arabic by: Soheil Najm**

{The stage is a carefully constructed half green lined with pieces of bright glass. The dome has one gate built in the form of jaws lined with long pointed fangs stained with blood. The gate is open throughout the show and in front of it, at the center of the stage, there are metal bars to which the victim is tied. The bars look like a big window, and to the audience the victim seems as if inside the predator's mouth, or that the mouth is about to devour her, in front of the bars and the victim there is a wooden chair stained with blood and surrounded by various torturing tools. The executioner sits on the chair, his back facing the audience.

Deformed creatures with weird bodies and shapes with mouths that have long iron tusks, dripping blood, and bloody claws of steel. Their appearance terrifies and disgusts the audience. Their tusks of iron appear, every now and then, On the dome’s glass. Pointy fragments protrude from the wall of the dome forming isolated lumps.

On the inner wall of the dome, we can see the ghost of the executioner whipping the victim and enjoying her torture and screams. The man sitting on the wooden bloodstained chair raises his hands as a signal to stop the ghost and leave the place. The ghosts of the executioner and victim disappear. A spotlight focuses on the rails, the victim and the man sitting on the chair. The man gets off his chair and turns towards the audience. He looks very much like the victim, but in different clothes with exaggerated elegance. He comes close to the victim who seems to be hanging between life and death. He grabs her bloodstained hair and pulls back her head, which is difficult to identify because her features are makes with blood. When he releases it the head reverts to its former condition. He takes the water hose. Puts one end in the predator jaws, then picks up the other end of the water hose and direct it to the head of the victim. Blood coloured liquid rushes out of the hose - the face of the victim who slowly wakes up, and that’s when the monodrama of the executioner begins.}

Executioner: (Throwing the water hose close to the chair and directing his words to the victim); How strange you are, woman! Nothing can wake you up anymore but a spray of blood (he moves around her) you have been like this for thousands of years (he continues to move around her asking the victim one question after the other) Not enough for you what you have suffered? Not satisfied with pain yet? What astonishing lust controls your feelings? (He pauses for a moment and then continues to ask questions and move around. With each question he widens the circle of his rotation) Are you not a human being? If I were you I would give up the world and what is in it for just one day of relief. why the more you are tortured the more determined and secretive you become? (He pauses, then yells at her) Why? And for whom? (in a quiet and slow voice) Tell me who deserves all this suffering? (Silence. He screams again) Answer me. (No answer) Are not you a human being like any other human being? (He moves away quietly) Well. You are not human being. (He sits on the chair) at least, let’s assume that you are a human being, and that have ethics and principles. Now the question is, are you the only one on  earth who has ethics and principles? Where are your ancestors who have the principles and manners? Were not they destined to be buried underground? What will you get being dead with a stay of execution? (Warning) Heh. you are dead now, and the dead do not taste life (He stands up. Approaching her) Believe me, I know this better than you (He looks the victim in the eyes), don't look at me as if i were one of those who tortured you not knowing why they did so. (He withdraws meanly) I torture you and I know why I do so. But what I do not know is why do you have to relish the meals of pain I give you day and night? Shouldn't you be taking care of yourself instead of waiting for meals of subsequent pain? (He pauses for a moment and then as if he heard the victim accusing him of cruelty) I am cruel? Hahahaha. Yes, I am, and I will not be other than this. do not you see that rigidity and compassion are what I get paid for? (He re-examines the victim) Are you surprised? You are right, I have mercy on everybody except you (A moment of silence. He comes so close to her that his face almost touches hers) Probably you are wondering why, in spite of being the closest to me (He stops suddenly and angrily) ..listen, whether you look at me or not, will not change my opinion nor will affect my feelings, nor will the case turn to be my executioner and I will not be your victim, the executioner has always been the executioner and the victim has always been a victim ever since the beginning of Creation. Wasn't Cain the executioner of his brother for a temporary lust? So what is your lust? Is it a lust for pain? Or blood? (Explaining) I do not mean exchanging our two lusts because since the time of Cain, the lust for blood has grown in me. The sad thing is that you did not know this and you will not, until you reach the lust of the end. Tell me, do you really claim that the lion is the sum of the digested sheep? (She does not answer. He moves as proud and boastful as a peacock, answering his own question) I'm the lion of this forest you called life, you’d better say: The executioner, me, is the sum of the digested victims (surprised by a sound so he is terrified in a way inconsistent with the alleged courage he pretends so he speaks confusedly) I, I, I, I, I'm not a coward, as you know, but I was just surprised by the sound .. I do not accept surprises nor accept the way my life goes. but you accept everything in cool nerves (changing the subject) I mean you do not mind being one of my victims and so I devour all of you?

(He leaves her, heading towards the front of the theatre, but then he stops and turns towards her)

Personally, I do not know why but life has given me enough strength to devour you all!

(He completes the walk to the front of the stage)

Once, I decided with myself to give all of you the freedom that you want

(silence. Then he confirms)

Which I actually did. But instead of planning to get rid of me you helped me to kill and swallow you one by one. Only a few of you got rid of me, with my approval, and chose to substitute me with the exile. and when I asked why you did not leave? You answered because of love, dignity and redemption. if we did not sacrifice who else would? I was shocked by you, and I started asking myself why? What did I do to make them turn into such strange creatures? I did not ask them for this. I did not ask for anything at all.

*writer from Iraq lives in Australia.

**poet and translator from Iraq.