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Immigrant Moms And Second-Gen Daughters Get Candid In Unscripted ‘Play’

By Huffington Post |

A mother and daughter, seated across from each other at a dining table, rally questions back and forth. The intimate and candid conversation that unfolds is punctuated by raucous moments of laughter and touching moments of discovery. The banter might seem like nothing out of the ordinary, except that these women are getting intimate and candid before an audience of strangers.

“Is it important to you that I keep our family’s culture and traditions?” asks Fatima Ahmed with a sly smile, like she already knows what her mom will reply.

“I want you to continue my values, that’s most important,” replies her mother Ruby Ahmed, matter-of-factly.

“But when I stopped wearing my hijab last year, you were not happy!” Fatima retorts.

“Yes, I didn’t like that at all!” the soft-spoken Pakistani-born mother says emphatically.

The audience breaks out in laughter alongside Ruby and her daughter.

The pair are one of four mother-and-daughter duos who have gathered in a cozy, dimly lit theatre to share their experiences, stories and opinions as immigrant mothers with daughters, most of whom are Canadian-born. All 24 participants applied to be part of “Like Mother, Like Daughter,” an unscripted play that recently finished its run in Toronto.

Each night, four varied mother and daughter pairs pull up chairs at a dining table set in the centre of the theatre, armed with questions yet disarmed by vulnerability.

The conversations are impromptu and real; they’re discussions these moms and daughters haven’t had before.

“Are you scared of anything?” asks Ruby.

“I’m absolutely petrified of being homeless after you and Baba pass away,” Fatima replies.

“But you have a mortgage? Why would you be homeless? Why would you be scared?” asks her mother.

Generational Gaps
Ruby’s reaction speaks to generational sensibilities that can exist between immigrant mothers raising millennial children in an age of uncertainty.

Most of the mothers immigrated in the 1970s, when the Canadian economy was relatively stable. And many married young, either through arranged marriages or love unions, and started families relatively early on in their lives. Many of their worlds revolved around their families, more so than their careers or personal passions.

On the other hand, most of the daughters grew up in an era of wavering economic stability, where the gig economy has somewhat replaced full-timework, and self-exploration and travel can trump “settling down,” (read: getting hitched). “Finding yourself” is more their rallying cry, rather than finding a spouse.

“The world is a different place from when I was growing up in Kenya. It felt simple then. Now, these girls are exploring the world on their own,” says Panna Batavia, tucking a strand of her flowing, grey-tinged hair behind her ear — her daughter Hima’s near carbon-copy hair is a dead giveaway of their relation.

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