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Acha Bacha

Acha Bacha

by Bilal Baig
introduction by Kama La Mackerel
also available: Paperback
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Zaya: Oh, hey, pretty woman. Hey . . .

Ma fully opens her eyes and slaps Zayas hand away.

Ma: Hey hey, ka bacha, salaam karne bul gaye?

Zaya: Oh my god, Ma, I was just saying hi.

Ma: Tho phir salaam karo.

Zaya: Assalaam’olaikum.

Ma: Good. Walekum’assalaam.

Ma inspects Zaya.

Arey, yeh patiwi pant kyun pein rahey ho?

Ma touches the rips in Zayas jeans.

Zaya: It’s fashion, Ma. I love your outfit.

Ma: Shukriya. You look tired.

Zaya: Oh, thank you.

Ma: You are sleeping?

Zaya: Yes. Kind of. Look, I know you aren’t sleeping. You fell this morning way before you usually wake up. Are you okay? How’s your wrist?

Ma: Teekh hai.

Zaya: How did it happen? How did you fall?

Ma: Mera shawl floor pey tha.

Zaya: Why was your shawl on the floor?

Ma: Mujhe kaise patha?

Zaya: Seriously?

Ma: Kya seriously? I don’t see it aur meh girgayi. Next time I open my eye meh yahan pey hoon. Since eight-thirty a.m.!!!

Zaya: Sorry . . . I got delayed getting here.

Ma: Kaise aayo?

Zaya: My friend drove me.

Ma: Kaun?

Zaya: Salim. The teacher? Remember? The one who would ask for your biryani recipe / every time—

Ma: Oh. Haan, haan.

Zaya: Yeah, they’re just—Salim’s just—we’ve got a lot of things to do today . . . So I actually can’t stay too long. I’m sorry.

Ma: Kyun?

Zaya: Well I need a ride back home.

Ma: Laila dey sakti hai.

Zaya: No, she can’t. I’m pretty sure she said she can’t get here for a few hours.

Ma: Tho phir wait karo. Mere saath.

Zaya: I can’t. I told you I’ve got things to do today.

Ma: Work hai?

Zaya: No, but I—

Ma: Tho phir kya?

Zaya: Well Salim’s leaving for a big trip tonight and—actually, Salim’s gonna do Umrah. With their mom.

Ma: Hm.

Zaya: You know, Mecca. The pilgrimage thing?

Ma: Tum mujhe Umrah explain karo gey?

Zaya: No, sorry. Uh, so Salim needs to finish packing and buy a gift for their mom and I wanna help with that, so . . .

Ma: Uske paas koi aur friends nahi hai jo—

Zaya: Ma, I want to help.

Ma: Tho phir yahan kyun aayo?

Zaya: I want to see you. I just can’t stay too long.

Ma: Faida kya hai?

Zaya: Ma, come on, I’ll see you in two days for Eid.

Ma: Nahi nahi, tum jao. Agar tum jaana chathey hai tho jao, aur meh yahan akheli mar jaaongi. Teekh hai?

Zaya: Don’t say that. You’re not gonna die, Ma.

Ma: Tumko kaise patha?

Zaya: The nurse said you’re fine.

Ma: Nurse don’t know ke I have son who don’t care for me. Meh aisi mar jaaongi, I guarantee you!

Zaya: Ma, I do care about you—I do.

Ma: Good. Tho phir aaj mere saath gahar aao. Bas. Yeh done deal hai.

Zaya: Ma—

Ma: No more Ma Ma Ma! No, no!

Zaya can’t say anything. He checks his phone for a text from Salim. Nothing. He puts it away.

Zaya: Hey, so um, just this morning I started thinking about that masjid we used to go to, like twenty years ago. You remember it?

Ma: Kaun sa masjid?

Zaya: It was in the basement of a house. You sent Laila and me there every day after school for a couple of months or something.

Ma: Oh, haan haan.

Zaya: Do you—remember anything about it? Like, do you remember walking down the stairs and wasn’t the smaller prayer room on the—

Ma: Beta, why you are asking me? Mujhe nahi patha . . .

Zaya: But do you remember anything about it? Do you remember when the masjid closed down? The day after Eid that year?

Ma: Twenty year ago is so long time, kaise yeh umeed rakh saktey ho ke mujhe / yeh sab yaad ho ga?

Zaya: You remember the maulana saab at least, right?

Beat. Ma nods.

Okay, and his son Mubeen? Or, Farah auntie? Do you still keep in touch with any of the aunties?

Ma: Haan, hum . . . baat kartey hain.

Zaya: What about Naima auntie? She was always so loud, right? And remember her daughter Sadiya? Laila’s old friend?

Ma: Oh haan, Sadiya, very sweet girl. Acha ab bathao, tumhari biwi kahan hai?

Zaya: What??

Ma: Kab shaadi karo gey?

Zaya: I’m not talking about this.

Zaya checks his phone again.

Ma: Kyun nahi?

Zaya: I told you before, I’m not ready.

Ma: Kab ready ho gey? You are twenty-eight . . .

Zaya: So what?

Ma: Tho jab mein yahan se nik lungi, meh seedhi Pakistan jaongi aur tumhari pretty woman ko ley kar aaongi here. Bas.

Zaya: No, thank you.

Ma: No thank you ka bacha, tum kaun si type ki ladki pasand karte ho? Bathao na. Bathao na beta!!!

Zaya: Okay! Okay okay.


I like naughty girls, I guess.

Ma: Teekh hai. I find naughty girl for you. Mallika Sherawat jaisi.

Zaya: Great. I like Mallika.

Ma: Yeh joke nahi hai.

Zaya: I’m not joking either.


And when are you gonna get married?

Ma: Zaya.

Zaya: What?

Ma: Aise mat joke karna mere saath.

Zaya: No, I’m actually serious, Ma. I think you’re strong, and beautiful, and smart, and funny. And young.

Ma: Haan haan, meh yeh sab kuch hoon, aur bahot busy too.

Zaya: I can make your profile on

Ma: Arey chup!

Zaya: Laila can take your photo when you get home.

Ma: Yeh nahi ho sakta hai. Meh busy hoon.

Zaya: Oh yeah? Doing what?

Ma: Meri pehli appointment afternoo—

Ma stops herself.

Zaya: Appointment? For what? Wait. For like cutting hair? Ma, we’ve talked about this. Laila and I can pay for stuff. You don’t have to be working.

Ma: Oh haan haan, bilkul bilkul. Eid two days mein hai, busy busy time of year for me, aur I don’t work? / Good idea, beta!

Zaya: Oh my god, just retire already!!

Ma: Mera kam important hai. All my client depend me. Meh koi retail shetail mein kam nahi karti hoon.

Zaya: Okay, just so we’re clear, I’m a store manager.

Ma: You fold clothes.

Zaya: Ma!

Ma: Ma, Ma, ka bacha, such nahi hai?

Zaya: We’re not talking about me. This is about you and it’s serious and I just don’t think you understand—

close this panel
It's All Tru

Kurt: Well I suppose I should thank you for . . . being honest with me . . .


I suppose. So have you taken PEP?

Travis: I told you, I have the prescription but—

Kurt: No, not PrEP. PEP.

Travis: Oh, you mean the—

Kurt: Yes PEP, the after one.

Travis: Oh that’s right . . . PrEP is before . . .

Kurt: Which would have been much better to take, but since you haven’t, then you should go to emergency and have them give you PEP right away. Has it been more than seventy-?two hours?

Travis: Just.

Kurt: Well that’s what you should do then. Go to emergency tonight.

Travis: Okay, I will.

Kurt: I should say so.

Kurt clears his plate to the counter.

So, are we finished?

Travis: With—

Kurt: With this discussion?

Travis: Yes. I guess so. I just wanted you to know.

Kurt: As long as you take the PEP then we’ll consider the matter over. After all, there’s nothing we can do about it. And then start taking the Truvada. You will start taking the Truvada?

Travis: Of course I will.

Kurt: Good.

Kurt moves to go.

Travis: Where are you going?

Kurt: I’m going to my study.

Travis: Oh.


You don’t want any . . . dessert?


Kurt: I’m not in the mood right now.


Maybe later.

He makes a move to go.

Travis: Kurt.

Kurt: What?

Travis: Are you mad at me?

Kurt: Not exactly. I’m perturbed. But I’ll get over it.

Travis: You will?

Kurt: Of course I will. I love you.


Do you want me to go to emergency with you?

Travis: No, I think I can go myself.


I love you too, and . . . I’m sorry.

Kurt: Yes, I know you are. See you later.

Kurt leaves the kitchen. Travis starts to clean things up as the lights dim. Music.

close this panel
Speed Dating for Sperm Donors
Scene 6: Total World Domination


A brisk spring day. Helen and Paige stand outside near the arrivals gate at the airport. They blow into their hands and stamp their feet. The whoosh of airplanes can be heard.

Paige: Why is it we must meet him at the airport?

Helen: He’s on a tight schedule, I guess. He gave very specific instructions. I wasn’t about to question them.

Paige: Is he coming home with us, or —

Helen: I’m not sure. There he is.

A man in a Russian fur hat enters.

Physicist: You are on time. This is most excellent.

Helen: Thank you so much for agreeing to meet us.

Paige: Can we, perhaps, go and sit down together —

Physicist: No, this location is serviceable.

Helen: Okay, well why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Physicist: Here, I have photograph. Myself as little baby. You may keep.

Helen and Paige lean over the picture.

Helen: Awww. Very cute.

Paige: This must be your maman holding you?

Physicist: No. This is wet nurse in Mother Russia Young Physicist Training Facility.

Helen: Yes, you mentioned you were a physicist in your message. Maybe you could tell us about your work.

Physicist: Black hole physics, yes. I make superconductor simulations embedded in flat space. I propose new type of ultralight particle forming halos supported by the quantum uncertainty principle.

Helen: Wow. That sounds . . . Wow.

Helen elbows Paige.


Paige: Impressive. Very impressive.

Physicist: Quite standard, actually, compared to former research. But we dispense now with pleasantries. I go to produce required material. You will kindly have transcripts ready for my return.

Helen: Transcripts?

Physicist: You both completed university training, yes? My requirement for distribution of genetic material is that you score in top ninety-five percentile. Equivalent of your North American A+. I am not wanting to mix my genetics with inferior specimens. Kindly produce documents to prove your intelligence level.

Helen: We don’t have any documents with us.

Physicist: Most inconvenient. My flight departs at two p.m. Ah.

He whips out a notepad and sketches.

I now pose you theorem of moderate difficulty. You have solution by the time I have sample . . . no problem.

He hands the theorem over to them and leaves.

Helen: He didn’t say anything about a test!

Paige: What does that mean, “inferior specimens”? Is he going behind a pillar?

Helen: Could it be a language problem?

Paige cranes her neck.

Paige: I think it’s a bigger problem — he’s a crackpot!

Helen: Very smart people, I have noticed, are often quite odd. Let’s just ask him some more questions. Meantime . . . here, you better do this.

She slides the notepad paper over to Paige.

Paige: No, you.

Helen: I’m not touching it. You’re math girl.

Paige: Normal math, not black hole physics!

Helen: Try. Write something!

They throw it back and forth. The Physicist returns and Paige quickly writes down an answer.

We just wanted to ask you: Why do you want to be a donor?

Physicist: It is most efficient. Statistically speaking, I would never have time to personally impregnate all of the women who now have borne me children.

Paige: All of the women? How many are there?

Physicist: Two hundred and thirty-nine this year.

Helen: This year alone?

Physicist: Total number of known progeny since I begin experiment is two thousand seven hundred and twenty-one.

He reaches inside his jacket pocket, and Helen and Paige both take a step back.

But we waste time. Sample is getting cold.

Paige: Why do you do this?

Physicist: Covert distribution of superior genetic footprint. End result: total world domination. But don’t worry about that. Very cute babies. Look at photograph.

Paige: I don’t think we can be a part of your experiment.

He is examining the theorem on the notepad.

Physicist: Unfortunately, you are correct. Three? The answer you propose to theorem is three?

Paige: Oui?

He does a little bow.

Physicist: It is my disappointing duty to inform you that you are not viable subjects. I now proceed to Cincinnati to next potential vessel. Goodbye.

He gives another little bow and makes an abrupt departure.

Helen: Nice to meet you too.

Lights fade.

close this panel


Three Gender Plays: Nelly Boy, My Funny Valentine, and Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls
More Info
Body Politic

Phillip: Kettle’s on. If you guys are okay here, I think I’m going to…

Steven: It was a good piece, Phillip. It caught the raw energy. The emotion. The hope.

Phillip: I agree. They were scared of it. Fucking typical.

Steven: That’s what I’m saying. It needs to be read.

Calvin: Well then, let’s get it the fuck out there.

Steven: It needs to be out there.

Phillip: You guys should really do that.

Steven: We can’t. Who’s going to publish it? No one’s going to publish this thing, it’s too…

Calvin: What?

Steven: No one is publishing this kind of thing.

Calvin: You just said that.

Steven: Someone should be.

Calvin: I think we’re on the same page here.

Steven: I could be.

Phillip: You could be.

Steven: We should be.

Phillip: Yeah, you guys should be.

Steven: No. All of us.

Phillip: I’m actually pretty busy these days.

Calvin: You’re not.

Steven: You really aren’t.

Calvin: But it’ll take more than three people.

Steven: Obviously, Calvin.

Calvin: Who?

Steven: You call Jason and Patrick.

Calvin: And Carl.

Steven: I hate Carl. Oh, ask Chaz.

Calvin: Maybe you should ask Chaz.

Steven: Oh, and Deb.

Calvin: Phillip, you have that friend at U of T.

Phillip: I think that this is more your speed, you guys.

Calvin: Okay, bye.

Steven: Phillip, I won’t listen to it. You’re in. Okay? Just say it. You’re in. Okay?

Phillip: Okay. I’m in.

Steven: Good. So let’s get started.

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