by Salman Rushdie
Midnight's Children Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
This decision, however, made a hole in him, a vacancy in a vital inner chamber, leaving him vulnerable to women and history. (1.1.5)
This is super weird. Women and history? What do they have in common? Do you know?
'You, or what? You want me to walk naked in front of strange men.' (He has told her to come out of purdah.) He says, 'Your shirt covers you from neck to wrist to knee. Your loose pajamas hide you down to and including your ankles. What we have left are your feet and face. Wife, are your face and feet obscene?' But she wails, 'They will see more than that! They will see my deep-deep shame!' (1.2.46)
Let's define a few words. Purdah is the practice of women veiling themselves when in the presence of men or in public. It is practiced in Iran, the Islamic world, and India. In India, Muslim women often wear a burqa or Niqab to veil themselves, while Hindu women would wear something called a Ghoonghat or dupatta. The pajamas that Aadam Aziz refers to are probably Shalwar kameez that Naseem is wearing. As you can tell from looking at the pictures, she's basically totally covered in her Shalwar, but she clings so much to tradition that she feels ashamed.
His parting shot: 'Forget about being a good Kashmiri girl. Start thinking about being a modern Indian woman.' (1.2.50)
What is the difference between being a good Kashmiri girl and being a modern Indian woman? The difference between girl and woman is pretty basic—a woman is a mature adult, a girl is an immature child. Good is defined with tradition, but modern concerns itself with the future. And being an Indian woman instead of a Kashmiri one would make her part of the struggle for independence, which she is currently oblivious of.