(Previously entitled “Corruption”)
By: Merjeta Baraliu
Date: March 8, 2002
Message: Corruption will never be uprooted without people who have the courage to take the first steps and willingly accept the consequences.
Characters: Arjeta: a producer; Fazli: her boss; Fazli’s son; Fazli’s assistant
Setting: The director’s office
Arjeta taps at the door of her boss’s office
Fazli: Come in!
Arjeta: Good afternoon, Sir.
Fazli: Hi, how are you? Sit down, please. What’s new?
Arjeta: (Enthusiastically) Well, Sir, you see, I’ve been working for the past two months, on my own time, mind you, on a really unique idea for a new T.V. program.
Fazli: Hmm… Interesting. So, what’s the idea?
He starts smoking and seems to be in very good mood.
Arjeta: Well, it’s a serious drama, and set at the University of Kosovo. Two students in the Faculty of Journalism, outraged at the corruption in the Admittance Department, set out to…
Fazli: Stop! I don’t need to hear more. Are you crazy? Nobody touches that topic if they want a future here.
Arjeta: Sir, I know, but if you think… change is inevitable, it’s got to start somewhere. Someone’s got to have the courage to act…
Fazli: Look sweetheart, go play Joan of Ark somewhere else. I’ve got a family to feed, not to mention a dozen relatives to support. And what’s a girl like you doing spending all your nights worrying your pretty head with such ideas—I think you’ve just got too much time on your hands. Why don’t you find yourself a nice guy to keep you occupied at night? (Chuckles at his own joke, then more seriously) Kosovo isn’t ready for this.
Arjeta: (Cautiously and respectfully as possible) Sir, is it Kosovo that isn’t ready, or is it that we lack people who have the courage to take the first steps?
Fazli: (Leans over his desk, putting his face close to her, his voice dangerously calm and low, with repressed rage) Listen, Arjeta, I’m going to say this just once, so I suggest you pay attention: Trash this idea and all others like it, or find yourself another profession. Because, not only will you lose this job, I’ll make sure nobody gives you one anywhere in the mass media.
Arjeta: Thank you for your advice,SIR, but nothing doing—I’m going to pursue this, if it is with my last breath!
Fazli: (Furiously) Then, I think it’s time to…
There’s a knock at the door.
Fazli’s assistant knocks and enters hurriedly with a newspaper in his hand, which he lays before Fazli.
Asstnt: Excuse me, Sir, for interrupting, but the president of the university himself called and sent this over—I think it’s urgent.
The assistant stands there as Fazli reads, and as he reads becomes visibly angry, until he finally pounds his fist on his desk.
Fazli: (To the assistant) Call my son and get him over here immediately!
Asstnt: He’s already...
Son: (Standing at the open door, he completes the assistant’s sentence) ...here... I had a feeling you might want to see me.
Fazli: Of all the stupid, INSANE…! What were you thinking when you wrote this article? But more, did you HAVE to add your name to it—MY name to it? Do you have any idea what it’s going to take for me to fix this?
Son: “Fix” it…? I guess it would be naïve for me to think you’re talking about fixing the corruption at the university… You know, Dad, maybe I don’t, but YOU have the power to do something. I can’t hold my head up anymore, Dad. Some of my best friends didn’t get admitted into university—friends who worked harder, who made much better marks than I did, but who didn’t have the money for bribes to get in.
Fazli: Son, these are just the facts of life—you’re going to have to learn it, just like I had to learn it when I was a firebrand, idealistic youth!
Son: But Dad, open your eyes, times are changing, the world is changing—and the eyes of the world are still on Kosovo. Just how long do you think you’ll be able to hold back the tides of positive change? If you don’t initiate a change yourself, change will be forced, perhaps violently—and you and all those like you will be swept away, discredited, losing both your power and reputation—a figure of shame. So, why don’t you become instead an agent of change—be at the leading edge of those who are transforming society for the better! Sure there will be opposition—but Dad… Dad, I think you are one of the few men strong enough to do it.
Fazli: (Touched and sad) Ahh, Son, your words touch me. But what good will I be to you if I lose such a battle, which surely I would in the end? What kind of life would you yourself have, if I had no power to keep you in university, no job which paid enough to get you a good position? I’d lose everything, you’d lose everything.
Son: No, Dad, I wouldn’t lose everything—instead I gain something more precious than all of those things.
Fazli: (Wearily) And what could that possibly be?
Son: A father I could be proud of, a father I can respect.
Father and son look at each other a long moment—then Fazli sighs and looks up at Arjeta.
Fazli: (To Arjeta) You know, I can’t believe this, but I think you’ve won. At least until I lose my job. And may I suggest a good collaborator?
He nods his head towards his son, who is bewildered. Arjeta grins broadly, and then takes the son’s arm, leading him out the door.
Arjeta: (To son) We’ve got a lot to talk about…
Fazli looks on and we see in his face a newfound expression of admiration and quiet joy, but anchored with the somber recognition of what this will cost. He then sighs heavily and turns back to his work.