Excerpt from Midnight’s Children
by Salman Rushdie
Sep 11, 2012 | 1152 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A memory of my father in a cool-season evening, sitting on my bed (I was seven years old) and telling me, in a slightly thickened voice, the story of the fisherman who found the djinn in a bottle washed up on a beach...“Never believe in a djinn’s promises, my son! Let them out of the bottle and they’ll eat you up!” And I, timidly—because I could smell danger on my father’s breath: “But, Abba, can a djinn really live inside a bottle?” Whereupon my father, in a mercurial change of mood, roared with laughter and left the room, returning with a dark green bottle with a white label. “Look,” he said sonorously,  “Do you want to see the djinn in here?” “No!” I squealed in fright; but “Yes!” yelled my sister the Brass Monkey from the neighboring bed...and cowering together in excited terror we watched him unscrew the cap and dramatically cover the bottleneck with the palm of his hand; and now, in the other hand, a cigarette lighter materialized. “So perish all evil djinns!” my father cried; and, removing his palm, applied the flame to the neck of the bottle. Awestruck, the Monkey and I watched an eerie flame, blue-green-yellow, move in a slow circle down the interior walls of the bottle; until, reaching the bottom, it flared briefly and died. The next day I provoked gales of laughter when I told Sonny, Eyeslice and Hairoil, “My father fights with djinns; he beats them; it’s true!” ... And it was true. Ahmed Sinai, deprived of wheedles and attention, began, soon after my birth, a lifelong struggle with djinn-bottles. But I was mistaken about one thing: he didn’t win.   

Salman Rushdie was the festival’s Guest Director in 2001. He has written 13 novels, including Midnight’s Children, and will sign copies of his new novel, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, at Brigadoon on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 2 p.m.

Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1981, Britain. Reprinted with permission from the author.
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