My son the fanatic is a short story, where we meet Parvez and his son Ali. Ali’s behavior starts to change, and his father got the idea that Ali is on drugs, from his coworkers.
He discusses this with a customer from his taxi, Bettina, a prostitute. It turns out Ali is not on drugs; he is just very religious all the sudden.
Parvez tries several times to talk his son out of his religious beliefs but he is unsuccessful. Ali gets into his fathers cab one day, with Bettina sitting in the front seat, were Ali is very rude to her. Bettina jumps out the cab. They went home and Ali went straight to his room.
After drinking heavily and pacing in front of Alis door, he opens is, only to discover that Ali is praying, and not even glancing at his father. Parvez snaps, and end up beating his son, where to Ali asks: So, who’s the fanatic now?
The main character is the father Parvez; a hard-working Pakistani man with a tendency to alcoholism, who left his native country and settled down in England many years ago.
He lives with his wife and son, but most of the time he is at work as a taxi driver at night, which he actually does to avoid being with his wife:
They preferred to work at night; the roads were clearer and the money better. They slept during the day, avoiding their wives (p.193 l. 34-36).
When Parvez is at work in his taxi he feels free – he enjoys spending time with his colleagues and has through his work built a close relationship to the prostitute Bettina.
He drives her around almost every night; this is the only place he can talk from his heart: He could talk to her about things he’d never be able to discuss with his own wife (p. 195 l. 1-2).
The relationship with Bettina pulls him away from the traditional society and culture he left behind in Pakistan, where associations to this kind of women don’t exist, because the prostitutes are looked down at in a much higher degree.
In addition to his relationship to Bettina, he does other things that are against his original culture and religion.
He drinks alcohol, eats pork and loves the free democratic values in England where he feels free in comparison to Pakistan:
”But I love England”, Parvez said, watching his boy in the mirror. “They let you do almost everything here” (p. 198 l. 37-38).
The reason why Parvez left his religion behind was a period as a boy in Lahore, when he was degraded in the Koran school: After his indignity Parvez had avoided all religions (p. 196 l. 14).
Without any religion it can be easier to take in a new culture with new norms and this could be an explanation to Parvez’s open-minded thoughts about England. As he disclaimed his religion, he was short of belonging and membership in something.
Therefore, he wanted to get fully integrated in England so he could belong to something. Parvez is a developing character, that goes from being happy with his life to being unhappy with his life. This is also seen on his increasing alcohol intake.