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Gifted

by Nikita Lalwani

Rumi, an Asian teenager, lives her life in the suburbs of Cardiff. She is a mathematical genius and the bullying and constant nagging her parents inflict are disgraceful. Here is a growing 'child' whose life experiences equal zero. At just fourteen years of age, she is sent to Oxford University - a place she is obviously not ready for. A heart-rending and contentious story which provokes an emotional response.

Extract

Shreene left the dough, wiped her right hand on her apron and slowly turned to face Rumi. When she spoke it was with sinister clarity. 'What did you say?'
Rumi continued to move the lentils, her fingers tripping insanely over each olive bread.
'Stop that,' said Shreene.
Rumi slowed down but continued a lethargic form of the same action, making a big show of removing a grey stone in the midst of the rhythmic movement. Shreene walked over and abruptly pulled the plate out of her hand. The two separate mounds of cleaned and unclean daal slid easily into one.
'Mum!' said Rumi, 'I just did all that . . . ' She didn't look up.
'Repeat what you said, Rumi, or I'm warning you, you will be getting two tight slaps right now.'
'It's only because they taught us at school. They said it was called that and it was how everyone has babies. Why are you so angry?'
'Listen to me and listen to me clearly. Look at me now.'
Rumi continued to stare at the floor, jutting her jaw with a resentful immobility.
'Look at me!' Shreene took Rumi's chin in her hand and manoeuvered it up so that Rumi had no option but to meet her eyes. Even then her pupils danced away every time Shreene tried to hold her gaze.
'That is not how our babies are born. Only white people have sex.'
At this, Rumi shook her head, looking up directly at her mother.
'But in science we were told -'
'Forget science. That is their science, for white people. We do not do that.'
'So where do they come from?'
'Through prayer. Like you did.'

Parallels

The Inheritance of Loss by Hiran Desai
East is East - the film
 

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