Slow Down, Maurice

Rewriting our scripts

“Maurice: An eccentric inventor but loving father who supports Belle's dreams... He is made a prisoner until Belle exchanges her freedom for his.” —Disney Wiki

When I told my father last semester that I was performing in a spoken word play called “Unspoken,” the conversation went something like this:

“What I say about bullshit activities?”

—(Well, bullshit isn’t the most suitable adjective for a visceral art…)—

“What I say, you remember?”


—(You say that you didn’t immigrate for me to waste a Harvard degree or scribble “people notes” on the back of a CVS receipt. That riches to rags is not how the story goes, is not what you bargained for when your left your roach-infested apartment in Karachi for a shoddier dorm room in a more photogenic city, living off Burger King coupons and the distant vision that, just maybe, your progeny would be everything you weren’t...)—.

“Aisha, you hear me? WHAT I say?”

“You say that I shouldn’t do them, the bullshit activities. That I should slow down more, like Maurice.”

He cleared his throat; I sighed; and the call ended just as I heard him say—almost in awe that his words had endured—“That’s right.”


In “Unspoken,” I played a character who rushed through life, burning relationships before she ever arrived at their bridges. Longing, through long-form soliloquies, for a deep and raw kind of intimacy. She saw her life as a narrative—easier to write than to live, to backspace away an experience like bad prose than to retrospectively return, again and again, to a taxing psychological space.

The parallels were not lost on me.

I spent rehearsals vacillating between feeling like the shit or just like shit. Between feeling like a fraud, or like an open book wanting for someone to read it all. I lingered there, between two realities; between the lines I memorized and the ones I said in section or to a friend in the Yard.

I lingered there, amazed and confused and disturbed by how closely I identified with another’s script. By how long I’d been living by one. By how much mine needed to be rewritten.

So when I stood on stage—fictitious but authentic—and proclaimed, “I am learning it’s untelling,” I wanted my dad to be there, sitting and listening. I wanted him to hear in those words an apology for how I’d fucked up the South Asian trope with my silly poetry and aversion to chemistry, to hear how it had fucked me up, too.