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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui

Daddy Issues

A 10-minute piece about a child and his father. Most dialogues are addressed to the audience.

Setting: Open

Characters: 2 M




(Silence)

(Father and Son enter)

(Silence)

Son:

Dad wasn’t the talking types...

Dad:

My son never seemed like he wanted to talk...

Son:

Dad always said -

Dad:

I am old but I am happy... but my son always believed –

Son:

My dad could have given us a better life, instead of this rut we call ‘home’. Happy. But is he satisfied? His passion, his calibre could have taken him places, could have brought him tremendous success... and I would be the son of a no-

(Silence)

Dad:

To him, everything seemed like the end of the world...

Son:

Sometimes it felt like the end of the world, you know... I mean my brain knew it was going to be okay, but I wanted to – never mind... My dad was this presence, always there... but somehow never managing to make a difference... There were so many times I wish he’d just look at me and tell me –

Dad:

This is life... Stop crying and grow up...

(Silence)

Son:

Every Thursday, when the lights went, his friends would come over...

Dad:

He was never at home in the evenings...

Son:

They would play rummy. Mum would cook, they would eat and laugh and complain about how their eyes were getting week because of the Government and their damn load-shedding!

Dad:

I knew where he went... with his rowdy friends -

Together:

Smoking, drinking, wasting money!

Son:

They spoke about –

Dad:

Politics (say something about the current state of affairs)

Son:

Like anyone of them had the balls to change anything in society.

(Silence)

Dad:

They went for one of those candlelight vigils – for some girl – from their college (express patriarchy)...

Son:

Four days we stayed outside the college demanding justice –

Dad:

Then they came home, ate chicken biryani – that I paid for - and went off to sleep...

Son:

I knew... what he thought... that we were a bunch of kids wasting our time... acting tough and smart because we had nothing to worry about...

Dad:

(continue conversation with friends that is irredeemably full of pfaff)

Son:

If we had managed to change something, make the Government take notice... but it’s hard man, it’s freaking hard...

Together:

Bloody Democracy!

Son:

Who wanted his approval anyway?

(Silence)

Dad:

Joshi Saab saw you that day, on North Main Road, riding like a bullet... with a girl sitting behind you... You really think we don’t know what you go to do in those Koregoan Park lanes? You’re risking your life and limb, flying on that bike to make some girl hold you even tighter... someday that same girl will marry some guy who got better marks than you -

Son:

Yeah bro, there’s always going to be a smarter guy who’ll take the girl in the end...

Dad:

So stop running with girls and start focussing on your studies, then the girls will come to you... find one thing and stick to it... that’s what a responsible man does.

Son:

Yeah man, my dad keeps saying the same thing, I can see how it worked out for him.

(Silence)

Dad:

One week it’s some demonstration in college, the other week it is a clean-up drive for the society... And in between all of that is hours and hours of sitting around and doing nothing... This world is not going to change... It’ll change you... But who is going to teach him that... you want to do something, get a good job, make something of yourself... then do what you want –

Son:

I always imagined that one day he’ll sit me down and tell me –

Dad:

Beta... I – I wanted to tell you... I am proud of you... I understand things are not perfect and you are trying your best... whatever the circumstances, I am with you and maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you will achieve your goal and in the end it will be worth it... So don’t give up...

Son:

Instead what I got was –

Dad:

Beta... I – I wanted to tell you... the Indian Rupee has fallen... You wanted to go to USA na to study (something) na? It’ll be difficult now, but don’t worry, we’ll figure something out...


Everyone figures things out in the end but patience is something no one can teach...

Son:

Maybe there’s no point in waiting... some things are supposed to be just life’s little aches and pains –

Dad:

When people tell you tales about your child, it’s not easy... You have to pretend to know already. You have to pretend to have a solution. You have to pretend.

Yes, yes Joshi saab... no, no, he is fine... he looked lost to you? Lost? No, no, he must not have seen you, that is why he didn’t stop... yes, yes... I’ll talk to him... he got his marks yesterday, so maybe – you mean you saw him last week?

Son: He finally noticed his whiskey going missing... I had been drinking it for weeks, sleeping all day, puking all night, not speaking, not eating, not going out... but ultimately what got his attention was the missing pegs of booze...

Dad:

He told me –

Son:

You drink... How is it any different when I do?

Dad:

I saw his eyes, red... he couldn’t hide them from me... unshaven, unclean, barely human... he had everything in life... enough intelligence to really make something of himself, take us all out of this rut we called home... and he was throwing it away...

Son:

I didn’t feel like the child he wanted...

Dad:

Go wash your face and go to sleep, we’ll talk in the morning.

Son:

That morning never did come –

Dad:

My whiskey stopped disappearing... I could still smell the smoke on him, especially when he came home from college... but it was better than seeing him sneaking in late at night and collapsing on his bed, too drunk to even take off his clothes... So much is done for them nowadays, that the smallest thing goes wrong and they can’t handle it... depression... in my day, they called it ‘growing up’...

Son:

How can I explain? Every justification is dismissible. It’s always the same old story. Maybe I am playing the victim. Maybe this time, I really am one. What will it take to convince him?

Dad:

Where are you going? Who are you going with? When will you come back?

Son:

He used to stay awake when I went out... awake, waiting till I came back...

Dad:

Where did you go? Who were you with? When did you come back?

Son:

It was like he needed an address to come find me when they finally gave him the bad news he always seemed to expect around me –

(Silence)

Son:

They don’t make us like they used to, perhaps. The breakage is more permanent nowadays... Was I supposed to tell him how much I missed racing through North Main Road with her? Ducking Mr Joshi, looking for that one empty spot... Every sentence I constructed, just came out laughable...

Dad:

First step, first uniform, first time in the men’s room –

Son:

None of those moments I remembered... First accident, first fight, first heartbreak –

Dad:

I left him –

Together:

Alone

Dad:

How else was he supposed to learn?

(Silence)

Dad:

He was supposed to finish (some work)

Son:

I forgot

Dad:

When you are told something, you do it

Son:

He made me feel guilty for the next ten days...

Together:

I can’t remember the last time I looked him in the eye

(Silence)

(Son crosses over to the father’s side)

Son:

Dad, I’m going out...

Dad:

How much do you need for petrol?

Son:

Three hundred.

Dad:

Here – (Son turns to leave) Wait... (hands him more money) Here...

(Son takes money, exits)


This piece was inspired by Cat Stevens' song, Father and Son. But also by my own daddy issues. Fathers are difficult. So are children. But the most difficult thing of all is to recognize that and still learn to trust.


Growing up for me has been, for a large part, learning to accept my family's particular dysfunctions. To learn not just to love, but also like my family members. My father in particular. Communication with him is an ongoing process. But it's been getting better for years now. So, I can't complain. Especially when I use the experience now, to work with my students to help build healthier communication patterns.


Also, check out the work of Monica C. Webster, the artist who's work has been used to illustrate this piece. Her website is what I want mine to be when it grows up.


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