‘Oculus’, my story about women’s rights, set in Iran and India, is now a semifinalist in this year’s competition. That puts it in the top 4%-5% of all entrants. It’s won several badges of commendation along the way, and appears on Coverfly’s Red List as among the best works on its site. I’m hoping the current political situation will enable people to see its relevance.
‘If you don’t accept him’ – your father comes to the point – ‘someone else will. He’s looking for a wife and it’s obvious he won’t have to wait for long.’ There’s some slight nuance in your father’s tone that signals menace. It suggests that overnight he’s become your opponent instead of your friend.
‘One Million People, Full Stop’ makes it to the quarterfinals of this year’s competition. My play is based on the short stories and vignettes of the important Indo/Pak writer, Manto. Its subject is the collective insanity caused by the Partition of India. The drama of the time is framed by a discourse the relationship between morality and freedom of speech. Manto’s musings retain their relevance in today’s ‘cancel culture’, and take on tragic significance with the assault on Salman Rushdie. The play was written at the request of Jatinder Verma, former Artictic Director at Tara Arts, South West London. It now needs a home.
MAN w. SWORD Dildo, is it? Ah’m sick to death of the likes of you thinkin’ you’re better than the likes of me. Fuckin’ cow canoodler. I’m gonnae stick it to ye right the now.
SECOND MAN Nuckleheid! Eejit! I’m the local tailor, fer fuck’s sake.
MAN w. SWORD Don’t come it with me, piss tippler. I’d know your sort anywhere.
SECOND MAN I’m tellin’ ye.
MAN w. SWORD Bollocks!
He lunges at the second man, and slashes him neck to navel. The injured man drops down dead. Man with Sword then slices open the dead man’s pyjama string, and peers at the victim’s nether regions.
Oopsie daisy! Wee mishtake!
 Traditionally, a Muslim occupation.