Midnight's Children // Salman Rushdie 📚

1981 // Novel, Magical Realism

FIRST LINE

I was born in the city of Bombay … once upon a time.

EXCERPTS

1. Where the outside world meets the world inside you

Tai tapped his left nostril. ‘You know what this is nakkoo? It’s the place where the outside world meets the world inside you. If they don’t get on, you feel it here. Then you rub your nose with embarrassment to make the itch go away.

2. Reality is a question of perspective

Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems - but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible.

3. Most of what matters

Most of what matters in our lives takes place in our absence.

4. ‘Where can we find a land that is foreign to God?’

There was a poster on the office wall, expressing Abdullah’s favourite anti-Partition sentiment, a quote from the poet Iqbal: ‘Where can we find a land that is foreign to God?’

5. The Age of Darkness, Kali-Yuga

Think of this: history, in my version, entered a new phase on August 15th, 1947 — but in another version, that inescapable date is no more than one fleeting instant in the Age of Darkness, Kali-Yuga, in which the cow of morality has been reduced to standing, teeteringly, on a single leg! Kali-Yuga — the losing throw in our national dice-game; the worst of everything; the age when property gives a man rank, when wealth is equated with virtue, when passion becomes the sole bond between men and women, when falsehood brings success (is it any wonder , in such a time, that I too have been confused about good and evil?) … began on Friday, February 18th, 3102 B.C.; and will last a mere 432,000 years! Already feeling somewhat dwarfed, I should add nevertheless that the Age of Darkness is only the fourth phase of the present Maha-Yuga cycle which is, in total, ten times as long; and when you consider that it takes a thousand Maha-Yugas to make just one Day of Brahma, you’ll see what I mean about proportion.

LAST LINE

Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, all in good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace.

END MATTER

Midnight’s Children was borrowed from the Cholsey home library. Thanks!

463 pages, ~270,000 words

Read: 25 December 2019 to 5 February 2020 (43 days)