Milk Like Sugar, a play by Kirsten Greenidge, tells a story of what a teenage girl really wants, despites her unsupportive family and friends. At first, Annie’s plan for her life was to show that she is a strong, independent woman by getting pregnant, together with her two close friends, Talisha and Margie. However, after her failed attempt to make out with Malik, her target baby daddy, and her long talks with Keera, a religious classmate, she began to wonder what she truly wants, and she became more hopeful towards the future possibilities of life. Among all these characters in the play, Malik, the college-bound senior student, serves an important role of Annie’s change.
Malik is the first one who has ever questioned Annie’s initial plan, simply by meeting her but not being ready to make out. He has already shown his quality of being responsible when he first appeared in the play—Annie told him that he wouldn’t need to be responsible for the baby at all, but he said, “I don’t like those people up in the plane laughing at me…’Cause all they see is some bone head baby daddy don’t know enough to use a rubber…”(20). Although he said that mainly for his own pride, he has clearly implied that Annie’s plan of getting pregnant and leave her home is nothing worth appreciation and respect, and her life should not be restricted to this worthless goal. Annie left with anger, but instead of simply criticising Malik for not cooperating, she started to rethink her plan, and questioned herself if being pregnant and taking care of the baby is her ultimate goal.
Malik is also tightly connected to one of the most important symbol in the play, the sky. He loves looking at the sky, the “clear blue horizon that’s his to touch” (64). The sky here is a symbol—it represents hope, ambition, higher goals, and more possibilities in the future. The fact that Malik loves looking at the sky implies that he is not satisfied by his current life, and he wants more, like going to college. By sharing his hobby with Annie, he shared his ambition too, and that changes Annie. The first time he brought Annie that telescope, Annie refused to see through it, and she was still struggling between a new possibility and her tight friend group. In the middle of the play, Malik commented, “everyone else crumples theirs[college brochures] up but not you. Yesterday I saw you take a peek” (40). By then, Annie has just started to change her mind, and to see that there could be another possibility of life, not just copying her young mother’s path. In the end, when Annie met Malik again and repaired the broken telescope for him, she has made a choice. “Nah. Barely see anyone no more—” she has made the choice to embrace the higher goals of life, instead of fitting into her little friend group for the worthless plans (64). The fixed telescope symbols her choice of Malik and his ambition, and her full acceptance of a better dream. That is not all. On the very last page, Malik encourages Annie again, but this time it’s much, much more direct— “You should look up. Higher than those faces. Higher than those planes” (66). This sentence echoes his very first remark of fearing the people on the planes laughing at him being an irresponsible dad, and shows that now he is not afraid of the laughter anymore, and neither should Annie.
Not only his symbol of looking at the sky and laughter from the planes, but also Malik himself serves as the symbol of bright side and hope in this play. He brings hope and ambition to Annie, and thus prompts her awakening and struggle, making the plot moving.