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  • 1-01
    Act I, Scene 1

    I want to tell you a story—
    a story of love,
    and then pain,
    and then love again.

    This is Kumudha.
    Like the flower
    she’s named for,
    she is beautiful,
    and always has been.

    This is the Prince.
    Once a selfish
    spoiled young man,
    careless, rash,
    he is different now.

    Together they will help me
    tell you the story
    of their love.

    In the time of honey and elephants
    in the south of the country
    near a town where two rivers
    met to mingle their slow pure waters,
    near that town
    a king ruled among his people.

    His son, the Prince,
    lived in comfort and luxury.
    He lived with his two sisters,
    one kind, the other covetous.
    Rarely did they leave the palace,
    for the world outside
    was a place of misery and suffering.

    In that same town, close to the river,
    an old woman, weary, fretted,
    lived alone with two daughters.
    With gnarled hands and curved spine,
    her sweat mixed with dust and chaff,
    she labored in fields,
    in order to feed them,
    her two precious daughters.

  • 1-02
    One morning …

    One morning,
    working in the heat and glare of the summer sun,
    Kumudha, the younger daughter,
    looked at her toiling mother,
    and her heart cried out.

    (singing to herself)
    “O Mother, it was you
    who taught us
    the prayer before morning
    and evening’s song of thanksgiving.
    With richest blood
    your womb
    once nourished us.
    Your sweet milk gave us life,
    while on your knees, as children,
    we bent back in laughter.
    But unthinking time
    has hardened your face,
    cracks your voice
    and makes it falter,
    while your eyes cloud over
    with the gaze of forgetfulness.

    If only I could become a flowering tree,
    rain down upon your thin grey hair
    cool white blossoms,
    with scent of lemon and jasmine!
    To serve you,
    I would shed my human form,
    blossom forth, unfurl myself,
    my body a trunk
    of dark glistening bark,
    my head a crown of smooth white petals,
    my flesh the white meat of the coconut,
    my face the white of a cumulus cloud,
    joyously welcomed, long-awaited
    messenger of the coming monsoon.

    "Sister, quick! Go to the house.
    Bathe yourself.
    Make yourself clean and fresh.
    Put on a white robe.
    Go to the well. Bring back
    two pitchers of the clearest water.
    Do what I say!
    Sweep the ground in front of our house,
    and prepare for me a sacred place,
    right here, right now.
    I will sit in meditation.
    You, Sister, pour the first pitcher of water
    over my poised body.
    You will see what I become:
    a flowering tree.
    Then, sister, gently, oh so gently,
    pluck my flowers.
    Treat them with the greatest of care, Sister.
    Love and bless each one of them,
    for we shall sell them at the market
    to bring rest and happiness
    to our suffering mother."

  • 1-03
    Kumudha’s Prayer

    Kumudha’s prayer:

    You are the forest

    you are all the great trees
    in the forest

    you are bird and beast
    playing in and out
    of all the trees

    O lord white as jasmine
    filling and filled by all

    why don’t you
    show me your face?

    Her sister, Kavinila,
    poured the water
    over Kumudha’s head and body.

    And as she did so,
    she saw a miracle happen.

    Kamudha's first transformation

    The sister plucked
    Kumudha’s flowers
    from her delicate branches.
    Then, carefully,
    she took the second pitcher of water,
    and poured it over the flowering tree.
    Kumudha resumed
    her human form again.

    Overwhelmed by the beauty and fragrance
    of the plucked flowers
    the sisters gathered them in baskets,
    wove them into garlands,
    and on the next day,
    brought them to the king’s palace
    where they sold them to the crowds.

  • 1-04
    Scene 2: Flores Chorus (listen to full-length track)

    ¡Lindas flores!
    ¡Pétalos aromáticos!
    ¡Olorosas guirnaldas!
    ¿Por qué no los compran?

    [Lovely flowers!
    Fragrant petals!
    Sweet-smelling garlands!
    Won’t you buy them?]

  • 1-05
    Kumudha and her sister …

    Kumudha and her sister
    sold all their flowers.
    They repeated this secret ceremony
    week after week.
    Their mother knew nothing of this.

    But one day, the king’s son,
    the idle young Prince,
    secretly followed the two sisters home.
    He hid in a tree,
    and he watched, dumbstruck,
    as the beautiful Kumudha,
    turned herself into
    a flowering tree.

    The Prince
    "Her arms have the beauty
    of a gently moving bamboo.
    Her large eyes are full of peace.
    She is far away,
    her place not easy to reach.

    My heart is frantic
    with haste,
    a plowman with a single plow
    on land all wet
    and ready for seed."

    ¡Mira, niña!
    ¡Ten cuidado!
    Anda por el bosque
    Un descarado elefante.
    ¡No dejes que pise
    tu corona de flores!

    [Look out, child!
    Be careful!
    An insolent elephant
    Walks through the woods.
    Don’t let him
    Step on your crown of flowers!]

    The Prince
    (singing during above chorus)
    Love, love,
    they say. Yet love
    is no new grief
    nor sudden disease; nor something
    that rages and cools.
    Like madness in an elephant,
    coming up when he eats
    certain leaves,

    love waits
    for you to find
    someone to look at.

    The Prince went home
    and wandered through the palace
    troubled and confused.
    He tried to explain to his father.

    The Prince
    As a little white snake
    with lovely stripes on its young body
    troubles the jungle elephant
    this slip of a girl
    her teeth like sprouts of new rice
    her wrists stacked with bangles
    troubles me.

    The King understood.
    He knew this was love.
    He sent for the old woman.

  • 1-06
    Scene 3: Audience with the King

    She arrived in the palace.
    She cowered at the sight
    of the royal chamber.
    She was ashamed.

    Male Chorus (as King)
    Do not be afraid, woman.
    You have two daughters.
    Bring us the younger one.

    The old woman
    was struck stiff with bewilderment.
    She screamed at her daughters
    She could not understand
    how the king would
    know about Kumudha.
    She returned home,
    and she was in a fury.

    She took a broom handle
    and savagely beat them,
    her two precious daughters.

  • 1-07
    Mamá Mamá, ¿Por qué nos pegas?

    Chorus (as the daughters)
    Mamá, Mamá
    ¿Por qué nos pegas?
    La vara es dura,
    Nos magulla los brazos,
    Saca verdugones.
    Mamá, Mamá
    ¿Por qué nos pegas?

    [Mama, Mama,
    Why are you beating us?
    The stick is hard,
    It bruises our arms,
    Covers us with bruises!
    Why are you beating us?]

    Chorus (as the Old Woman)
    ¡Perras! ¡Putas!
    ¿Donde estaban?
    El rey está indagando sobre ustedes.
    ¿Por qué conoce él sus nombres?
    ¿De dónde han sacado todo ese dinero?

    [Whores! Bitches!
    The King is asking about you!
    How is it he knows your names?
    And where did you get that money?]

    Chorus (as the daughters)
    Mamá, Mamá!
    ¡Lo hicimos todo por tí!
    ¡Deja ya de pegarnos, Mamá!

    [Mama, we did it for you!
    Please don’t beat us, Mama!]

    The girls gave their mother
    five handfuls of coins.
    They explained how
    they had wanted to surprise her.
    They explained that
    they had only wanted to help.

    The old woman begged her daughters’ forgiveness.
    She took Kumudha in her thin arms
    and she wept tears of love
    for her precious daughter.
    Kumudha embraced her mother
    and kissed her on the forehead.

    That night, for the first time,
    they ate well.

  • 1-09
    They brought her to me

    The Prince
    They brought her to me
    decked in new clothes,
    rousing my desire

    noisy as pounding rain,

    on that first night.

    They brought me to him
    on that first night,

    and they wiped my sweat,
    they gave me to him,
    me, splendid with ornament.

    He said to me:

    The Prince
    It’s hot. Sweat is breaking out
    on that crescent, your brow.
    Open your robe a little,
    Let the wind cool it.

    And even as I spoke,
    my heart hasty with desire,
    I pulled it off,
    and she stood exposed,
    Her form shining

    Not knowing how to hide herself,
    She cried out in shame.

  • 1-11
    The bride sunk her face

    The bride sunk her face
    in the end of her sari,
    and begged him not to be angry.
    She would do what he wanted.
    She asked him to bring
    two pitchers of water.

    Transformation music. Kumudha becomes the flowering tree in the bedroom.

    The fragrance of Kumudha’s flowers
    filled their bedroom.

    Together they spread out the flowers,
    made a bed of them,
    covered themselves with more,
    and while the great city slept,
    they made love amongst
    the delicate scents.

  • 2-01
    Act II, Scene 1

    The King’s elder daughter,
    jealous of Kumudha’s beauty,
    spied on her day and night.
    One night she hid herself
    in the couple’s royal chamber,
    and there,
    shocked in amazement,
    rigid with envy,
    she watched
    as the flowering tree
    took shape.

    The next day,
    while the Prince was off hunting,
    the jealous sister
    invited all her friends
    to go out to the royal orchard
    that stood behind the palace.
    She said to all she invited,
    “We’ll bring Kumudha.
    She’ll do her trick,
    turn into a flowering tree.
    You’ll see.


    Muchacha, muchacha,
    ven con nosotros,
    ven al huerto

    Múestrate, múestrate,
    explicanos tu magia.
    luce tus flores,
    la raíz y las ramas

    ¡Adorna¡ ¡Adorna!
    nuestras negras trenzas
    de flores y ramas
    como una fina guirnalda.

    [Sister, Sister,
    Come out to the orchard.
    Show us this magical gift.

    Show your flowers,
    Your long supple branches,

    Our ink-black tresses
    Cry out to be dressed in
    A garland so perfect as that.]


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