The Last Letter
“I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature.
The play ‘The Last Letter’, on Rohit Vemula’s suicide note, had its first staging in Hyderabad last week
“I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt,” with these words the background score rises in pitch.
The play ‘The Last Letter’ directed by Riyaz Usman had its first staging in Hyderabad. It explains things that happened leading to Rohit Vemula’s suicide. After Utkarsh Dixit read Rohit’s letter in a voice filled with emotion and intensity, Syed Shah Nawaz Ali and Vishal Mitra read the letters of Central Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Central Human Resource Development Ministry in a poetic form.
This was followed by the letter that Rohit first wrote to the Vice Chancellor P Appa Rao on 18 December that talks about his request for asking facilities to the Euthanasia students. The play also has brief narrations of letters of – Bandaru Dattatreya to HRD Minister Smriti Irani on August 3; letters from HRD Ministry to UOH officials on September 3, 4 , October 20 and November 19 respectively.
The theatrical play was more about voice and the team put forth the best of the modulation techniques while they brought all the letters to the audience. “Many people might think that the play is another protest, but we have no such intention. We are just making a statement. It must include political elements because of the inclusion of official letters, but we are only reading facts.
We all have different perspectives regarding the issue. We have different ideologies and opinions, and I think that is what makes us put forth a common point,” says Riyaz Usman, director of the play. Despite the novel treatment to the play, it was quite intense and when the artistes read the last paragraph with their eyes filled with tears, it was a heartrending moment “I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees.
Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand rupees to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that. I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for the act of killing myself. For one last time… Jai Bheem, I’m gone…”
By Sateesh Reddy