Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 21

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 21

Drainage and the Desert

  • Ahmed Sinai has had a heart attack. After Amina and the children left, he was all alone with Mary's sister, Alice.
  • Poor Alice had to deal with this drunk, angry man. On top of that, she has to deal with the Narlikar women, who call every day to get Ahmed to sell his house. Finally Alice cracks under pressure and quits.
  • That night Ahmed's heart fills with hate until it swells like a boot. Alice sends Amina a telegram, but it doesn't arrive for a whole week. Looks like the family is headed back to India.
  • Amina nurses Ahmed back to life. And not just to the cranky old man he'd become, but to a new and improved Ahmed. They even fall in love again.
  • Saleem is happy for them, but things are not going as well with the Midnight's Children. He's trying to hide from them what Mary said and block Shiva from participating, but everybody notices and revolts against him.
  • They leave one by one. It sounds like it's game over to us, but Saleem insists that the end of the Midnight's Children is not his fault. It's Ahmed and Amina Sinai's fault.
  • While the Sino Indian war is happening, Saleem's nose gets more and more irritated based on the danger of the conflict, until he can't breathe anymore.
  • Ahmed Sinai notices his son's snot one day when he hugs him, and after that a telephone call is made.
  • On the day of the cease-fire, his family goes on a "picnic." You guys are smart kids. You know this family doesn't go on picnics.
  • They do, however, sneak attack with a trip to an ear nose and throat clinic. Saleem's sinuses are going to be drained.
  • That would be awesome except being eternally congested is exactly where Saleem's powers come from. This operation is like giving Superman a birthday present of kryptonite.
  • When the operation is over, Saleem's power is gone. Just like normal people, he hears silence and his own thoughts.
  • After the cease-fire, the family decides to move to Pakistan. Before they leave, Saleem makes a time capsule with his globe.
  • Even though he's lost his power and he's leaving his hometown, Saleem gets one good thing out of the whole deal. For the first time in his life, he can smell.