The Men in White

Anosh Irani's play The Men in White is the tale of two brothers, one in Vancouver and one in Bombay, as they both look to escape their mundane lives and make their dreams come true.

Anosh Irani

In the latest play from Governor General's Literary Award finalist Anosh Irani, we meet 18-year-old Hasan Siddiqui, who lives in a bustling Muslim quarter of Bombay. He escapes the drudgery of his work at a chicken slaughterhouse by fostering two fervent dreams — to become a star in cricket, a sport at which he happens to excel, and to win the affections of Haseena, a fiercely intelligent young woman two years his junior. When it comes to her, however, he is not so proficient, and Hasan's close-to-nonexistent prospects — along with the rather unfortunate setting of their budding romance, Baba's Chicken Centre — make advancing either cause look impossible.

Half a world away in Vancouver, Hasan's older brother, Abdul, has been working under the table at an Indian restaurant, attempting to set down roots with the hope of one day reuniting with his brother. For Abdul the immigrant dream shows little sign of materializing, but he finds solace in his amateur cricket team. When he and the team's captain decide to take action to end their losing streak, they talk of recruiting the talented Hasan for the rest of the season. But bringing Hasan from India to Canada will take much more than just a plane ticket, and rising tensions demonstrate that not all members of the team agree with the high cost. (From House of Anansi Press

The Men in White was on the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award shortlist for drama.

From the book

RANDY: Fine. We're going to bring in an overseas player.

DOC: You mean a professional?

RANDY: Not exactly. He isn't professional, but he's very good.

DOC: You know him?

RANDY: No, I don't.

DOC: So you've just seen him play.

RANDY: I haven't, actually.

DOC: You don't know him. You haven't seen him play.

RANDY: But I'm told he's phenomenal.

DOC: By whom?

Abdul steps forward, humbly. Abdul is a simple presence, very aware of the fact that he is different from the rest of the players. His clothes and body language give the impression that he does not have the same status as the others.

When Abdul speaks, it's clear his English isn't as fluent as the rest. But there is a simple poetry and rhythm to his speech. Having picked up words and phrases unconsciously, he assembles them in his own way.

ABDUL: By me.

DOC: So you know the guy?

ABDUL: My brother, Hasan.

DOC: I didn't know you had a brother.

ABDUL: Younger brother. He back in Dongri. In Bombay.

DOC: Oh, I know where that is. Not too many cricketers there.

ABDUL: He chicken cutter.

DOC: I'm sorry?

ABDUL: He work chicken cutter. But great player. If you think I bat good, he bat like a storm. Solid power.

RANDY: Look, if Abdul says he's good, then he's good.

ABDUL: He not good. He madman in jungle. He make shot out of nowhere. Good length ball he hit for six. He hit fast bowlers like they spinners. Like they bowling lollipops.

RANDY: But we need to work out the logistics. Visas and stuff.

RAM: I have a contact at the Canadian consulate in New Delhi. I'll find out the details.

RANDY: That's great. But we still need a yes from the rest of the team. And the club president has to approve.

RAM: Then let's discuss that at my place. Tonight. Call the whole team! Drinks are on me. And as a bonding exercise, we'll watch Gladiator. That final battle should set our balls on fire.

From The Men in White by Anosh Irani. ©2018. House of Anansi Press.


Other books by Anosh Irani