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647 pages, Paperback
First published March 12, 1981
"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."
"Because silence, too, has an echo, hollower and longer-lasting than the reverberations of any sound."
Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more… On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but Ms accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country.
Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.
What's real and what's true aren't necessarily the same.
If I seem a little bizarre, remember the wild profusion of my inheritance ... perhaps, if one wishes to remain an individual in the midst of teeming multitudes, one must make oneself grotesque.
There are as many versions of India as Indians....
Midnight has many children; the offspring of Independence were not all human. Violence, corruption, poverty, generals, chaos, greed and pepperpots ... I had to go into exile to learn that the children of midnight were more varied than I - even I - had dreamed.
I had entered into the illusion of the artist, and thought of the multitudinous realities of the land as the raw unshaped material of my gift.
The children of midnight were also the children of the time: fathered, you understand, by history. It can happen. Especially in a country which is itself a sort of dream.Midnight's Children was an unexpected pleasure for me. Maybe that is the reason it took me so long to write down my thoughts on it. Yes, I read some reviews before starting it, but could never have imagined Salman Rushdie’s symphony that is no short of a magnificent blueprint of a labyrinthine palace of fantasy. Let me just say simply that my mind was smitten and my heart crumbled at its every page. What did I read through the days that I was taken by it? Was it magic or history? A family saga? Was it a coming of age story not only of Saleem but of India as a nation with all its subtleties? Rushdie’s sublime prose is all that and much more. It is rich in its allegories, in its unimaginable creativity.
Who / What am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been / seen / done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone / everything whose being-in-the world affected / was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone, which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each "I", every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.
When the Constitution was altered to give the Prime Minister well-nigh--absolute powers, I smelled the ghosts of ancient empires in the air ... in that city which was littered with the phantoms of Slave Kings and Mughals, or Aurangzeb the merciless and the last, pink conquerors, I inhaled once again the sharp aroma of despotism. It smelled like burning oily rags.
Such things happen. Statistics may set my arrest in context; although there is considerable disagreement about the number of "political" prisoners taken during the Emergency, either thirty thousand or a quarter of a million persons certainly lost their freedom. The Widow said: "It is only a small percentage of the population of India."
Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end, it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else's version more than his own.
Nothing but trouble outside my head; nothing but miracles inside it._______