GUEST POST:Dinner at the Shipbreakers By Bentan Lichtersnatch

SCENE: Inside the home of Bangladeshi shipbreaker Pravi Hippinpatalikapom, a small shack constructed of cardboard and corrugated sheets of metal, bound together with twine and tie wire. The focal point of the room is a giant, tipped over wooden spool, which serves as the family dinner table and central meeting place, filling, as it does, pretty much the whole shack. Spartan though the dwelling may be, the place has a certain hominess, with its religious icons decorating the walls and the odd nautical knick-knack pilfered from salvaged ships perched on overturned plastic buckets.

Gathered around the spool-table are Pravi's shrouded wife and his 17 children. They are about to have dinner and are eagerly awaiting the man of the house.

Enter Pravi, weary from his day's work, wiping grime from his face with one long-sleeved arm as he swings open the "door" -- an old metal Pepsi sign -- with the other.
Pravi, heavily and with no enthusiasm: Hi honey, I'm home.

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: Finally! Where the hell have you been? It's almost midnight!

Pravi: I told you yesterday, we are switching to 18 hour shifts now with the boom in business.

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: But I thought with your seniority you didn't have to go along with that?

Pravi: No, I need ten more years and then they will cut me back to 16 hours a day. I told you, it's only the guys who can operate specialized equipment, like oxen, who can draw the line on their hours.

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: And when are you going to get your Oxen certification?

Pravi: Can I just sit down for crying out loud?

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: I'm sorry, honey. It’s late and I was just worried. How was your day?

Pravi, pulling up a bucket and taking a seat : Same old shit. Me, Achmed and Prinnipatti were working on this fucking huge propeller with sledgehammers all day.

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: Still?

Pravi: Yeah. I figure we've got another week or so at least, before we finally get one of the blades off. I swear to God, if Achmed keeps telling me I am not beating in the proper cadence, I am going to take that sledgehammer and knock the turban off his head.
Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom gets up and starts pouring water in the unmatched cups, cans and other containers fashioned into drinking vessels for the family.
Pravi: What's new here?

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: Well, your fourth daughter, Prashnek, sewed her fingers together again at the Banana Republic shirt factory.

Pravi, glaring at one of the 17 children: Again??

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: She's trying to turn out more pieces because she's saving for an iPod Shuffle for her 26th birthday.

Pravi: Well, good luck with that. She's already, what, 12?

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: Honey, don't discourage her. It's important for the children to have goals. Oh, and little Mishtu had a banner day begging today!

Pravi: Yeah, what did he bring in?

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: Two more buttons, a Bazooka Joe comic and... [Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom pauses for dramatic effect and reaches into her folds of clothing and grandly pulls out a small can.] ... THIS!

Pravi, mouth agape: A whole tin of anchovies???

Mrs. Hippinpatalikapom: That's right dear, we’re not going to be sharing a dry saltine tonight!

Pravi, laughing, revived: And here I was just going to smash his other foot if he didn’t start bringing home something good!