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Lisa Holmes

1. People in this play

 

Akhilesh “Akki” Jha

The only son of an Indian land-owning (zamindar) family, Akki has always been pampered. While he grew up shuttling between Patna and New Delhi, home was always the zamindar ki haveli. Akki has two elder sisters and a younger brother, but he knows that he will have to take on the responsibility of the family, the business and the family lands one day. But for now, he is enjoying studying Management & Economics at this British university. Akki’s family has a conservative outlook, steeped in the mainstream patriarchal culture of Bihar, which Akki has never questioned. He revels in the respect and perceived adoration as the “zaminder’s son and heir” both from his extended family who look up to his father and grandfather, and all the people in his district.

 

Hari Ramakrishnan

Hari is from New Delhi and doing a MA in Big Data Studies. His career goal is a tenured chair at a university, teaching and researching. Hari is a proud Hindu Indian and believes in the superiority of his religious beliefs. He visits the local temple in the university town as often as he can. But he also has made a small temple on a table in a corner of his room so he can seek God’s blessings every morning. Hari is comfortable with the social norms he has grown up with but loves the freedoms he experiences in the university, now that he is no longer living under his parents’ eyes. So Hari’s favourite pastime is debating and a member of the same student association as Sam. He frequently participates in campus discussions around life in India, which he defends to the best of his ability.

Latha “LG” Guruswamy

LG is a third-generation non-resident Indian (NRI), the youngest of two daughters of her doctor parents. Her family and Sam’s are neighbours in a small tourist-attraction town close to the university. She has been friends with Sam and Lisa since high school. LG is studying law but takes a keen interest in sociological topics and belongs to a sociology study group. Latha is in a live-in relationship with Zara, a journalism student at the university she met in the study group. Latha’s parents are unaware that she is a lesbian, or that she is in an existing relationship, and are scouting around for a suitable boy for their beloved daughter.

Lisa Holmes

Lisa is studying sociology. She is Black British. Her grandparents came to Britain from the Caribbean on the Windrush. Lisa grew up in a single parent household, with her mother working two low-wage jobs to keep the family together.

Lisa is well clued into the social pressures and concerns that come with her background and is determined to fulfil her grandmother’s dream of having an academic in the family. But she knows how to keep her life well-balanced and has been together with Sam since high school. They live together in rented student accommodation. Lisa also loves gospel singing and is part of her local church choir.

Manu Mathuru

Manu is from New Delhi and came to this university four years ago for his MA in Anthropology on a scholarship and has stayed on do to his Doctorate in Development Studies as he was won a grant for it. He did his Bachelor’s rom St Stephen’s College in Delhi. Manu enjoys debating and that’s how he met up with Hari on campus. They hold opposing views on many subjects, but their mutual respect and common Indian background has resulted in an unlikely friendship.

Samir “Sam” Kulkarni

Sam is a second-generation NRI with a liberal upbringing, doing his MA in Management Science and Engineering. Sam’s father is a wealthy corporate and his mother is a society lady, on the board of many charities. Sam has bolstered his limited first-hand exposure to India with reading, watching films/documentaries. He loves discussing many aspects of India with his friends and family back home. Lately he has joined many WhatsApp discussion groups, which he thinks helps him understand current affairs quickly.

​The setting

In a space in the university town of Bristol, UK. The six friends are chilling out on a lazy Friday evening. Manu is checking his newsfeed on his mobile, while the rest are having a friendly banter.

 

2. Script for Lisa

 

Manu

Latha “LG”:

Manu

Sam:

Manu: It's the … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... was murdered.

Lisa [exclaiming]: Seriously?

Manu: Both … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... movies!

Lisa: An honour killing in these days? I thought that’s just stuff for the movies!

Manu: This phone … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... happen!

Lisa: I know from some movies Sam and I’ve been watching that inter-caste marriages are unacceptable across most of India, but I’ve never really understood the actual story about caste. How does it matter that a dominant-caste girl gets hitched to an oppressed-caste guy? Isn’t this like ancient stuff?

Hari

Akki

Latha “LG”

Hari

Latha "LG": Guys … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... reasons …

Lisa [sounding pensive]: I just Googled inter-caste marriage and honour killings in India, and O! M! G!

Hari:

Latha “LG”:

Sam

Manu

Latha “LG”

Hari: Don’t … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... tweets …

Lisa: For sure, Indians stood up against white supremacy during the BLM campaign. It’s great, this solidarity across the world.

Hari: I understand … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... matter?

Lisa: Hari sorry, but looks like you haven’t got the gist of it. BLM isn’t about the George Floyd case in isolation, it’s about the everyday … the whole basis of White supremacy is this notion that White is good and Black is evil, that it’s okay to be violent towards black-skinned people in all sorts of ways, like killing them at the slightest pretense.

Sam:

Manu

Latha “LG”

Sam

Manu: Thanks … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... caste.

Lisa: There’s another point I want to make on Black Lives Matter vs all lives matter. BLM isn’t saying other lives don’t matter, we’re just saying that our lives matter [emphasis] too … that Black lives matter as much as White lives have always mattered! Blacks shouldn’t have to struggle for everything that is considered a fundamental right for Whites, from good education to healthcare to jobs. Look how this pandemic has affected Blacks more than Whites!

Manu:

Sam

Latha “LG”: Wow! … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Zara.

Lisa: Aww sweetheart … we’re all on your side. Oh we have such a laugh about Indian matrimonial ads. How they emphasise the caste and whether the girl is fair-skinned, as if that’s an accomplishment. You are right, this is all really racist! Doesn’t anyone in India see it this way?

Latha “LG”

Hari

Manu: And … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... blue.

Lisa: When I was four, I asked my mum when I would turn white, because all the good people on TV were White and all the villains were Black or kinda “Chinese” or “Arab” looking. Since I was a good kid, I thought I should be White! And I used to wonder why out of all the lovely people around me in our housing colony, none were White! Or even a shade in between … [laughing] It’s so subtle isn’t it – what we pick up from an innocuous TV drama, even at 4 years of age!

Akki: 

Latha “LG”: Aha! … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... symbol!

Lisa: Of course. If we were impartial, black could be the neutral world over, and White people could apply creams called Dark and Stunning! These things all add up. What we think is the default. Who determines that? Blackness – that’s always the “other”, so always suspect, inferior, bad.

Akki

Sam

Latha “LG”

Hari:

Sam

Manu

Hari

Akki

Latha “LG”: Look, I’m … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... bad.

Lisa: LG, So India’s caste system is somewhat similar to the oppression of Blacks by Whites in this part of the world.

Sam: Oh … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... murder.

Lisa: I’m thinking that Kausalya was a very brave person, and so was Shankar. They stood up for their rights … I mean, just think about the courage you would need to push back against a prejudice that is so old and so ingrained. More power to Kausalya!

Latha “LG”

Manu

Latha “LG”:

Akki

Hari

Latha “LG”

END

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