|Posted by deepakmorris on July 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM|
This is a monologue I wrote for the "Chillin' In My Brown Skin" Asian Festival in Toronto years ago. Enjoy:
By Deepak Morris
Copyright © Deepak Morris, 2005
(The Front Room of MRS CHITNIS’ home office. There is a table and a chair. There is a pile of files on the table. MRS CHITNIS’ voice is heard off)
Come in, come in, my dear. What did you say your name was? (coming on) Anjali? Anjali Bambawale? Any relation to the Bambawale’s of Sadashiv Peth? You know, they live near Chitale Bandhu? The Sweetshop (pause) No? Oh, okay. (Sitting at the table) Let’s see now (searches among the files until she locates Anjali’s file, opens it, reads) Hmmm… 34? (Looks across at the imaginary Anjali) You’re THIRTY-FOUR years old? What have you been doing so long? Your parents should have tried to get you married long ago. And it’s no wonder you’re having difficulty finding a match… you’re dark skinned! Were your parents sleeping? They should have got you married ten years ago. Really, I tell you, parents are so lazy these days!
(Pause) What’s that you say? Father died six years ago? Well, really! How are you going to pay the dowry then? That’s the trouble with you ‘modern’ people. No idea how important it is to have a father alive and earning to pay the dowry. Hmmm… let’s see (reads the papers in the file) any brothers…. brothers... brothers… hmmm.. one brother… hmmm… older…. ACTOR? Which Serial? (Pause) Humph… STAGE ACTOR? We can write off any dowry contribution from him then. You people make it so difficult for the matchmaker these days. Let’s get one thing clear, young lady, though why I call you young I don’t know…. THIRTY-FOUR! And dark skinned too! As I was saying, let’s get one thing clear; with a skin like that and your age, the dowry will have to be hefty. (Pause) Illegal? Well of course dowry is illegal. That doesn’t stop people from asking and girls like you from paying if you want a good match.
Well, let’s see if we can salvage something from the situation…. (reads the papers again) You’re a POST-GRADUATE? What on earth were you thinking? First of all, you’re dark-skinned. Then you wait until you’re 34. And on top of that, you go and get a post graduate qualification. Now you’ll tell me you want someone better qualified than you. (Pause) I knew it! No doubt he’ll have to be earning more than you do too… Don’t nod like that! Do you know how difficult your position is? And mine too. I have a reputation to protect, you know. I’m the best matchmaker in Pune. And I don’t believe in that nonsense about being spurred by a good challenge. If I were interested in spurs, I’d be a jockey – now don’t interrupt, young lady (sneering tone at “young”) I don’t need a lesson on horseracing.
Anyway, let’s see... hmmmm… Occupation, teacher… College! Ah, that’s good, that’s good. Teachers are in demand these days, especially if they are willing to migrate to the USA… What’s that? (Pause) Now look here, you silly fool. None of that patriotic nonsense. What do you mean you want to stay in India? (Pause) Nothing doing. Apply for a job in the USA or Canada. Or at least Australia. No wait! Australia doesn’t recognise Indian qualifications. It has to be the USA. Don’t interrupt! So far, you’ve done all you can to spoil your chances of getting married. Now don’t spoil the one remaining chance.
Here’s what you do. Look through the appointment pages – the Opportunities Overseas section – and apply for all the teaching positions in the USA or Canada. Keep me informed. There are plenty of good boys who will jump at the chance to marry a girl who gets a job in the USA. Canada too. The minute you get a job there, we’ll fix an engagement. Better to fix things so that nobody backs out at the last minute. There was one girl who went off and then married somebody in the USA. So you’ll pay my fee before you leave India. Yes, you may go now… (Watches as the imaginary Anjali leaves, then sighs and shuts the file, to audience) THIRTY-FOUR! I hope I can find a fool who will believe that she is still innocent.
Women, regardless of age, who are looking for a husband are called “girls” in India. Similarly, a man looking for a wife is called a “boy”.
Innocent is a euphemism for virgin.