midnight’s child.

salman rushdie’s female characters are often, if not always, strong, able to influence with their charm and/or beauty. their gifts are not only reserved for men — or humans for that matter –, for everything is susceptible, including animals and illnesses (in his latest novel, the enchantress of florence, rushdie surmises about one young woman that maybe diseases loved her too, which was why she was dead before she was twenty-four years old).

in his work, every woman has some degree of magic contained within her, whether she can tell your fortune by looking at vegetables, land safely after falling off a precipice, remain as alive when a ghost as she was when she was corporeal, or lead others pied-piper style to follow her. maybe it’s this way of thinking that causes someone to marry four times, like he has. maybe i have him to blame then for my own exploits and mercurial tendencies. can i legitimately be faulted because i made the mistake of first picking up one of his books, the moor’s last sigh, when i was an impressionable sixteen-year-old boy, and, from it, learned that each girl is both charismatic and demented in her own special way? is it any wonder that ever since i flipped through those pages i’ve wanted to search the geography of each body to find the spot marked with an x that conceals a treasure chest? it’s as if within my heart resides a rainbow with its terminus located elsewhere, in another heart, and i am charged with discovering the pot of gold.

i didn’t have the chance to tell him any of the above as i was quickly ushered through the line during a book signing. he had just spoken at length about the world, politics, terrorism, and humanity, and now he was seated at a table waiting for books, open to the title page, to be placed in front of him. i’d like to think that when i shook his hand, some degree of appreciation was passed to him. this was my meeting-a-rock-star moment, fainting as elvis presley’s hips swivel but without the fainting (thankfully, i’m a bit more stoic and, probably, suffer less from feelings of inferiority).

he is the reason i began writing, the reason i have adopted this silly way of communicating with excessive commas and parenthetical references, the reason i continue extending metaphors far after i’ve baffled the majority of my audience. i share his uneasy relationship with pop culture (in his speech he referred to paris hilton as a second-rate person named after a second-rate hotel, but despite this notion continues to be aware of her career). his efforts made me even more captivated by puns: in the moor’s last sigh he calls someone who is part jewish and part catholic a cathjew nut; the enchantress of florence includes a song called my sweet polenta with lyrics like if she was a letter i would have sent her, if she was a coin i would have spent her.

he is the (partial) reason i possess the capacity to love every single one of you equally, if only for a short time. there are countless secrets below the surface, and i am willing to swallow the world’s collective and individual pain, to endure the struggle and the success, in order to reveal them, because i understand that each one of you has a story that you yearn to tell and each one of you has something up your sleeve, some feat of legerdemain, that only i can experience.


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