Midnight's whale has graduated


Call me Saleem. Some years ago - it does matter how long precisely, four years ago - having little or no technical knowledge in my technical knowledge account 1 and nothing particular to interest me on the professional education island, I thought I would sail about a little and read the literary marvels of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the monotony and regulating the circulation of intellectual juices.

Now this particular literary marvel came into my possession in the first year of my four-year course and I, in my naivety, proclaimed that it - the near six hundred and fifty page monstrous beauty - would be back in the original owner’s hands by the end of the second month. I was a deer on the road facing the lights, and I jumped right at the car. It took me forty eight months. And the owner didn’t see the book again. In my defense, he did get a book (a different one) presented to him and signed by yours truly. Now, in my hands was the first Booker of Bookers - a vintage paperback by Salman Rushdie - Midnight’s Children.

Whenever I found myself growing grim about the course syllabus; whenever it was a gloomy dark December in my soul; whenever I found myself involuntarily pausing before the strips of grass and trees between the even numbered blocks of the campus building and the playing field, and pondering about the future; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the coaches of Delhi Metro, and methodically knocking people’s phones off from their hands (cause they rarely wear hats now)—then, I account it high time to get to my backpack and reach for the book as soon as I can.

On and off and on I read the chronicle of a lineage, produced by its faux-grandson Saleem, over a timeline that held the date hour minute and second of India’s independence at the median. There were times when the book stayed shut for months at a stretch. But eventually, as with all things, the book neared its end. It spanned all four years of my course. It was ironic how just a week after I received my course completion certificate, I finally witnessed the closure I was reading towards for so long. The end had a calming effect, similar to what the ocean has on some people.

If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

On to the next one.