31 years ago, MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN was published.
I remember my friend & next door neighbor Mona giving me a copy of the book to read. Mona, was older than me studying inorganic, or was it organic chemistry at IIT.. She was very very clever & read a lot. She & her mom, Mrs Saxena used to be voracious readers . In fact they introduced me to various authors like Neville Shute (his REQUIEM FOR A WREN remains one of my favorite books till date),A J Cronin,Erma Bombeck & many others.I remember Saxena Aunty making me join the British Council library so I could borrow books from there . .they kind of fueled my love for reading . . Something which I had inherited from my Dad anyways.
After struggling through a few chapters of Midnight’s Children, I had declared that I couldn’t read it & gave up ! I must have been barely 13 or 14 years old at that time & the book was obviously too complex for me at that point of time. But giving up on a book was not something I did. Once I started a book I would plod through it,no matter what because to give up was some sort of a defeat in my mind. Although now,I don’t think it’s the smartest thing to do.If a book doesn’t interest me,I’d rather leave it unfinished & go onto something more exciting . Anyway, coming back to Midnight’s Children,I remember a lot of people saying yeah, it’s a tough book to read etc, etc and therefore I didn’t feel so bad then.
But obviously it did stay on in my mind & it always niggled me … So the other day when I found a copy staring me in the face at my brother in laws house (an autographed one at that), I decided the time had come for me to attempt reading MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN again ! Ronit,my brother in law has acted in it ,therefore the signed copy. Now I’m quite the groupie when it ones to autographed books & all .. I’m in AWE of writers ! To me they are bigger than movie stars or rockstars or anybody in showbiz … Except maybe Oprah ! So I borrowed the book,the same book which had always made me feel like a literary loser ! Coincidentally the next mornings TOI’s Crest edition carried a big article on Salman Rushdie & the book.I decided this was definitely a sign … My time had come to read the book ! The older, mature me was now ready to tackle it. I opened the book & read Mr Rushdie’s introduction to the 25th anniversary edition.And then I started reading all those little review blurbs at the beginning,which in my opinion are rather intimidating,instead of making you want to read the book,sometimes they do the reverse … They scare you off the book.
For example : We have an epic in our hands. The obvious comparisons are to Gunter Grass in The Tin Drum & Gabriel Garcia Marquez in One hundred Years of Solitude (haven’t read the Tin Drum, have read Marquez though). Then another critic says : Nostalgic realism with mythic overtones .
And suddenly my 13 year old self rears her head & asks me … Gosh will we be able to go through it this time ? ? ?
I assuage her fears with a resounding Yes & I fully intend to finish reading it this time & telling you’ll how I enjoyed it 🙂