A white-bearded storyteller dressed in a plain cotton dhoti carrying a long staff and a small shiva drum enters a village of working people and asks them to stop what they are doing and listen for a while - be transformed and transported. Around them there are outcrops of rocks ( dancers covered with stone coloured sheets). There are two fake scarecrows on the stage amongst the farm equipment. MANAV comes onto the stage - addressing the audience. MANAV What a life this is! Nothing but woes from sun-up till sun-down. WOMAN Oh come on you misery - look on the bright side! MANAV There is no bright side - we are born - we struggle to live - we die - end of story. Where’s the bright side? Children run on shouting - the storyteller - the storyteller. WOMAN The storyteller - the story teller is coming. MANAV So - and what good is that? STORYTELLER Come - come gather round. Come along. Honourable people, lay down your tools for a while. Come hear a tale. Shelter the cows beneath the shady oak. Take a seat on the muddy banks. Tuck your feet in and listen. Come now, come. MANAV Never mind stories - we have work to do. Why waste our time on stories? Your fantasies are just that - fantasies. What has anyone ever achieved with fantasies? The storyteller is taken aback a little by the young man's hostility. WOMAN Never mind him, this is MANAV - he's a misery. ANOTHER WOMAN But we all want to hear a story don't we?


To audience... Children gather round the storyteller who seems to be more taken with MANAV who continues working while everyone else stops. MANAV What good can stories do? Can they thatch my leaky roof? Can they feed my pigs, or pull up the weeds? Go on, tell me one good thing that can be achieved through stories. Then I'll listen to you. STORYTELLER There's more to life than mending roofs - stories can mend people! MANAV Pah, what a load of rubbish! Are you saying your story can mend me? STORYTELLER Only if you're broken. Are you broken? MANAV Yes - just like everyone else in this rotten world. WOMAN (indicating the youth) I'm sure we'd all be happy if you could tell a story that would make this gloomy guts cheer up. But I suppose that’s not possible? Storyteller thinks. STORYTELLER Maybe it is - maybe it isn’t - It's not really up to me - after all I don't make up the stories. CHILDREN Yes you do - you do. We've seen you! STORY TELLER I don't… but I know where I can get them ... WOMAN Where ? Where? The storyteller looks around and then holds up his drum. STORY TELLER With my talking drum.


MANAV Pah - pick up your tools, people. This man is mad. The storyteller continues to hold up his drum, turning it as if it were a radar following a signal. STORY TELLER (Indicating his drum - which is twitching in his hand) She's listening now… Shhh... you'll frighten it away. WOMAN (to other woman) Frighten what away? The storyteller performs the following action for the benefit of the Manav who tries to ignore the storyteller's antics - but to no avail! Suddenly on a light wind we hear a disembodied voice whispering 'once upon a time' repeatedly... The old man follows nimbly after his drum which follows the voice. Then, as if he were about to pounce on a butterfly, his drum held high, the Storyteller spins his drum "thwack" - making everyone jump. - the voice now gone. He listens with his ear to the drum and nods appreciatively . Everyone is watching now. WOMAN What did you catch? STORY TELLER A story... (pause) that can heal people! MANAV Are you saying that for my benefit? Well if you are - you're on... I'll put down my tools and listen to your story if you do as you say and mend me like you said! But if you don’t and it’s all just a lot of fantasy... STORY TELLER Yes? MANAV I'll spoil your story! And no one here will enjoy it! Indicates the people on the stage and the audience Alright?


The storyteller listens to the drum again as if unsure he can do what is asked... MANAV See, he's lost his nerve now... or has his talking drum lost its tongue? The storyteller listens to the drum once more- and then nods. He rises to his feet, in the middle of the villagers. STORY TELLER Listen now one and all - and I shall tell you the story of the sleeping beauty! The beauty that sleeps inside us all! The storyteller spins his drum, quietly and slowly at first. Gradually though the irregular rhythm gets faster and louder as it is augmented by the sounds of conches blowing and dolaks beating. The sound of the gods signaling the dawn of time. From around the villagers the rocks start to move as dancers rise up. The villagers exit.

SCENE TWO THE CELESTIAL PALACE Music and drums. The King and Queen rise up from beneath the rocks - they dance and take their position on the tableau. RIGHT SIDE / CREATIVITY/GODDESS dances on - she has a sitar - then makes her way to the tableau LEFT SIDE /EMOTION/GODDESS - dances - then makes her way to the tableau CENTRE GODDESS / PEACE dances - then makes her way to the tableau THE WARRIOR does some tai chi and takes his position on the tableau. INNOCENCE - Dances with her two little consorts. (CHILDREN) and takes her position on the tableau. WISDOM - walks on with his scroll and quill. There is a crescendo in the music and the subtle system is activated - chakras are spun and flowers and glitter strewn. The dancers hold their postures as the story teller walks onto the stage.


STORYTELLER No one knows where the celestial palace and its many courtyards came from - and who crafted its three mighty towers with their seven floors - or who built the high walls that ran around the palace with its two great golden gates But, no doubt, the celestial palace was there and the people who lived within its walls: (people walk on and sit at the feet of the gods) lived lives, carefree and full of laughter - because innocence played amongst them innocence runs through and tickles them (bell stick) and they roll about and laugh (returns to tableau) they were learned and filled with knowledge - because wisdom schooled them wisdom mimes reading from his great tome their lives were filled with beauty - because creativity sang to them

a muse (Saraswati) strums her veena and sings to them (Saraswati vandana) from tableau they were contented and satisfied because peace gave them everything they desired peace throws down blossoms from the tableau as people they were fearless and confident because fortitude protected them

warrior comes forward and does tai chi type thing with wooden staff

Not much is known of the origins of the subtle kingdom, or of the divine authorities who ruled within its walls or, indeed, of the benevolent King and Queen who watched over them all, but there is no doubt that the people who lived within that kingdom were happier than anyone before or since. Which is why it’s so hard to understand how on a certain day, at a certain time, a certain question entered the minds of the citizens of the palace. Some say the idea


blew in on an ill wind over the palace wall. Others say that a raven dropped it there as it flew across the kingdom, on its way to who knows where. But wherever the question came from, it was there, and it had to be asked. raven caws. CITIZEN Tell us, O King, what lies beyond the great gates? May we not go through them and see these things for ourselves? KING I'm surprised you ask this question. Are you not happy here? Do you not want for nothing? CITIZEN But we want the same freedoms that you have. We want to be separate so that we can go through the gates as we wish! KING debates with the qualities Innocence tells me to protect you, and not to grant what you ask, but wisdom tells me that innocence regained is often stronger than innocence never lost. You may have your wish. STORYTELLER And with that, the great gates were opened for the first time, and the people came and went as they chose. Music as citizens push the gates apart, and all 'went' The king and queen step out of the tableau. KING AND QUEEN SCENE The king looks concerned, pacing round the room. The queen smiles serenely, sitting in meditation KING looks out of the window See how they come and go between the two worlds, happy with their new-found freedom. And yet I am troubled. Their faces have lost some of their light. Their singing not so sweet. Or am I worrying for no reason - can you see a difference? Maybe I'm too protective of my people, but I sense they grow distant from us. Tell me my Queen, how can we strengthen the bonds of love between the gods and people again? the queen smiles


KING You seem so serene. Is it possible that you are not troubled? QUEEN stand up Last night, I was uneasy, like you. But in my dreams I saw someone, radiant and magnetic, whose presence refreshed me and filled me with love. And a voice in my dream told me not to fear: that that divine being, would be coming here to live amongst us at the palace. And that when She does, the bond between ourselves and humanity will be forged anew. KING This is indeed good news, but many years may pass before your dream comes true. Did the voice say when this person will come? QUEEN No … but the palace physician did. KING What? I don't understand. QUEEN She will be with us in eight months and two weeks. She touches her stomach tenderly. Understanding dawns on the king's face. He kneels down at his wife’s feet. STORYTELLER And exactly as his wife said, after eight months and two weeks to the day a beautiful baby girl was born, and the proud couple were eager to share the great news with their people. Sound effect of baby giggling. The king and all the deities move forward; the third goddess places the baby in the king's arms. KING, holding up the child, addresses the audience Oh divine inhabitants of the subtle palace, our kingdom has been blessed. See here, now, our darling baby daughter, your future monarch, an emissary of joy from the realms beyond. I invite you all to celebrate with us this fortunate event in a few days hence, when we will all gather here to give this child a name. Cheers and whoops.


SCENE THREE THE NAMING OF THE CHILD All the court residents come forward to the regal music ending in a beautiful arrangement with the crib of the divine child at the centre of the stage and the grand assembly around it. The King comes forward to address the audience. QUEEN Even before our daughter was born her presence has been accompanied by the most wonderful sensation - a cool vibration that fills the air with auspiciousness whenever she is around. A feeling that can be felt on your fingertips - a living dancing - divine grace! And because of this we had no choice but to call our daughter and your princess after that energy. KING Good People of the Celestial Palace - see no before you PRINCESS GRACE! All the congregation clap. Conches blow etc... One by one the deities come forward to give gifts to the child. Each says something short and pithy - can be written by actors! (5 max) As they finish giving their gifts an old woman struggles through the crowd. AVIDYA (in disguise) Let an old woman through. Please let me near the child - I am old and desire very much to see her. Finally the three goddesses come forward. GODDESS 1 You will be the pure knowledge and will give mankind the ability to create scriptures of such depth and value that for thousands for years poets will praise thee.... She kisses the forehead of the child GODDESS 2 I say to you, little one, that on thy 18th birthday you shall be my pure desire and will have the power to awaken the pure desire in men..... to rise above their mortal selves.....and touch the skies of their immortal being..... She kisses the child. As she does Shri Mahalaksmi comes forward but as she is about to confer upon the child her gift... GODDESS 3 Now I shall bestow my gift, the last gift of the day...


Enter AVIDYA AVIDYA (in disguise) Wait a moment - wait a moment. Let me through. She pushes past the warrior So here is the bonny baby that everyone wants to see. Oh, and isn't she a pretty little baby! So much fuss over one so small. KING AND QUEEN But who are you? No one here recognizes you - what is your name? AVIDYA I am just a poor old lady who also wishes to bless the child. KING AND QUEEN But who are you? AVIDYA Oh you will see soon enough - now let me through. The warrior stands in front of Avidya barring her way. WARRIOR Come no further. Something about you is not good. AVIDAY Oh You flatter me. Now move aside I want to see the baby - hold her - stroke her cheek. Divine Warrior is repulsed and lifts his club. DIVINE WARRIOR Let me destroy this vile creature. AVIDYA Oh try, try, but how will you destroy something that they (indicates King and Queen) did not create? KING We did not create? But we created everything. AVIDYA


Think back to the day when mankind asked for it’s own freedom? On that day they also received the power to imagine and create whatever they like. Me. I live inside them and if you destroy me you must destroy them too. Go on - try! The guests all stand back in horror. The soldiers try to strike her down with their swords but AVIDYA is powerful and holds them back with an unseen force as she moves towards the Crib. But there is one who can destroy me - this child! but not if I destroy her first. For I tell you this - before the day of her 18th birthday, your dear princess grace will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and will FALL DOWN DEAD. And along with her, all of you will fall, for my day is DUE. Take heed - My curse will prevail. She exits. QUEEN Oh my little one... Oh my darling... The third Goddess steps forward into the distraught company. GODDESS 3 Fear not for I have yet to bestow my gift on the little one. Alas, the magic this shadowy queen used carries a terrible potency and I cannot undo the curse completely - but I can reduce its effect... All the court turn to listen. For if, as the She says, the Princess pricks her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel she will not die at all - no - not die - but sleep. She will sleep... Great relief all around. QUEEN That is good then for when she sleeps we will wake her. The fairy does not answer. GODDESS 3 I fear there is more to the curse than that, my Queen. You see when the Princess sleeps - the celestial palace, and all who live within it will sleep with her.

QUEEN But what about our People? They are innocent - guileless - like as to children - how will they fare if their connections to our Subtle Kingdom are destroyed - if we sleep? If they fall under his control?


KING But that is a sleep as good as any death - how shall it be ended? How shall she be woken! GODDESS 3 There is a chance my lord... KING/SADA SHIVA What is it? Pray tell us... Offer some light. GODDESS THREE Only mankind can undo this curse! QUEEN But how? GODDESS THREE By surrendering the illusion of freedom that they hold so dear, and asking for the true freedom of the Spirit! KING What there is even more! GODDESS THREE There is only a thousand years in which the curse can be lifted - after that the there will be no awakening! KING Then I have heard enough! Let it be decreed from this moment forth that there will be a ban upon all spindles, pins and needles within these palace walls. Any chance for her to prick her finger must never arise! Close the gates! The princess shall never leave her chamber. She will play here, eat here, reside here until these eighteen years have passed. And never will she be burdened with the knowledge of what passed this day until she has grown to womanhood and is safe once more. SCENE 4 DAY BEFORE THE PRINCESS’S WOMANHOOD

STORYTELLER Time passed and the Princess grew into a beautiful girl and in all that time she was never allowed to be alone or to walk freely amongst the people as she so desired. But as the eighteen years passed the day when she would be free drew closer until it was only one day away.


We see INNOCENCE, fun and lively and Goddess 3 (not the most attractive of names), calm but compassionate... GODDESS 3 Where is she? is she coming? INNOCENCE Yes - she is with the councillors who are going over tomorrow’s proceedings - again. Telling her what to wear and how to stand and how she must bow and what she should say and what she shouldn't say, and how she should walk - regally - head up - but not too far - and how she certainly must not skip or run with the children when the gates are opened. Which of course she will! They both laugh. GODDESS 3 Of course she will - She will do just that. (they laugh) How hard it must be for her to be imprisoned like this! INNOCENCE I think she will be glad when tomorrow is over. GODDESS 3 Won't we all! INNOCENCE She is coming... The princess enters carrying a harp - looking a bit down. She wears a kundalini motif - just to over-emphasize who she is! GODDESS 3 What is it your highness? INNOCENCE Is your golden prison feeling smaller than ever? Is 17 years of our company finally wearing you out? GODDESS 3 Almost 18 years! The princess sits and strums her harp - she is not sulky.


PRINCESS GRACE Why is it that after so many years of living in this room, never being able to explore or enjoy a moment’s spontaneity, today seems to be the longest?

Oh Sister (to goddess) can I not go out even for a moment? At least to watch the preparations for tomorrow's celebrations. The great bell is being polished and the women of the town have hung coloured lanterns in all the trees and that the little children have drawn chalk flowers on the palace steps. Can I not go and wave to them - just for a minute? GODDESS 3 Oh, please your highness - just wait until tomorrow - for when the great bell is struck your freedom begins! PRINCESS GRACE I know... I know... I have waited a long time for the day but why is it tomorrow’s freedoms make today seem so much longer? She looks from the window at the sun. Kidding around. She watches for a while through the window and points to an imaginary bird. Look, see up there in the sky - That little white bird. See as it twists and flies without thinking. Her two friends join her. My nature is just the same. Not imprisoned at all. How I dream of walking through those gates tomorrow morning. I have a great calling you know. GODDESS 3 Yes, we are aware of it! Music plays... SONG: SWOOP Oh Swoop little bird how I love to see you fly Early in the morning up in the clear blue sky For somehow when I see you I feel that I am free like you


Oh Little Birdie - fly Swoop little bird above the city walls Heed the voice of freedom As In your heart she calls For somehow when I see you I feel that I can fly like you Oh little birdie - Fly Freedom - oh oh Sweet freedom Write it in the blue In words the world can see For everyone to read and teach our hearts to fly like you Little birdie yeah... The music loses it's bluesiness as the three friends dance - The Princess and Innocence pretending to be birds. Fun and joy and smiles. They all laugh. The mood changes. An ominous chord as the Princess watches from the window. A raven caws. PRINCESS GRACE How strange. The little bird is gone. It was as if a dark shape snatched it from the sky. There it is again, a shadow - no , it is a black bird, a raven, that holds the lark in it's beak. Look and now it has dropped it into the courtyard outside. How cruel! See it hasn't fallen far from here, let me fetch it. GODDESS 3 No! Princess, it is not safe. Go call the guards! PRINCESS GRACE Bring me the bird... INNOCENCE Don't worry I will bring the bird. Innocence exits. PRINCESS GRACE Why did you call the guards? Why are you so anxious? No one ever says what they are protecting me from. Tell me - please.


GODDESS 3 I cannot. I have sworn - But there are things outside the castle walls that are not good. PRINCESS GRACE But you must tell me! Tell me what it is you try to protect me from. GODDESS 3 Someone uninvited came to your naming ceremony - AVIDYA is her name. She hates you because you are that can destroy her and she laid a curse on you saying that before you reached your 18th birthday, that you would fall asleep for a thousand years and that when you slept the palace would sleep too - and that is why we protect you - that is our secret. PRINCESS GRACE But why are you so concerned for me? I'm not afraid of this AVIDYA. With every minute that I approach my coming birthday, I tell you, I feel the strongest feeling rising up within me, as if I will be invincible. GODDESS 3 Let me just hear the great bell strike for your coming of age and then things will be different - the curse will be over and we can live once more! Innocence enters holding the little bird. INNOCENCE Don't be sad my Princess but the little bird will fly no more. PRINCESS GRACE Please give him to me. Innocence hands her the little bird (that is cunningly attached to an invisible string on the end of a fishing pole). PRINCESS GRACE For what is darkness but an absence of light - and what is death but an absence of life? - these are not qualities in themselves - they have no essence - they are lacking substance. But I tell you that I feel in me the very essence of life itself growing stronger by the minute. So that to me death is nothing at all! She holds the small bird on her outstretched palm and lifts it towards her lips where she sings to it gently - a few lines of indian music and then blows onto the dead bird. (Like Shri Mataji blowing into the microphone.)


PRINCESS GRACE Feel now the breeze as it blows. The two deities put out their hands in surprise. Very slowly the bird's wings move and it lifts up from her hand. PRINCESS GRACE See - see - now I will be safe. Go now - little bird - into the world and if I should ever fall into a deep sleep, bring someone to me who will wake me! Seek out the ones who seek! The "Swoop" musical theme is reprised as The Princess dances with Innocence. Exit.


STORYTELLER Finally the great day came when the Princess would be free and the curse lifted as smiling crowds gathered at the gates to hear the King took his podium. KING For 18 years my daughter has been a virtual prisoner in this palace and in all that time she has begged us, pleaded us, to let her walk out on the parapets; to look down over the villages and towns; to run amongst you little children; to talk with you and be with you. To share your burdens and to ease your pain. But again and again we refused her but not today - today the shadow is lifted and she is free. He looks around. All look around. Where is she - fetch the princess! SCENE 6 INSIDE THE PRINCESS’S CHAMBER The princess is looking around her chamber as INNOCENCE stands by the door. Somewhere a raven is cawing. INNOCENCE The gates are opening. Princess come quickly!


PRINCESS Listen. It’s that bird again. Where is it calling from? It sounds so close. Suddenly the door slams shut. The Princess bangs on the door as her HANDMAIDEN calls from the other side. INNOCENCE Princess - Princess... PRINCESS It’s stuck - push, push. I cannot be late I will be in such trouble. Where is the call coming from? A strange music rises up. A rhythmic, mechanical - spinning wheel music. The sound of cawing. AVIDYA From here my dear - it was so close. But now it has gone. Avidya next to her spinning wheel . PRINCESS GRACE But who are you? Why are you not watching the preparations? AVIDYA I have been spinning - no time to stop. Working my fingers to the bone. PRINCESS GRACE Spinning? - I never saw anyone spinning in the castle before. Is it allowed? Why it is that you are spinning on this important day? AVIDYA Oh I must gather the thread to finish the veil. If you are interested come closer and I will show you. The princess steps towards the spinning wheel as Avidya works the pedal with her foot. The lights of spinning shadows are projected onto the stage. See how the wheel races - round and round - faster and faster. Like the wheel of time turning - never stopping - never stopping. And see how the treadle treads and the shuttle flies - pulling the wool away from the sharp and shiny spindle, little by little until it is gone - Come closer. You can thread the spindle yourself. It isn't hard Give me your hand.


PRINCESS But what is this thread that is so dark and coarse? What is it made from? AVIDYA Doubts and illusions to blind men’s hearts - to make my veil my pretty veil. We hear a knock on the door as people try to get it in. But the Princess is in a trance now as she watches the wheels and the music builds. INNOCENCE Princess come quickly the gates are opening - the bells are about to ring out.

AVIDYA Watch the shadows spin - round and around - But don't touch the shiny spindle for it can give such a nasty sting! AS the music builds to a climax AVIDYA touches the girl's hand onto the spindle. AVIDYA So you think my curse of death has been foiled! Oh no - it hasn’t for if someone comes to tries to wake you my pretty I will be waiting for him - I will be waiting!

SCENE 7 THE STRICKEN PALACE Music plays as all around the deities start to yawn and fall asleep. AVIDYA Sleep one - sleep all. AVIDYA mocks Divine Warrior as he tries to fight but cannot. Sleep, great protectors of man's virtues. Sleep Innocence - Sleep wisdom! Avidya watches in glee as Shri Saraswati falls to sleep. She walks between the sleeping gods mocking all. AVIDYA


Sleep Mighty King and Queen - sleep... for your reign is over now... your time has passed - and mine has just begun! Finally Avidya turns to the crowd who watch in horror. AVIDYA Rise up thorns - rise up briar Blackened by ungodly fires Climb and twist into the skies Hide the palace from man’s eyes

As he does the stage is flooded with dark figures who bind with briars the celestial palace. A black cloth cut into the shape of briars and dark thorns is loosed down over the beautiful backdrop of the celestial palace. STORYTELLER And as the villagers ran in horror, the thick limbs of blackened briars twisted, and snaked up behind them, obscuring the celestial palace from view. And where before the people had been bound together by love - they were now scattered apart their eyes filled with dark secrets - for if the shadowy forest grew anywhere the fastest it was there, behind the human eye, and around the human heart. SCENE 8 INTER-SONG Meta sings a song - images of mankind’s ills projected.

SCENE 9 MANAV BECOMES THE HERO The Story Teller and the little group of villagers sit listening again. The scarecrows and sparse farm equipment behind them. (This time the scarecrows are real people!) STORY TELLER He walks between the villagers. At first the young men came, full of courage, convinced that they would be the ones to penetrate to the heart of the forest's mystery. But none did succeed, and their bones were left to bleach among the tangled briars. Until finally, with the thousand


years almost past, all memory of the sleeping beauty was gone and the forest had become a place of terror that none dared even to mention, let alone enter. ANOTHER WOMAN Wooh! WOMAN But surely someone will come and wake the princess, won't they? STORYTELLER I don't know; it's not up to me taps the drum MANAV Oh come off it - of course someone will come and we all know what he will be like as well. There is nothing special about this story! STORY TELLER You know this story do you? Then tell us what the hero will be like. MANAV He'll be a Prince on a great fancy horse of course - with a great golden sword and... and a great golden shield... all the usual stuff... and he'll ride past all the peasants like us and we will all cheer him for being such a good chap and yet he won’t even notice us standing there... and we won’t even get a mention - as he rides off into the sunset with the girl. You know the usual story stuff. STORY TELLER Is that so... maybe you’re right... let's see. He listens to his drum. MANAV Here we go again... WOMAN Shhh.... The storyteller listens while the people watch him as he nods and considers what the drum is telling him. Even Manav starts to think he is really listening. STORY TELLER He doesn't have a horse... or a golden sword. He has a staff, and his shoes are worn out from walking (Pause)


MANAV That's more like it… The storyteller listens - there is more. STORY TELLER He is as tall ... as you! (points to Manav), he wears a grey shawl like you.... and .... (listens to drum) he is long-faced and ... (pause)... never smiles! WOMAN (Understanding where the storyteller is going) And he needs a wash ... ANOTHER WOMAN He needs a wife .... Laughter all around MANAV I don't, that's the last thing I need (pause) Wait a minute where are you going with this? Listens again... STORY TELLER And his name is... MANAV! WOMAN He is you... Children gather around MANAV - shouting MANAV over and over. MANAV Hold on a minute, I don't like where this is going. I can't be your hero ... STORY TELLER I'm just listening to the drum... maybe you're right. He puts the drum away... Pause - as the storyteller watches Manav from the corner of his eye. MANAV What else does it say about ... about the hero?


ST listens again STORYTELLER It says he wears a blue hat. MANAV Well, that settles it then - I haven't got a blue hat. WOMAN I've got one! (She passes it to the Storyteller, who places it on Manav's head. Storyteller listens to drum again... STORY TELLER And he carries a magic staff that he can use to get him out of trouble! Looking round for one. Here take mine. Manav takes the staff and looks at it. MANAV It doesn’t look very magic! STORY TELLER Oh it is - you’ll see... MANAV Wait a minute I can’t be your hero. I don't have a fancy horse or a golden sword I'm just a nobody. STORY TELLER You are a man. MANAV So what? And we all know what men are! STORYTELLER Do we? Do you? Pause. The storyteller and Manav look at each other.


MANAV tears off the hat But I will still stop your story if you don't keep your promise! STORYTELLER You can! MANAV But how can I be in your story? I don’t know what to say or do? STORY TELLER Never mind all that - Here, look at me ... Manav does - The Storyteller suddenly taps him lightly on the head with the Drum. Sound effect. Story teller resuming the story. He walks around MANAV who stands for a moment unsure of where he is. As he looks at his hands and his clothes as if for the first time. And even though Avidya's forest of thorns had all but ensnared the hearts of men there were a few still who remembered something of that time before - and even though the vague and haunting memory was at times unwanted and troubling, it was there nevertheless - causing those who did remember to be dissatisfied with everything around them, and angry, because they knew not what to replace it with. Manav picks up his tools and continues working - slightly puzzled. VOICE OFF Manav - Manav - where are you? Manav stands and watches as the FOREMAN comes onto the stage. He has red marks on his forehead and is rubbing his head in obvious pain. FOREMAN There you are - where've you been? MANAV Do I know you? FOREMAN You what? Listen we're doing you a favour even letting you live in this village. Now listen up, there's big trouble brewing! MANAV What's happening?


FOREMAN looks around to make sure no one is watching him. FOREMAN It's only the blooming King and his royal en-tour-aj dropped in for a quick inspection of the village to make sure we're not stealing any of his precious corn. MANAV Corn? FOREMAN Corn - taxes - same difference! Anyway. I heard that the King had the foreman in the next village flogged for letting birds eat the corn in his corn fields - so look lively, and, if you want to stay in this village, keep those birds off his blinking "taxes". Rubs his head again. FOREMAN And another thing: if the king's son happens to shoot you with his catapult, whatever you do, keep it buttoned, just smile and say, "Good shot!". Otherwise ... draws his finger across his throat. Foreman leaves. MANAV Same old, same old. Boring jobs and angry bosses. Well, if I want to stay in this village, I suppose I'll just have to get on with it. Shouts and starts flapping his arms around. Noise of cawing. Hey, you, get off the corn! Scoot, skedaddle, get out of it! The scarecrows lift up their heads, and observe Manav. SCARECROW ONE I hope he's got a union card. MANAV What? Who said that? SCARECROW TWO He did - he's obsessed with the rule book. MANAV looks around Hello? Is somebody there? SCARECROW ONE Look at him - he's not even following the proper dress code.


Manav suddenly notices the scarecrows watching him. They have freckles and missing teeth, and straw for hair. They have a wooden pole through their arms, restricting their movements. MANAV What? What? He looks at them for a second, nonplussed. You just spoke to me! SCARECROW ONE Someone ought to speak to you, you clearly don't know what you're doing. There are laws against impersonating a scarecrow. SCARECROW TWO Never mind him, he's got no manners. Pleased to meet you. You must be our new colleague. Manav sits down and scratches his head. MANAV You did just speak to me! How is that possible? SCARECROW TWO Anything's possible here - you're in a story now, you know. Manav looks around again, nodding, as if taking stock of this new turn of events. SCARECROW ONE Not much of a story for him, though, is it? Chasing away crows in this god-forsaken little village, dressed like that ... it's hardly Hamlet or Die Hard 3. To Manav Come on, do something! Manav sits down, a bit depressed. MANAV Why should I? I want to stay in this god-forsaken village - thank you! SCARECROW TWO Leave him alone. SCARECROW ONE Leave him alone? I'm not going to leave him alone. There's people watching. To Manav This is your story - make the most of it! Haven't you got a quest you should be on? This scene can be extended for gags etc. but for now we'll move on!


MANAV Who, me? No. My quest is the same as it's ever been - to keep my head down and my nose clean. SCARECROW ONE That's hardly very aspirational. MANAV Aspirational? What is there to aspire to in this rotten world? Making money, getting power, exploiting people, cheating, robbing, stealing? Then what? You build up a great big fortune just to live in terror of the day when death takes it all away from you. No, there's no point to life anyway, so I may as well waste it here as anywhere else. At least there's a lot less effort involved. Shoos the birds away again. Come on, get off that corn! SCARECROW TWO Oh, so world-weary for one so young. He groans and pulls himself off the upright pole. Goes over to Manav, who is now sitting with his head in his hands, and tries to give him a hug (not an easy task, as he still has the pole through his arms). Drapes one arm over Manav's shoulder. Young man - young man, it can't be as bad as all that. Don't listen to that bully. Tell your Uncle all about it. Are you under a black cloud?

MANAV You make it sound like things could somehow get better, but there is only blackness. We're all of us at a crossroad, but all the roads lead to nowhere. There is no meaning, and our curse is that we have the awareness to know that. SCARECROW ONE Aren't you the life and soul of the party! SCARECROW TWO Oh never mind him - what you need is a bit of a laugh - a joke to cheer you up. How about this one - Why did the scarecrow win the nobel prize? SCARECROW ONE (deadpan) Because he was out standing in his field. SCARECROW TWO Spoiling my punch line - that’s the last straw that is. SCARECROW ONE I’ll give you the last straw.


They fight pulling straw out from each other. Manav moves over to the front of the stage - he absent minded-ly throws at the birds as the music plays. The two scarecrows stop fighting as they become aware of him... And his song. He sings, haunting piano music Somewhere in the past I was so sure Life to me was like an open door Happy with my lot And with all I'd got Happy just to be, happy being me Easy with myself, in love with love itself Happy and just glad to be alive Somewhere in the past I lost that joy Left it with that happy little boy It fell out from my hand, I left it in a land To which there's no return And though my heart it yearns It seems just like a dream That might have never been So how now can I bear to live this life? Someday - somehow - somewhere Someday - somehow - somewhere Someday - somehow - somewhere I’ll find her

Scarecrows takes off their neckerchiefs to wipe their eyes - they have to wipe each other's of course, because of the rods up their arms. Scarecrows waltz together in the coda. Suddenly at the end of the song the little white bird the Princess sent out lands on the corn. The dancer who holds the pole (think: lion king) on which the white bird is carried beckons to Manav to follow her. MANAV Look at that bird! How odd! The way it watches me. SCARECROW ONE


Aw look he's found a friend - odd friendship between a bird and scarecrow. Go on get it off the corn before the king sees you! MANAV Don’t worry I will do, give me a moment, can you feel that... ? He puts his hands out. Little bells. SCARECROW ONE Never mind all that! You heard the Foreman - get that bird off the corn - you'll end up with your head on a spike. Now look, someone’s coming. Suddenly coming to his senses. MANAV What am I doing - I must be going crazy! Come on shoo! Get out of it! You'll lose me my job - come on clear off. Suddenly there is a thwack sound and Manav slaps his hand to his head. MANAV Ow!!!! What was that? It happens again. Onto the stage comes a little boy with a catapult. MANAV The king's son! Oh good shot your highness. Really, top shooting you got me right in the ear. LITTLE TOFF No - it wasn't a good shot you vagabond I was aiming for your eye! MANAV OH - still a good effort! LITTLE TOFF Now move out of the way I want to kill that little bird behind you helping itself to my Father’s taxes. The little boy loads and shoots as Manav jumps in the way and gets hit again. LITTLE TOFF You did that on purpose - now move out of the way and let me kill it!


MANAV looks greatly troubled. SCARECROW ONE Move out of the way! It's the king's son... SCARECROW TWO Oh but it is a lovely little bird. SCARECROW ONE Oh shut it you TOFF Now move aside you before I tell my daddy the KING! Don’t you know who I am? I am your future heir! MANAV I can't... let you do that! SCARECROW ONE What did you say! TOFF (to Scarecrow) What did he say? MANAV I said I can’t let you kill the bird - don’t ask me why! The boy reloads and aims again at the bird. TOFF Now step aside you ruffian! MANAV I said I can't .... Snatches the catapult from the boy, slaps him and throws the catapult away. let you do that! TOFF Father - Father come quick - a farm hand attacked me! Daddy put his head on a stick! The sobbing boy wanders off the stage.


SCARECROW ONE Now you are for it! SCARECROW TWO I hate to agree with him but I must - He’s right boy - now run away young man - run far away!!! We hear whistles and shouts. VO - There he is! After him... MANAV runs. Music. FADE TO BLACK. STORYTELLER Manav had nowhere to go as he ran and ran to the edge of the village, past everything he'd ever known. And kept on running - running and running. And at every turn he made the bird followed him.


Manav comes onto the stage from the left hand side. Wandering aimlessly. Behind him the bird follows. MANAV What is it that you want? Leave me alone. You've already got me into enough trouble. The bird sings. The actor playing the bird waves Manav onwards. What is there to sing about. I’m quite attached to my head and now thanks to you I might be losing it! Manav stops and looks at the road ahead with confusion. Now which way to go? The bird takes the lead. The bird-man beckons Manav onwards and sings.


What is it now? You want me to follow you? The bird actor nods unseen by Manav You do don’t you? I can tell. I knew there was something about you! He puts his hands out as if feeling vibrations. Jingle sounds again. You are leading me somewhere aren’t you? The bird man nods. Somewhere safe? Bird-man looks unsure and shakes his head ruefully. Is it somewhere where there's plenty of food? Bird-man shakes head vigorously. To a great banqueting hall filled with loads of food - Chocolate Gâteaux. The bird man shakes his head even more! Come on then lets go! Thank goodness I have you - you are my last chance! STORYTELLER (v.o) But as Manav followed the bird, his hopes of being led to a better place dwindled as the path ahead darkened, until it seemed that even the moon’s light was unable to penetrate the gloom. We hear strange whispering sounds. MANAV It’s so dark and gloomy here. Are you sure you know where you are taking me? The bird -man nods solemnly. STORYTELLER Manav stepped forward into ever growing darkness. Ahead of him, high on the hill, coal-black and hunched, like a brooding bird, guarding its secrets and swallowing up all hope - the wood drew nearer. Ominous music - From the side of the wings black hissing figures crawl and move forward very slowly onto the stage. As Manav looks on in horror.


MANAV What is this dark forest I see and what are these whispers I can hear? Listen they seem to be saying my name. The forest people whisper Manav’s name. The Forest moves from stage right until it has filled the whole back of the stage. (to bird) How could you bring me here - I thought that you were good! I trusted you and you brought me here. He swipes at the encroaching darkness with his staff. The bird indicates for Manav to go into the forest. The bird sings. (to Bird) MANAV What you want me to go in there? Bird-man nods. What a fool I was for not letting the boy kill you when I had chance. Get away from me! Get away! The little bird does not want to go away... Points to forest Go on get away from me... The bird is hesitant.. Get away - you devil! The bird flies away.

We hear thunder and lightning. Manav trudges on... STORY TELLER (v.o) Without the bird to follow, Manav stumbled on, ever less sure of where he was going. Knowing only that he must get away from the whispering forest - until tired and hungry he fell into despair.


Manav stumbles to his knees. He sits forward on the stage as the forest moves slowly behind him. MANAV What a fool I was to follow the bird. Did I really think that it could lead me to somewhere safe? There is nowhere safe in this world. No one gets out of this world alive! And now I too will die - discarded like an unread book. My potential unexplored. Oh god - gods - whatever you are - if there is something more to this life then please let me glimpse it before I die! MANAV falls forward his head to the floor. The forest behind him swaying threateningly. The bird-man/bird returns and standing behind Manav, raises his Kundalini - (once) SCENE 11 A DREAM OF BETTER THINGS Suddenly the music changes, still dramatic but harmonious as the forest suddenly parts and the three goddesses walk forward. Behind them the Princess Grace follows. Suddenly aware of the change Manav looks around to see the Princess watching him. All the following voices are (v.o) (room for a song?) MANAV Where am I? (pause) am I dead? GRACE Not at all... far from it! MANAV Where is this place? GRACE Do you not remember?


MANAV I remember something. Something from my past - long ago. A feeling... of oneness. The goddesses gather round him. Who are you? GRACE I go by many names. Some call me Princess Grace - others Chitanya. Some the Kundalini But largely I am forgotten by the world. MANAV And who are these people? GRACE They are parts... Of you! Manav looks at them as the qualities bow to him. GRACE Tell me Manav how is the world of men? MANAV Do you not know? She shakes her head. GRACE No, it is has been a long time since last I saw people. I dream of the day when the bells peel, the gates are opened and I can be with humankind again. For that is where I belong. That is my calling. MANAV You are lucky not be with people! Mankind is cruel, weak, selfish, cunning, ruthless... Consuming the world... filled with darkness - and questions that can’t even be spoken! Don’t worry I know what men are! Suddenly we hear a low disturbing chime. And the Princess looks worried. MANAV What is it? What’s the matter? GRACE Avidya’s bell has started its countdown? I fear it is too late! MANAV Avidya - who is that?


GRACE He is a part of you too! Not a nice part. Beware of him and his trickery. The gods start to retreat back through the forest. MANAV But where are you going? GRACE Back into the forest... To oblivion... MANAV But what does the bell mean? GRACE It is the sound of the end - For when it has chimed 13 you, nor anyone else will be able to awaken me - and my sleep will become a death. MANAV Don’t go - please... The forest swallows up the last trace of the Princess. GRACE Come Manav. I am in the forest. MANAV In the forest - but I can’t go into the forest! Can I? He looks as she goes into the forest. It writhes and whispers horribly. MANAV But I must... I can’t... I must... Manav takes up his staff and steps forward as the forest briars gather round him he is consumed, staff and all. Lights out. SCENE 12 INSIDE THE FOREST The lights come up Manav stands at the left of the stage and moves towards the right. As he does four dancers, dressed in black bodices gather round him. They


are like thoughts, tricking him, binding him. Finally after a physical theatre dance he is overcome by them. His staff out of his hands and between his arms, rendering him paralyzed. MANAV I am coming princess! Do not fear! I am coming - I am coming! From the side of the stage Avidya watches the spectacle. AVIDYA Interesting performance. Have you quite finished? Manav struggles some more. AVIDYA Enough - all ready! Stop! Have a breather. All that effort is tiring me out! It’s no good. You wont get free anyway- your going to die here. They all do. He holds up a skull. This one thought the same thing - he was a proper head-case! (speaking to the skull) Isn’t it true my little friend? (miming skulls voice) Yes Sir, it is Sir. (normal voice) He had a thing for the Princess too - but it was only a skull-boy crush! He throws the skull aside. Where are you trying to get to anyway? If you don’t mind me asking? MANAV To the princess - I must reach the Princess. AVIDYA Mmm... and where did you hear about this Princess? Was it in the newspaper? Or did a scientist tell you? Or was it... In a dream? My God, Son. You used to be so


clued up. You’ll be hugging trees next. It’s all a fairy story - all of this! Where’s the bleak, miserable Manav I took such great pains to train? MANAV How do you know my name? AVIDYA I know a lot about poor abandoned, miserable Manav. Who do think made you this way? I did - I your the puppeteer. It’s me who pulls all your strings. Here let me show you. (to Bhoots) Let him go! The bhoots move away! Manav stands. Avidya swings his arm around and as he does Manav moves his. Manav perfectly copies Avidya. Who makes Manav hit himself. To the audience... Do you like that Manav? It’s quite a trick isn’t it? Do you know how I do it? How I control you? I’ll let you into a little secret. You’ve got me under your skin You’ve got me deep in the heart of you So deep in your heart, that I’m really a part of you You’ve got me under my skin. Avidya and bhoots have some cruel fun with Manav.... You tried so not to give in You said to yourself this affair never will go so well But why should you try to resist, when Manav you know so well That you’ve got me under your skin For I’d sacrifice anything come what might For the sake of having you near In spite of my warning voice that comes in the night And repeats, repeats in your ear Don’t you know you little fool, you never can win Use your mentality, wake up to reality But each time you do, just the thought of me Makes you stop before you begin


cause you’ve got me under your skin. Music fades... As Avidya gets serious. We hear the bell ring again. AVIDYA Do you know what that’s the sound of Manav? That’s the sound of the end of days! For With the princess and her friends out of the picture forever Mankind will be mine! And when he is then I’ll have some fun and I won’t finished until I’ve turned this capacious consciousness - this race of gods into a race of worms. A bacterial culture somewhere in a laboratory petri dish - that spreads and grows using up all available nutrients around it. And what happens then, of course, is that the little pink bugs then die in a sea of their own waste. Think about it Manav it’s all happening! The bhoots hold Manav again. And you were the last chance to stop it from happening but you’ve failed. Now goodbye Manav. The crowd of bhoots hold Manav as Avidya gathers a curse the way he did when he cursed the child. Suddenly there is a moment of intense struggling from Manav as he fights his way out of their hold. MANAV stands mid stage and takes off his blue hat and scarf and pushes the shadowy figures out of the way. All recede to the back of the stage. MANAV That’s it! That’s enough! Stop this story. He takes off his hat and throws it to the ground. Storyteller! Where are you? The storyteller comes on - a little nonplussed. What is this? I'm not doing this anymore. I'm stopping this story. I said I would. I went along with you and have done a damn good job but what about you? What is this rotten story? What does it mean? You're making it up as you go along. It's all nonsense, and the children are upset... and ... there’s no joy... and I'm not healed and I’m not doing it anymore. He pushes one of the Shadow People away who is still acting out her part.


Besides, whoever heard of a doomsday clock and a Princess who sleeps for a thousand years or a forest like this. With briars and thorns that whisper. STORYTELLER Don't you recognize this forest Manav? MANAV No - it's pure fantasy. STORYTELLER With its whispers, so quiet that you swear you never heard them - as they tell you to trust no one? Tell you to doubt - tell you to fear? That tell you never to forgive? That never let you find peace. The whispering, impassable forest with it's incessant repetitions - consume - covet - curse - kill. And don't you recognize this journey you are making now? Haven't you made it before - countless times? Setting out, steadfast and strong, thinking that you’re going somewhere, only to find Avidya there, waiting for you - turning you back sending you round and round in circles until you are too tired and too unsure to even stand and fight. Really MANAV, I ask you is this forest really just fantasy, or is there, in fact, some truth in it? MANAV Yes, there does seem to be some truth to it! But it's no where on earth that I've ever been. STORY TELLER No Manav - not on the earth, much closer to home than that. He walks towards MANAV. MANAV But where? STORYTELLER You know where it is. MANAV Here...? Manav points to his own head. STORYTELLER Yes - and inside every other human being. You asked me to heal you, but first you must cross that dark forest.


MANAV But a Princess who sleeps for a thousand years surely that is fantasy! STORYTELLER Not at all Manav - not at all. She is real - waiting for you now to wake her. She said it herself She goes by many names - Some call her the Ruh - others the kundalini some call her Sophia - but to me she will always be my Princess, Grace. MANAV She is real? And the characters in my vision? STORYTELLER Sleeping inside you. MANAV And the clock? STORYTELLER How long does mankind have Manav - is it really very long?

MANAV But how shall I cross the forest of the mind? It is too thick - and AVIDYA is too powerful. STORYTELLER The secret is a sharp attention my friend - one pointed focus and the continuous denial of Avidya's illusory games. Not this - not this. And don’t forget your magic staff!! He taps the wooden staff that MANAV holds as the great bell chimes again. Rousing drums. Manav puts his hat and scarf back on and takes up the staff which he inspects as the dark forces gather around him about to consume him again. As he inspects the staff he realizes the handle is loose and from a wooden scabbard he pulls a sword.. The Music rises to fever pitch as Manav breaks through them brandishing his sword. Taking the sword up he slices through the terrible briars. Triumphant music. MANAV Not this - nor this - and certainly not this! Manav fights his way across the stage and exits.


AVIDYA Do not turn your back on me! I hate it ... Do not ignore me! Fight on fool - but if you tire for just one second I shall be waiting. Waiting to fill the vacuum. (To Troops) Follow him - Follow him - his time is running out. Avidya follows after Manav. All exit. The clock of doom sounds out.


Divine qualities sleep. Manav pushes through the hanging vines and cobwebs and enters into a dark space. He is out of breath. MANAV I must rest - but I cannot - the great clock is counting down. Where am I? Mysterious music. He feels his way through the darkness and he comes to the sleeping body of the great WARRIOR who is holding his spear - dressed as he was all those years ago. MANAV (CONT'D) The Warrior I saw in my dream - you are real. Look at you, so powerful, so strong, so kind. Wake up please. Wake and save the world - this world is terrible and there is much corruption to fight in it. Wake now please - Avidya is coming - the clock is counting down. Wake up. Unable to wake the sleeping Warrior he moves on again pushing further into the long forgotten palace - pursued still by Avidya. Next he comes to a slumbering figure laying over great books again covered in cobwebs and bathed in soft blue light. MANAV Who is this? The learned sage - long since abandoned by the world of men sleeping over your enormous books. Wake up please - share your wisdom with me tell me how to waken you. All of you...


Slowly he looks up and sees the whole palace before him. He turns and looks out over the heads of the audience. STORYTELLER And as Manav's eyes adjusted to the darkness he found himself looking out over a mysterious sight. As before him he witnessed the undisturbed figures of the sleeping gods. Gods that were somehow a part of him. Manav points above the audiences heads - conjuring a vision above the crowd. Haunting music. MANAV See... Look... It is true - all of it true. Just as the storyteller told me - another world of indescribable depths within me, long since forgotten. Are you asleep? Or are we asleep to you? He points See there, the eternal playful child who danced before me in my dream. And beyond them rising above the kingdom like two uncharted peaks, two thrones side by side - the great King and Queen. Wake up! Please wake up, mankind needs your guidance! All of you wake up! I, Manav am here. I have penetrated the forest. I have found you. Please hear me The end is coming. Or maybe I am too late and you are past sleeping. AVIDYA creeps towards him with her three helpers. AVIDYA They are dead to you now you blundering fool. We see Manav perform the following actions. STORYTELLER Manav pushed on stumbling between the fallen gods, the sleeping qualities - long since forgotten by the world of men. Finally, before him at the base of the central tower only one door remained unexplored, a rusted door, long since unopened, to which he felt himself drawn. Manav approached it with beating heart, for there he knew he must find what he sought. He pushed open the door and with anxious steps crept into the darkened triangular room. MANAV


It is you - PRINCESS GRACE - Please wake, the world needs you now more than ever. But the girl does not stir. MANAV Your hands are cold and you do not breath. Am I too late? AVIDYA (quietly - insidiously- whispered) You are too late - all hope is dead. Listen We hear the clock chime. the thousand years is passing. Move away now she will wake no more! MANAV I am beginning to understand what you said, what the storyteller said - that there is more to humanity than I once believed. We are not worms but gods. For all this is within me! indicates the subtle kingdom around him But you are the catalyst - you are the key. The clock chimes. AVIDYA Listen now to the sound as the end races towards us like a wild horse - two more chimes and she is mine! MANAV But how can this small “I” help? “I” cannot wake you! The chime strikes again. AVIDYA One more chime to mark the end of days. MANAV I surrender all my illusions at your sacred feet! Manav bows down at the PRINCESS GRACE's feet. The dooms day clock chimes out the last time.


AVIDYA stands laughing. AVIDYA You fools... Ha ha ha... Suddenly though, his laughter stops as we hear a deep rumbling as the Princess stretches out her arms and starts to rise. As she does the gods and goddesses rise too. AVIDYA No, she wakes, it cannot be... STORYTELLER And in that simple gesture of surrender the curse was lifted, and all the divine qualities were awakened once more! We see the celestial warrior rise and seize Avidya. Princess unaware walks towards the front of stage - fully awake now. The beautiful bells start pealing. PRINCESS GRACE Where am I? What a dream I had. Such a dark dream - a dream of illusion. But hear now, the bells are ringing, and see my great golden gates are opening. My freedom has come. Feel now the mighty wind as it rises up from the deep heart’s core. Blowing away all that is wanton and cruel for ever and ever... She blows into her hand towards the audience as all the briars fall away and Avidya is blown into oblivion... Pause. Turns to Manav who is between her and audience The celestial kingdom is inside you and I am the key to it’s awakening. Come to me now all of you who are broken and be made whole and new again. We hear a mighty wind blow as all the shadows are swept away and all the strings are cut - letting the black thorn shapes fall. From the front of the stage the same beggars in rags. They let drop their ragged shawls and stand in beautiful saris.


The King and Queen come forth leading MANAV by the arm towards their daughter. They are accompanied by the little bird. QUEEN Long ago I dreamed that when you came, the bond between ourselves and humanity would be forged anew. Now I understand. You are the kundalini that marries the world of men to the world of gods - never again to be separated! The king takes Manav by the hand and leads him and the princess forward to the front of the stage. The Storyteller comes forward and stands by Manav. MANAV And is that the end of the story? STORY TELLER Are you mended? MANAV I am... But there are many who are not! STORY TELLER Then maybe you better take this! MANAV Then listen now one and all - and I shall tell you the story of the sleeping beauty! The beauty that sleeps inside us all! He holds up the drum and spins it as drummers come onto the stage - all sing. FIN

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