Let's recap: our narrator, Saleem Sinai, is telling the story of his grandpa Aadam Aziz. At the same time this is going on, we get real-time updates on what is happening between Saleem and Padma, who is his caretaker or something? It isn't super clear.
Anyway, Padma can't read, so she doesn't get why Saleem is spending all this time writing. She's not exactly what you'd call a refined person. She's not exactly very pretty either.
But back to the story. Aadam Aziz is in trouble. Turns out that perforated sheet was a trap that Ghani the landowner used to get Aadam to fall in love with his daughter. And it worked.
Then finally a day comes when Naseem (Ghani's daughter) has a headache, and after all these weeks of seeing her other body parts, Dr. Aziz finally gets to see her face.
You'd think that after all this buildup it would be a big romantic moment, but it's not. Naseem makes fun of Aadam Aziz's nose, and he talks about how there's snot in it. Très romantic.
Meanwhile, Tai the boatman has given up taking baths, which no one is happy about. No one really knows why, but Tai seems pretty upset about Dr. Aadam Aziz. And his plan is working. People are starting to look at him strangely.
Oh, hey—by the way—Saleem's friend Ilse has come to visit, and she tells him that their best bud Oskar died trying to be an anarchist.
We switch back and forth between Saleem talking to Ilse and him making plans to get married to Naseem, until all of a sudden Ilse disappears. She left a note. Saleem finds her at the bottom of the lake.
With this tragedy, it's time to get the shmoop out of here. Aadam Aziz and Naseem Ghani get married and leave town the next day. Saleem tells us that Dr. Aziz never returns to his hometown… well, except for one time.
Flashback! Saleem is in a family play and he's supposed to be a ghost, but he can't find a costume. Somehow he stumbles on his grandpa's perforated sheet, and boy does he get in trouble for it. Yeah, that's not exactly the best ghost costume.
Present time now. Saleem is with Padma who has asked him to at least read his story to her. So not only is he writing, but now he's reading this aloud. Got it?
April 6, 1919. Aadam and Naseem have moved to Amritsar. everything should be great, but it looks like there're already problems. Today all of India has decided to protest the presence of the British in the country.
Oh, and they're having marriage problems too.
Naseem thinks that her husband is a pervert. And besides that, he wants her to come out of purdah, i.e. show her face to the whole wide world without a veil.
But there are more important things happening. The protest is happening and Dr. Aziz, being a doctor, is out bandaging the wounded because the peaceful protest has turned into rioting mobs. Six days later stuff is still going down. Naseem wants to leave, but her husband is too busy being a doctor. On this day Dr. Aziz's nose is itching something mighty fierce. It's worse than it ever has been, so he's starting to get scared.
And with good reason. He stumbled right into the middle of a massacre. 1650 people were assembled in a garden. 1516 people were shot and killed. Aadam Aziz only managed to be one of the 134 people left alive because his nose saved him. He sneezed and fell over at the exact moment that the Army started to fire.
In other news, Tai the boatman is reported to have died in 1947, shot by troops attempting to take over Kashmir.