Grown ups by Tapan Mozumdar

A self proclaimed global citizen of 23 years fumes at having to declare his race and religion on an immigration application. He blames his father for creating such a partisan world.

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Natasha B-Jackson
1 year ago

Hi Tapan!
You write such gripping dialogue that I feel part of their conversation.
I am not of the same generation as Ratul (and being white, I have a certain privileged advantage and “blindness” to inequality happening around me) so I struggle to understand Ratul’s ire about the race and religion issue.
I also see no need for filling it out on a form – other than purely statistical reasons, it should have no baring on who gets accepted.
I have sympathy and admiration for the caring and very patient father. He does not react to Ratul’s blatant lack of respect and physical abuse.
I will look out for your future stories. Well done!

1 year ago

Hi Tapan – I echo Natasha, well done on great dialogue and a thought provoking topic. I am British, white, living in my adopted South Africa and with dual nationality. I witness all the time the indignity and complexity for South Africans applying for visas where I have no need to, so I am sure your story has some personal experience weaved in there. Nicely done.

1 year ago

Dear Tapan,
Always a pleasure to read you again and your progress is remarkable. Well done one a lot of showing here instead of telling here – which engenders a lot of sympathy of the father and also for the furious son who feels on the back-foot because of what he is and that that very thing, which he has no control over, has the potential to ruin his dream. Whether it is in his head or for real, who knows, but the subject you evoke here is very real for many people indeed – very original use of the prompt!
Well done Tapan and thank you for your contribution.

SM Prasad
1 year ago

Hi Tapan,
I really liked your story and the way that the father struggled with his feelings of inadequacy in terms of caring for his son. Also, the father hints that his son’s anger has been the main focus of the household-there’s a therapist involved and a few hints about the marital discord which seems to be a constant in the story- “As per his mother”… “…what used to be our bedroom”-so he’s not sure about how important the race question on the form is as opposed to it being an excuse to express his anger. ( we don’t know which came first- the marital discord or the adolescent moodiness)The father feels helpless-the son rages, makes him cold, hurts his foot and almost breaks his favorite magnet. There are a lot of really great examples in such a short story. I like that his focus on The Handmaid’s Tale is a situation where he does feel some control and where he is free to worry without having to act on it. Living under the blanket of an adolescent’s perpetually pissed off state can be quite suffocating. In some ways, the parents are both victims of his moody greater power-just like Margaret Atwood’s world. This is probably something that a teenager wants and also fears- this means no one is in control and that he has to act for himself. A frightening life lesson.

I think that the father feels that his son is overreacting to the race question and that he wants his son to realize that he has to choose his battles. If you want something others have, then you may have to give in and not always champion your beliefs.
As a personal aside, I try not to answer that question when I have to fill out forms- but sometimes there is no way out. You have to state who you are unapologetically, which I think is both the father and the son’s personal struggles here.
You got a lot of interesting conflict into such a restricted word limit.
Excellent take on the prompt!

Angelique Pacheco
1 year ago

This was beautifully written! It emphasizes so many points of contention in our society today. I love the start and finish of this piece. We all need a place to escape the world we live in sometimes. You make a striking point that there will always be problems, no matter what year we are living in. Nicely done!

1 year ago

The use of Handmaid’s Tale as a frame for this story is thought-provoking. I find myself wanting to know more about Ratul and the problems he has, as well as his family dynamic. Great job!

Delrae Goodburn Lurie
11 months ago

Fantastic to read more of your writing and witness your evolution as a writer. The story had a gripping tone and great tempo. I loved the symbolism of the Handmaid’s tale. The story made me think this country he is applying to go to school at (I’m guessing which) is ironically similar to the Republic of Gilead in many ways – abuse/manipulation of power. His anger and frustration at the need for racial profiling was well-communicated and his father’s inability to save his child from the unfairness of the world was heartbreaking. The Merlion magnet falling also made we wonder whether it was symbolic of the fact that at some point all boys discover their Lionised father’s aren’t superheros and have no power over the unfairness of some things. Great piece.

Christy Kunin
11 months ago

Your story captured so many frustrations so well: son-father dynamics, fear and anger about racial inequities. A great use of the prompt. It was a true slice of life and I loved the backdrop of the hand aids tale. We wish we lived in a world where such things didn’t happen, didn’t change outcomes, but sadly that’s just not always the case. Well done.