Farhad, a young Iranian man of 17 to 20
Mr. Amiri, his father
Mrs. Amiri, his mother
(Mr. Amiri is getting the mail on a Saturday morning. He sees a letter from Farhad’s school addressed to his parents. He opens the letter. It reads:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Amiri:
Congratulations! Your son, Farhad has been selected to receive a scholarship for a summer writing program at the prestigious Foster Academy for the Arts.)
Mr. Amiri: What the hell is this? (Enter Mrs. Amiri. She sees a concerned Mr. Amiri and makes her way toward him)
Mrs. Amiri: What is it dear?
Mr. Amiri: (laughing cynically) It says Farhad got a scholarship for writing.
Mrs. Amiri: Oh, that is wonderful!
Mr. Amiri: Pah! It is wonderful to you, not to me. My son has no interest in such things, he will be an engineer, and then the world’s greatest surgeon. He will invent new instruments, he will win the Nobel Prize, he will have a family with a good Persian wife and children, he will be a great soccer player on the over 40 league, he will — where is he — (yelling) FARHAD! Come down right now! (Enter Farhad)
Farhad: Yes Dad?
Mr. Amiri: You have got some mail from school (Shows letter to Farhad. As Farhad reads it over his eyes light up with joy)
Farhad: Dad, my essay won! Wow, I’m so excited for this.
Mrs. Amiri: We are happy for you too.
Mr. Amiri: Of course we are, of course. It is good to have such extra talents. It will look good on your resume for when you apply for an engineering internship this summer.
Farhad (with a sudden look of dismay): But Dad, I want to do this writing program this summer. I just won a scholarship.
Mr. Amiri: Please Farhad, we have already discussed this. You will apply for engineering internship this summer, and you will get a very good one. Come on, we just talked about it last night.
Farhad: But that was before I knew about this. I really want to try this.
Mr. Amiri (with a deep sigh): Son, you are 17, you are not a child anymore. You must think about your career, what can you do to make money? If tomorrow, your mother gets sick and falls in that corner, what can you do for her? In this society you must make money or you are done.
Farhad: Dad, you can make money as a writer.
Mr. Amiri: (shaking his head) Son, dear son, my love, what if there is a war tomorrow? Who will care about a writer, or an artist? But an engineer or a doctor will always be in demand. You must start to think in this way, you are a man of 20 years.
Farhad: Dad, I’m 17!
Mr. Amiri: Please son, do not play with my words, trying to changing the subject. You are 17 and a half, so basically 18, which means your head is in the 19th year, and your legs are heading into 20, so basically you are 20.
Farhad: Dad, why do you think everyone has to be an engineer or a doctor?
Mr. Amiri: (Yelling) That is not true! You can also go to law school and then do patent law, that is a very hot field right now.
Farhad: Dad, I don’t know if I like any of those fields.
Mr. Amiri (Angry) You are not supposed to do what you love! That is bullshit! You must do something that makes money, that has prestige, and that gives you long term security. Doing what you love is BS.
Farhad (exhausted): Ok dad, ok. I’ll study engineering and do premed, but let me at least give this program a try. I mean, it’s a good opportunity to develop strong writing skills. It’s important to have good writing skills whatever you do in life.
Mr. Amiri (with an impatient look): Yes, yes, of course writing is important. But you don’t need to waste an entire summer, you can do it in your free time. It is a good hobby, I am proud of you for winning this award. Your grandfather was a great writer, but he did not do it for a job. When he was 9 years old his father died, and he walked in the snow from his village in northern Iran to Tehran and started a life for himself. (Yelling) Nine years old! He realized the meaning of life. Do you think he loved being a general for the army? No! He loved to write, and you have inherited his genes, but never for a moment did he want to be a writer for a living, because he understood the meaning of life. You guys have everything here, you do not understand life.
Farhad (breathing a deep sigh) Dad, I just really want to do this.
Mr. Amiri: Farhad, I said no, this summer you will get an internship at a prestigious engineering company. Maybe after you get an engineering degree, a medical degree, and residency is over, and you make your own money, then you can consider taking this writing class. But for now, you must work toward you goal, and your short term goal is to get a prestigious internship, which will help you get into a prestigious engineering school, then you’ll get into a prestigious medical school, then you’ll become a prestigious surgeon, that is your short term goal. And toward that end this writing program will only get in the way of your success.
Farhad: Dad, things are different these days. Its not like how it was in Iran.
Mr. Amiri (exploding): Do not give me that bullshit! I have seen these things with my own eyes! I have friends whose lives have been destroyed overnight, and why? Because they didn’t look after themselves! And then they ended up in drugs, or jail, or dead! Son, I have seen these things with my own eyes! My hairs have not gotten gray over nothing! (calming down, shaking his head) One day, one day you will see that your father was right.
Farhad: I don’t think so Dad, I don’t think I’ll ever agree with you.
Mr. Amiri (furious): You are a stupid idiot! How many times do we have this talk! Sometimes I wonder how we are related!
Mr. Amiri: Do not Dad me! You hate your father so much you want to make him angry all the time!
Farhad: No! That’s not true, I just don’t agree with you!
Mr. Amiri: Shut up! Idiot! You are not my son! Get lost! You do not deserve the Amiri name! I disown you!
(Exit Mr. Amiri)
(Farhad, his eyes edged with tears, looks over at his scholarship notice. A tear drop lands on it. He tears it up, puts his head in his hands, and starts crying.)