(a play in two acts)
Translated by Joseph Hardy
Tamara her mother
Gypsies, men and women in traditional Russian dress
The garden by Helga's house.
TOMAS Helga –
HELGA Go away!
TOMAS Helga –
HELGA Sling your hook!
TOMAS Come on, please –
HELGA Is your tackle in good working order?
TOMAS My tackle? Ah, yes, it works, it's all alright, it works very well.
HELGA Then get going while it still does.
TOMAS It really does work. Don't you believe me?
HELGA Get going, I tell you, or I'll break it.
TOMAS Helga –
HELGA Have a drink for the road, and get out of here. Go on, drink.
Helga pours schnapps into a mug.
Tomas drinks it down and gasps for breath.
HELGA You rotten washed-up fish!
TOMAS War... war... war –
HELGA Shut up.
TOMAS Ter... ter... ter –
HELGA Didn't I tell you not to come here? (Gives him water)
TOMAS I bring you feelings –
HELGA I don't give a damn about your feelings.
TOMAS Helga –
HELGA Drink. (Holds out the mug of schnapps)
TOMAS No, I can't, I'm burning all over.
HELGA Blow yourself out then.
TOMAS Helga – darling – I've come to bring you my entire soul, my entire heart...
My heart and soul: they're being torn to shreds. And tears of suffering are
filling each of the shreds. I'm crying, I'm wailing, I'm drowning in tears,
HELGA How disgusting. You slimeball.
TOMAS Why are you being like this to me, why?
HELGA Children from you are too fat, I can't squeeze them out.
TOMAS I've not been taking any vitamins, not been eating much. For six months
now. The doctor said that that should help.
HELGA Have you brought the money for your kids?
TOMAS I've brought double.
HELGA Good, now you can go.
TOMAS You've got someone else!
HELGA I've always got someone else.
TOMAS Who? Just asking, I didn't mean anything. You've got someone,and that's
good, very good.
HELGA Get out of here before you drive me to murder.
TOMAS I'll do everything you want me to –
HELGA Then shove off.
HELGA What are you called?
TOMAS You've forgotten!
TOMAS I'm Tomas.
HELGA What a name.
TOMAS I'll change it.
TOMAS Helga, I want to be near you... I always want to be near you. And to achieve
that, I'm willing to do anything. Just tell me what you need, I'll provide
everything. That's the truth! You know full well that if I promise something,
everything will be right on time, without a single mistake, just perfect. It's in
my nature: if I say something I do it. We are Germans, aren't we? We don't
know any other way. Stable, dependable. With me it will be like you're behind
a stone wall. Robustness and reliability are what give us strength, power and
advantages over any other nation – any other nation! Give me an order and I'll
fulfil your slightest whim.
HELGA I only have one
HELGA And if you don't fulfil it in the next second...
Helga stands. We now see that she is a woman of incredible proportions,
strong – mighty – with a powerful physique.
HELGA I warned you!
Helga lashes out, making Tomas fall over.
TOMAS I love you! (He runs away)
Off-stage Tomas is heard shouting:
“You can't beat my feelings out of me”
HELGA Come back, and I'll prove the opposite.
Tomas' voice, off-stage:
“I still haven't recovered from last time”
“I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Enter Tamara, a small, thin, old woman, she talks with a light Georgian accent.
TAMARA Who was shouting out here?
HELGA Go and sleep, mum.
TAMARA I was sleeping, but he made such a noise that I woke up. Who was it?
HELGA He's gone now.
TAMARA As is my sleep.
HELGA Go on, you'll get back to sleep quickly. Lie down, count your grandsons.
TAMARA Easier to count the stars in the sky. Why was he shouting like that? What did
TAMARA What – you pay them?
HELGA He wanted to pay.
TAMARA Where's he gone? Let him come back.
HELGA Why do you want money, Mum?
TAMARA A bit of money never does any harm.
HELGA Are you lacking something?
TAMARA I want to go back to my homeland. To Georgia, to Kutaisi. You're a German,
you wouldn't understand. Yes... Everything is different there now.
HELGA Tell me about Georgia, mum.
TAMARA It's impossible to tell you about Georgia, it's a country that you don't
understand with your head, but with your heart. Your heart cannot speak. You
can only sing about it.
HELGA Sing then.
TAMARA I'm always singing, only you never listen. The Lord God didn't bless you with
ears, but with something else: height, health and extraordinary abilities.
HELGA (sarcastically) Oh what abilities.
TAMARA Ah, my darling, not every animal can give birth with such speed, with such
productivity, and so often. And only ever to boys.
HELGA I want love, Mum, true love. You loved Dad, didn't you?
TAMARA What would I love him for? Not for his money, not for the rest.
HELGA I don't remember him at all. Was he big?
TAMARA He was small and fat: a beer tankard. And stupid. Why I went off with
him, I myself don't know. I was young, a fool.
HELGA But I'm big.
TAMARA You, my dear child, are not big, you are huge. I don't know who it is you take
after. My mum said that my great-grandfather was big – one metre seventythree
in height. Perhaps you take after him? And every three months you give
birth to between ten and twelve people, and they're all healthy, without any
defects. No, I don't understand. Clearly, there was something not quite right in
your daddy's line. May he rest in peace.
HELGA Did he die?
TAMARA Who knows? He doesn't report back to me. If he hasn't died, he will do: and
may he then rest in peace.
HELGA Why did he abandon us?
TAMARA Out of cowardice. When you reached three months, he decided to have a
look at you, to introduce himself. You are his daughter, after all. He took a
look. No one has seen him since.
TAMARA Because you looked like you were about five. You were lying on your bed a
loaf in one hand, a salami in the other. You were having a snack. You, my
daughter, should be exhibited in a museum.
HELGA So, apart from my father you have never loved anyone?
TAMARA Your father and me, that was the devil's work. I never loved that beer tankard.
Dato – he was my first and only love. Your father just turned up out of the
blue, the damn tourist. I thought I'd go away with a rich German, and
everything would be good. I went. It wasn't good: there was neither the
German, nor Dato. You were all I was left with. Evidently, it's because you're
so big that you take the rap for all my past losses. Dato! I was always faithful
to him.Even when I was with your father I thought about him. And when I
was giving birth to you I cried out, “Dato, my Dato! Where are you now, my
HELGA Was he large?
TAMARA A little taller than me. But very nimble. Such an agile bloke. Yes, there's
much to recall about him.
HELGA I envy you, Mum. You had Dad, and you had Dato.
TAMARA Should you be envious, my dear? I had two – Dato and the beer guzzler –
and how many different men have you had?
HELGA Yes, but all for nothing.
TAMARA Each neighbourhood's from a different man. How many must that be? It's not
even possible to count.
HELGA If only they had any sense, if just one of them... It's all empty air, here today
gone tomorrow. Just studs to breed with. Ugh.
TAMARA Ah, Helga.
HELGA Love, love is what I need, that's all I'm searching for. But I just can't find it. I
don't know whether it exists at all, or whether it's all an old wives' tale. But
I'll carry on searching, I won't give up, I won't be put off. It's just I get landed
with all theses rotters. They get worse and worse. Neither their statuses, nor
their nationalities redeem them. They can do no more than waggle their
willies about. All their brains have gone down there. Yes, the Lord certainly
TAMARA Once, I liked...
TAMARA I was just recalling Dato. I think about him all the time.
HELGA Go back to your Georgia.
TAMARA I'll go, I'll most definitely go.
HELGA By the way, why have I never had a single Georgian? That's strange.
Especially since I'm part Georgian myself.
TAMARA You're a German.
HELGA Perhaps if I got myself Georgian, I would fall in love with him.
TAMARA If you got yourself one like Dato –
HELGA I don't like small men.
TAMARA Compared to you, there's none who aren't small. I'm off. If someone offers
you money, don't turn them down. We'll buy another swing for the nursery,
plant an apple tree in the school.
From behind the bushes we hear the voice of Jean-Pierre, “Hey, psst...
Hey, psst... I'm here... Helga, Helga... Are you alone? You're alone at last!”