Sunday, December 30, 2007

Quote from Midnight's Children

I was born in the city of Bombay ... once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. 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 his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what has befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Buddha and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate - at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.

Now, however, time (having no further use for me) is running out. I will soon be thirty-one years old. Perhaps. If my crumbling, over-used body permits. But I have no hope of saving my life, nor can I count on having even a thousand nights and a night. I must work fast, faster than Scheherazade, if I am to end up meaning - yes, meaning - something. I admit it: above all things, I fear absurdity.

-- the first two paragraphs of Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

If you have never read Salman Rushdie, treat yourself ... oh, yes, it is a treat. The man has a wicked sense of humor. Plus, his writing is so delicious. His sentence structure is often intricate and I'll say to myself "what's he getting at?" ... and the sentence unfolds and everything becomes clear and then I'm filled with envy. That healthy kind of envy that pushes you forward in your own writing. Not the debilitating kind.

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