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writingNever born

FADE IN:
EXT. A DUSTY LANE - DAY
NARESH, a young man in his late twenties, treads along a
narrow dirt-ridden path in a small town of Northern India.
Lost in deep thought, he is unperturbed by the hustle-bustle
of the evening market and continues to dodge his way through
the mother-daughter crowd as they relentlessly bargain for
the lowest price.
Among the vegetable-vendors bellowing out their best deals, a
young boy, not more than nine to ten years of age,clad in a
torn vest and baggy shorts, shouts at the top of his lungs.
YOUNG BUY
Bananas Bananas only for 10 annas,
Bananas Bananas only for 10
Annas...
Hearing the squeaky thin voice among the load roaring ones,
Naresh’s eyes turn towards the young vendor. A plump woman,
with a young daughter trying to keep up with her, approach
the young boy.
WOMAN
(squishing the bananas)
Listen boy, give me 2 dozens for
10...
YOUNG BUY
(interrupting)
Madam, it’s 10 for a dozen and 20
for 2. Take it or leave it!
WOMAN
(huffing)
You arrogant kid. I don’t want
anything (to her daughter) Let’s
go.
Keenly watching, Naresh smiles at the young boy as he
continues to bellow out his fixed-price deal.
EXT. A PLAYGROUND - DAY
As uneven cricket stumps lay engraved on a wall, a couple of
eight-nine year old boys darken the borders with red brick
stones, before they begin their day’s play.
Naresh solemnly stares down at his dusty track as he
continues his lonesome walk. His face bears a look of pain
and rage.
FLASHBACK:
INT. ABANDONED BUILDING - DAY
Cautiously, Naresh knocks at a door. Several moments later, a
man peers through the doorway. A few muted exchanges ensue as
Naresh is let in to the house. As Naresh enters the dimly lit
room, a few pair of eyes stare towards him. A few men with
their wives sit patiently awaiting their turn. Naresh is led
straight into a doctor’s examination room where a shabbily
dressed MAN in his early forties, sits behind the desk.
Seeing Naresh, he rises and removes a large envelope from his
desk drawers. Handing it to him, he mutters a few words as
Naresh stares astonishingly at a sheet of paper.
BACK TO SCENE.
EXT. A PLAYGROUND - DAY
Missing Naresh by an inch, a cricket ball flies across his
head, unnoticed. While the batsman sighs in relief, the young
bowler screams across the field to Naresh.
YOUNG BOWLER
(in frustration)
Oh Uncle, can’t you see?
The words fail to draw Naresh’s attention.
YOUNG BOWLER (CONT'D)
(louder)
Are you deaf?
Disturbed by the noise, Naresh turns and looks towards the
young boy.
2.
YOUNG BOWLER (CONT'D)
So you’re neither of the two. Throw
the ball, quick.
Naresh continues to stare at the young bowler, ignorant to
any questions addressed to him.
Losing his temper, the young bowler runs towards Naresh. He
picks up the ball and looks straight up into his eyes.
Through actions, he asks him whether he’s out of his mind. A
short smile appears on Naresh’s face.
Giving up, the young bowler starts walking back.
YOUNG BOWLER (CONT'D)
(murmurs)
God knows, what’s wrong with the
adults of today.
EXT. A SMALL HOUSE - NIGHT
A cluttered row of small houses shimmer in the dim evening
lights that stream through their barred windows. Petty
conversation among women is consumed by loud sounds blazing
through radio and television sets.
LAKSHMI, a young saree-clad woman in her early twenties’
walks outside a door carrying a small lit earthen lamp. Her
cautiousness and swelling belly reveal that she is a soon-to-
be mother. She moves towards the verandah and places the lamp
near the small flight of stairs.
Seeing her husband Naresh in the distance, she quickly covers
her head with her saree. Ignoring her presence, Naresh walks
up the stairs and hands her his bag. Smiling she takes the
bag and hands him a steel vessel filled with water.
LASKHMI
(smiling)
What kept you so long? Was it the
arrogant boss again?
Giving her no response, he splashes some water from the
vessel onto his face. Washing his feet, he empties the vessel
and hands it to his wife. Unperturbed by his ignorance, she
smiles and gives him a towel.
3.
LASKHMI (CONT'D)
Let me bring you some tea.
Wiping his face, Naresh enters his house.
INT. ROOM - NIGHT
Entering the room, Naresh throws the towel onto a large
wooden cot. The cot seems to occupy the small scantily
furnished room. Aimlessly, Naresh walks towards an old wooden
desk and rummages through the daily mail. His eye turns
towards the picture-laden wall in front of him.
A couple of photo frames are of his wedding where he smiles
endlessly tightly holding onto his shy newly wedded bride. A
more recent picture reveals them moving into their new house.
His attention moves to a much older picture frame. A layer of
dust fills the broken edges of the glass as the black and
white photograph is of him as a young boy with his family. As
the FATHER sits upright in the center of the frame, the
smiling mother, SMITABAI dearly clutches onto the young boy
as a slightly older girl, DIDI stands expressionless at a
distance.
FLASHBACK:
INT. PHOTO STUDIO - DAY
In a small strobe-lit studio, Smitabai clutches onto to a
nine-year old Naresh as his father sits upright in the
middle, and Didi in her early teens stands at a distance. The
shuddering CLICK of an antique camera is heard.
SMITABAI
Ok, now one with little Naresh and
me.
NARESH
(resisting)
I want to go home and play.Why
don’t you take it with Didi?
SMITABAI
Just this last one come on.
4.
Giving in, Naresh stands lazily as his mother hugs him.
Blankly,Didi looks at them from a distance. The camera
CLICKS.
NARESH
Now one with Didi.
SMIATABAI
No, that’s enough. Let’s go home
now.
BACK TO SCENE
INT. ROOM - NIGHT
Naresh continues to stare at the picture as Lakshmi enters
the room with her head covered and a cup in her hand.
LAKSHMI
Tea?
Naresh takes the cup of tea but continues to stare at the
photograph. Slowly, he takes a sip.
Just then he angrily spits out the tea and throws the cup
onto the floor. The clatter of the shattering cup frightens
Lakshmi.
Naresh angrily turns his attention to his wife and without
warning, slaps her hard across the face. With the impact,
Lakshmi falls flat on the floor.
NARESH
(screaming)
Can’t you even make a proper cup of
tea?
Tears flow down Lakshmi’s face as she stares into her
husbands frightful eyes.
LAKSHMI
(hesitantly)
But what’s wrong with it?
NARESH
(raging with anger)
Everything is wrong with you.
5.
(MORE)
Ever since I married you, all I’ve
got is bad luck.
Intentionally, he kicks her on her stomach as she shrieks
with pain.
INT. HOSPITAL WARD - DAY
Blinking into consciousness, Lakshmi hazily sees her husband
standing above her. Her mother,LAJJO a woman in her late
fifties rises from her nearby chair, as she sees Lakshmi
waking up. Rushing towards her, Lajjo sits on her bedside and
holds her by her chest.
LAJJO
(in tears)
My dear daughter, what is all this?
How did this happen to you? Please
tell me.
Lakshmi stares at her husbands expressionless eyes.
LAKSHMI
(blankly)
I slipped on the verandah floor.
Naresh stands motionless.
A middle-aged bespectacled DOCTOR followed by a nurse, enter
the ward and move towards Lakshmi’s bed.
DOCTOR
(checking her pulse)
Hope you’re doing much better. I’d
like to keep you in observation for
24 hours. You can go home after
that. Is that alright?
Lakshmi, continuing to stare at her husband, nods in
approval.
DOCTOR (CONT'D)
(turning towards Naresh)
Mr. Naresh could I please have a
word with you in my office?
Naresh looks at the Doctor, nods in agreement and follows.
6.
NARESH (CONT'D)
INT. DOCTOR’S ROOM - DAY
The doctor enters his examination room closely followed by
Naresh. He seats himself on a chair behind the desk and
signals Naresh to take a seat. Ignoring the offer, Naresh
continues to stand.
DOCTOR
I don’t know what happened out
there, but the impact of her fall
was great. I’m sorry but we
couldn’t save the child.
Naresh remains unperturbed.
DOCTOR (CONT'D)
The baby BOY had already died when
we operated on her.
Naresh rises his head in disbelief. His knees give away and
he falls into the chair.
DOCTOR (CONT'D)
...And your wife can never conceive
again.
Naresh stares spellbound straight into the doctor’s eyes.
FLASHBACK:
INT. ABANDONED BUILDING - DAY
A shabbily dressed man stands behind the desk as Naresh
carefully examines a sheet of paper with a look of disbelief.
MAN
(regretfully)
I’m sorry to tell you but you’re
going to have a girl child.
Naresh looks up at the man, bearing a cheated and dejected
look on his face.
MAN (CONT'D)
(proudly)
We do abortions as well, you know.
7.
(MORE)
I, personally guarantee the
secrecy.
Without a word, Naresh turns around and leaves the room.
BACK TO SCENE.
INT. HOSPITAL - DAY
The door bursts open as Naresh exits the doctor’s room in
rage. Doubled with pace he makes his way through the hospital
corridors. Two steps at a time, he hurries along the stairway
and makes his way out through the hospital main door.
INT. ABANDONED BUILDING - DAY
Naresh knocks profusely at an apartment door. A man peers
through the half-opened doorway. Without a word, Naresh
bursts his way in. A chaos ensues. A few pregnant women along
with their husbands turn towards the commotion. Naresh forces
his way into the examination room. The shabbily dressed man
stands besides a make-shift observation table and uses a
sonography machine to examine a pregnant woman.
He objects Naresh’s unauthorized entrance but is caught
midway as a hard punch lands on his face. He falls back onto
his desk as Naresh continues to kick him on his chest. The
doctor howls in defence but the bashing doesn’t stop.
A large blow hits Naresh on the back of his head. He loses
balance and falls flat on the floor. The door man lands some
more blows with a steel rod as a set of kicks and punches
follow.
EXT. ABANDONED BUILDING - DAY
Thrown out of the apartment, a bloody and bruised Naresh
staggers back onto his feet. Painfully, he lunges himself
down the stairs. He drags his feet and walks out of the
building.
Naresh limps to a roadside tea-stall and picks up a glass of
water. Burning in pain,he cleans the bruises on his body and
washes the blood away.
8.
MAN (CONT'D)
Carefully, he seats himself on a wooden bench. A SMALL BOY
appears with a ragged cloth and cleans his table.
SMALL BOY
What would you like to have Sir?
Naresh stares at the small boy.
NARESH
Get me a glass of tea.
FLASHBACK:
INT. DINING HALL - DAY
About fifty unoccupied tables fill up a large empty hall.
Steel plates and spoons lay on the table in an organized
fashion.
A shrill factory siren is heard and an army of workers clad
in khaki overalls enter the hall carrying their lunch boxes.
Naresh places himself at one of the tables and eagerly opens
his tiffin. He bites into his roti and reaches for his
favorite chicken curry. Just then a pair of hands pick up his
plate and start hogging on the food. RAVI and JOGINDER, young
men in their late twenties take their seats opposite Naresh.
RAVI
(stuffing his mouth with
food)
Your wife still sends the best food
in the whole factory, man.
JOGINDER
I agree, ever since my kids came
along, my wife gives me their
leftovers. (to Naresh) This period
isn’t going to last too long for
you, buddy. Your kid is on the way,
too.
NARESH
(smiling)
Waiting for that day when I’ll hold
my son in these arms.
9.
(MORE)
Teach him how to walk, how to hold
to bat like Sachin Tendulkar. Maybe
even, give him some tips to woo
girls.
JOGINDER
(sighs)
Ah, the joys of having a son. With
a daughter all you have is a new
list of responsibilities. You pay
for her childhood, you pay to get
her married and after that she
gives back only to her new family.
RAVI
(smirking)
Shut up, Joginder. Naresh still
doesn’t know if he’s going to have
a girl or a boy. (looking away)
Man, I need some tea.
A grim and anxious expression appears on Naresh’s face.
BACK TO SCENE
EXT. TEA STALL - DAY
SMALL BOY
Sir, your tea.
Naresh jostles back to the present. He picks up the glass of
tea and takes a long look at it. Without having a sip he
instantly gets up from his seat places some money on the
table and hails for a taxi.
INT. HOSPITAL WARD - DAY
Lakshmi is awoken from her sleep by a shout coming from the
doorway. Smitabai, in her early sixties, angrily approaches
her bed.
SMITABAI
You wretched soul. What have you
done? I knew you were the wrong
choice, the moment you walked into
my son’s life.
10.
NARESH (CONT'D)
(MORE)
You couldn’t even give me a
grandson and now you never will be
able to, just because of your
carelessness. Slipped on the
verandah,huh (spits in disgust)
Lakshmi stares at her mother-in-law in fear as her own mother
hugs her even tightly.
LAJJO
(kindly)
Please, what all are you saying?
This isn’t her fault. She...
SMIATABAI
(interrupting)
She has only brought in bad luck to
this house. It’s my fault that I
agreed to your marriage proposal.
We didn’t even demand for too much
dowry, and this is how your
daughter thanks us?
NARESH
Mother, stop it. Let it be.
Standing at the doorway, Naresh listens to his mother’s word.
He calmly enters and goes towards Lakshmi. He gives her a
glance and then turns towards his mother.
NARESH (CONT'D)
I have decided what needs to be
done.(pauses) I am going to have a
second marriage. (turns to Lakshmi)
And I’m sure Lakshmi will agree.
Lakshmi looks into her husband’s eye in disbelief as a tear
rolls down her cheek.
A FEW MONTHS LATER
EXT. HOUSE - DAY
The verandah of the house bustles with marriage preparations.
Marigold petals adorn the stairway as flickering lights
shimmer the door frame.
11.
SMITABAI (CONT'D)
In the center of the verandah, the holy fire burns as Naresh
clad in a bridegroom suit, awaits for the arrival of the
bride. Ravi and Joginder hover around him congratulating him
for his marriage.
The music of the shehnai begins to fill the air as REVA a
twenty-year old bride enters the area followed by a long line
of married woman. Following closely is Lakshmi, helping Reva
through her steps and making sure that every piece of jewelry
is in place.
Reva seats herself next to Naresh as the priest begins to
perform the marriage rituals. Naresh is asked to take the
gold necklace and strap it onto Reva’s neck. Naresh seems to
struggle with it. A hand appears from the side and helps
Naresh to tie the necklace. Naresh looks over to see Lakshmi
smiling and helping him with the task.
A sudden flush of guilt appears on Naresh’s face but almost
instantaneously fades away as the tempo of the music rises
and guests rejoice in celebration.
FADE TO BLACK.
THE SCREEN READS:
AS MANY AS 10 MILLION GIRLS IN INDIA HAVE BEEN KILLED BY
THEIR PARENTS EITHER BEFORE OR IMMEDIATELY AFTER BIRTH OVER
THE PAST 20 YEARS.
THE WOMAN HAS TO SUFFER FROM THE MOTHER’S WOMB IS NOT A NEW
CONCEPT. THIS CONCEPT IS AS OLD AS CIVILIZATION ITSELF.
FADE OUT.
12.

Never Born exists with the intention of taking you above the glass shelved comfortable cushy lives that we live in and placing you in line with the true realities that characteriize real India

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Writing by

Sharat Kumar

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