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BIG DAY KUMAR

on Thursday, 19 January 2023.

POST BY CONFLUENCE ARTIST, SUE GOBERDHAN

Hello, dear reader!

It’s your resident Confluence Fellow Sue Goberdhan here with a peek inside my brain. During my time with Catalyst, I am working on a play about belonging to a Guyanese family, and how persistent Guyanese joy is in the face of tragedy. Something that is less known about CHUMP (the working title of my piece) is that these characters were born in a different format for a different project called Big Day Kumar, a 30 minute serialized television show for streaming. This show has not yet made it to the screen, but I loved these characters so much I wanted to see how they exist on stage as well as on screen.

 

Below is an excerpt from Big Day Kumar. This scene explores Guyanese-isms 101. How do you succeed in a Guyanese family? The do’s and don’ts are not always obvious, but they are necessary to keep the potential for familial fission at bay.

Here’s some context: Nadira is interviewing for a job as editor of a magazine and Eddie, her brother, is simultaneously driving his best friend Cass (he’s a woke casanova, if you will,) his girlfriend Lindsay, and her sister Emma to their first Kumar family barbeque. Lindsay, Eddie’s very white girlfriend, is nervous about meeting his very Guyanese family, so they’re using their travel time to get prepped.

 

 

BIG DAY KUMAR
by Sue Goberdhan

 

DEBBIE
Tell us about yourself! What’s your life like?

NADIRA
Okay! Great! Well, my name is Nadira Kumar. I’m 26 years old. I’m an Aries. My brother and I were born in Canada but my parents are from Guyana.

BEN
[The only white guy in the room] I would not have guessed you were from Ghana!

NADIRA
Well if you had, you’d have been wrong! Don’t worry, I get that a lot. My family is from Guyana, a tiny country in–

[We cut to EDDIE driving to the airport with his girlfriend LINDSAY, her sister EMMA, and Eddie’s childhood friend CASS. LINDSAY is balancing a big platter of Deviled Eggs on her lap. EMMA carries a gift basket with jams and spreads and Pepperidge Farm style stuff. They’re on their way to EDDIE’s parents for their first family barbeque. EDDIE is explaining their culture to EMMA.]

 EDDIE
South America. Don’t worry though, people say that shit all the time.

LINDSAY
Emma please don’t make us look like uncultured white people at this barbeque. 

[CASS and EDDIE burst out laughing, but then EDDIE notices that LINDSAY is actually stressed out.]

EMMA
That’s why I’m asking now!

EDDIE
It’s a good strategy, Emma.

EMMA
I know. Thank you for saying so. 

CASS
Lindsay? 

LINDSAY
Cassidy? 

CASS
Why are you so stressed, homie? Aunty is going to love you!

LINDSAY
Well I’ve taken every step to make sure. My girl Nadira sent me some index cards–

CASS
She indexed the family?

EDDIE
Are you surprised?

LINDSAY
–and I’ve been studying them just to make sure I know the do’s and don’ts of helping your family realize that they love me! 

EMMA
Well read ‘em out loud so I can behave good too. 

CASS
Won’t lie, I super wanna know what she wrote.

EDDIE
Oh, I can tell you what she wrote.

LINDSAY
Did you know she was doing this? [Gesturing to the index cards]

EDDIE
No, I actually didn’t! But…

[This next chunk cuts between EDDIE explaining to the car folks and NADIRA explaining to her interview panel.]

NADIRA
My parents were always strict. There are very specific rules for success in a Guyanese family.

EDDIE
Always take your shoes off when you go inside–

NADIRA
Greet every single person in the house, it doesn’t matter if there’s a hundred people and it doesn’t matter if it takes all night–

EDDIE
At least say hello to every person there. It’s just a sign of–

NADIRA
Maintaining a certain image around the Aunties. Oh yes, every person who is around 10 or more years older than you is either Aunty or Uncle. 

EDDIE
Everyone’s an Aunty or an Uncle. It’s, yet again, a sign of–

NADIRA
Maintaining a bizarre power dynamic in the familial hierarchy, even if you aren’t a part of the family. But it was important, and so long as you’re living you always address people who are older than you as Aunty or Uncle. It’s always felt like an oppression tactic, but I love that doing things the Guyanese way means that– 

EDDIE
– Everybody’s family. You come to my house, what’s mine is yours. The philosophy is always that you make space, you build a–

NADIRA
– a bigger table. Always. You share what you have for the good of everybody at the table. That is something that I think Guyanese people are great at. We make excellent friends because the line between friendship and family barely even exists. 

EDDIE
But, that goes both ways. If you’re part of my family, you treat my home as your home. If you need a drink, NEVER–

NADIRA
NEVER allow an older person to go get it for you. It’s a trap–

EDDIE
–Always a trap.

NADIRA
Nobody would ever admit to it, but if an older person asks a younger person if they want something to drink, depending on who it is, they are absolutely testing your morals.

EDDIE
How am I doing so far?

LINDSAY
It feels like you two share a brain!

EDDIE
Nah, we share a roof! That’s how you learn. 

CASS
Trust me, y’all are gonna be fine. Oh! Here’s one I bet she forgot! 

EDDIE
I doubt it.

LINDSAY
[Holding up a SUPER thick ring of index cards] So do I!

EMMA
What is it?

CASS
If an Aunty asks you, always–

[Cut back to NADIRA:]

NADIRA
ALWAYS dance if they ask you to. I guess it’s a generalization to say that all Guyanese people are this way, but every Guyanese person I have met in my life LOVES a good party.

CASS
It don’t matter if you got six left feet, you get up and dance.

EMMA
Okay, that’s a little much, don’t you think?

LINDSAY
No, I totally get it. If our family partied like your family does I would be offended at a stick in the mud too. Don’t worry, Nadira mentioned it and I am ready to shake what Delores gave me! 

EMMA

(Quietly, because it’s embarrassing)

Bitch, you know I don’t dance! 

EDDIE
Don’t worry Em, I’ll have your back with my mom–

CASS
[Quietly but flirtily to EMMA:] You know, I happen to be an avid believer in slow dancing at first sight… 

EMMA
Well we super can’t do that. We’re in a moving car, dumbass.

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