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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui

Moving Out

It’s the afternoon, a holiday. The stage is a mess of boxes and packing materials. The mother and son are onstage. Everyone else can be heard but is offstage.



Son:

Where are my marbles?


Mother:

What?


Son:

Marbles… I’m looking for my marbles…


Mother:

Marbles?


Son:

Yes, in a pouch… I had a whole bunch of them…they used to be in the old wooden cupboard…


Mother:

Then they must be packed with the stuff from there.


Son:

Do you remember packing them with the –


Mother:

Kartik, I can barely remember what day it is… all the stuff has to move out of here today or we’ll end up paying rent for this place and the new one… and I am the only one who seems to be doing anything…


Father:

Ratna… chai…


Mother:

Your father has been sitting in that bloody chair like a goddamn Maharaja. He won’t move a muscle. He can’t see that I have so much work to do. Can’t he get the bloody chai himself? How much is one person supposed to do?


Son:

Maybe I’ll just go check the box…


Mother:

Check what box?


Son:

The one with the things from the wooden cupboard…


Mother:

What do you want from there?


Son:

My marbles, the pouch of marbles…


Mother:

What do you need those for right now?


Son:

I don’t need them right now, I just need to make sure they are there.


Mother:

Kartik please, the box has been packed, you will just mess things up… none of you are even raising a finger to help me, the least you can do is not increase my work…


Father:

Ratna… chai!


Mother:

I’m getting it! Can’t you see I have a hundred things to do here? Couldn’t they have given us a few more days to wrap up all the packing?


Son:

They gave us two weeks…


Mother:

You are doing nothing. How would you know how long it takes to pack up a house? (to a worker) Hey be careful, do you know how expensive that is? If anything breaks, I am going to deduct it all from your wages…


Father:

Ratna… chai!


Mother:

It’s on the damn stove!


Son:

Which box is it?


Mother:

What box?


Son:

The one with the marbles in it…


Mother:

I don’t know where your marbles are! have bigger things to worry about – your clothes, Ila’s clothes, your father’s things… all the books… all the crockery… (crash offstage) (calling off) Aye, what did you drop? (walks a little off) What do you mean nothing broke? How do you know? Overpaid imbeciles! Open it and check the damn things… it’s all my dinnerware, thanks to your clumsiness, I’ll have nothing to feed my guests in… don’t argue with me, just check the things, I’m going to charge you for every single piece that is broken! Tell that other man to be more careful, I’m watching! (to son) What are you doing? Why are you touching those?


Son:

I’m just looking for my marbles…


Mother:

Marbles? The whole house is being ripped apart and all this boy can think of is marbles! Don’t you have any pity for your mother? I’ve been slogging like a bloody donkey all day… pack the things, cook the food, deal with these dumb workers… you are just like your father…


Father:

RATNA! CHAI!


Mother:

I’m getting it! Good-for-nothing, bloody bastard… Kartik get out of my way!


Son:

I’ll take the dog for a walk?


Mother:

Yes do that… get out of my way and take that bloody mongrel of yours, he’s peed on half the boxes… if I had my way I’d throw him away… thankless creature…


Son:

Where’s his leash?


Mother:

What?


Son:

Bolt’s leash… I’m looking for his leash.



Once, in a period of 4 years, I had to move houses 5 times. Twice on my own and three times with my family. On each of those occasions, the mental labour of planning and executing the move fell to my mother. Sometimes, it's difficult to stand up against ingrained patterns within your household. To realize you are complicit and still be unable to step up and take responsibility.


A lot has changed since then. I'm living on my own now. Adulting, as the kids call it these days. Last week, I got my electricity bill. It was four times the usual amount. I freaked out. And called my mother.



Also, if you haven't read artist Emma's 2017 comic You Should have Asked on emotional labour, do so now. In fact, reread it even if you have.





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