Need's a funny fish: it makes people untruthful.
'Kattam-Shud,' He said slowly, 'is the Arch-Enemy of all stories, even of language itself. He is the Prince of Silence and the Foe of Speech. And because everything ends, because dreams end, stories end, life ends, at the finish of everything we use his name. 'It's finished,' we tell one another, 'it's over. Kattam-Shud: The end.'
He knew what we knew: that the real world was full of magic, so magical worlds could easily be real.
To give a thing a name, a label, a handle; to rescue it from anonymity, to pluck it out of the place of namelessness, in short to identify it--well, that's a way of bringing the said thing into being.
So Iff the Water Genie told Haroun about the Ocean of the Streams of Story, and even though he was full of a sense of hopelessness and failure, the magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different color, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity, and Iff explained that these were the streams of story, that each colored strand epresented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that have ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the ocean of the streams of story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead but alive.
As he watched the Shadow warrior's martial dance, Haroun thought about this strange adventure in which he had become involved. 'How many opposites are at war in this battle between Gup and Chup!...' It was a war between love (of the Ocean, or the Princess) and Death (which was what Cultmaster Kattam-Shud had in mind for the ocean and for the Princess too.)
'But its not as simple as that,' he told himself, because the dance of the Shadow Warrior showed him that silence had its own grace and beauty(just as speech could be graceless and ugly); and that Action could be as noble as Words; and that creatures of darkness could be as lovely as children of the night.
Scandal Point unfurled before them. Saladin felt the past rush in like a tide, drowning him, filling his lungs with its revenant saltiness. I'm not myself today, he thought. The heart flutters. Life damages the living. None of us are ourselves. None of us are like this. 65
If you live in the twentieth century, you do not find it hard to see yourself in those, more desperate than yourself, who seek to shape it to their will. 80
Three drops fell. There were rubies and diamonds. And my grandfather, lurching upright, made a resolve. Stood. Rolled cheroot. Stared across the lake. and was knocked forever into that middle place, unable to worship a God in whose existence he could not wholly disbelieve. Permanent alteration: a hole. 6
Doctor Azis begins to diagnose. To the ferryman, the bag represents Abroad; it is the alien thing, the invader, progress. And yes, it has indeed taken possession of the young Doctor's mind; and yes it contains knives, and cures for cholera and malaria and smallpox; and yes, it sits between the doctor and boatman, and has made them antagonists. Doctor Aziz begins to fight, against sadness, and against Tai's anger, which is beginning to infect him, to become his own, which erupts only rarely, but comes, when it does come, unheralded in a roar from his deepest places, laying waste to everything in sight; and then vanishes, leaving him wondering why everyone is so upset... 16
To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world. I told you that. 121
...But despite these signs of ill-omen, the city was poised, with a new myth glinting in the corners of its eyes. August in Bombay: a month of festivals, the month of Krishna's birthday and Coconut Day; and this year---fourteen hours to go, thirteen, twelve---there was an extra festival on the calendar, a new myth to celebrate, because a nation which had never previously existed was about to win its freedom, catapulting us into a world which, although it had five thousand years of history, although it had invented the game of chess and traded with Middle Kingdom Egypt, was nevertheless quite imaginary; into a mythical land, a country which would never exist except by the efforts of a phenomenal collective will---except in a dream we all agreed to dream; it was a mass fantasy shared in varying degrees by Bengali and Punjabi, Madrasi and Jat, and would periodically need the satisfaction and renewal which can only be provided by rituals of blood. 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.
I have been, in my time, the living proof of the fabulous nature of this collective dream; but for the moment, I shall turn away from these generalized, macrocosmic notion to concentrate upon a more private ritual; I shall not describe the mass blood-letting in progress on the frontiers of the divided Punjab (where the partitioned nations are washing themselves in one another's blood, and a certain Punchinello-faced Major Zulfikar is buying refugee property at absurdly low prices, laying the foundations of a fortune that will rival the Nizam of Hyderabad's); I shall avert my eyes from the violence in Bengal and the long pacifying walk of Mahatma Gandhi. Selfish? Narrow-minded? Well, perhaps; but excusably so, in my opinion. After all, one is not born every day. 124-125
As a people, we are obsessed with correspondences. Similarities between this and that, between apparently unconnected things, make us clap our hands delightedly when we find them out. It is a sort of national longing for form---or perhaps simply an expression of our deep belief that forms lie hidden within reality; that meaning reveals itself only in flashes. 344
On the morning of September 23rd, the United Nation announced the end of hostilities between India and Pakistan. India had occupied less than 500 square miles of Pakistani soil; Pakistan had conquered just 340 square miles of its Kashmiri dream. It was said that the ceasefire came because both sides had run out of ammunition, more or less simultaneously; thus the exigencies of international diplomacy, and the politically-motivated manipulations of arms suppliers, prevented the wholesale annihilation of my family. Some of us survived, because nobody sold our would-be assassins the bombs bullets aircraft necessary for the completion of our destruction Six years later, however, there was another war. 393
We, the children of Independence, rushed wildly and too fast into our future; he, Emergency-born, will be is already more cautious, biding his time; but when he acts, he will be impossible to resist. Already he is stronger, harder, more resolute than I: when he sleeps, his eyeballs are immobile beneath their lids. Aadam Sinai, child of knees-and-nose, does not (as far as I can tell) surrender to dreams. 489
Today I gave myself the day off and visited Mary. A long hot dusty bus-ride through streets beginning to bubble with the excitement of the coming Independence Day, although I can smell other, more tarnished perfumes: disillusion, venality, cynicism...the nearly-thirty-one-year-old myth of freedom is no longer what it was. New myths are needed; but that's none of my business. 527
What is required for chutnification? Raw materials, obviously---fruit, vegetables, fish, vinegar, spices. Daily visits from Koli women with their saris hitched up between their legs. Cucumbers aubergines mint. But also: eyes, blue as ice, which are undeceived by the superficial blandishments of fruit---which can see corruption beneath citrus-skin; fingers which, with featheriest touch, can probe the secret inconstant hearts of green tomatoes; and above all a nose capable of discerning the hidden languages of what-must-be-pickled, its humors and messages and emotions...at Braganza Pickles, I supervise the production of Mary's legendary recipes; but there are also my special blends, in which, thanks to the powers of my drained nasal passages, I am able to include memories, dreams, ideas, so that once they enter mass-production all who consume them will know what pepperpots achieved in Pakistan, or how it felt to be in the Sundarbans...believe don't believe but it's true. Thirty jars stand upon a shelf, waiting to be unleashed upon the amnesiac nation. 530
One day, perhaps, the world may taste the pickles of history. They may be too strong for some palates, their smell may be overpowering, tears may rise to eyes; I hope nevertheless that it will be possible to say of them that they possess the authentic taste of truth...that they are, despite everything, acts of love. 531
Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specs of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight's children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace. 533