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How Midnight’s Children shaped Indian writing in English

How Midnight’s Children shaped Indian writing in English
on Apr 14, 2021
How Midnight’s Children shaped Indian writing in English
India, the new myth -- a collective fiction in which anything was possible, a fable rivalled only by the two other mighty fantasies: money and God.” Reading these lines as an earnest, perennially tortured teen litgeek troubled about identity, language, life, I felt a deep truth had been revealed about this land that makes us weep with, both, its deranged cruelties and sublime ecstacies. It is 40 years since Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was first published and now, well into middle age, I marvel afresh at the energy of the writing, the breadth of the subject, and at the author’s magnificent ambition. Read more: Take this paragraph, since we are approaching the 102nd anniversary of the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh: April 13th, many thousands of Indians are crowding through this alleyway. ‘It is a peaceful protest,’ someone tells Doctor Aziz. Swept along by the crowds, he arrives at the mouth of the alley. A bag from Heidelberg is in his right hand. (No close-up is necessary.) He is, I know, feeling very scared, because his nose is itching worse than it ever has; but he is a trained doctor, he puts it out of his mind, he enters the compound. Somebody is making a passionate speech. Hawkers move through the crowd selling channa and sweetmeats. The air is filled with dust. There do not seem to be any goondas, any trouble- makers, as far as my grandfather can see… Aziz penetrates the heart of the crowd, as Brigadier RE Dyer arrives at the entrance to the alleyway, followed by fifty crack troops… As the fifty-one men march down the alleyway a tickle replaces the itch in my grandfather’s nose. The fifty-one men enter the compound and take up positions, twenty-five to Dyer’s right and twenty-five to his left; and Adam Aziz ceases to concentrate on the events around him as the tickle mounts to unbearable intensities. As Brigadier Dyer issues a command the sneeze hits my grandfather full in the face. ‘Yaaaakh-thoooo!’ he sneezes and falls forward, losing his balance, following his nose and thereby saving his life… There is a noise like teeth chattering in winter and someone falls on him. Red stuff stains his shirt. There are screams now and sobs and the strange chattering continues. More and more people seem to have stumbled and fallen on top of my grandfather. He becomes afraid for his back. The clasp of his bag is digging into his chest, inflicting upon it a bruise so severe and mysterious that it will not fade until after his death, years later, on the hill of Sankara Acharya or Takht-e-Sulaiman. His nose is jammed against a bottle of red pills. The chattering stops and is replaced by the noises of people and birds. There seems to be no traffic noise whatsoever. Brigadier Dyer’s fifty men put down their machine-guns and go away. They have fired a total of one thousand six hundred and fifty rounds into the unarmed crowd. Of these, one thousand five hundred and sixteen have found their mark, killing or wounding some person. ‘Good shooting,’ Dyer tells his men, ‘We have done a jolly good thing.’ Source: HT

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