Right before college...
By Seemanta Ghosh
Anjukta (Anu), a high school grad student who is leaving for college in 3 weeks
Nirav, father who is in his late 40’s
Priya, mother who is also in her late 40’s
The living room of a house
A sunny afternoon in the present
(While PRIYA is making lunch in the kitchen, ANJUKTA and NIRAV are sitting in the living room where sunlight is streaming through the windows. The curtains open, ANJUKTA and NIRAV are sitting in the living room having an afternoon snack before dinner.)
NIRAV: Anu, have you chosen your major yet?
ANJUKTA: No, Papa.
NIRAV: You should think of being a doctor or pharmacist. That way we won’t have to worry about you when you get older.
ANJUKTA: But papa, I really want to become a teacher and also dance around the world with the Arya Dance Academy.
NIRAV: What bullshit do you speak of! You want to babysit children your whole life, suffering through life by not having a satisfactory paycheck! Teachers are worthless and disrespected here, unless you want to become a college professor! Or go to India and be a teacher there! You must be respected and you must be able to have money to survive!
ANJUKTA: But papa-
NIRAV: NO! AND A DANCER!? What will you make of being a dancer, you cannot keep living in a little girl’s dream. Dancing can only be a hobby, a hobby that can never be turned into a career. NEVER!
(As she slouches, tears begin to slowly roll down ANJUKTA’s cheek and her voice becomes lower following sniffling. Priya comes into the room and sets the three plates onto the coffee table.)
PRIYA: What’s wrong beta*, why are you crying?
NIRAV: Because I told her the truth of reality, that she can’t become a teacher because she won’t make enough money to live a happy, healthy life where she won’t have financial worries. And dancing is just a hobby, not a career.
PRIYA: Anu how do you expect to live on the paycheck of a teacher? You may have to get a lot of jobs just to have enough money to own a house.
(ANJUKTA gaining some confidence, straightens her posture)
ANJUKTA: But Ma, teachers don’t work for the money, they work to help children and to benefit the future of society.
PRIYA: Doctors and nurses do that too! You can work in a children’s hospital where you could be making millions and cure many diseases.
ANJUKTA: But ma I don’t like biology or chemistry. They are boring to me; I don’t understand or like them.
(Priya clutches the serving tray tightly as she starts to yell)
PRIYA: What do you mean you don’t like them? That they are boring? Look at your cousin! She didn’t want to become a doctor but she listened to her parents and became one! Look at how much money she is making! Her parents are proud and she is able to show off her career to our extended family!
ANJUKTA: But Ma-
PRIYA: NO! Listen, you will become a doctor and that is final! If you were to become a teacher and lose your job, what would happen? You would never be able to pay off your college debt! You would lose everything! Your car, house, your life would be gone! If you become a teacher, you could be homeless and never survive! What would I do?
(PRIYA now drops the tray and fear is portrayed in her voice)
PRIYA: You are going off to college, leaving me every year, to live on your own, away from me! After next year you will be living alone, having a job, surviving not knowing anything! You won’t have me to help you or to guide you on what to do, I won’t be there right next to you all the time!
(PRIYA falls to the sofa sobbing and ANJUKTA takes PRIYA’s hand)
ANJUKTA: Ma, even though I won’t be home, I’ll always make sure to call you, you know that. And we’ll facetime all the time too. I’ll also be coming home for breaks and vacations.
PRIYA: But what about after college, when you have a job and an apartment and-
ANJUKTA: Ma, we are not there yet, we can discuss about that next year; for now, we will focus on what my major will be, I will try a mix of classes for being a doctor and pharmacist and we will go from there.
(Relieved that her daughter is not stubborn, PRIYA calms down with a big sigh)
PRIYA: Ok beta*, that is fine. What do you think Nirav?
NIRAV: That is fine, as long as you try, and then we will see you become a doctor or pharmacist.
(ANJUKTA rolls her eyes)
ANJUKTA: Okay papa.
(PRIYA looks at the coffee table and shakes her head)
PRIYA: Now look, the dinner is cold. Let’s go, heat it up, and enjoy our meal.
(NIRAV and ANJUKTA walk off stage, each carrying a plate, PRIYA carries the serving tray and her plate, the curtains close)