Reluctant Fundamentalist

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THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST
“It’s like I’m an oyster. I’ve had this sharp speck inside me for a long time, and I’ve been trying to make it more comfortable, so slowly I’ve turned it into a pearl.”

'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' a ‘brief and charming story; a ‘seething commentary on the events of post 9/11 and the resentment it has created in the minds of non-western world for the way America has conducted itself after the attacks. A monologue narrated by a young bearded Pakistani man Changez to his unnamed American guest with whom he meets in one of the oldest and busiest districts of Lahore Anarkali. Changez tells his guest about his life and experiences of America; narrating the days he has spent in America first as a student and then as a successful wall street professional, professing himself as a lover of America and describing his journey from Pakistan to Princeton and then to Underwood Samson as a dream comes true. Later, in spite of his success in the roles and prospects given to him by the host land; he experienced qualms about his contributions in those tendered roles as well as on the America's role in the world.

Changez belongs to an upper class family whose wealth has diminished over the generations due to economic adversity, and family vice, but still whose social standings persists. He moved to America from his native city of Lahore to study on scholarship at Princeton. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the renowned "valuation" firm of Underwood Samson. He was given a pre-employment bonus and went on vocations to Greece with fellow Princeton students where he met with Erica and subsequently fall in love with her.

Erica a beautiful young woman; 'a lioness: strong, sleek and invariably surrounded by her pride' as Changez depict her. She is an aspiring writer, and from an élite family living in Manhattan New York. Though troubled from the death of her childhood friend and sweetheart Chris from cancer she was 'struggling with a current that pulled her within herself'. Her life after meeting with Changez seems to be on a track of normalization for she likes to be with him; and it serves as a mediation that heals herself from her misery.

I love it when you talk about where you come from…you become so alive

I love it when you talk about where you come from…you become so alive

She likes it when he talks about Pakistan, his family, culture and way of life in Lahore; for she tells him 'I love it when you talk about where you come from…you become so alive'. On their return to America from Greece she helped Changez settling in New York. She takes him to places she used to visit with Chris; and invites him to a family dinner at her apartment. She showed him the painting Chris has made while he was in school, her novella she plans to publish and introduce him to her parents.

Even she likes Changez, somehow finds it difficult to start a relationship with him; for she existed internally at a degree of remove from those around her… some part of her…was out of reach, lost in thoughts unsaid. The inability to adjust herself in a new relationship; made her increasingly introverted and depressed, for she knows he loves and cares for her; just like she did for Chris. For Changez the thought that she is constantly obsessed with the imaginations of Chris; he finds himself persistently in the presence of a competitor; one who was invisible and unknown to him. Desperate to win her affection; he even tried to impersonate as Chris for his attempt to win her soul, for his desires to love her. For a moment she believed him, transformed into another world with him; a transition that Changez explains as, "It was as though we were under a spell, transported to a world where I was Chris and she was with Chris” he made love to her, described the feeling for getting something as being someone else incite a feeling of both satiation and ashamed....
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