Books·Canadian

Take d Milk, Nah?

A play by Jivesh Parasram.

Jivesh Parasram

Jiv is "Canadian." And "Indian" And "Hindu." And "West Indian." "Trinidadian," too. Or maybe he's just colonized. He's not the "white boy" he was teased as within his immigrant household. Especially since his Nova Scotian neighbours seemed to think he was Black. Except for the Black people — they were pretty sure he wasn't. He's not an Arab, and allegedly not a Muslim — at least that's what he started claiming after 9/11. Whatever he is, the public education system was able to offer him the chance to learn about his culture from a coffee table book on "Eastern Mythology." And then he had a religious epiphany while delivering a calf in Trinidad. By now, Jiv's collected a lot of observations about trying to find your place in your world.

In this funny, fresh, and skeptical take on the identity play, Jivesh Parasram blends personal storytelling and ritual to offer the Hin-dos and Hin-don'ts within the intersections of all of his highly hyphenated cultures. This story asks the gut-punching questions: What divides us? Who is served by the constructs of cultural identity? And what are we willing to accept in the desire to belong? Then again — it doesn't really matter, because we are all Jiv. (From Playwrights Canada Press)

Take d Milk, Nah? is a finalist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for drama. The winners will be announced on Nov. 17, 2021.

Jivesh Parasram grew up in Nova Scotia and now lives in Vancouver. He received the 2018 Toronto Arts Foundation emerging Artist Award and is the artistic director of Rumble Theatre. The play was adapted for CBC's PlayME podcast.

Listen to the podcast version of Take d Milk, Nah?

Jiv is Canadian. Jiv is Indian. And Hindu. And West Indian. And Trinidadian too. Or maybe he is just colonized. In order to explore all these hyphenated identities, he creates the first-ever Hindu-Caribbean-Canadian identity play — even though he hates identity plays. He starts with a brief history of indentured servitude in Trinidad, and his family.
Jiv is the first in his family to be born in Canada and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Here some people call him black, while his own family calls him “white boy”. Jiv goes on a teenage quest to Trinidad to untangle his roots and become more legitimately “third world”. Things do not go as planned.
Jiv shapeshifts again to prove identity is pretty trippy. Maybe we are all “Jiv”. Maybe this is all an illusion. But then a memory from Junior High brings him crashing back down to earth. Disaster strikes on 9/11 and Jiv feels forced to choose an “identity raft”. He’s not proud of his choice. He asks certain “Jivs” to skip to the next episode.
We all meet again for one final thought from our multi-hyphenated hero. Here’s why it matters how we choose to define the divides between us, and within us.

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