Character List 

Neetu – a housewife in her late thirties, protective, temperamental, North Indian

Aarna – Neetu’s daughter, a 9-year-old, understanding, North Indian
Aditi  – Neetu’s younger sister, in her early thirties, delivery woman, North Indian

A house. The entrance is centre downstage. The kitchen is upstage right. The living room is in the centre. In the living room, there is a coffee table. Behind it, there is a sofa. Neetu is washing the dishes in the kitchen while talking about herself.

Scene 1.

“Pardesiya yeh sach hain piya, sab kehte hain maine tujhko dil de diya…” Shifted to Singapore and dedicated my heart to house work now, haven’t I? Hai bhagwan, when will I get rid of these chores? If I’m out for a day, they complain about not getting their food on time or they cannot find their stuff or…(arranges wet utensils on rack and stretches neck and arms above head)

Ah, there you go. I’m coming!

(Grabs a new packet of chips)


Ugh. Okay, wait. My hands are wet, can’t you see?

(Returns to the kitchen and opens the packet using a pair of scissors)

Le, Aarna. Aur kuch? (turns around) Good.

What is the point of keeping the doors closed? (walks towards the entrance) Afraid of robbers ah? People can steal without even breaking doors, you know. (chuckles sardonically to herself and opens the door wider) Ah, the light, they are like memories. You open them and life becomes brighter. Someone once said, it is like the diary we all carry with us. Those times… 

Ah, I remember that time so clearly. She was hitting the door, crying. I was so scared. I…  I thought somebody was kidnapping her. I ran to the toilet only to find her locked in it. Mother pulled me aside as I had started crying too. Thankfully, a few kind men broke the door open and she came out. She was drenched in her own sweat. I was so glad they did not demand any money for the broken door. But after that, it became so funny we started teasing her. (chuckles) She did not even lock the toilet door anymore for 2 months. Served her right. Ha.

(Walks into the kitchen)

And how could I forget this, we used to add more water in the dough when Mother turned away even for a moment. How to make chapati with watery dough, Mother would complain. She would come after us and we would hide behind Father. But sometimes, I wasn’t the one who did it. It used to be her… and yet, Mother would pass the blame to me. But I would not take it. She even hinted to me to shush but I did not. Father always says to do what is right. Why should I take the blame when she did it?


Ah, I wish those days would come back… (sighs with resignation) No. I don’t want her to come back, though. She took my money. I did not care. She took so much money. I also did not care. She never called me back. (gathers some of the wet utensils) She never returned the money. (places them on a dry cloth) She never come back. (uses the cloth to wipe some of them) She did not come back. She did not call me back. 

She said she wanted to open her own saloon, that she’d make it a big name. I went to some of the recent trendy ones but obviously I did not see her. (looks at her nails) Talk about becoming big. (sighs)

 I’m tired of life now, no relatives to talk to, I’ll just sit on the sofa. Can’t even take a nap or else Aarna will keep disturbing me with her silly questions. (heads out into the living room and sits on the sofa)

Scene 2.

Neetu is sitting on the sofa with her back leaning onto the cushion. She is looking at Aarna, who is working on her school project. 

Aarna   Maa, where is my mausee?

Neetu   (exasperatedly) Why are you asking again?

Aarna   I am making a family tree for Hindi. My teacher give me ‘the people we have in our family’ paper. (Raises a sheet of paper)

Neetu   I told you, we don’t have a mausee in our family.

Aarna   But maa, teacher said we know all these people. How come you don’t let me know my mausee? (Pause.) Tell me, tell me, tell me… She is nice, she is pretty… Just tell me. I promise I won’t trouble you anymore.  Why don’t you talk about mausee?

Neetu   Because she left us.

Aarna   Even grandma left us but I am still adding her, right? (Pause)  You say you don’t like her? She looks so pretty in those photographs.

Neetu   Oh please- They were taken a long time ago.

Aarna   Huh? If you don’t like her then why do you look at them?

Neetu   I DON’T LOOK AT THEM! I just take them away from you because they are not good for you! Stop asking about her! It gets on my nerves! Give that tongue of yours a rest sometimes!

Aarna   (cries) Maa!

(NEETU buries her face in her hands)


Aarna   Maa… are you… okay? 

Neetu   How would you feel if someone borrows your colour pencils and never returns them back?

Aarna   Obviously I would feel angry and sad, because then I cannot colour my book.

Neetu   That’s what happened, my love. (closes her eyes)

Aarna   But you know I don’t stay angry for long. I would just forgive her and move on. (Pause) (continues with her project)

Neetu   But colour pencils can be really important. Imagine having to colour a drawing with no colours in it…

Aarna   Eww. I don’t want my drawing to be black and white… so dull. But Maa, you know that if she took your colour pencils, you should just borrow mine. 

Neetu   Colour pencils get blunt, they need to be sharpened… 

Aarna   Then just use a sharpener… 

Neetu   Shush. 

Aarna   I’m learning to speak wisely.

Neetu   If you want to learn something, learn that some people can never be trusted. And it is best if you identify them quick, beta.

Scene 3.

NEETU closes and locks the gate. AARNA is sitting on the floor, still working on her Hindi project.

Neetu   Aarna, I am going out to run some errands. I have locked the gate. If somebody comes, do not open the door. (Pauses) Are you listening? I have ordered your favourite pav bhaji. So if the delivery man comes in early, just tell him to slide it under the grilles, okay?

Aarna   Yes yes.

(NEETU exits. After a while, a woman walks to the entrance and knocks on the door.)

Aditi   Hello! Food delivery.

Aarna   Coming!

(AARNA stands up and walks to the door.)

Aarna    My mother told me to take the food from the grilles.

(ADITI remains still)

Aarna   Hello? 

Aditi   Sorry, yes? Oh, okay.

(ADITI slides the food to AARNA.)

Aditi   Why have you gotten so much colour on your hands?

Aarna   I am doing this Hindi project about making a family tree. It’s so tiring, you know.

Aditi   I see. 

Aarna   Oh, you want to see it? Okay wait. 

(ADITI remains standing as AARNA brings her work. She slides it and passes it to ADITI through the grilles.)

Aditi   Nice. Your name is Aarna. (Pause) Your mother’s name is… 

Aarna   Neetu.

Aditi   (gasps)                                                                                                                                                 

Aarna   What happened? Is it not nice?

Aditi   No, erm, nothing. It is, it is very nice. Uhh, do you need any help?

Aarna   I want to meet my mausee but my mother keeps yelling at me for asking about her.

Aditi   She probably did something bad. (head is hung low)

Aarna   Yea… You know, you kind of look like-

(NEETU enters.)

Neetu   What are you doing here? Leave Aarna alone!

(ADITI gets up and looks at NEETU, startled. NEETU rushes towards AARNA. ADITI steps away from them.)

Aarna   Maa, she delivered the food. Calm, calm.

Neetu   (drops her bag of items on the ground) Do you even know who she is? (coldly) I told you not to talk to strangers!

Aarna   But I was just… 

Aditi   Don’t scold her, di. It’s not her fault.

Neetu   It is always your fault, right? And who are you to call me a di? (looks at AARNA)

Are you okay Aarna? 

Aarna   I’m fine, Maa. She is not a bad guy. She got us pav bhaji. (points at ADITI)

Aditi   I am sorry. 

Neetu   Why are you here?

Aditi   I just came here to-

Neetu   Go away. Return home. Aarna, go in. Do what I say.

Aarna   Is she my mausee?

Neetu   I can’t keep this from you for long. (Shakes her head) Yes, she is. 

(NEETU unlocks the door and walks in. ADITI remains standing outside. NEETU sits on the sofa. AARNA gives her a glass of water. In the meantime, ADITI decides to step in.)

Aditi   It’s been a long time. (Pause.) Now that I’ve finally met you, give me a chance to… to apologise. I know I’ve kept you in the dark. I will tell you… Are you fine? (Pause.) Say something, di, say something.

Neetu  You want to hear what I actually want to say, ha? Fine, I will say. (takes the glass of water) Why didn’t you call me ha? (while drinking) Kitna wait karwai. (stands up and walks to the coffee table) Do you know how angry I was? (slams the empty glass onto the table)  I lost hope. With no money in our hands. Do you understand what it feels like? Go back to wherever you came from.

Aditi   Di. Our mother wanted us to be together… I… It will be a shame if you can’t even be loyal. Don’t be like me. You know how it feels like. Imagine Mother from up there, watching us and thinking what fools we must be. 


Aditi   Try to understand from my point of view. Do you even know what happened? 

Neetu   No, I don’t. I don’t need to know. Your absence tells me everything. 

Aditi   Forgive me, di

Neetu   If all you want to do is beg for forgiveness, then just get out of my house. I have other things to do and I do not wish to create a tamasha in front of my daughter.

Aarna   Maa, maybe you want to sit down and solve the problems? I know she took you colour pencils but my teacher says we should never fight. 

Aditi   Is that what you’ve told her? I stole your colour pencils? Colours?

Neetu  (in a stern but hushed tone) Just leave, Aditi. 

Aditi   I won’t. I won’t, until you hear what I’ve been through.

Neetu   I said, I do not want to hear what you have to say. I waited then. Now you wait for me. 

(Lights dim. NEETU exits and re-enters with a box in her hand. She hands it to ADITI.)

Aditi   (opens the lid) Is this… Oh my… 

Neetu   I needed to get rid of it. Aarna kept looking through them. 

Aarna   Maa, don’t give all of them away. She was so pretty. Even you look through them sometimes, (at a faster pace) sorry, don’t yell at me again. What if she doesn’t come back, then how will I see?

Aditi   I will keep it, Aarna. After all, it’s the only thing (while looking at NEETU) you have given me, even if not with love. I know you hate me, di, for whatever I have done but I can explain. You have not given me a chance to tell you and therefore, I will not. I will go. I will let you live in peace, if that helps. Bye di, bye Aarna. 

(ADITI sobs. NEETU looks away. AARNA tries to hold ADITI’s hand. ADITI exits.)

Scene 4.

ADITI stands in the centre stage. Blue lights focus on her.

I was told my whole life that at some point happiness will come to me, but no one told me that it will fly away soon, too soon. It’s like the rainbow coming before the storm. He came into my life but he left too. I finally met di after so long and… and she too chose not to hear me. The storm never seems to stop. I’m getting drenched, with no one to offer me an umbrella. Why? Even the dog down the street gets food every day, (points with her finger to the right) even the crippled flautist at the station gets money for his treatment (points with her finger to the left). Then why, why is it like that? 

(drops her bag on the ground)

It wasn’t my fault I chose to gamble the money, it was his and all I got was the label of the black sheep. My love for him just got me into abandonment? Anyways, he was just someone who barely knew me for 3 years. But di, di has known me my whole life and still… she… When I needed love and consolation, all I got were closed doors? Doesn’t di understand my point of view?


She thinks it’s like one of those fun times when she puts the water in the dough. She would blame me when I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I wasn’t the one who put water, it was her. But you know something, I took the blame. It was just our mischief but this, this isn’t a game. Doesn’t she get that this is not fun and blaming me isn’t going to help her? 


And that time, when I got locked in the toilet, I never locked the toilet doors for another 2 months. But she, she was happy the men did not ask for any money, not because I was safe and sound. They laughed at me. I guess it was fine, now that I think about it, that incident was quite hilarious. But, but she would lock the door from the outside then. I cried but Mother never scolded her, saying it was just fun. Closed doors are never nice, you know. They never are. 

(picks up her bag  and carries it)

She only said that money isn’t everything. It’s about love. That apne toh apne hote hai. Then why, why did she shun me, ha? Because I lost all her money? If money is all that she cared about, then why did she even give it to me? 


(caresses the box of photographs)

Maybe because she loved me. Maybe because like me, too, she had wished for my success. Maybe she is disappointed in my failure. Maybe… she just cared about her own money after all. Di doesn’t want me anymore. I tried. I tried to convince her to forgive me, to let us be together again but she chose not to.

I get rejected by my very own sister, adored by Aarna but get separated from her, left by my husband, not enough money to pay bills… 

It’s like the colours from the rainbow fading, slowly… 

(ADITI exits.)


Anuja Dhoot (Class of 2026) is an aspiring writer who enjoys experimenting with new forms. Her passion lies in crafting work rooted in realism, where she skillfully expresses her thoughts and personal identity. She warmly welcomes you to join her on this literary adventure, hoping you’ll enjoy the read ahead.