Hamesha Samida (Forever Steadfast) is a collection of fragmented narratives connected to the story of Palestine, with its central piece talking about memory and identity. The narratives are connected together by songs – angry at times, plaintive and pained at others, and scenes of interrogation and torture, along with biting satire.
There is the story of the sandouk or trunk, an emblematic metaphor of homelessness where the ever-traveling refugee carries their home and their memories, only to unpack and repack it over and over again. ‘Home’ becomes a mirage on a shimmering frontier, that never ceases to beckon and call.
In the penultimate scene we witness an Israeli tank gunning down its own citizens, dissenting Palestinians who were given the right to remain in Israel with their own homeland, through quartered and sequestered. A puppet comes into being, masterfully marshalled by the puppeteers of Katkatha (led by Anurupa Roy), who casts the first stone at the tank, eventually chasing it away. The act of hurling stones reflects resistance and the play ends on a note of defiance against oppression.
Hamesha Samida is a street theatre production by Jana Natya Manch in India and The Freedom Theatre, the first-ever India-Palestine theatre collaboration of its kind. The play combines Hindi and Arabic and has a cast of actors from Palestine and India. In early 2016 it was performed in 11 cities across nine states of India, as part of the Freedom Jatha project.