Short summary - Midnight's Children
Ahmed Salman Rushdie
Full of adventure and trials, mystically connected with the history of the country, the life story of an Indian born on Independence Day on August 15, 1947.
The narration is conducted on behalf of the main character Salem Sinai.
31-year-old Salem, dying from strange diseases, hurries to tell about his life, which has contained many events.
In 1915, in Srinagar, his grandfather, the 25-year-old progressive Muslim doctor Adam Aziz, became disillusioned with European values and ceased to believe in God. For several years he has been treating the daughter of the landowner Ghani, Nazim, without seeing her, through a slot in the sheet. Young fall in love, being almost unfamiliar. Having married, they leave. Their married life is not given because of the conservatism and complex nature of Nazim.
In 1918-19, during the national liberation struggle of the Indians against Great Britain and the revolutionary activity of M. Gandhi, in Amritsar, Dr. Aziz participated in anti-colonial demonstrations, helping the wounded.
Despite the marital differences, the couple gives birth to five children: two sons and three daughters. In 1942, in Agra, the doctor joins the Islamic Party, which advocates for the rights of Muslims and the preservation of the unity of the country. Aziz meets a young party member - the poet Nadir Khan. After the murder of a Muslim leader, the young man hides in the house of Dr. Aziz and falls in love with his middle daughter Mumtaz. Young secretly get married, but for three years of marriage never become spouses. After revealing this secret and family scandal, Mumtaz and Nadir get divorced, and the poet hastily hides.
In 1946, the youngest daughter of Dr. Emerald married the ambitious Major Zulfikar, and Mumtaz married the former groom of his older sister Alia, Ahmed Sinai, a businessman. The husband changes her name to Amina, and the newlyweds leave for Delhi. Amina does not love her husband, but becomes attached to him and takes care.
In 1947, the British government agreed with Indian politicians to peacefully transfer power to them. It is planned to divide India into two parts: Hindu and Muslim. Indo-Muslim clashes take place, during one of which Amin Sinai rescues a Hindu from a crowd of Muslims. She is pregnant, and fanatics do not touch her.
During this turbulent time, Ahmed Sinai and Muslim companions are trying to build a trading business in Delhi, but Hindu racketeers are burning their warehouses.
The rescued Hindu leads Amina into the slums to the seer, and he predicts that her son will be special and gifted beyond measure. But the prophecy is incomprehensible to the girl and scares her.
The new heroine of the story - poor girl Marie Pereira, midwife of the hospital of Narlikar, suffers a love fiasco, she was abandoned by her beloved D`Costa, a revolutionary terrorist.
After the collapse of their business, the Sinai family moved to Bombay, where they were called by a friend of Ahmed, Dr. Narlikar. The family cheaply buys the house of the leaving Englishman Mesvold, gets acquainted and makes friends with new neighbors, among whom are Salem’s future childhood friends.
On the night of the birth of the independent state of India, on August 15, 1947, many troubles occur: the Indo-Muslim massacre, the emergence of the criminal capital of Major Zulfikar, the search for the criminal D`Cost.
In Bombay, decorated with the colors of the Indian state flag, festivities unfold. Amina and Vanita, the wife of street singer Willie Winky, give birth in the hospital of Narlikar. True, the little girl does not expect a child from her husband, but from the Englishman Mesvold. Exactly at midnight, two large boys are born, Salem and Shiva. Ahmed Sinai breaks his toe. While the staff is messing with him, Marie Pereira secretly replaces the children, forever changing their fate. She does this out of love and false solidarity with the revolutionary D'Cost, who hates the rich. Now the boys will grow up in foreign families with step-parents. Vanita is dying.
While in Delhi, Prime Minister D. Nehru makes a solemn speech congratulating the people on their new independence, many babies are born in the country.
In fact, throughout the new India, ‹...› children were born who were only partly offspring of their parents — the children of midnight were children of the time, born ... ... ›of history itself.
Midwife Marie Pereira is tormented by conscience. Desiring to atone for her crime, she is hired as a nanny in the Sinai family.
Baby Salem, the first child of independence, who is predicted to have a glorious fate, is bathed in universal adoration and wealth, while Shiva, the son of singer Winky, is embittered all over the world because of poverty and humiliation. The singer dies of longing for his dead wife.
Salem's father, jealous of his wife for his son, begins to drink. At the time of the next business problems, a daughter Jamilya, nicknamed the Copper Monkey, is born in the family. She is a difficult, hyperactive child, but the children are friendly.
Amina still misses Nadir's first husband, he sometimes calls her. Busy with children, she pays little attention to her husband, and he becomes ill with impotence.
At nine years old, Salem was already studying at an English men's school. Once, hiding in a laundry basket, he spies on a masturbating and crying mother, upset by Nadir's calls. Suddenly in his head he hears many voices. The boy decides that finally, the main thing is why he was born.
I think ‹...› that the archangels began to speak with me.
Relatives make fun of his son and forbid him to blaspheme. Salem resigns himself to his gift and does not tell anyone else about it.
Often being alone, the boy learns to use his talent, to which telepathy joins - Salem reads the thoughts of others. So he learns that his mother is dating an ex-husband.
During the opposition demonstration, Dr. Narlikar, a friend and partner of Ahmed Sinai, dies. Salem’s father again suffers financial losses, since he conducted a business with a doctor secretly, and all the proceeds go to the heirs of Narlikar. From the disorder, Ahmed gets sick, his character is even more spoiled.
Salem is experiencing his first childhood love, but is failing. Sinai visit the grandfather and grandmother of Aziz in Agra, introduce children to their many relatives.
After numerous popular rallies, the government of D. Nehru divided India into twenty states and districts according to the linguistic principle. Having crashed on a bicycle into one of the language demonstrations, Salem provokes bloody riots and is cured of children's love.
The hero studies the children of midnight who are endowed with either miraculous talents or deformities. Salem's gift is to bring children together, to see and hear them, to connect with each other. Particularly noted Parvati the witch and the antipode of the hero Shiva the warrior. Salem discusses the reasons for the appearance of magical children: tribute to the "retrograde past" of the country or "hope for genuine liberation"?
On the tenth birthday of Salem, a big celebration is organized. The Midnight Children’s Conference, as the hero called it, also celebrates the same name day for everyone.
To keep my secret and my sanity, I was forced to limit my access to the children of midnight; ‹...› I joined them every midnight, and only at midnight, at an hour dedicated to miracles.
India is preparing for the first democratic parliamentary election. The hero is tracking his mother on a date with Nadir.
Mentally communicating with the children at midnight at night, Salem conflicts with Shiva, a changeling. A beggar boy with strong knees, the leader of a gang of juvenile delinquents, does not want to obey Salem, like other children. He is seized with a passion for violence. After the election, it swept the country, and Shiva was also involved in this.
As a result of injuries, Salem gets to the hospital, and there the family finds out that his blood type and Rh factor do not coincide with his parents. After the marital scandal, Sinai temporarily expelled the boy from the family, and he lives with Uncle Hanif, the film director. Parents move away from their son, the mother feels guilty.
Salem and wonderful children grow up, their ideals change. A nightly conference of children on the verge of collapse due to social and ethnic conflicts. Shiva is opposed to Salem in everything, promoting a purely rationalistic view of the world. The Copper Monkey is prone to religious fanaticism, aided by the blind love of parents.
The country has a government crisis. Using telepathy, Salem causes the bloody tragedy of his neighbors. The boy is scared, realizing how dangerous his abilities are. After the tragedy, Amina stops meeting with her ex-husband, and all of Sinaev’s neighbor friends sell their apartments and leave. Salem’s childhood ends.
Around the teenager there are many mystical and tragic events: destruction, death, transformation and illness of friends. After the death of the son of Hanif, his grandfather Adam Aziz was damaged in his mind; he secretly leaves home in Srinagar and dies there. At the same time as his grandfather, the first Prime Minister of India D. Nehru.
Exhausted by ghosts and remorse, Marie Pereira divulges the secret of Salem's birth and leaves the family. Ahmed is worried about the news, so Amin and his children leave him and leave for Pakistan, in the family of General Zulfikar. Relatives now restrainedly communicate with the boy.
In the rich soldier’s house of General Salem, he witnesses a military coup in Pakistan in 1958, of which Zulfikar is an active participant. A military junta comes to power, the legitimate president is expelled.
Over the four years spent in Pakistan, Amina Sinai is aging, Jamilya turns into a Muslim fanatic and begins to sing wonderfully, Salem continues invisible meetings with wonderful children, and Indo-Pakistani relations worsen.
When Ahmed Sinai is seriously ill, the family returns home. Amina nurses her husband, and peace and love reign in the family. The father brings his son closer to him again, Jamil-Pevunya continues to sing, and India, China and Pakistan are at war again.
There is no more unity and friendship between the children of midnight. Salem loses the authority of a leader, and prejudice, strife and pride destroy their brotherhood. No one except the hero wants to save the nation. The hero blames part of the blame for this discord on his antipode Shiva, reveling in violence and murder.
The inflammation of Salem's sensitive sinuses is magically exacerbated. An operation is forcibly done to him - they clear the nasal passages, and the hero loses telepathic connection with the children of midnight forever. There is a global crisis in the country, so the Sinai family emigrates to Pakistan.
Here they settle down at the unmarried aunt Alia, where Salem’s sense of smell, now capturing the most secret odors, feels the aroma of revenge emanating from her. Sinai are building their own home and starting a new business. Salem goes to college, and Jamil’s sister begins a vocal career and becomes a superstar. The hero critically evaluates the country, and the sister becomes a Pakistani patriot. It seems to Salem that he is in love with his sister, who despises his brother for this and generally refuses to marry.
The ominous atmosphere of the aunt’s house, saturated with aromas of revenge, destroys the late love of Ahmed and Amina. Mother is rapidly aging, in business - problems, so the father again gets drunk and goes crazy.
In the next Indo-Pakistani conflict involved cousin Salem, the son of General Zulfikar. Returning shocked, the guy kills his father, taking revenge on him for the dirty business in the war. In 1965, all of Salem's relatives were killed during the Indian air bombardment of Pakistan, except for her sister, who was performing concerts at the front. Wounded by fragments and falling into amnesia, the hero clears himself of the sorrows of his former life and grows up.
In 1970, a military dictatorship was reestablished in the country, the last election ended in a civil war between West and East Pakistan. In a secret alpine military camp, Salem, who has lost his memory and is numb, serves as a guide. With a particularly acute sense of smell, he smells mines. Soldiers call him a buddha - an old man. Jamil’s sister, who dislikes her brother, gave him the sick man. Soldiers are trained to pacify the civilian population, tired of the military dictatorship, and to seize foreign territories. The next Indo-Pakistani war is brewing.
In March 1971, the army participated in a military provocation against East Pakistan, marked by numerous killings of civilians. Salem hunts down enemies - «subversive elements» advocating for democratic change, and his colleagues kill them. Terrified of what he did, he leads his combat link into the jungle.
Tormented by fears, ghosts and remorse, the four soldiers gradually run wild. A ghost snake bites Salem and he recalls his past. At the end of 1971, the exhausted warriors leave the jungle. Three fellow soldiers are killed by Indian partisan snipers.
The inter-Pakistani conflict was halted by the advance of the Indian army. Under the protection of India, a new state of Bangladesh is being formed. At the celebration of the expulsion of Pakistani invaders, Salem recognizes the Parvati the witch, a child of midnight. By magic she makes him invisible and transports to India, Delhi. Now the hero is overtaken by rumors of a miraculous soldier, a god of war with deadly knees, a ruthless Shiva, a changeling. Parvati admitted that she recently met him and they were close. Jealous, Salem leaves the girl and goes to live with Uncle Mustafa Aziz.
Uncle is an official of the government of Indira Gandhi, very devoted to her. He is circumvented by high posts, therefore he is offended by the whole world and pessimistic. Uncle does not want to help Salem in his idealistic plans to transform the country, and the guy wants to serve for the good of his new homeland. Parvati finds the hero and confesses his love to him. Heroes spend the night together. Uncle catches them, the guy leaves relatives and settles with his lover in the quarter of poor magicians.
In 1973, the country's economic crisis was caused, among other things, by the reforms carried out by the government of I. Gandhi. Almost all the magicians of the quarter are socialists and communists, and Salem shares their beliefs. The young man moonlights as a telepath, using the magical insight of his nose. He becomes secretary of Pictures-Singh, the head of sorcerers and a socialist. The young man considers his new friend a great man, since he manages to reconcile the adherents of various parties and movements. The wise socialist leader reveals to naive Salem the ugly Indian reality with venality of politicians, election fraud, and fake democracy.
Parvati is trying hard to fall in love with Salem, but the hero eschews the girl: she reminds him of her sister Jamila, whom the guy cannot forget and, as it seems to him, still loves. Then offended by Parvati witchcraft calls the hero of the war - Major Shiva, and he takes her with him. For four months, the girl lives with him and becomes pregnant. At the same time, India is testing an atomic bomb.
The heroine cancels her spell, and Shiva chases her away. At the same time, a new government crisis occurs, the party of I. Gandhi has an opposition organizing general strikes, its leaders are being arrested. Salem with Picture Singh is staged by street allegorical circus performances that criticize power. They are being chased by the police. Salem's mind is embarrassed by the mutual hatred of the classes: the hero lived among the representatives of both, rich and poor. He is far from categorical assessments, for he sees the strengths and weaknesses of the ruling classes and the poor. On the day pregnant pregnant Parvati returned to the quarter of sorcerers, Communist terrorists blew up a train with a corrupt minister. Picture-Singh persuades the young and acts as a matchmaker. In 1975, on Republic Day, the young married.
The wedding is fun and colorful, gathering many guests and tourists. At the same time, there is an attempt on high government officials, which is the reason for the introduction of a state of emergency in the country. Spouses live in a shack without entering into proximity.
On June 12, the day the court found I. Gandhi guilty of many abuses and convicted her, Parvati began giving birth. She gives birth to thirteen days, while in the country there is a political confrontation between the authorities and the opposition. At the very moment of delivery, the police, by order of I. Gandhi, arrested opposition figures, followed by the declaration of a state of emergency in the country with the restriction of civil liberties, censorship of the press and increased combat readiness of the army. Sinai is born a giant boy with big ears - also a child of midnight. His fate will also be closely and mystically connected with the modern history of India.
... The hidden tyranny of this sinister hour secretly chained Adam Sinai with handcuffs to history, and his fate was inextricably intertwined with the fate of his country. ... my adhesion, my unity with history came to an end, and it - began. He became the son of a father who was not his father; but so is the son of time, who has so contaminated reality that since then no one can straighten it.
The unusual, silent and calm son of Sinai, Adam, is sick a lot in the first months of his life. Salem associates his affliction with an ongoing state of emergency. The nose of the hero feels the danger that threatens all the children of midnight. In the prophetic dreams of Salem is the Widow (I. Gandhi), who wanted to destroy all children endowed with mystical powers so that they would not interfere with the established dictatorship. She buys the devotion of Major Shiva by the promise of blessings, and he gives out two wonderful children.
The army, under the leadership of his son I. Gandhi, smashes the quarter of sorcerers, the inhabitants are beaten and killed, Major Shiva pursues Salem. The hero is imprisoned, Parvati and his son magically disappear, Picture Singh is running. Salem is interrogated, tortured, reported the death of his wife, and, broken, he reveals the whereabouts of all the children of midnight.
Together with thousands of political prisoners all magical children are captured. By order of the Widow, they sterilized by force, they are deprived of all magic skills. The suppressed Salem telepathically through the walls of the prison talks with peers of independence and apologizes to them for unfulfilled hopes of saving the country.
On the day when I. Gandhi loses power, the prisoners are released into the wild. They dissolve in the vastness of the country. India is ruled by the opposition, Major Shiva was jailed for crimes, then his traces are lost. Rumor has it that he was killed.
Salem returns to Delhi, finds the snake charmer Picture-Singh and his two-year-old son. The new quarter of magicians is no longer the same, no one believes in socialism, sorcerers barely survive. Salem is becoming more and more convinced that little Adam is a representative of a new generation of midnight children, stronger and more enduring than the former, independent of circumstances.
The snake charmer and Salem and his son travel to Bombay. The city of the hero’s childhood has changed a lot. There, Picture Singh performs in a nightclub with a snake show. After the best performance in his life, the magician becomes ill. Their paths with Salem diverge. By chance, thanks to a sensitive sense of smell, the hero meets Marie Pereira, a former midwife and nanny. She owns a cannery, makes delicious marinades. Heroes are glad to meet. Salem remains working as a manager at the factory.
Thanks to the special qualities of my drained nasal passages, I have the ability to add memories, dreams and thoughts to marinades, to replicate them in batches.
Marie nurses Adam Sinai, who begins to speak at the age of three. The hero is taken care of by a worker at the Padma factory, to whom he tells the bizarre story of his life.