"While I Have You" Transcript

Written by Danielle Monroe

Etta performed by Danielle Monroe
Raahi performed by Kaz Qutab

ETTA

(in character)

We’ve been watching you for some time. You may not know this, but you are one of the Abnormals.

RAAHI

(in character)

That’s impossible.

ETTA

(in character)

It is not impossible. I will explain, but we have no time. Elite Force is coming. We must escape.

RAAHI

(in character)

I can’t just leave. The Homecoming Dance is tonight.

ETTA

(in character)

You, Ray, are the key to defending our kind against Elite Force. Without you, there may never be another Homecoming Dance ever again.

(out of character) Ok, can I make a quick suggestion?

RAAHI

Mom…

ETTA

You say “Never be another Homecoming Dance ever again.” You don’t need the ‘ever’. It’s “never be another homecoming dance again.”

 Ok, don’t give me that face. It’s just a suggestion.

RAAHI

It’s fine, ok?

ETTA

It’s important to be open to criticism.

RAAHI

It’s fine the way it is. Can we just, like— (sigh)

ETTA

Ok, I’m sorry. Let’s keep going. Actually, I have a question, or two.

RAAHI

(annoyed)

ETTA

Well, since we’re already stopped.

RAAHI

What.

ETTA

The Abnormals. They’re like, superheroes

RAAHI

No.

ETTA

but they made themselves superheroes? Ok, not superheroes.

RAAHI

Not superheroes. That’s so… No. They’re augmented humans. So, like, they’ve had surgery to put devices in their brains that let them see, like, infrared, or to hear high pitch like dogs can.

ETTA

Ok.

RAAHI

Like the cochlear implant.

ETTA

Cochlear implant (mispronouncing)

RAAHI

Cochlear

ETTA

Cochlear, cochlear—

RAAHI

It lets deaf people hear.

ETTA

Cochlear. Got it. Ok… So they have surgery to put these devices in their brains and everyone’s fine with it but then they’re not fine with it anymore.

RAAHI

An evil political regime takes over the government and wants to destroy all the Augmented humans.

ETTA

So like X-Men

RAAHI

No

ETTA

With a twist. No, look. I like it. It’s so creative.

RAAHI

Thanks

ETTA

I’m just so proud of you. You’re such a clever boy, I mean man… man.

RAAHI

Mom, can we—

ETTA

Excuse me for giving you a compliment.

RAAHI

Ok. Thank you Mom.

ETTA

And this is for a—

RAAHI

A podcast

ETTA

What’s a podcast?

RAAHI

It’s like a radio show, but on the internet

ETTA

People listen to those?

RAAHI

Can we?

ETTA

I’m sorry, I just… I see you for a half hour in the mornings and for another half hour during dinner. I have to make the most of the time I have with you and tell you how proud I am of you and your play.

RAAHI

Podcast

ETTA

Fine, podcast. Whatever. And I appreciate you letting me be a part of it.

Ok, stop with the face. Let’s start, ok?

RAAHI

(in character)

I can’t just leave. The Homecoming Dance is tonight.

ETTA

(in character)

You, Ray, are the key-

(out of character) What made you chose the name Ray?

RAAHI

Mom! I have track at three.

ETTA

I’m sorry. Just one other thought, ok?

Look, my birthday is coming up soon.

RAAHI

In like two months

ETTA

You remembered… Well, you don’t need to get me anything. I just want to pick your brain a little bit. My only son. Blood of my blood. Spawn–

RAAHI

Please. Stop.

ETTA

Why did you chose the name Ray? It’s so…

RAAHI

White? I am white.

ETTA

Half. Half-white.  I’m just wondering, that’s all, why you didn’t chose an Indian name.

RAAHI

It’s fiction, Mom. I can do whatever I want. It’s not like I based Ray on myself.

ETTA

You mean the 15-year old boy named Ray, which I could argue is the white version of Raahi, who’s dad died when he was four and lives in the town of Winterville?

RAAHI

Dad died when I was five

ETTA

uh-huh… And we live in Somerville

RAAHI

Can we just please get through this script? I have track…

ETTA

Ok.

RAAHI

(in character) I can’t just leave.

ETTA

Do you see yourself as Indian?

RAAHI

Oh my god.

ETTA

It’s just…

RAAHI

I need more friends.

ETTA

So dramatic!

RAAHI

Maybe I can join a gang or something.

ETTA

This is important. I know it’s hard because your Dad didn’t get to teach you the language and Ammuma and Appupa didn’t make the trip over as often as I’d have liked over the years.

RAAHI

Mom. I’m Indian. I’m white. I’m fine. I really just want to record this.

ETTA

Ok, Ok. I’m sorry. Let’s keep going.

RAAHI

Thank you.

ETTA

Ok.

(in character)

You, Ray, are the key to defending our kind against Elite Force. Without you, there may never be another Homecoming Dance ever again. Your parents implanted in you the muscular reflexes of a cheetah.

RAAHI

(in character)

What’s a cheetah?

ETTA

(in character)

They are majestic creatures that have gone extinct due to humanity’s greed and drive for copulance.

(out of character) Oo. I think you mean Opulence.

RAAHI

Oh. Well, what does copulance mean?

ETTA

Umm. That’s a good question for the internet.

RAAHI

All right…

ETTA

Ok. (in character) They are majestic creatures that have gone extinct due to humanity’s greed and drive for opulence. They were once the fastest creatures on earth and you have their abilities written into your DNA.

RAAHI

(in character)

There must be some mistake.

ETTA

(in character)

No mistake. With our training, you can be the most powerful Abnormal ever.

RAAHI

(in character)

Holy shit!

ETTA

(out of character)

Excuse me?

ETTA

Mom! Don’t freak out. 

ETTA

I don’t think so.

RAAHI

It’s artistic expression.

ETTA

Cursing? And using the Lord’s name?

RAAHI

I say Holy

ETTA

Well, the Bible probably isn’t a fan of that either.

RAAHI

We don’t even go to church.

ETTA

Do you want to start? Clean it up or we’ll start going. Every Sunday.

RAAHI

Holy crap?

ETTA

Try again. You know your grandparents are going to listen to this.

RAAHI

What happened to ‘Don’t choose based on the choices of others.’

ETTA

Did I say that?

RAAHI

Yes. Can we just get back to this?

ETTA

I’m a great mother.

RAAHI

You’re all right.

How about just ‘Damn.’

ETTA

Only if you say it funny.

RAAHI

Damn!

ETTA

Artistic expression. When did you get so smart?

RAAHI

In the womb.

ETTA

That’s right. You sucked up all my intelligence.

RAAHI

Gross. Pretty sure I got it from Dad’s side.

ETTA

Yeah. Probably. You’d know he’d be proud of you, right? I mean, he’s probably rolling over in his grave hearing you call yourself ‘Ray’ but proud of you nonetheless.

RAAHI

We had him cremated.

ETTA

You’re exhausting.

RAAHI

That I definitely got from you. Mom, this is fiction.

ETTA

Raahi, come on.

RAAHI

What

ETTA

I’m supposed to believe ‘Ray’ isn’t at all based on you? You could’ve chosen a more ethnic-neutral name like Rohit?

RAAHI

Rohit is neutral? Why don’t I just call him “Apu”?

ETTA

I’m just making sure—

RAAHI

All I wanted was to record this before track at three. And why do you care? It’s not like I ever learned Malayalam or Hindi. There are classes all around Somerville if you’d cared. I’ve never even visited India. You have like two Indian friends that you barely see. We don’t eat Indian food, we don’t do anything to engage with the community

ETTA

“engage with the community”?

RAAHI

You know what I mean. You— Don’t blame me for your choices. Don’t put that shit on me.

ETTA

All that therapy rubbed off on you.

RAAHI

Something like that.

ETTA

You’re right. Profanity-aside. I know you’re right. It’s just, when you were born, God, it was like nothing I could’ve prepared for. I mean, you gave us hell. You didn’t sleep, once you could crawl you got into everything. I still have scars on my nipples from trying to nurse you.

RAAHI

Mom…

ETTA

Sorry. My point is you weren’t easy, but I was so happy. Me and your father were exhausted and completely consumed by everything you did. Our connection, you and me, was primal. For a while you couldn’t sleep unless you were curled up beside me with your face in my armpit. You needed my smell to feel safe. And you got older and got friends and then started Kindergarten and you were your own person, but I still ran your world. And we were supposed to go to India. You were four. We were going to take two months and visit all your family. The prodigal grandson returns. Do you remember that?

RAAHI

Not really.

ETTA

We’d bought our tickets, had the passports armed and ready. And then…

RAAHI

Yeah.

ETTA

After your dad died my feet went out. And you… I didn’t have my eye on you for a while. And it took me months to even look you in the eyes again.

RAAHI

Two years.

ETTA

Two years. And by the time I was fully your Mom again you were older and independent. All I could do, all I can do, is hope you’re ok. And now you’re fifteen. You’re becoming your own person, as you should be. Every day you’ll be moving further and further from my orbit and before I know it you’ll be at College.

RAAHI

If I got to college.

ETTA

Well that is a larger conversation.

RAAHI

Steve Jobs didn’t finish college.

ETTA

Yeah, let’s put a pin in that. My point is, we’re here right now and while I have you, I want to make sure I give you what you need. I wish I could have passed on all of what your father wanted you to have. But now, I’m just trying to see if I passed on any of it. I know I got a lot wrong. Life threw me some curve balls, but I’m your mother and the buck stops with me.

RAAHI

So many metaphors.

ETTA

Raahi.

RAAHI

Sorry.

ETTA

It’s ok. I don’t want you to hold back because of me or feel like I want you to be someone else. I just want to check in, to see who you are before you become a stranger for a while.

RAAHI

Do you think Dad would be upset I’m not more Indian?

ETTA

No. Not at you, at least. Maybe at himself. He’d be proud of who you are. How brave you are, how you put up with me.

RAAHI

You can be a handful.

ETTA

I recognize so much of him in you.

RAAHI

What would he want me to be?

ETTA

Just yourself. With a dash of me in there and a sprinkle of him.

RAAHI

We don’t talk about him much.

ETTA

You’re right. Not enough.

RAAHI

Mom.

ETTA

I know, track at three.

RAAHI

I’ll change the name to Rohit.

ETTA

I win!

RAAHI

But seriously, I do have track at three.

ETTA

Ok, Ok. Just a sec.

RAAHI

Mom. You ok?

ETTA

Yeah. It’s just been a minute.

RAAHI

Been a minute?

ETTA

Did I not use that right?

RAAHI

No, it’s cool. You sound real hip.

ETTA

Stop wasting time. I hear you have track at three.

RAAHI

(laughs)

ETTA

(in character)

Ok… Without you, there may never be another Homecoming Dance ever again. Your parents implanted in you the muscular reflexes of a cheetah.

RAAHI

(in character)

What’s a cheetah?

ETTA

(in character)

They are majestic creatures that have gone extinct due to humanity’s greed and drive for opulence.

 

 

 

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