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Rice

By Michele Lee
Dramaturgy by Peter Matheson and Jane Bodie
2015

Rice – August 2015

Rice
Characters
Nisha, 28, female, second-generation Indian
Nisha is the Executive Officer of Golden Fields.
Yvette, 61, female, first-generation Chinese
Yvette is a cleaner in the building where the Golden Fields office is located.
Nisha also speaks the lines for characters in Yvette’s life including Valerie (supervisor),
Sheree (daughter), Nephew Meng Yao (warehouse owner), Gossipers (in the Chinese
community), David Egan Junior (son of the CEO of Coles), and also a Bengali widow
Yvette also speaks the lines for characters in Nisha’s life including Kathryn Abbott-Schilling
(mentor), Tom (colleague), Avineet (boyfriend), Stacy (Avineet’s business partner), Graeme
(boss), Mitchell/Simon/Tony/Harriet (board members), the girls (Nisha’s friends), Gretel
Patel (chief advisor)
Setting
The main setting is the Golden Fields building in Melbourne. Nisha and Yvette also go to
other places in Melbourne. Nisha also goes to India.
Time
Present time, 2015.

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Rice – August 2015
ACT ONE

1.
NISHA’s office. One large desk, one smaller desk. A big view of the Melbourne CBD.
NISHA in her suit, heels, her lanyard dangling from her hip. YVETTE in her cleaners’
uniform, with a vacuum cleaner, gloves, her lanyard around her neck.
NISHA: We’re in competition.
YVETTE: About rubbish.
NISHA: About rice.
YVETTE: About who cleans up your rice and rubbish.
NISHA: You’re the one with the vacuum cleaner. End of story.
YVETTE: Not the end.
NISHA: This is the part of the story where we first meet. Opposites attract.
YVETTE: Indian princess.
NISHA: Chinese cleaner.
YVETTE: The princess eat breakfast in here.
NISHA: Green smoothie.
YVETTE: Lunch in here.
NISHA: Salad or a wrap.
YVETTE: Dinner.
NISHA: Not on Mondays – salsa dancing.
YVETTE: Eat in here, all day. Keep rubbish on table.
NISHA: My bin is for paper and staples.
YVETTE: Dinner: Chinese. One tub for stir-fry chicken, vegie. One for rice. Eat half of this.
Leave two containers out.
NISHA: You’re the cleaner.
YVETTE: You’re a baby.
NISHA: The other cleaner didn’t have a problem.
YVETTE: Other cleaning company lost contract for this building.
NISHA: The other cleaner, in fact, offered to clear that table every night.
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Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: New company took back cleaners, three buck cheaper an hour. New one come.
Like me.

Beat.
NISHA: It’s actually, seriously, just ridiculous. This is my office. I am the EO. Any day now
this phone is going to sing. Gretel Patel, Chief Advisor to the Indian Agricultural
Minister, is going to confirm with me that the Indian government has accepted my offer
for high-yielding, lab-adjusted fertiliser. We give them this as a deposit, they allow
Golden Fields to purchase a majority share in the Indian public distribution system, the
PDS. Largest supplier of rice to the largest rice-eating economy. This is big, this is I’llkill-ya-if-I-tell-ya sort of news, this is game-changing, history-breaking, regulationbending –
YVETTE: Company training say two minute only. Two minute: vacuum, wipe, empty. If you
put rubbish in bin, I empty. Two minute up. I go.
NISHA: I stay. I eat. I make a mountain of mess. I make a complaint through the Golden
Fields’ facilities manager, who speaks to the client services manager at the new
cleaning company, who speaks to the site manager for this building, the crazy Russian
woman, who – of all feeble and ineffective things – merely passes on my complaint to
you. Yvette Tang. The cleaner.
YVETTE: You. Nisha Gupta. The client.
NISHA: I’m not the ‘client’. I’m the EO of Golden Fields.
YVETTE: But not CEO. Five minute for him. Two for you.

Beat.

NISHA: Clear that desk.

Beat.

YVETTE: I do it. I clean up after you.
NISHA: Thank you.
YVETTE: You say it once. I clean it up once.
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NISHA: I don’t ask again.
YVETTE: I don’t do it.
NISHA: I watch my phone. It doesn’t sing. The Indians aren’t calling.
YVETTE: I go, you stay.
NISHA: I escalate the complaint.
YVETTE: I bring another bin.
NISHA: What for?
YVETTE: For you. Second bin. Keep here. By this table. Put in your rubbish.
NISHA: Two bins?
YVETTE: Same for me when I ran my business.
NISHA: What business?
YVETTE: Imports.
NISHA: What happened?
YVETTE: Should finish your rice.
NISHA: Not enough gravy.
YVETTE: Should take back your complaint.
NISHA: Tell me what happened first.
YVETTE: Competition. Undercut.

2.

YVETTE: We work late.
NISHA: We have to. We have to shift the paradigm.
YVETTE: You say these words to your computer.
NISHA: To Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.
YVETTE: Tuesdays, 9pm, you Skype.
NISHA: Her book: Paradigms and Dollars. How to smash the paradigm as an AfricanAmerican woman and make a bucket doing so. Chapter 1, Kathryn Abbott-Schilling’s
just a small-town, church-going Texan girl. By Chapter 3 she blitzes a scholarship
program, aces Harvard. Chapters 4 to 12, she works corporate, government, client side,
R&D. Chapter 13, she miscarries her baby mid-flight to Geneva. But by Chapter 14,
back on her feet. Family, career. She does it all. Chapter 15, she’s back in Texas, on
top, biggest industry in town. Not oil. Rice. Kathryn Abbott-Schilling is VP, Rice Land.
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YVETTE: Rice Land is your number one competition.
NISHA: And the Rice Lands VP is my mentor. We’re discreet. We never talk rice.
YVETTE: Tonight you talk about golden paddies in the Golden Fields foyer.
NISHA: She’s eyeballing me.
YVETTE: She says: [As Kathryn.] Honey, when you walk through your foyer tonight, stop
and savour it. Look at those walls, those walls you reinvented, and drink up every stalk.
NISHA: I say: I’ll send the photos Marketing took.
YVETTE: [As Kathryn.] Get off Skype right now. Go down there, right now, with a bottle of
Bolinger, take your own goddamned photos. Now, whatchya got there on those feet of
yours today? Show and tell, honey.
NISHA: I show. I tell. My Louis Vuitton nude-tone low-stacked mules.
YVETTE: She shows you hers. Burberry wedges with tartan satin trim.
NISHA: New, I say.
YVETTE: And fabulous, she say. Goodbye for now.
NISHA: I log off.

Beat.

YVETTE: Nice shoes.
NISHA: You like them?
YVETTE: I like your friend’s shoes. On Skype.
NISHA: She’s the queen of rice. Chapter 1: Dress to impress, feet first.

Beat.

YVETTE: Vacuum, wipe, empty. I go.
NISHA: I stay.
YVETTE: Up to level 21.
NISHA: CEO’s office.
YVETTE: Fancy fountain up here. Thirty second to the basement. Crazy Russian down there.
NISHA: Valerie. Your supervisor.
YVETTE: She eyeball me.
NISHA: She says: [As Valerie.] Yvette! My dear Yvette. How is fussy bitch tonight?
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Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: I say: Which one? My daughter? Or client?
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Daughter first.
YVETTE: Tonight she good. Very good. Sheree meet with a lawyer. Best Chinese lawyer I
buy for three buck less an hour.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] This is good! Made-in-China lawyer for made-in-Melbourne daughter.
YVETTE: Made in Hong Kong, better quality.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] How is fussy bitch from Golden Fields?
YVETTE: That fussy bitch very good. Wear fake shoes. Think they’re real.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Ha! These clients are bullshit, yes Yvette? You read the paper? See
here. Golden Fields CEO is ‘shaking up the paddies but is up to his arse in fiscal dung’.
See his big fancy very ugly fountain in his office on level 21? Guess how much?
YVETTE: ‘Thirty fucking thousand’. I hear him say it.
NISHA: Valerie thinks the clients are so stupid. We talk shit, talk secret, right in front of you.
YVETTE: You do. You talk shit, talk shoes, talk I’ll-kill-ya-if-I-tell-ya business. Bah. Is
interesting, is boring, is your life not mine. Don’t care. I stand on the street, wait.
NISHA: And wait.
YVETE: And now made-in-Melbourne daughter, she arrive. And does my daughter smile and
say ‘Hello Ma, nice to see you, I brought you biscuits and hot tea, and tonight I play
you CD of Chinese opera by Hu Song-Hua’? No, Sheree, she pissed off. On Collin
Street, car pull up, I get in. I scrub shit off toilet and this fussy bitch, she the one who’s
pissed off?
NISHA: She’s eyeballing you.
YVETTE: Why everyone eyeball us?
NISHA: She says: [As Sheree.] What the fuck was that, Ma?
YVETTE: I say: Huh? Why you swear already? What you talk about?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Ma, what the fuck? My meeting tonight with your ‘lawyer’.
YVETTE: She good, she best lawyer, very good English.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] It’s impeccable, she sounds like the Queen but she, and the Queen,
can’t practise law in Australia. She hasn’t been admitted, she doesn’t have a certificate.
YVETTE: How to be ‘admitted’? Meng Yao’s wife new in Australia. He only marry her last
month.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] She’s Meng Yao’s wife? Oh right, mates’ rates. I fired her.
YVETTE: Sheree, no no no, I pay her // already.
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Rice – August 2015
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Meng Yao’s wife can’t help me.
YVETTE: Huh? Who did protest? Did assault? Who will go to prison? You. She very smart.
Can help you, can get you minimum sentence when you go back to court.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] What was in this for you?
YVETTE: All for you, I say.
NISHA: All my life, she says. It’s always about you.

3.
NISHA: We’re waiting.
YVETTE: In the foyer. Paddies on the wall.
NISHA: Farmers built this company. Farmers built this country. So I, the EO, fought and
won the battle with the building manager to bring the colours of the crop into the foyer.
I should text Tom.
YVETTE: Why?
NISHA: The foyer photos. Tom’s in Marketing.
YVETTE: Level 10.
NISHA: I text him.
YVETTE: Bottom level of your company.
NISHA: It’s where I started out. Thx Tom. Foyer decals looking gr8.
YVETTE: Cold out there, on the street.
NISHA: Long day.
YVETTE: Sore feet.
NISHA: And we wait. And we both step forward. A hipster outside. Skinny jeans, cap on
backwards, fluoro high-tops.
YVETTE: Dress like Sheree.
NISHA: Tight t-shirt. Says ‘Kiss My Kathi Roll’ on it.
YVETTE: This is Tom?
NISHA: No. It’s Avi.
YVETTE: Very trendy.
NISHA: My boyfriend, long-term.

Beat.
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YVETTE: He says: [As Avineet] Nish, it’s cold out here. Are you going to swipe me in?
NISHA: I swipe, I say: You stink.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Really? Really? // Fuck me, that’s the first thing you say?
NISHA: You’re hours late. It’s 11. 11, Avi. // Those are the facts of the issue.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] I’ve been working. Of course I stink. You’d stink too if you’d spent
the night cooking in a 2 by 4 kitchen.
NISHA: Thursdays are date night. Thursdays, 7-9pm, are when I’ve made time to have
dinner with you. I waited. I’m starving. // What about a ‘sorry’ then?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Ok, fine fine fine fine. Fine, Nish, let’s go somewhere now to eat.
NISHA: I can’t. 7-9pm, yes. Now? No. The phone-call.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] What phone-call?
NISHA: The phone-call that’s coming. The big fucking phone-call.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] With Kathryn Abbott-Schilling?
NISHA: No. No. That’s Tuesdays. And for fuck’s sake, do not speak about her in this foyer.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] No-one’s here. No-one’s listening.
NISHA: Yeah it’s called discretion, Avi. It’s twenty four seven, Avi. It’s what happens when
you’re running a global Australian ag company.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] You don’t run a company.

Beat.
NISHA: You wouldn’t get it. Running a food truck? ‘Kiss My Kathi Roll’.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Kiss made three grand tonight.

Beat.

NISHA: Really?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Community football match tonight in West Brunswick. Everyone
was starving when it finished. I sold out of kathi rolls.
NISHA: When did you start following community football?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Stacy gave me the tip-off.

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NISHA: Stacy. Right. Stacy-who-used-to-be-on-Masterchef-and-now decorates-inner-citycafes. Stacy-with-pink-hair-and-skater-clothes-and-tattooes. Well say thanks to Stacy.
YVETTE: You, you’re jealous.
NISHA: Me, I’m pissed off. I tell him piss off, to piss off with Stacy and go buy a pair of
over-priced Air Jordans together with the three grand they’ve made.
YVETTE: He gives you a present.
NISHA: A kathi roll?
YVETTE: An apology for missing date night.
NISHA: I don’t do Indian food.
YVETTE: Fuck you, he says.
NISHA: Fuck you back.
YVETTE: He goes.
NISHA: I stay.

Quiet.
YVETTE: ‘Fuck. You.’
NISHA: Excuse me?

Beat.
YVETTE: This is how you speak with him. ‘Fuck you, fuck you back.’
NISHA: Avi just doesn’t...
YVETTE: Doesn’t?
NISHA: Get it.
YVETTE: I speak this language ‘Fuck you’ with my daughter.
NISHA: Well that’s just parents and children for you.
YVETTE: So you’re like this? When you go home, do you yell, swear?
NISHA: No. Of course not.
YVETTE: Good.
NISHA: My diduma would slap me. [Pause.] My grandma. She’s… retired.

Beat.
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YVETTE: Eat it.
NISHA: It’s cold.
YVETTE: Heat it up.
NISHA: Actually, I’m not hungry.

Beat.
NISHA: The Indians aren’t calling me.
YVETTE: So call them.
NISHA: But Chapter 6: Never break first in the waiting game.
YVETTE: So?

Beat.

NISHA: What sort of imports did you sell?
YVETTE: What do you think?
NISHA: I honestly have no idea.
YVETTE: Bags. Shoes. Many brands. Prada, Chanel. Fake, rip-off. Best quality.
NISHA: Mine aren’t fake by the way. I buy online from a reputable site.
YVETTE: Online always fake.
NISHA: Not every single site.
YVETTE: You ever sell to website shops before? Huh?

Beat.

YVETTE: Tonight my lift say fuck you.
NISHA: Where is she?
YVETTE: Exactly.
NISHA: You could get a cab.
YVETTE: Too expensive. I get a train.

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4.

YVETTE: Wednesdays are for Golden Fields Board meetings.
NISHA: Once a month.
YVETTE: You stay back.
NISHA: Graeme likes late night meetings, so I, the EO, attend late night meetings.
YVETTE: Graeme is your CEO.
NISHA: He’s the king of rice. Kings need thrones. Or fountains. Can’t have people walking
out of the CEO’s office underwhelmed. Can’t have the CEO of Golden Fields looking
like a pauper. Or a fool. I’m his eyes and ears. I’m the brains. I watch the news for him.
Today, there’s one story in particular. I repeat the video clip.
YVETTE: The Indians are crying.
NISHA: The government’s not calling. And this woman is wailing like a banshee. She cries:
[As an Indian widow.] He’s dead! I’m alone now! Where is my government? We voted
them in to protect poor farmers like us!
YVETTE: This video on your computer.
NISHA: Daily media scan from Marketing. Domestic and international ag events. Headline
above the video: Freak flood kills 200 farmers in West Bengal, India. A levee split.
Water swept away farms. When I press pause at the 39-second mark, there’s a close-up
on a young widow who lost her husband. Diduma was born in West Bengal. She was a
young widow. Raised mum and my aunties on her own. Below the story, thumbnail of
Gwyneth Paltrow in a sari. Headline: Gwyneth Paltrow in Kolkata, volunteers at
Mother Teresa’s orphanage. Is Gwyneth the next Angelina?
YVETTE: Big boss is here. Walk into your level 20 office.
NISHA: Graeme, the big boss, the CEO, is walking past my second bin.
YVETTE: He stand over your desk, big belly man, big smile. He says: [As Graeme.] New
suit, Nishie? Had a haircut? Got the Board papers ready? Big print for Mitchell?
Recycled paper for Simon’s sake? And my fountain. Goldfish in it? Gauche? Or edgy?
And Nishie? India? What’s our update to the Board tonight?
NISHA: [As an Indian widow.] He’s dead! I’m alone! Where is my government? We voted
them in to protect poor farmers like us!
YVETTE: Big boss watch the news now.

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NISHA: I say: A levee splitting in West Bengal is as bad for Golden Fields as it is for wailing
widows. Federal and state government had been arguing over who should pay for it.
Now it’s broken. As such the Indian Ag Minister is down in West Bengal dealing with
this. His office is in crisis. My advice is that tonight we tell the Board that we discuss
India next month.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Can’t trump a flood can we?
NISHA: No, we can’t trump 200 dead Indian farmers, Graeme.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Think we might have to cut our losses, Nishie. Tide’s turning on us.
NISHA: It hasn’t.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Got nothing locked down do we?
NISHA: We’ve got good intentions.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Cancel India.
NISHA: I’m strongly recommending we discuss this in a month.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] And I’ve noted your recommendation. Can you get the cleaner to
bring a jug of water and some glasses upstairs?
NISHA: She doesn’t do Board meetings.
YVETTE: I don’t.
NISHA: I know.
YVETTE: Only do vacuum, wipe, empty.
NISHA: I know, Yvette.
YVETTE: Then you bring it in, he says.

Beat.

NISHA: He goes.
YVETTE: I go. Up to level 21.
NISHA: I take the lift with you. You turn left for Graeme’s office. I turn right, to the big bad
Board room. Den of destiny. Patience patience, now. Chapter 3: Patience is a virtue
that gets you to Harvard.
YVETTE: Good luck.
NISHA: Goodbye. Five glasses, five voting members. One: Graeme, my dear dear CEO.
Two. Tony. Economist. Wants to retire. Bike through Europe with his 30-year-old
boyfriend. Three. Harriet. Lawyer. Works commercial, senior partner, international
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acquisitions. Four. Sunny savvy Simon. Youngest Board member. Sustainability junkie.
Five. Mitchell. Chairperson. Ag man through and through. Life-time Board member.
Naps half-way through the meetings.
YVETTE: Graeme want to shuffle agenda tonight.
NISHA: Graeme wants an update on the Corporate Games first. And where we won –
volleyball, the regatta, netball – we go through the scores. Point by point. Then moving
on, shall we, finally, thank fuck, India.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Folks, got some bad news about this one.
NISHA: Which the CEO and I will discuss next month.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Let’s speak about India now.
NISHA: We’re not prepared.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] What’s to say? It was assessed, it was re-assessed, it stalled, it
stalled it stalled. It. Is. Stalled. Now this? Floods in West fucking Bengal? You’ve all
watched it? Seen the media scan?
NISHA: [As an Indian widow.] He’s dead! I’m alone! Where is my government? We voted
them in to protect poor farmers like us!
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Indian Ag Minister’s occupied.
NISHA: Thus the CEO and I decided to pause India and discuss again next month.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] The EO means we’re cancelling it. Indians haven’t said boo about
our fertiliser. We sunk thousands into their feasibility study, tested our chemical poop
through their research centres. No more hand-outs. Golden Fields can’t afford it.
NISHA: India is worth it. India in the interests of Australian crop farmers. Our domestic
retail markets are plateauing. Our protein rice, our pre-flavoured rice – discontinued.
The tennis turned down our sponsorship proposal, again. Australians want to eat paleo.
Cauliflower for rice. Australians want to eat quinoa. Freekah. Not rice. Our future is
India, investing in international supply chains where populations eat rice by the tonnes.
India is our future.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Nishie, the tide has fucking turned.
NISHA: Then send me back to Marketing so I can waste everyone’s time writing media
releases to the Shepparton Adviser about country shows and bumper crops.
YVETTE: Everyone is quiet.
NISHA: You come in.
YVETTE: I come in.
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NISHA: You… what are doing in here?
YVETTE: Cleaned corridor, listened in. You are in trouble. I came in.
NISHA: You pretend to clean.
YVETTE: Make it up. Check jug. Fill glasses. Dust the window. Wipe spare chairs.
NISHA: My mind’s racing.
YVETTE: Wipe the vase. Wipe the remote control.
NISHA: For the 40 inch TV monitor. I look up, see the end of the news clip, the wailing
widow, frozen. See the headline below it.
YVETTE: Time’s up. I go.
NISHA: I say: Gwyneth.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Who?
NISHA: Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s there right now getting dirty in West Bengal as a UN Food
Aid volunteer. Golden Fields should be there. Withdrawing our deposit of fertiliser,
offering new levees, saving farmers before the next flood happens, saving the
government from more pissed off constituents.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] So now Golden Fields is in the business of infrastructure?
NISHA: Golden Fields is in the business of thinking laterally.
YVETTE: Tony says: [As Tony.] Graeme, the EO’s onto it. Two words. Indian boom. Harriet
says: [As Harriet.] Vishnu. Floods are a sign of good fortune. Simon: [As Simon.] No
GM in India. That’s got my vote. And Mitchell, he wake up.
NISHA: Just in time. Graeme’s smiling. Tightly. It’s messing with his Botox.
YVETTE: He says: [As Graeme.] Nishie, I was getting dirty in paddies before you were even
born. You’re almost charming me and my fellow Board members. But you’re not
creating a convincing pitch, you know that, Nishie, yes?
NISHA: I’m Indian, I say. Are you?
YVETTE: He says nothing.

Beat.

NISHA: One vote no. Four votes yes.

Beat.

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Rice – August 2015
NISHA: I call Gretel Patel. Remember me? Forget fertiliser. Let’s talk floods. Levees. Faceto-face. Golden Fields to the Indian Ag Minister.
YVETTE: Business is better face-to-face.
NISHA: What chapter is that again?
YVETTE: No chapter. Just me.

5.

YVETTE: Business is better face-to-face.
NISHA: If someone says ‘Fuck you’, then you say ‘Fuck you back!’
YVETTE: Sometimes better to say sorry. Catch bus and train to Dandenong, stand in Meng
Yao’s warehouse so I can say: I am sorry. So so sorry, nephew. More money?
NISHA: He says: [As Meng Yao.] Two hundred? You disrespecting me, Aunty? That ain’t
enough to pay me back for all the rent. So get ya shoes. Get ya bags. Get ya shit outta
my warehouse. I’m not minding ya things anymore.
YVETTE: I know you’re angry, nephew. So sorry, Sheree was so rude to your wife. Your
wife a good lawyer, much better than my daughter.
NISHA: [As Meng Yao.] Sheree’s a drop-out. My wife’s a motherfucking gun. Not some
FOB mainlander. Straight outta Hong Kong’s top law firm.
YVETTE: Sheree on a break from her law degree.
NISHA: [As Meng Yao.] Sheree’s a check-out chick whose skinny ass is going to jail. Catch.
YVETTE: No no no, put that down. Don’t throw those bags. // Leave it there.
NISHA: [As Meng Yao.] Catch. Catch it, Aunty.
YVETTE: Oh your Aunty is old. So old. I can’t move these all. How? I have to work tonight.
Such hard work. Oh so terrible for me and Sheree, I’m just a cleaner now.
NISHA: [As Meng Yao.] Think I buy this ‘me so old’ act? You always been manipulative. My
family’s the victim. We always get rorted by you.
YVETTE: Ok, I say. You are the victim.
NISHA: Pick ya stuff up tomorrow, he says.

Beat.

YVETTE: Meng Yao is the victim? Bah! What would everyone say if they could see this?
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NISHA: You know what they’d say. Everyone gossips.
YVETTE: Everyone is stupid – young, old – so many stupid Chinese people in Melbourne.
NISHA: They say: [As gossipers.] Ai ya! See Aunty Tang? Ha! Cheap! Try so hard to keep
her stuff at the Meng family warehouse, for free!
YVETTE: Have to! Meng Yao’s mum is my dad’s uncle’s cousin’s nephew’s niece! Why
charge your family? Huh?
NISHA: [As gossipers.] Then Aunty Tang prey on poor Uncle Kuay. Uncle Kuay, old
Chinese girly man! Aunty Tang and Sheree, move in, take over his spare room.
YVETTE: How I afford my house? Mr Kuay is very kind. Give him one box of Prada high
heels for his trouble.
NISHA: [As the gossipers.] Aunty Tang, you hear? Business bankrupt. Not printing shop. No
no no not dry cleaner. The fake. Import. She get too big, too up herself.
YVETTE: Because competition! Competition undercut.
NISHA: [As the gossipers.] No competition! Aunty Tang sell top price, no one buy her stuff.
Aunty Tang so stupid, can’t sell her things! Can’t control her daughter! Sheree is going
to jail! Assault! She got out-of-date food from her job at Doncaster Coles. Kept in
Aunty Tang’s garage. And Aunty Tang didn’t even know!
YVETTE: How to know? How to know she take this food, dump it on that man?
NISHA: [As the gossipers.] Ai ya! Big boss of all of Coles in Australia. Mr David Egan.
YVETTE: Jog every morning in the Botanical Gardens. One morning, Sheree and her three
check-out chick friends, all so angry, chase him when he jog. Dump Coles food from
Coles garbage bag on Coles big boss. They scream:
NISHA [As Sheree.]/YVETTE: ‘Coles wastes food. Coles is evil!’

Beat.
YVETTE: Fuck you. Fuck you. Everyone these days says ‘fuck you’. I say nothing. Bus and
train are late. I say nothing.
NISHA: You get out late at Melbourne Central.
YVETTE: I see the Coles Express. So Mr David Egan. Sheree say this your busiest shop.
Many food sold. Many food chucked out. Wasted. I go. Up to Collins Street, Golden
Fields, down to the basement, start my shift tonight. Valerie is happy.
NISHA: She’s waving the newspaper at you. [As Valerie.] Yvette! You’re late!
17

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: I say: Trouble with the bloody train.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Good! Bloody train workers go on bloody strike today. You read the
paper? These trains. Huh? Old, slow, expensive, dangerous. This city! This country!
Why Yvette? Why is this world worse than when we came into it?
YVETTE: This is life.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Don’t look so tragic.
YVETTE: On the mainland, they said I was getting old but I had prospect, I was smart. Send
me to Australia. Now just a cleaner. Look. Disgusting. Level 10, 13, 18, all level.
Always who does this? Who shit like this, never clean the bowl after? And why Meng
Yao call me? Why? He call, call. Is he stupid? I tell him Aunty Tang clean tonight.
Why he ring? He think I have my phone on me when I work? Check Facebook?
NISHA: You do keep your phone on you though.
YVETTE: Must do! Best security system. Keep wallet on me too.
NISHA: Meng Yao’s left a message.
YVETTE: Won’t check it. Bah. His Mandarin is horrible. Sound like cats dying.
NISHA: You’re in the corridor outside my office.
YVETTE: Stare at my phone.
NISHA: Yvette?
YVETTE: What?
NISHA: Come in. Sit.
YVETTE: Can’t sit. Two minute, two minute. Have to keep working.
NISHA: You’re not working.
YVETTE: Why he ring?
NISHA: Check the message.
YVETTE: Maybe.
NISHA: You come in. We put your phone on loud speaker. We listen. [As Meng Yao.] Yo
Aunty. I talked with mum. Ain’t keeping ya stuff tonight. Imma dump it outside my
warehouse now. Get it before the council does. Peace out.

Beat.

YVETTE: Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid STUPID Meng Yao. You know what his Aussie
name is? ‘Con’. Like a Greek! How STUPID!
18

Rice – August 2015

Beat.

NISHA: And we sit.
YVETTE: Bah.

Beat.

YVETTE: Bah.
NISHA: How many boxes?
YVETTE: What?
NISHA: How many boxes is he dumping outside his warehouse?
YVETTE: Thirty one. More shoes than bags.
NISHA: I’ll have a courier pick your boxes.
YVETTE: Huh?
NISHA: Where shall they go? Mr Kuay’s house?
YVETTE: But how much you charge?
NISHA: Nothing.
YVETTE: What?
NISHA: Let me take care of it. Go.
YVETTE: I go. Two minute up, I go. I smile, I clean level 21, do it so well. Thirty second to
the basement, smiling. Smile at Valerie. She grunts. Wait outside. Sheree arrives, late.
NISHA: She says: [As Sheree.] Ok ok ok, don’t get mad. I had a meeting with the girls.
YVETTE: I smile, I say: Not mad. Why your Ma be mad? Stupid Meng Yao try to tell me off
today. Huh? Can you believe? I ask that Meng family to help keep my bag and shoe
there, and that family want to throw my things out. But I didn’t get mad, I said ‘Ok. Do
tomorrow. Easy.’
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Jesus, I’m so sorry, Ma. What a prick –
YVETTE: And his wife, you’re right, does sound like the Queen. Sound so stuck-up –
NISHA: [As Sheree.] A complete princess –
YVETTE: Exactly! Hong Kong’s best lawyer? Ha! So successful, why bring her here then?
She can’t do law in Australia, like you say.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] I know, Ma –
19

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: She know nothing about Australian court system.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Nothing about Victorian criminal law. And nothing about defamation –
YVETTE: ‘De-fa-ma-tion’?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Nothing about civil claims, // didn’t even know I was the respondent –
YVETTE: Huh? What? Sheree, stop. You not tell me about this defamation – what is this?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] The YouTube video // me and the girls filmed.
YVETTE: What video?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Egan with the food // on him –
YVETTE: Mr David Egan?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] ‘You stupid bitches!’ // ‘Get this off me’ –
YVETTE: Bitches? Who say this?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Egan. In the video we filmed at the protest. His lawyers served me a
letter. They’re claiming damages.
YVETTE: Damages…
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Money, Ma.
YVETTE: Huh? But you go to prison already. Why pay money?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Yes, I’ll go to prison. And yes, Egan and his lawyers also want money
from me. If I’m lucky, I might get a tollway fine tonight.
YVETTE: How much for this defamation?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Forty grand.
YVETTE: No no no // we don’t have this money
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Don’t freak out, please, Ma. I knew I shouldn’t // have told you.
YVETTE: Why you make this happen? Always with you, always one trouble after the next.
Why you not the same as Meng Yao? Respect his mother.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] You just said Meng Yao was a prick. I’ve seen his warehouse. Halfempty, and he throws your things out. All these people. It’s not money. Shame. They
want to squash you when you’re already down. I’m not going to give them that, Ma.
Fuck them.

6.

NISHA: This is the part of the story where we start our missions.
20

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: You against a flood.
NISHA: You against defamation.
YVETTE: This is the part where I have a daydream. Me. Just me, Mr Kuay, my shoes, my
bags. Me, no daughter. I think: Will I miss her? In jail, will I miss Sheree, will I miss
this fighting, all her trouble-making?
NISHA: I daydream, I think: Shoes. Glorious shoes. I hop online and I buy up big.
Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin. I’ll need an arsenal of footwear for
India. When we nail the PDS, the ag market will fucking tremble. And America,
America will be stamping in last season’s Burberry wedges.
YVETTE: Will I miss her, I don’t know.
NISHA: Of course, I’m bargaining with levees and I, in fact, don’t know shit about levees.
YVETTE: I watch YouTube –
NISHA: Chapter 8: Your weaknesses are not your failures –
YVETTE: Video of Mr David Egan has 653,245 view. He has 765 Coles –
NISHA: I get my friends at EY to commission their subsidiary boutique consultancy firm in
Canberra to prepare a private dossier for me. Levees. Cheat sheets, CAD drawings,
videos of levees in action, high-tech simulations of even bigger floods –
YVETTE: Mr David Egan has 650 Coles Express, 183 Target, 125 Target Country –
NISHA: Some academic at CSIRO gets wind of my dossier, my high-tech simulation –
YVETTE: 182 Bi-Lo –
NISHA: And then Office of Environment and Heritage in New South Wales calls me –
YVETTE: 613 Liquorland –
NISHA: DEHP in Queensland.
YVETTE: In the video, Sheree and her friends dump food on him, one friend film this. He
slip. Fall into the Botanical Garden eel pond. So angry. ‘Stupid bitches’. It’s funny
though. I laugh.
NISHA: The DPTLI up around the corner at Spring Street. Every East coast state
environment department is calling me, wanting answers. What is Golden Fields
plotting? Seriously? Welcome to Australia’s fucking river politics. People know me
because my debut as EO was hounding everyone into a 2030 National Water Strategy.
People think we’re planning some sort of attack on the Murray-Darling. Please, that’s
child’s play. We’re plotting India, folks, but I’m not telling them it’s about India
because that is secret I’ll-kill-ya etc etc kind of business.
21

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Train into work, stop at Melbourne Central. I’m like a grandma. Creepy grandma.
Just stand outside the Coles Express. I think. Think.
NISHA: Graeme’s pissed, he emails me. Head of DPTLI has contacted him. Shit.
YVETTE: This is bullshit. Last week Coles Express has 15 express checkout, now this week
they finish making 15 more. Why does Mr David Egan need more money? Fuck him!
NISHA: Could I tell everyone it’s not the Murray Darling? It’s the Gandheswari River on my
mind. I only saw that once, when I was five and diduma was visiting her sister in West
Bengal. They cried for half a day. They knew it’d be the last time they’d see each other.
YVETTE: Kathryn Abbott-Schilling has India on her mind.
NISHA: She’s being doing morning meditation.
YVETTE: Complete silence for twenty minutes.

Beat.

NISHA: Kathryn, have you been in a situation where you bit off more than you can chew?
YVETTE: [As Kathryn.] On a daily basis, honey.
NISHA: I’m standing at the bottom of a mountain.
YVETTE: [As Kathryn.] Chapter 2: How to conquer mountains. Don’t go around them.
NISHA: A tall mountain needs a team to tackle it.
YVETTE: [As Kathryn.] Exactly, honey. Don’t go around the mountain. But don’t go up it
alone. Now whatchya got on those feet of yours? Show and tell.

Beat.
NISHA: Paradigms and Dollars is being translated. 80,000 units now shifted. I’ve got rivers,
I’ve got mountains. I’ve got bureaucrats breathing down my neck. I log off Skype.
YVETTE: I vacuum.
NISHA: I watch you.
YVETTE: Wipe.
NISHA: I see you.
YVETTE: I forget to empty.
NISHA: I forget to tell you off.
YVETTE: I see Coles.
22

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: Coles doesn’t see you.
YVETTE: No one does.

Beat.
NISHA: That’s your advantage.
YVETTE: How?
NISHA: Everyone knows me, no one knows you.
YVETTE: So?
NISHA: So use that. You can go places.
YVETTE: And no one sees me.
NISHA: And no one sees you.

Beat.

YVETTE: Two minutes for you, five for CEO.
NISHA: And?
YVETTE: You’re not CEO.
NISHA: So?
YVETTE: People want to know what CEO is doing. Don’t care about EO. Give them
something else to talk about. Then no questions about India.
NISHA: But no one knows about India.
YVETTE: Keep this way.

Beat.

NISHA: You go.
YVETTE: You stay.
NISHA: Downstairs, in the basement, Valerie says: [As Valerie.] Hello lazy bum. Two
minutes per office, not twenty. Why so late tonight?
YVETTE: I say: Valerie, do we look like cleaners? When we look in the mirror, here, at
home, do we look like cleaners?
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Yes. Obviously. Of course.
23

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: We are ghosts. Ghost can go anywhere. Tell me, our company, we have many
contract, many client?
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Yes.
YVETTE: Coles?
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Yes.
YVETTE: I want to take on the boss of Coles, go into his building, go up to him and tell him
‘Fuck you’. Can you help?
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Yes. Yes.

Beat.
YVETTE: Tom. Tom’s in your office.
NISHA: Tom used to be my boss. Now I’m his. I tell him about the secret India deal and I
don’t kill him, I ask for help. Tom is stuck on details.
YVETTE: He says: [As Tom.] That’s where the marketing budget went? Donating fertiliser to
India?
NISHA: It’s an investment. And it’s levees now. But, yes, your budget was re-allocated.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] The protein and the pre-flav, we could have – if we’d had more budget,
we could have... My rice porridge. We could have bought the appropriate shelf
placement, done a proper launch.
NISHA: Those products didn’t test well, even when your budget was at its maximum spend.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] The maximum spend was miniscule.
NISHA: Because we had other spending priorities.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Don’t double-speak with me.
NISHA: Get angry about it then, Tom. But that’s not going to bring back the protein or preflav. Seriously, would you eat that stuff? Help me.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] You dug your own grave, Nisha.
NISHA: But you’ve got the skills to dig me out of it. You can have a budget for this. Stage an
event for our CEO, get our CEO to take every suspicious bureaucrat out to dinner. Get
our CEO to their team meetings. Get him in the toilet while they’re pissing. Just get
him talking about something exciting and visionary, get them off our case about these
levees before they start talking to the RGA, to producers. You can do it, I know you’re
creative, Tom.
24

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: [As Tom.] You want to use me.
NISHA: Yes.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Uh-huh.
NISHA: Because I respect you.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Oh please.
NISHA: Watch this.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Not that simulated flood again.
NISHA: It’s an eel pond I want to show you, Tom, not a flood.
YVETTE: You go on YouTube.
NISHA: I find the video of Mr David Egan.
YVETTE: In the video, my daughter and her friends dump food on Mr David Egan. He slip.
Fall into the Botanical Garden eel pond. So angry. ‘Stupid bitches’.
NISHA: Tom laughs. And laughs.
YVETTE: He says: [As Tom.] I saw that going around last week. God, it’s funny.
NISHA: Do whatever you need to do with our own CEO just don’t embarrass him.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] No eel ponds? Actually, one of our producers is doing some good work
with aquaculture by-product. I could organise a government delegation up there.
NISHA: Thank you.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Give me a week, a budget. I’ll cause you a decoy so you can get away
and take over India.
NISHA: It’s not a takeover, it’s a partnership. We’re helping their farmers.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Uh-huh.
NISHA: What?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Just be a human, Nisha.
NISHA: I am.

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Tom.] I want to come.
NISHA: Where?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] India. You’ll need a media shit storm when you broker this contract.
NISHA: I can do media, Tom.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] For five seconds, before you left my team.
25

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: It wasn’t five seconds.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] You want my help, let me really help. I’ll make India your legacy.
NISHA: What are your contacts like in North America? In Texas.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Christian media, ag contacts, Fox.
NISHA: Tom, none of the directors know about India. It’s very high-level.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] And they won’t find out or I’ll kill them, right? Take me to India.
NISHA: We’re not going to be visiting temples and doing cooking classes.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] I know. We’re saving farmers, fountain girl.

7.
NISHA: We’re dancing. Salsa showcase at Federation Square.
YVETTE: Mondays are for salsa.
NISHA: Tuesdays are for Kathryn Abbott-Schilling. But not tomorrow. I’m flying out to
India. But tonight, I’m dancing. All 6 of us.
YVETTE: You and Amanda, Leticia, Rebecca, Natasha, Serena. You and the girls on your
screen-saver.
NISHA: We salsa, we have to be more than our work to be dedicated to our work.
YVETTE: Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.
NISHA: Chapter 11: I am woman, hear me diversify.
YVETTE: You salsa to be more than your relationship to be dedicated to your relationship.
NISHA: Thursdays are for Avi but I’ll be away this Thursday. So Avi’s come tonight. I’m
dancing. He’s smiling, he’s clapping.
YVETTE: Stacy’s there.
NISHA: Stacy-the-tough-tattooed-vegetarian-chick-who-made-a-pork-‘manwich’-onMasterchef-that-everyone-loved-because-it-had-apples-in-it. She didn’t win. People
remember her though. She decorates cafes. Bars. Restaurants.
YVETTE: Food trucks.
NISHA: She’s leaning into Avi. I’m sweeping sideways.
YVETTE: They’re laughing.
NISHA: My hips are twisting, sequins are shining. Ole ole ole. The finale.
YVETTE: You nail it.
NISHA: Avi and Stacy are walking over.
26

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: You and Amanda, Leticia, Rebecca, Natasha, Serena are coming down the stairs.
Your girlfriends scream: [As the girls.] Girls, we nailed it tonight! Let’s get a cocktail!
Transport Bar.
NISHA: Avi hugs me.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Babe, that was awesome.
NISHA: I say: Thanks, Avi. I say: Heya Stacy, how are you, Stacy.
YVETTE: She says: As Stacy.] Good. Nice salsa work up there.
NISHA: Drink? We’re going to Transport. Avi?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Of course, babe.
NISHA: I know Transport’s not the sort of bar you go to, Stacy.
YVETTE: [As Stacy.] Fuck no.
NISHA: Another night?
YVETTE: [As Stacy.] Nah it’s all good. I’ll come, Nisha. Check out the competition right?
See which venues are pulling in traffic.
NISHA: Avi puts his arms around me. He puts his hand on my leg. He buys us all cocktails.
Buys Stacy a beer. He is the perfect, funny, smart boyfriend who talks to all those
friends of mine that he never really liked.
YVETTE: [As the girls.] Thank you for the cocktail, Avi! Yummy! Aren’t you lucky, Nishie?
You know, we’re all like married couples. We’re getting so old! We’re 26!
NISHA: Stacy slams a shot of Sambucca. Then she goes home to a share-house in
Thornbury. Avi drives me home. Outside my parents’ house, in Avi’s car, he slides past
the sequins, slides in a finger, I hold his cock and pump it, ole ole ole. God. Yes. Done.

Beat.
YVETTE: He sits back. He’s quiet. Asks you if you had an orgasm.
NISHA: I didn’t. Diduma’s light is on.

Beat.

YVETTE: He says: [As Avineet.] We should get our own place. This summer.
NISHA: I say: I’ll be travelling. Around the world. You should come.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] While you’re working?
27

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: If Stacy doesn’t mind.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] What do you mean?
NISHA: Avi, seriously?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] What?
NISHA: What about the truck? What about ‘Kiss My Kathi Roll’?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Stacy thinks we should expand, buy another truck this summer.
NISHA: So you’ll be busy in summer.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Potentially. Days away together, working in that tiny, sweaty
kitchen. Stacy was saying she’s going to get ‘Kiss My’ inked here, on her forearm.
NISHA: And you’ll get ‘Kathi Roll’ on yours?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Nish, fuck.
NISHA: What?
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] I’m kidding. Stacy is my business partner. She’s professional. But if
I told you she gave me a blowjob in the truck last night, you’d lose your shit but would
pretend you didn’t care.
NISHA: Maybe I wouldn’t care. Maybe I’ve got my own white-meat on the side.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Maybe you should break up with me. Maybe me and my little truck
are standing in the way.
NISHA: I know it’s not a ‘little’ truck.

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Do you need a lift to the airport tomorrow?
NISHA: Golden Fields has got it covered.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] Figured. Well…
NISHA: I would tell you where I was going if I could.
YVETTE: [As Avineet.] I know you’re going to India. Love you, babe.

Beat.
NISHA: Inside my house, diduma’s staring out at nothing. I say: Diduma, I’m going to India,
to West Bengal. Are you proud of your little girl? I’m always proud of you. You’re the
smartest person I know. Of course, she doesn’t answer. She’s crazy. She’s lost her
28

Rice – August 2015
English now. I’ve lost my Bengali. When I got my first pay at Golden Fields I came
home, gave her $500. She went walking down the street the next day, gave it all away
to school kids. In the bathroom, I take off my sequins. Look in the mirror. Indian girl.
Shower. Bed. Phone. Text message. Tom.
YVETTE: [As Tom] Good news. Reuters r locked in. Told them we’ve got big news 2 drop.
They can have 1st dibs. Thanks 4 bringing me on, fountain girl.

Beat.
NISHA: Bed. Door. She’s in my doorway. Staring. Diduma wails. And wails. A Bengali
widow. She’s wailing and she won’t stop. Shoes, luggage. I pack. I go. I fucking flee.

Beat.
YVETTE: On Mondays you salsa. Tonight, I sit at your desk. So squashed at Mr Kuay’s
house.

In her office, NISHA has returned. Her bags are packed.
NISHA: What… what are you doing?
YVETTE: I…
NISHA: That’s my desk. I need to work.
YVETTE: Sorry. Here, you sit, please. I just eating. I’ll go.
NISHA: [Pause.] Is Sheree late again?
YVETTE: At home. I tell her I catch train.
NISHA: Stay there.

Beat.

YVETTE: One time I slap Sheree. She was 16, she threw our dinner onto the floor. We had
nothing to eat that night. Now I always cook too much food.
NISHA: Smells good.
YVETTE: I cook this: chicken, vegies, rice.
29

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: So much gravy.
YVETTE: Eat. Sit.
NISHA: I should work.
YVETTE: Nothing more you can do tonight.

NISHA sits.
NISHA: I told my mum ‘fuck you’, just once. She didn’t stop diduma. When diduma was
outside, giving money away, mum was embarrassed, so she didn’t go out at first. We
had become that family, that strange family on the street.

Beat.

YVETTE: This is part where we eat.
NISHA: We sit.
YVETTE: We talk.
NISHA: We’re not so opposite.
YVETTE: Look out into the city, we talk.

The end of a long day, a long fortnight, month. NISHA and YVETTE sit at her desk.
They eat and share rice.

There is the sound of water rushing, breaking a levee. Loud and crashing, then sudden
silence.

30

Rice – August 2015
ACT TWO

8.

The foyer of Golden Fields. The golden paddies decal covers the walls from floor to
ceiling, it is dominating and actually very tasteful. However, the decal is peeling and
starting to come off the walls.
NISHA and YVETTE step out from the foyer, out onto the street. But it’s a vast street,
and it stretches and blends the urban city and endless wet paddies.

The sound of the train going around the Melbourne city loop, the announcement of
the train stations. Flinders, Flagstaff, Parliament, Melbourne Central, Southern
Cross. The sound of an airport, with announcements for international flights.
Bangkok, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New Delhi.
NISHA: [As the widow.] He’s dead! I’m alone! Where is my government? We voted them in
to protect poor farmers like us! My name is Dana, I’m 39. I know, you see my face, you
think I’m 50. I still wear white, I’m still mourning. I manage the farm now, with help
from my two eldest. My husband, Sanjit, was a rice farmer. Sanjit produced enough
crop to sell into the PDS. He had new equipment, pesticides. People said Sanjit was a
raj. For three years, he was, we had a big boon. Now our soil is dead. The floods killed
Sanjit but did not wipe his debts. I am young, I cannot follow in my husband’s foot
steps to a wet grave, I cannot leave my children to be orphans, to bear the debt their
father left. This is West Bengal! This is India! This is the widow’s curse! [In Bengali.]
He’s dead, Sanjit is dead! Help us!

9.

YVETTE: A flood in Melbourne.

Beat.

31

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: Mr Kuay’s laundry flooded.
YVETTE: West Bengal has killed farmers.
NISHA: Mr Kuay has drowned your bags, your shoes.
YVETTE: Spare room is wet. All my boxes. You bring from Johnny’s warehouse, bring my
bag and shoe and I put them in this little room.
NISHA: The boxes are wet.
YVETTE: It stinks.
NISHA: Soggy leather. Mr Kuay is almost crying.
YVETTE: Saying sorry to me. He move everything already, put on the bed. Spray the Glen
20, try to make them stink less. I say, ‘Mr Kuay, do not say sorry, this is life. We get
the fan, save them.’

Beat.

NISHA: [As Sheree.] Why are you being so nice, Ma?
YVETTE: Because you are my one and only favourite daughter.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] I thought you couldn’t wait until I went to prison.
YVETTE: Huh? I never say this! Best thing happen to me was having a baby girl. Everyone
should have baby girls. Then no more stupid men.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] What about Mr Kuay ruining your things?
YVETTE: Two type of people. One: people who make problem. Two: people who fix
problem. Me and Mr Kuay are fixers. Something bad happen, we fix. Then everything
ok.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] It stinks like Glen 20 in here.

Beat.

NISHA: [As Sheree.] The video’s pissing Egan off.
YVETTE: Not your problem. This is his problem.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] I was supposed to take it down.
YVETTE: You want to take it down? Be nice little China doll say sorry?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] No. I’m enjoying all the YouTube comments, in fact. Most of them are
from his psycho son, who’s also stalking me on Twitter.
32

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Bah. Say nothing to him. You know why? Because he want you to say something
back, so this exactly why you don’t. I know about these online trolls.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Since when, Ma, did you know about cyberbullying?
YVETTE: These are bullies, exactly. My Indian client, she tell me all about this, happen to
her. Because she pretty, she smart.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Is she?
YVETTE: She help me. Practise with me what to say to Mr David Egan. And tomorrow I say
it. I go to him. Make him change his mind. Then none of this defamation money.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Is that what your Indian client told you would happen?
YVETTE: You know her friend work for him? Her friend Serena, does salsa dancing.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Uh-huh.
YVETTE: What?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Who gives a shit about this woman’s salsa-dancing friends?
YVETTE: This woman help me. Who pay for courier to bring all my boxes here? Huh?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Her company paid. Not her. And, Ma, if this Indian client is so savvy,
then she would have told you that telling Egan ‘fuck you’ isn’t going to change
anything. But I don’t care, I want you to do it, I want him to see your face. I don’t care
about money. I can get a loan to pay it off.
YVETTE: How you repay a loan?
NISHA: Sheree shrugs.
YVETTE: Should I hug her?
NISHA: Should you?
YVETTE: Should she hug me?
NISHA: You’re the one going to take on a CEO.
YVETTE: Nothing. She go into her room. I go into my room. Same room though, the livingroom. She read a book, I dry my shoes, my bags.
NISHA: Sleep.
YVETTE: Not really. Wake up. Get up.

Beat.
YVETTE: I come for you, Mr David Egan. Take the bus. Train. Don’t get off at Melbourne
Central tonight. Go all the way around to Southern Cross station. Across to Docklands.
33

Rice – August 2015
Cheap rent down here. You move your building here Mr David Egan. Logo like to save
money. And we clean your building three buck cheaper. In CBD, Russians supervise.
Any building, we can clean, clean your floor, wipe your shit.
NISHA: Valerie is helping. Tonight she beams. [As Valerie.] Yvette! So exciting, our
adventure tonight! Look at Docklands! A pier, a bridge! Like a fishing village in
Belarus! You and me, this is like a little holiday!
YVETTE: This is justice.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Ha! Yvette, you’re crazier than me! You speak English like crap but
you make justice with Mr David Egan!
YVETTE: And then none of this defamation.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Now Yvette, level 21 at Golden Fields has a fountain. You think this
king here has three? Yvette? Have you read Ayn Rand?
YVETTE: No.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Good. Don’t.
YVETTE: She swipe us in.
NISHA: And you both go into the basement. Then up through all the levels of the Coles head
office. Valerie takes the first ten floors, you take the second lot.
YVETTE: I clean.
NISHA: Of course.
YVETTE: Still do my job. But I come for you, Mr David Egan. And what will all those
stupid Chinese people say now?
NISHA: [As the gossipers.] Ai ya! Aunty Tang, dead and done, kicked to the ground and
grovelling!
YVETTE: No! Not on the ground. Mr David Egan, I come. Your staff see me. Your staff
apologise. Have we left table too messy? Have we left kitchen clean enough?
NISHA: This is like a holiday. Nothing much to clean.
YVETTE: Level 21. No fountain.
NISHA: One big desk. One big chair.
YVETTE: Big boss, he sit, sit turn away to the window. Look over Dockland. No fishing
village, Mr David Egan. No holiday. Company training say to knock.
NISHA: Not tonight.

Beat.
34

Rice – August 2015

YVETTE: This is me in Docklands.
NISHA: This is me in India. Body count grew in West Bengal. A total of 378 people died in
the flood. Farmers’ collectives are howling, they saw the broken levee coming.
YVETTE: Your plane has landed.
NISHA: You’re standing in Mr David Egan’s office.
YVETTE: Just like this.
NISHA: Just like that.
YVETTE: Just walk into this building.
NISHA: Just go to India and take the PDS.
YVETTE: How am I going to stop a CEO?
NISHA: We practised this. You speak.

Beat.

YVETTE: Mr David Egan. I am Yvette Tang. My daughter is Sheree Tang. Coles is evil and
the system is broken. Remember this? My daughter said this. Remember that time,
stink of your own rubbish, you fall into a pond? The eel pond. Very embarrassing for
you. Very funny video for me. I watch all the time. See you yell at her. Eels are weak,
nothing. Mr David Egan, you swim with eels. You cannot shame me. You cannot take
our money. We will not pay you. And that is all I have to say to you, Mr David Egan.

Beat.
YVETTE: The chair stay still. The chair stay still. And… nothing.
NISHA: You take a step forward.
YVETTE: And then chair turns too.
NISHA: And it’s not Mr David Egan sitting there. A son.
YVETTE: His son.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] Sorry. Did you say something to me?
YVETTE: The son is a baby. Jean, hoodie. Online troll. And this baby, this son of Mr David
Egan, he take out his headphone, turn off his iPhone
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] Did you say something to me?
35

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: I stare.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] What?
YVETTE: You are not the big boss.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] So?
YVETTE: Why you here?
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] I’m chilling out.
YVETTE: Chill out? Huh? Why?
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] What’s with these questions?
YVETTE: When Mr David Egan come back? Tomorrow?
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] I don’t have to tell you anything about my father.
YVETTE: You work here?
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] No. [Pause.] I will.

Beat.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] If you want me to leave so you can clean, I’ll leave.
YVETTE: No, doesn’t matter. You stay. I just clean. Five minute.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] I’m going to be sitting here then. Chilling out.
YVETTE: Ok you sit there then, chill out then. Chill out all night.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] I will. You missed a spot.
YVETTE: Where?
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] The computer monitor was filthy when I came in.
YVETTE: We don’t wipe monitor.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] Why?
YVETTE: Company training. Could break monitor.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] That’s an obnoxious rule.
YVETTE: Where is Mr David Egan?
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] My father is unavailable.
YVETTE: He come later? Pick you up? I speak to him.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] My God! He’s incredibly sick, ok? And you would be too
if some random nut-bag protestors dumped disgusting past use-by-date produce on you
and you fell into an infested pond and got infected with Type 1 eel herpes.
YVETTE: Eel herpes?
36

Rice – August 2015

Beat.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] It’s an actual thing. A disgusting virus transmitted via
blood and revolting secretions. The eels in that pond are like zombies and they attacked
my father. He’s in hospital. And don’t worry, everyone involved – everyone – has heard
from my father’s lawyers. Those protestors, the Botanical Gardens, the City of
Melbourne. Doesn’t anyone care about super viruses? Babies, children, the elderly –
they walk by that eel pond every day. You think you can just have public facilities
swarming with animal diseases without major ramifications?

Beat.

YVETTE: I laugh.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] It’s not funny.
YVETTE: I laugh because he must be lying about this disease, he must be joking.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] My dad nearly died.

Quiet.
NISHA: [As David Egan Junior.] FYI lady, I don’t know when my dad will be back.

Beat.

YVETTE: The chair turns.
NISHA: The headphones go back in.
YVETTE: And that’s it.
NISHA: That’s the mission.
YVETTE: Is that it?
NISHA: Thirty seconds to the basement.
YVETTE: No king in Docklands. Just a prince. Valerie grunts.
NISHA: [As Valerie.] Waste of time then.
YVETTE: I go.
37

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: Back to Southern Cross station.
YVETTE: Sheree, she’s always late. But tonight, why she now on time? See the car pull up.
NISHA: You could lie to her about what just happened.
YVETTE: This is Docklands.
NISHA: This is India.
YVETTE: The smell, the heat.
NISHA: The battle through the traffic, from the airport to the hotel in Delhi. Only ten
kilometres from the Indira Gandhi International Airport but every inch a battle. First
meeting with the Ag Minister tomorrow in South Delhi, then one at the end. In
between, meetings with state ministers, chaperoned by Miss Gretel Patel. I eat room
service dinner. A steak that’s tough. Sacred cow. Avi texts.
YVETTE: [As Avi.] Hey babe. How’s Delhi?
NISHA: Insane.
YVETTE: [As Avi.] What did you expect?
NISHA: Red carpet. Kidding. How’d the truck go yesterday?
YVETTE: [As Avi.] Killed it. Thanks 4 asking.
NISHA: Of course. Well, I’m just laying low. Big meeting 2moro.
YVETTE: [As Avi.] Don’t let ur boss pysch u out. Love u, babe.
NISHA: I sleep. I don’t. Not really.

Beat.

YVETTE: Eel herpes.
NISHA: Sheree’s waiting.

Beat.

YVETTE: She opens the door. Leans over. Tells me to get in. I do.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Ma? Tell me everything. What did Egan’s office look like? What was
he doing? What did he think of your speech?
YVETTE: Why you wear a dress?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Celebration, Ma. I know you like it when I perform within
heteronormative gender standards.
38

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Huh?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] You like it when I wear a dress. So I wore it to say congratulations.
Your speech, was he angry? What did Egan say? Did he agree to reduce the
defamation? God, I hope he upped it. I hope he made it so cruel it’ll be laughed out of
court. I was thinking, Ma, that’s the beauty of what you’re doing. It would piss him off
so much that he’d overshoot.
YVETTE: Sheree.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] What?
YVETTE: Time to get a loan.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Why?
YVETTE: He not there. He in hospital, you and your nutbag friends make him sick. You
push him into eel pond.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] The eel herpes?
YVETTE: You know?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] It’s hilarious.
YVETTE: Why this happen to me? Why do I raise a daughter so mean like this? Think
everything in life is a big funny joke? Huh? Why?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Well it’s funny. He deserved it.
YVETTE: You think this is stupid? A big joke? You think I’m stupid? You think what your
Ma did tonight is stupid?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] You don’t finish things. You never do. One great idea, then it gets too
big for you. You quit. Like your bags and shoes.
YVETTE: Competition undercut me!
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Like with my dad. You quit.

YVETTE slaps Sheree.

Silence.

YVETTE: Turn the car on. We go to Collins Street. I think someone cover us at Golden
Fields. But Valerie, she send them home. Tell me to go clean.
NISHA: Sheree says nothing.
YVETTE: She drives.
39

Rice – August 2015

Beat.

NISHA: I wake. Holy fuck.
YVETTE: Your stomach.
NISHA: The sacred steak churning in my belly. Scramble to the bathroom.
YVETTE: You sit on the toilet as cow comes out.
NISHA: Who shits like this? Who shits like this in an executive suite?
YVETTE: Who eats cow as their very first meal?
NISHA: I don’t do Indian food. Graeme does. First one out into the streets of Delhi last night.
Tom and I went straight to our rooms. Graeme’s not jet-lagged, he’s not queasy, he’s in
the dining room, eating breakfast, jolly, speaking to a dark-skinned waiter.
YVETTE: You march in.
NISHA: Take a seat. Stomach’s tender but try to hide it.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Nishie! Good morning, dear Nishe! // Coffee? Toast?
NISHA: Morning, Graeme. Can you lower // your voice please?
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Gotam here can make fresh roti pancakes. And he can recite the
scores of every World Cup match going back to the Australian treble.
NISHA: I have no idea what that is.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Pancake, Nishie? Try mine. // Here you go.
NISHA: Graeme, honestly, // I’m fine.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Good girl. Gotam, another one of those paw paw ones please. Now,
Nishie, secret to doing business with the Indians is all about saying yes even when you
mean no, and then talking about the cricket. Ask Gotam. Don’t overlook the wait staff,
Nishie, they have eyes and ears you know?
NISHA: I prefer the eyes and ears of cleaners. Cleaners have access to bins, to desks. They
see what people like you and me are throwing in, throwing out.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] No one talks to cleaners though. Not any real conversation. A
cleaner isn’t front-line, not like wait staff.
NISHA: Cleaners are usually older, worldly. You’d be surprised by what they’ve seen or
done. The cleaner at Golden Fields, she grew up a Communist but she ran several
businesses before she –
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Did you drink too much on the plane yesterday?
40

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: No.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] You look… deathly.
NISHA: I’m fine.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Wear a sari today, Nishie. Add some colour to your complexion.
NISHA: That may come across as tokenistic and, as I said, I’m fine.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Afraid it’s going to be 81% humidity today. Can you handle it?
NISHA: Yes.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Good. Now, Nishie, where’s the crazy part of Delhi? The busy part?
NISHA: It’s all busy, Graeme.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] But where’s the crazy busy part? Where we’ll get robbed? Nishie,
after this meeting we’re going to drink like a whale and party all night. We have to
celebrate! A billion more people eating our rice. Distributing, and then growing, buying
and eating our rice.
NISHA: A little quieter, Graeme. The wait staff have eyes and ears, remember? And no
contract has been signed yet.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] But we’ve got good faith and we’ve got a ripper of a levee to flog.
Tom! Good morning, Tom. Gotam, a cup of coffee for my colleague. Tom, look at
Nishie. Look at her. Only 28 and already a PDS and levee expert. Did you read the
dossier? Rock. Star. To hell with anyone who had their doubts about India.
NISHA: Tom winks at me. Then he texts me from across the table.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Morning, fountain girl. Show us what u got.

10.

YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] Honey?
NISHA: Yes?
YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] I want to tell ya what the secret to success is.
NISHA: Which chapter is this?
YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] This ain’t in the book. You want success?
NISHA: Yes, of course, Kathryn.
YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] Simple: find your people, find your pocket of the
world, grab it, hold it, and that’s all you need. We don’t need money.
NISHA: We don’t?
41

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] We don’t need all this ag BS.
NISHA: It’s not bullshit. It’s life and death. It’s what makes the world go around.
YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] Oh honey, my goodness, you actually believe that?
NISHA: Last time I Skyped Kathryn Abbot-Schilling the queen of rice was sounding…
ancient. She said she was in the middle of a book tour. She said she was thinking about
a career change. She said motivational speaking.
YVETTE: You said to her you were going on a holiday.
NISHA: I told her I was going to be unavailable for a few weeks. I told her I was working too
hard etc etc and I told her I was going on a break and I told her goodbye VP.
YVETTE: [As Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.] Bye bye Nisha Gupta, and get thee by the ocean.
NISHA: Chapter 15: Draw strength from nature, how I conquered rice.
YVETTE: Last chapter.
NISHA: And how does it all end?
YVETTE: She is VP, Rice Lands. Your number one competition.
NISHA: And that’s all, that’s it. I’ll write the next Paradigms and Dollars. In India, there are
men on the streets, the taxi drivers in their black-yellow cars, the men hocking chai and
samosas on the street. Women, in and out of air-conditioned buildings. Women in
buildings, all levels. In saris. In collared polos, slim jeans and flats. Women rising up to
run the country, to change the global economy. Indian women, like me.
YVETTE: Like Miss Gretel Patel. Chief Advisor to the Indian Agricultural Minister.
NISHA: Miss Patel is a lackey. She’s a chaperone.
YVETTE: She is a rock star.
NISHA: She is wearing a badly cut suit and awful plastic shoes.
YVETTE: She welcomes you into the building, into the office, she shakes your hand.
NISHA: I shake hers firmly.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Oh Miss Gupta. Look how far we’ve come. Nearly a year since we
began talking?
NISHA: Almost two years in fact, Miss Patel. But time flies.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Does it? Come come, sit down. Mr Hartley, Mr Budd, so glad to
finally meet you both. The Minister will join us shortly no doubt. Can I offer you cumin
seeds? Chew them. A traditional Delhi welcome. Miss Gupta, you must be familiar
with chewing cumin?
NISHA: I’m not from Delhi, Miss Patel.
42

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: She knows this.
NISHA: She does. She starts with a… PowerPoint presentation.
YVETTE: It’s basic.
NISHA: It is.
YVETTE: She shows you average rainfall across different states of India.
NISHA: I know this.
YVETTE: 70% of India work in farms.
NISHA: They do, and I know this, and she clicks to the next slide. It’s more advanced. The
Green Revolution is still a sensitive subject in Delhi.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Mr Hartley, are you aware of our history with America?
NISHA: Graeme nods.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] The Rockefellers?
NISHA: I nod.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] With the IMF? Mr Budd?
NISHA: And we’re all agreeably nodding, saying yes when we mean no and thinking what
about the PDS already? What about the PDS and the damaged levees and the rice?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Now Mr Hartley, Mr Budd, Miss Gupta, I’d be pleased to show you
through our building. It’s a heritage building. Dates back to the days of the East India
Company. Please, come this way.
NISHA: Miss Gretel Patel explains the history of the bricks. And Mr Graeme Hartley is
thinking what the fuck is happening in India. And Mr Tom Budd is thinking what the
fuck is happening in India. Is this how Miss Nisha Gupta will clinch the PDS? Not with
a levee. With a tour of a building?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] I should add that these walls are painted red.
NISHA: Which we can see.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Saffron paint.
NISHA: We all return to the Indian Ag Minister’s office. We sit in his waiting room.

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Tea? Coffee? Mr Hartley? Mr Budd? Miss Gupta?

Beat.
43

Rice – August 2015

NISHA: The PDS, Miss Patel. Shall we go into the Minister’s office?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] I’m very glad that you’ve raised this, Miss Gupta. I’m afraid the
Minister won’t be making the meeting today.
NISHA: Pardon me?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] I only just received this news. Another urgent appointment has run
over time.
NISHA: We can wait.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Have you seen the Red Fort? Take the afternoon off. You’re booked
in to see the Minister again in approximately a fortnight? In the meantime, whatever
you need to say to him you can say to me. I’m very much looking forward to being
your chaperone and showing you our country. More cumin?

Beat.

NISHA: In India, there are a lot of women in ag.
YVETTE: You shake hands with Gretel Patel.
NISHA: She smiles as we leave the office and the saffron-threaded walls. She’ll see us in
West Bengal, our next stop, tomorrow then yes?
YVETTE: In India, women run ag. Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.
NISHA: Kathryn Abbott-Schilling said that.
YVETTE: Kathryn Abbott-Schilling is in India.
NISHA: Kathryn Abbott-Schilling is on a book tour. Thinking about a career change.
Sounding ancient.
YVETTE: She’s here in South Delhi.
NISHA: Is she?
YVETTE: Did she just come out of the building?

Beat.

NISHA: Do I see her? In South Delhi? Ahead of me? Ahead of Golden Fields. Is she walking
away? No. It’s the heat, the humidity, there are dark-skinned women everywhere

44

Rice – August 2015
running the world and I am one of them and Gretel is one of them and Kathryn AbbottSchilling isn’t... Is that right? Is she here?
YVETTE: Graeme’s here.
NISHA: He’s striding away, fuming. I’m trying to catch up with him.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Do I look like I give a shit about whether the building is pre-East
India Company or if it was made by fucking Martians? We flew here to meet with that
smug fucker and he doesn’t take the time to keep his meeting? Something’s up.
NISHA: The Minister’s a busy man. Taxi! Taxi!
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] So am I. I am the fucking CEO of the largest rice company in the
Asia Pacific. And not that taxi, for Chrissakes, it looks like a shit-heap.
NISHA: The Minister’s probably responding to another crisis. We have to be prepared for a
few hiccups. Taxi!
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] I didn’t come here for hiccups. So triple-check we’re in people’s
diaries. No more bullshit ‘appointments running over time’.
NISHA: We can check in with Miss Patel, get her to ensure the meetings run on time.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] That little bitch is running the show. Don’t you think for a second
that she didn’t plan to shaft us. Don’t brief her.
NISHA: It’s going to be difficult to avoid our chaperone.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] That’s your problem isn’t it? Fancy the Red fucking Fort? Good, go
for it. Take Gretel Patel with you. Got that? I’ll handle the meetings.
NISHA: I’m strongly advising that my presence will be advantageous. I’m Indian.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] And have I said thank you yet? Tom dig up the media. See if
something there we don’t know about. Gotam was right. Paw paw is not a fortuitous
way to start the day.

Beat.
NISHA: She’s gone. She must be. I’m sweating.
YVETTE: No aircon in the cab.
NISHA: The aircon in the Radisson won’t go below 16 degrees. I work. Don’t sleep.
YVETTE: Wake up. Check out. Another cab.
NISHA: Airport. Gearing up for West Bengal.

45

Rice – August 2015
11.

NISHA: [As Sheree.] How many?
YVETTE: How many what?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] How many times do you think you saw him?
YVETTE: Twenty times.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Did he really look like Bruce Lee?
YVETTE: Yes.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] I wonder if he hated flying.
YVETTE: Why he hate it? Had girlfriend in every city, wait for him to come. English
girlfriend, French. German.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] And you in Melbourne?
YVETTE: Yes.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] I think he loved you, Ma.
YVETTE: Last week she ask about her daddy again. Same question, same answer. Not much
to say. Worry all the time when we talk about him, will Sheree fight me on this? Do I
blame her? Sheree’s dad, he was a Cathay Pacific pilot, quarter German. Looked like
Bruce Lee. Very handsome. Half my age. Fly in, fly out of Melbourne, we would meet
in Chinatown. He was a baby. Me and babies. No protection. Pregnant to a pilot. Never
went back to Chinatown to see him. How to make it work? Different worlds. I quit.
She’s right.

Beat.

NISHA: Sheree drives.
YVETTE: Only five minute away, up to Collins Street, in front of Golden Fields. Easy
parking. Late at night now.
NISHA: She comes inside.
YVETTE: Why? Why she follow me?
NISHA: To help you.
YVETTE: I tell her, ok, fine, she help me then.
NISHA: Show her.
YVETTE: Show what?
46

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: How you clean.
YVETTE: I show Sheree best way to do two minute only. Look at the office, see what the
client see. Where do they see dirt, where do their colleague see dirt, where do they
manager, their boss see it? Concentrate on this. Well, she try to do it but she does it
wrong, I tell her off.
NISHA: She tells you off for telling her off. Then she tells you to sit down.
YVETTE: How to sit down? She does it wrong.
NISHA: Just different, she does it different.
YVETTE: And she vacuum, wipe, empty. Different from me but, is true, she take only two
minute, no more. When I ran dry-cleaner shop, I taught her how to use steamer. She
loved it, did it the wrong way but she loved it.

Beat.

YVETTE: Not long before she has to go back to court, then go to jail.

Beat.

NISHA: [As Sheree.] Are you crying, Ma?
YVETTE: No.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] I shouldn’t have mentioned my dad before.
YVETTE: [In Mandarin.] I will miss you, little shadow.

Beat.

NISHA: Was it Chapter 12? 6? 14? Something something keeping your enemies close at
hand? She’s not ancient. She’s the fucking queen. Is she here? Is Kathryn AbbottSchilling in India? She’s online.
YVETTE: Skype her.
NISHA: I do.
YVETTE: Try again.
NISHA: I am. But she won’t pick up.
YVETTE: Say something.
47

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: I message her. I re-write my message three, five, ten times. Then I press send. Get ur
hands off the PDS.
YVETTE: You wait.
NISHA: Nothing. I dress. Tom’s knocking.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Good morning, fountain girl.
NISHA: Please don’t call me that, Tom.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] How does one say ‘Public Distribution System’ in Bengali?
NISHA: Just make something up. Whatever it is, you wouldn’t pronounce it correctly
anyway.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] So you are still grumpy? Delhi was a downer but today we’re in West
Bengal. Come on, open up.
NISHA: Here I am. Not grumpy. I’ve been chewing cumin since Delhi.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Gretel Patel, she’s something. Like the Indian version of you.
NISHA: I am Indian.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] But she’s the Indian Indian version of you.
NISHA: Gretel Patel is a scheming, two-faced bureaucrat who enjoys stringing people along
and playing little power trips because she doesn’t actually have any authority to get
things done. That’s not me, Tom. I don’t like wasting time.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Maybe she was trying to tell us that we have to slow down. You only
gave us two weeks to lock down a multi-million dollar take-over.
NISHA: It’s not a takeover, Tom. I’ve told you this.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] I’m just calling it as it is.
NISHA: Try a little harder at being diplomatic. Ok?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Coconut juice?
NISHA: Tom. For fuck’s sake.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] What?
NISHA: Ice? // Seriously?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Yes. There’s ice. And?
NISHA: I can’t drink this. I can’t have drinks with ice in them. Not off the streets of fucking
Kolkata. Are you trying to make us all sick today? Do you know where this water’s
been? This isn’t Echuca. This isn’t Murray River water.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] 378 farmers died here in West Bengal and you’re worried about a
tummy bug?
48

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: Yes. So don’t tell me how to be Indian. Don’t tell me which Indians are more Indian
than me. I’m the fucking EO here, not a moron.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] I might go stand outside. Work up a sweat for another coconut juice.

Beat.

NISHA: Tom?
YVETTE: Nothing.
NISHA: Sorry. Shit.
YVETTE: He’s already in the lift, going down.
NISHA: I grab my bags, slip into my new pastel lamb’s leather Christian Louboutin ballerina
flats.

Beat.

YVETTE: I get into the lift with Sheree, up another floor.
NISHA: You vacuum, empty, wipe together.
YVETTE: I will miss you, little shadow.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] What, Ma?
YVETTE: Wipe faster.

Beat.

NISHA: My phone vibrates, my Skype bings.
YVETTE: Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.
NISHA: I fish my phone out of my bag. Kathryn Abbott-Schilling has messaged me a frowny
face. A fucking frowny face? What the fuck does that mean? Kathryn? What the fuck?
YVETTE: She logs off.
NISHA: No I log off first. I can play this game. Chapter…? I can wait, I can ignore her until
the sacred cows come home. Golden Fields has things to do, an excursion to the
paddies, thanks to Gretel Patel.
YVETTE: Tom’s outside the hotel, downstairs, sweating.

49

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: Graeme’s staying behind. Unless there’s a minister involved, my dear dear CEO is
not interested in seeing where the levee broke. Downstairs, outside the hotel, the driver
arrives. In the car, out of Kolkata, we fly past the blue buses and greasy motorcycles
and dirty trucks. Onto highways, over pot-holes.
YVETTE: Into the country.
NISHA: Hours away, the main street of a small village. A short but bustling main strip, lean
goats wandering through.
YVETTE: And there she is, Gretel Patel.
NISHA: The rock star is dressed like the locals today.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Miss Gupta, Mr Budd. What a pleasure.
NISHA: In what way, Miss Patel?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] A pleasure that you made it so far. We’ve lost Mr Hartley?
NISHA: I’m afraid he caught something in Delhi.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] And Mr Budd, healthy as always. And what an especially large
camera. The locals won’t know if they should be terrified or mystified.
NISHA: Tom’s not the terrifying kind.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Not unless you’re easily ruffled.
NISHA: Miss Patel, despite our jumpy start yesterday, I want you to know that when you say
you’re interested in what Golden Fields has to offer, I truly believe that you are. And
we have a lot to offer, and we have all the time this afternoon to discuss it.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Did you know I grew up less than 20 kilometres from this very spot? I
still stay with my family when I come to visit. How can a civil servant do her civic
duties if she loses a connection with her land? Please, come inside this humble
restaurant. They make the best kathi rolls in all of West Bengal. After we dine, then
we’ll need to switch into a more suitable vehicle to go to the paddies.
NISHA: Excellent. And the footwear?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Footwear?
NISHA: I understood that you were arranging gumboots for us.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] My sincere apologies. We don’t wear gumboots.

Beat.

50

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: In the swampy paddies, farmers are bent over, tugging up the stalks. We plough
through, slowly. I hold my pastel lamb’s leather Christian Louboutin ballerina flats.
Roll up my pants. Squelch my toes through mud. Drop one of my shoes. Gretel laughs.
Loves it out here.
YVETTE: She loves getting back to basics.
NISHA: As if she’s ever worked a day in these paddies.
YVETTE: She’s a country girl.
NISHA: She studied in the city and then got a scholarship to study in Boston.
YVETTE: She hated the fertiliser deposit that Golden Fields had originally offered.
NISHA: She says that now.
YVETTE: You blame Graeme.
NISHA: I bring up levees. Has she read my proposal? What about costs? Timelines?
YVETTE: And you, dirty, standing in a cemetery.
NISHA: I’m… What?

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Tom.] This is where the floods happened, Nisha.
NISHA: No it’s not, Tom.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Miss Gupta, the thing about this flood is that it doesn’t make for the
most tear-inducing scenery. It was utterly destructive but the foreign eye wouldn’t be
able to tell. This is it. This is the heart of the flood, where it did its most damage. The
widows have been aggressively campaigning.
NISHA: We don’t have to take photos of them today. Tom, put the camera away.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] No, please, Mr Budd, take photos. These constituents want the world
to see them. This lady here. I believe her name is Dana. She’s 39. How’s your Bengali,
Miss Gupta? It would be a great gesture if you could speak with her.
NISHA: I have nothing to say. We pose with widows.
YVETTE: They’re not wailing.
NISHA: They’re staring right back at me.

Beat.

51

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] India must look after all its women, our children. We need a strong
team going into the future. We’re climbing up a tall mountain.
NISHA: India is climbing up a… sorry?
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Yes, Miss Gupta, India is climbing up a tall mountain. We need the
right alliances to help us get over the crest. Pass me your shoes.
NISHA: Thank you but // I’m ok.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] I insist. You’ve already dropped one of them.
NISHA: I’m fine.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] A tall mountain needs a team to tackle it. Forgive me, I’m being
obtuse. I only just learnt these phrases.
NISHA: Kathryn fucking Abbott fucking Schilling. She is in India. I drop my other shoe.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] I hate to say I told you so.
NISHA: Gretel, to put it bluntly, fuck my shoes. You do know that Golden Fields’ support
for India rests on the Minister’s support for Golden Fields. It would be a shame to have
to withdraw infrastructure. It would be a shame if you had wasted your time
chaperoning me to return empty-handed to Delhi.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] If I can put it bluntly, Nisha, it’s not just a few levees here and there.
It’s the money, really. It’s the money for the PDS. Shall we catch up with Mr Budd?
NISHA: How much money? Whatever Rice Lands has offered, we’ll beat it.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] We really should catch up with him.
NISHA: A figure. You name it. We’ll pay it.

Beat.
YVETTE: [As Gretel.] Miss Gupta. Very good, I’ll consult.

Beat.
NISHA: Gretel stays behind in the village, waves us off, in her sari. She’ll meet us at the state
minister’s office tomorrow. Tom and I leave. Back to Kolkata, in our modern sedan,
past the crowded blue buses on the pot-holed highways, night falls and I soar. Graeme
wants to know how it all went and I just soar, I smile, I just grin a bigger grin than he’s
ever managed.
52

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Graeme nods. He points his finger at you. Rock. Star.
NISHA: Indeed. Up to my room to retire. Queen of rice is online.
YVETTE: You message her.
NISHA: I keep it short. Send her a picture of my dirty ballerina flats. What does she think
about that then? Who’s getting dirty in the paddies then? That’s the secret to success.
That’s how you shift the mother fucking paradigm, bitches.
YVETTE: She doesn’t reply.
NISHA: I text Avi. Send him a picture of the kathi roll I ate today. Tell him this was, in fact,
probably the best day of my life and these kathi rolls reminded me of him, of his
cooking, his ambitions. I’m missing him. ‘Kiss My Kathi Roll’ is a triumph and I want
to move in with him, as soon as possible, I’m ready now. I love you, babe. I do.

Beat.
NISHA: I eat Pringles from the mini bar. Bed. Sleep. I don’t.
YVETTE: Tom.
NISHA: He texts me.

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Tom.] U sleeping, fountain girl?
NISHA: No. I’m wired.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Turn on the TV. Channel 96. It’s 4 Westerners.
NISHA: Is that Demi Moore?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Young Demi Moore. Disclosure.
NISHA: I’ve never seen it.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Come 2 my room. We can watch it 2gether and have a laugh.
NISHA: Is it a comedy?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] No.
NISHA: What’s ur room number?

Beat.

53

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Tom sit on his bed, with his camera.
NISHA: I sit on a chair.
YVETTE: Tom look through photo he took today.
NISHA: I thought I was coming here for a movie.

Beat.

NISHA: Tom? Shall we crack open the mini bar? Beer? Celebrate? Be human together?

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Tom.] What about those women today?
NISHA: What about them?
YVETTE: [As Tom.] They won’t benefit from us owning their PDS.
NISHA: They’re not benefitting as it is.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] There are local initiatives that could help them far better.
NISHA: Most of which are funded by Monsanto. We’re not the bad guys, Tom.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] We’re not the good guys.
NISHA: We’re farmers too.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Is that how you see yourself?
NISHA: Yes.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] I’m not a farmer. I am a bored farm boy who moved to corporate.
NISHA: And you made the right choice.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Did I?
NISHA: You’re going to help make a legacy. Not for me, for Golden Fields. In a week, in a
month, you’ll see. You made the right choice.
YVETTE: Tom watches you.
NISHA: I watch Tom. And he says nothing, and I say nothing, and we watch the movie. In
Disclosure, young Demi Moore tries to give Young Michael Douglas a blowjob.
Michael Douglas is distraught.
YVETTE: You come to the bed.
NISHA: I sit.
YVETTE: Tom looks at your legs.
54

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: I let him.
YVETTE: You do.
NISHA: Demi Moore is crying and I take Tom’s hand, I place it on my waist. I take his face,
I kiss him. He lets me. He pushes me onto the bed. Pins me down. He slows down.
Tom kisses me. Softly. My phone vibrates. It might be Avi.
YVETTE: It might be Kathryn Abbott-Schilling.
NISHA: I do miss Avi. I do. I should check…
YVETTE: You should.
NISHA: I don’t. Michael Douglas defeats Demi Moore. My God, Tom. Tom takes his time.
Ole ole ole. Yes yes yes. Tom. Done.

Beat.

YVETTE: [As Tom.] Hey.

Beat.

NISHA: Hey.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] Are you crying?
NISHA: No.

Beat.

NISHA: That was the part of the story where I fucked up.

Beat.

YVETTE: I told Sheree the story. Level 20. Your two bins. Green smoothies, salad, a wrap,
Chinese for dinner. Salsa on Mondays. The girls on your screen saver, the one who
works for Coles. The book – Paradigms and Dollars – in your locked drawer. I told her
about you. My client. My friend. Told her you could help. Help Sheree find a good job
when she get out of jail.
NISHA: Sheree said nothing.
55

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Sheree took off her cleaning gloves.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Ma, can I just chuck these gloves out?
YVETTE: What do you think?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] About these gloves?
YVETTE: About Nisha. What do you think? She can help you.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Do you want me to keep these gloves or not?
YVETTE: Throw them out.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] And here I thought your tight-ass clients would make you re-use them.
Company training says you have to save money, right? Break your back, save
everything for these clients, right?
YVETTE: Back not broken. I like these clients. You will like her too. When she come back
from India, you can meet her. You can help me clean. Meet her this way.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Fuck’s sake. Two-for-one cleaners?
YVETTE: Just one night. Before you go back to court.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Come on, Ma.
YVETTE: What?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] She is not your friend.
YVETTE: Why you so angry? Because people make money, because they have business?
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Yes that’s exactly why I’m angry. I’m a fixer, like you. She’s a breaker.
She breaks things. But she has little chats with you and you feel needed.
YVETTE: She’s lonely, I’m lonely.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] Everyone’s lonely, Ma. Every single person in this world. Egan’s so
lonely he’ll stay in the hospital because people look after him, they touch him, they
make him feel like a baby again. My God, you fed her rice. You fed this woman rice.
YVETTE: Cooked too much rice, had enough.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] She runs a fucking rice company and you fed her. This is absurd.
YVETTE: Doesn’t run it. Second in charge. EO.
NISHA: [As Sheree.] This is shit. End of story, Ma.

Silence.
NISHA: Tom’s phone was vibrating. Tom didn’t want to check. Tom was concentrating on
me, looking at me, inside of me. I turned away. And then the door. Good. Thank God
56

Rice – August 2015
the door. Something to get me away from Tom. I got up, out of bed. Naked. Hello?
More loud knocks. Graeme barged in.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Nisha.
NISHA: I… Graeme, this was a major error of judgement on my behalf. Tom was feeling
upset and this was the first and only time I’d do this with a sub-ordinate.
YVETTE: [As Tom.] A sub-ordinate?
NISHA: Graeme, can you just – just turn around for a moment. I need to get dressed.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Check your phone first.
NISHA: I’m naked.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Check your phone.
NISHA: Tom checked his. Media alerts. One big headline, different websites. Tom’s media
contacts, now taken. In India, I didn’t have media alerts set up. Graeme showed me.
Kathryn Abbott-Schilling. Her face everywhere. Dropping the news we were meant to
make. Headline: India confirms USA to undertake historical PDS buy-out.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] The Indians played us.
NISHA: It’s Rice Lands. It’s Kathryn Abbott-Schilling. She’s… I…
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] It’s not her.
NISHA: She’s… she knew about the PDS. I could find her, meet with her. Go face to face.
Woman to woman.
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Grow up. This is ag. Not Oprah fucking Winfrey.
NISHA: I can make this work, Graeme. I’ve got information on her, I’ve got a file back at
Golden Fields, in my office. The cleaner, Yvette, she’s probably working in the
building right now, I could call her and –
YVETTE: [As Graeme.] ‘Call the cleaner’? For chrissakes, put your fucking clothes on. Book
us back to Melbourne. This deal is dead.

Silence.

YVETTE: Sheree got maximum sentence for protest. Mr David Egan did not reduce
defamation.
NISHA: Mum and Avi had called me about diduma. They’d left messages. She’d gone into
hospital, she died while I was flying back.
YVETTE: Paradigm shifted.
57

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: I hate that book.
YVETTE: Throw it out.

NISHA and YVETTE step back into the foyer, from the vastness of the urban mess and
the drenched paddies. Looking at the paddies decal, we now see two men in work
uniforms come and start taking down the foyer decal.

NISHA: Look. The paddies. The decals are peeling off.
YVETTE: You used cheap glue.

NISHA and YVETTE watch the men, but they stand apart.

58

Rice – August 2015
ACT THREE

12.

Level 21. The fountain is ostentatios and it is flowing.

YVETTE: [As Graeme.] Folks, the thing about doing business with the Indians is how you
pitch your offer. Too small an offer and it’s insulting, too big and it’s obnoxious. The
Indians want to play big but not too big. Their constituents are still shaking off a few
centuries of bad blood. Helps that Australians are pegged a few rungs above the Brits.
Then there’s the Yanks. Thing about Kathryn Abbott-Schilling is that you can take a
Texan cowgirl out of Texas but plonk her in a place like India... Big deposit for the
PDS. Big, patronising. Protest outside the Ag Minister’s office makes for some good
pictures – we all saw the media scan from last week? So here we are, folks. Since I got
back, I’ve had some very interesting phone messages from Miss Gretel Patel. PDS
needs a different backer. Not sure I should return her call. Not sure what price we’re
willing to pay now. That’s the question for us to ponder together, folks. Of course,
there’s also the question of the EO. On the one hand, she made India into a fucking
farce. On the other hand, the only way to fail is to fail up. What are we going to do
about Nishie? Tony? Harriet? Simon? Mitchell. Mitchell! She’s waiting outside. Let’s
take our time.

Beat.

YVETTE is wearing her Pradas, she puts on her cleaning gloves. Collects her cleaning
equipment, puts on her vacuum cleaner. She begins to clean the level 21 office. We
watch her and her method, how she vacuums, wipes, empties.

After a few minutes, we see a curious NISHA hover around the doorway.
NISHA: Level 21. I watch. You clean. You’re wearing your… Pradas. Plum patent leather,
court heel, square toe, snakeskin bow. You put on your cleaning gloves. Collect your
equipment, your vacuum cleaner. Five minutes. Vacuum. Wipe. Empty.
59

Rice – August 2015

Beat.
NISHA: You don’t empty. You miss the bins. You’re saying ‘fuck you’ Mr Graeme Hartley.

Beat.

YVETTE: Not miss, not finish yet.

Beat.

NISHA: Graeme has three bins.
YVETTE: You have two bins.

Beat.
NISHA: I’m getting tidier.
YVETTE: Little bit.

Beat.

NISHA: I come in. You give me a perfume ball.
YVETTE: Company training say level 21 make special request. Put perfume ball into
fountain. Make fountain smell more like fountain.
NISHA: Smells like the ocean.
YVETTE: Throw it in.

YVETTE keeps cleaning. NISHA looks inside a large rubbish bag.

NISHA: Interesting seeing it all mixed up together.
YVETTE: Not interesting.

60

Rice – August 2015
NISHA starts to help cleaning. She gets the three bins, and empties them.
NISHA: We should pay you more. Next time Facilities is working on the contract, I’ll make
sure I’m involved in that conversation.

Quiet.
YVETTE: Don’t say things like that.
NISHA: You eyeball me as you say this. You’re standing in your fake Pradas and you’re
eyeballing me.
YVETTE: Stop that.
NISHA: No.
YVETTE: Don’t tell me what I know.
NISHA: I’m telling our story.
YVETTE: Not our story. This is level 21. Different now.

Beat.
NISHA: I’m not lonely.

Beat.

NISHA: Yvette?

Silence.

NISHA: Why are you wearing Pradas?
YVETTE: Can’t sell them. Couldn’t save them. Give most to op shop already. Keep some.
NISHA: You need proper shoes for your work.
YVETTE: I have proper shoes.

Beat.

61

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: Just try something different tonight.

YVETTE sits down. She takes off her Pradas, she rubs her feet.

NISHA: I can smell the Glen 20.

Silence.
NISHA: I can wait all night. If the Board want to persecute me then they’ll have to try harder.
YVETTE: You should say sorry.
NISHA: I have. I wrote a thorough report, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the India
project, and the key learnings. It’s all documented. No one could say I haven’t
acknowledged my own shortcomings.
YVETTE: Doesn’t sound like you say sorry.
NISHA: I can’t beg. It’s unprofessional. I had to lie to go to diduma’s funeral because I’m on
a warning and ironically everyone thinks I lied about diduma dying in the first place to
score sympathy points. I’m operating in a very judgemental environment. Everyone’s
talking about me. It was up to me to build India into something viable and now they
might as well.... We didn’t even lose any… I admit, there were opportunity costs,
reputational costs, and anyway we can repurpose the feasibility study, and the levees
dossier. I’m not a moron. I’m the EO.
YVETTE: No one is talking about you.
NISHA: They clearly are.
YVETTE: I don’t hear them talk about you.
NISHA: Level 16 is.
YVETTE: No. They’re not talking.
NISHA: 13?
YVETTE: No.

Beat.

NISHA: What about Tom?
YVETTE: No.
62

Rice – August 2015

Beat.
NISHA: My guess is that the Board will demote me back to Marketing. But I can’t have Tom
line-manage me. It would be inappropriate.
YVETTE: You say sorry to him.
NISHA: Yes, Yvette. I have apologised to everyone. Tom included.

Beat.
NISHA: Tom wasn’t ever going to let me get my hands on the creative stuff. He pitched the
role to me differently at my interview. He exploited me, he fucked me over first, when
he hired me as a Marketing Assistant.
YVETTE: Really? He fuck you over first?
NISHA: Don’t you think? He’s very competitive.
YVETTE: No. You: you fuck him.
NISHA: I did not fuck Tom Budd over.
YVETTE: No no no, first you fuck him over, get job on level 20, then you fuck him.
NISHA: Look, I am deleting his number. I am deleting all the text messages too. Goodbye
Tom Budd.

NISHA gets onto her phone and does this. It takes a while.

YVETTE: You texted him a lot.

Beat.
NISHA: I haven’t told Avi yet.
YVETTE: Don’t.
NISHA: He’s… family. Avi’s family. He probably knows.
YVETTE: Knows what? You use condom with Tom?
NISHA: That’s private.
YVETTE: Hope you get baby.
63

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: I won’t be having anyone’s baby, Yvette.
YVETTE: Don’t tell Avi.
NISHA: I should. Then he can hate me. Leave me for Stacy. She makes better kathi rolls than
him. She loves to cook.

Beat.
NISHA: I’ll tell Avi. I’ll text him now.
She doesn’t.

YVETTE: You want to keep your job?
NISHA: I don’t want them to take it from me.
YVETTE: Go in there.
NISHA: I told you I am not saying sorry.
YVETTE: Why you care what people think?

Beat.
NISHA: I’m not done here.
YVETTE: People will forget you.
NISHA: Clearly, they’re not even talking about me.
YVETTE: You really are like baby. You think you’re grown-up, you think you know
everything. Ha. You don’t know shit.
NISHA: Fuck you.
YVETTE: Fuck you back.
NISHA: You said that business was better face-to-face.
YVETTE: Why you listen to me?
NISHA: You’re just the cleaner.
YVETTE: I am old and weak. And you are young and stupid. And you are a liar. And you are
thief. And you are mean. And no one is speaking about you. No one. In Board room
they probably stop speaking about you. Now they probably just talk sport. They already

64

Rice – August 2015
know what they want to do. They will fire you. And you are nothing. And you will
spend your life being nothing.
NISHA: I am everything. If they’re not speaking about me, their loss. If they fire me, their
loss. They think I don’t know that Kathryn Abbott-Schilling overshot? They think I
don’t know that the PDS has come right back to us? They don’t realise that she’s come
to me, she’s Skyped me, sweet-talked me, honey this and honey that, laid out a plan for
me and her to work together. If they fire me, I fuck them over. If they keep me, I fuck
her over.
YVETTE: This is everything to you? You are nothing.

Silence.

NISHA: Well. Your hair is purple.
YVETTE: It’s black.
NISHA: Your hairdresser sucks.
YVETTE: Priceline is my hairdresser.
NISHA: Well, Priceline made your hair purple.
YVETTE: I made it purple. Me. Yvette Tang. I bought wrong colour.

Beat.

YVETTE: Usually Sheree buy it for me.

Quiet. For a long time.

NISHA: When mum was little, she and diduma used to sleep together in the same bed.
They’d fall asleep together, wrapped up in each other like sisters. And then I was born,
and diduma loved me, she’d nurse me, sleep with me, wrapped up, for so long, even
after I was too old for it. My little sisters are fighting over who gets diduma’s room.

Beat.

YVETTE: Stupid babies.
65

Rice – August 2015
NISHA: At least they’re fighting about something.

Beat.

NISHA: You should go home.

Beat.

YVETTE: I stay. Train not coming for twenty six minute.
NISHA: Which train do you catch?
YVETTE: Eltham.
NISHA: That’s right. You live in Eltham.
YVETTE: Yes.
NISHA: With the trees. And the hippies.
YVETTE: This is where Mr Kuay’s house is. He doesn’t like to live near Chinese people. He
like the tree. The hippies.
NISHA: Do you like it there?
YVETTE: I like the trees.
NISHA: Diduma always wanted more trees in our yard.
YVETTE: Where you live? Toorak?
NISHA: Werribee.
YVETTE: Werribee? It’s so far away, the country. Kangaroos.
NISHA: And us. The strange family.

Beat.

YVETTE: Tonight goodbye for us, for client and cleaner.
NISHA: Why?
YVETTE: Last shift tonight. Finish up here, go work closer to the prison.

Beat.

NISHA: Of course, that makes sense. You need to be closer to her.
66

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: She ask me to stop work here at Golden Fields.

Beat.

YVETTE gets up. She leaves.

NISHA: Yvette?
NISHA gets up. After a moment, she picks up YVETTE’s shoes. She takes them to the
fountain and carefully cleans them with fountain water, using the hem of her skirt, her
suit jacket.

YVETTE comes back in. She watches NISHA.

Beat.

YVETTE: Rubbish.
NISHA: What?
YVETTE: My first business. Printing shop. I build from rubbish. Got an old photocopier and
printer because library throw out. Fix them, make it into a printing business, borrow
money from aunty in China and buy more equipment, I get bigger. I build up my
customer, I go through business in Richmond, Box Hill, Springvale, talk to anyone
Chinese or Vietnamese, ask for their business. Me, a little busy ant, with my baby ant
tied to my back. Just the two of us, me and baby Sheree. My company was first
company in Melbourne to send printing job to China. But other people see good ideas,
they take them. It’s the age of the monopoly, Ma. That’s what Sheree said.
NISHA: So it began with rubbish.
YVETTE: End of story, beginning of story.

Beat.

NISHA helps YVETTE back into her shoes.

67

Rice – August 2015
Silence.

YVETTE: I went into the Board room.
NISHA: And?
YVETTE: I was wrong. They are talking about you.
NISHA: And?
YVETTE: They want to keep you. Same as before. If they demote you, people will talk.
People will think things are very bad at Golden Fields.
NISHA: I agree.
YVETTE: I wanted them to fire you. Teach you a lesson.
NISHA: You didn’t say anything?
YVETTE: No.
NISHA: Huh.
YVETTE: That’s it.
NISHA: India. No India. And same as before.
YVETTE: Yes.

Beat.
NISHA: It’s not the same.

Beat.

NISHA: Fuck this. I would have never lied about diduma dying.

Beat.

YVETTE: This is the part of the story where we leave together.
NISHA: Thirty seconds down to the basement. You put your stuff away for the last time.
YVETTE: You see my office for the first time.
NISHA: We head into the underground carpark. Nisha Gupta, Executive Officer, Golden
Fields. My idea to have our names and titles on our allocated car spaces. I wonder how
long they’ll keep mine up.
68

Rice – August 2015
YVETTE: We drive to Eltham.
NISHA: I drop you off.
YVETTE: I invite you inside for some food.
NISHA: I say yes, and I eat a little dinner with you. I meet Mr Kuay. His hair is purple.
YVETTE: I give you one pair of best-quality fake Prada.
NISHA: I thank you. I go.
YVETTE: I stay.
NISHA: I’ll visit you again.

Beat.
YVETTE: That didn’t happen.
NISHA: No, that didn’t happen. I didn’t drive you home.
YVETTE: Waste of petrol.

YVETTE spits in the fountain.

Beat.

NISHA: This is the part of the story where we go.
YVETTE leaves, NISHA stays. She sits behind the CEO’s desk.

After a moment, NISHA leaves, throwing her shoes in the fountain.

THE END

69

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