Midnight’s Children

One am, a film of Midnight’s Children on BBC Iplayer is just finishing. Coming across it randomly i had 1 day to view it. Stayed up.

Looked up Ravi  on the internet and found him: http://raviagarwal.com/bio.php: ‘Ravi is also the founder of the  Indian environmental NGO Toxics Link which has pioneered work on waste and chemicals’. Another (like Metfield Stores) where my name has been rubbed out of it’s history. As Hilary Mantel says – what is history but the method we’ve evolved of organising our ignorance. What’s left in the sieve, when the centuries have run through it. Fallible and biased witnesses. No more than the best we can do.’ Written by the victors?

Back to Midnights Children. Difficult to untangle the origins of my reading this. On a trek in the Himilayan mountains, without Bob, on my own, with plenty of time for reading in the evening and mulling in the day. It became my favourite book,

Here are my quotes, taken December 2003. I so remember the chicken neck. Seen plenty since then. The playfulness, magic and turns of words and phrases. So India.

Tai, the boatman with chicken neck.

Rani of Couch Neheen cried in her silvery voice, swooping around the octaves like a skier.

They played hit the spitton and ignored the cracks in the earth.

Riddles of foreboding.

My uncles career in the cinema entered a dizzy decline and Pia’s faded along with it. Deprived of her film roles, Pia turned her life into a feature picture in which I was caste in an increasing number of bit parts.

Child of unknown union, I have more mothers than most mothers have children. A form of reverse fertility, beyond the control of contraception, and even the Widow.

“It was a nice holiday. Thank you for sending me.”

Of his fathers rejection: “I found it hurtful but considering my mutilated body, entirely understandable.

Rosary fingered presence of Mary Periera

MCC. Children however magical are not immune to their parents and as the prejudices and world view of adults began to take over their minds, I found children of Maharastra loathing Gujarati’s. 

Shiva: Things and their makers rule the world; look at Birla and Tata, they make things. For things the country is run. When you have things, then there is time to dream; when you don’t you fight.”

May be not the exact language, but the language of thought, because children are the vessels into which the adults pour their poison, and it was the poison of grown ups which did for us.

Bumped off – (in those days assassinations were becoming as quotidian as the heat)

– Sharpoticker – 92, and no longer of his eponymous institute. Age, fasting to draw his teeth and poison-sacs had turned him instead into the incarnation of snake-hood; like other Europeans who stay too long, the ancient insanity’s of India had pickled his brains.

Methwolds Estate. Sans Souci

Homi Catrack and his idiot Toxy.

The Ibrahims, who after years of bribing judges and juries was in danger of being investigated by the Bar Commission. Soney and the forceps.

Buckingham Villa. Cyrus the Great. Nuclear physicist father and religion fanatic mother.

The Death of Homi Catract.

The Death of Uncle Hanif: Deprived of the income he had received from HC, my uncle had taken his booming voice and his obsessions with hearts and reality up to the roof of his Marine Drive apartment block; he had stepped out into the evening sea – breeze, frightening the beggars so much (when he fell) that they gave up pretending to the blind and ran.

Death of Saleem: death whining like pie-dogs. Fall of the silver spittoon. Parents funeral pyre.

CUTIA Unit 22. In the Sundarbans. Jungle closed behind like a tomb.

Field of crops so strange, with so nauseous an aroma, lacking bone marrow. A pyramid of pieces of three bodies. The third head was the oddest, deep hollows where the temples should have been. Hello man, it said.

Picture Singh. The Most Charming Man In The World. Parvati the witch.

Now seated hunched over paper in a pool of angle-poised light, I no longer want to be anything except who I am.

Shiva strewing bastards across the map of India.

Scraps of memory: this is not now a climax should be written. A climax should surge towards its Himalayan peak, but I am left with shreds, and must jerk towards it crisis like a puppet with broken strings.

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

Ectomy, a cutting out. Sperectomy – the draining out of hope.

The tragic spoor of the autorickshaw drivers.

Once, when I was more energetic I would have wanted to tell his life story, the hour and his possession of an umbrella would have been all the connection I needed to begin the process of weaving him into my life.

Mary Pereira, because her mind makes all sorts of flea jumps these days. Her ancient hatred of ‘the mens’.

Yes they will trample me underfoot, numbers marching 1-2-3-4 hundred million, reducing me to specks of desert in good time, they will trample my son who is not my son.

Because it is the privilege and curse of midnight’s children to be both the masters and the victims of their time.


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