Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 3

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 3


  • Saleem is falling apart. Like, literally falling apart. He asks us to believe him because that's totally normal. Right.
  • He also tells us why he's writing this whole thing. He's trying to remember. Before he dies, we guess.
  • Anyway enough of that. Padma wants to hear the rest of the story. She also wants Saleem to have sex with her, but she can't get everything she wants.
  • We time travel a little bit again, and now it's 1942. Everyone is optimistic because of some guy named Mian Abdullah, or as most people know him, the Hummingbird. This guy has been working on behalf of India's Muslims.
  • Aadam Aziz is optimistic too, at least until he gets home. You see, it seems Naseem has changed a bit.
  • She's old, deeply superstitious, and incredibly stubborn. She hates politics. She's also developed this weird little habit of calling things whatsitsname.
  • Oh, and her food is making him constipated. We can see why he doesn't want go home.
  • Then one day, when Aadam kicks out their children's religious teacher because he was teaching them to hate other religions, she decides not to feed him.
  • While today Aadam Aziz might just go to McDonald's, he ends up almost starving to death until their daughter Alia calls for a truce. Yikes.
  • Saleem describes to us an old photograph of his dad with Mian Abdullah, the Rani of Cooch Naheen, and Abdullah's secretary Nadir Kahn. The four of them agree to play a game of hit-the-spittoon, but then Saleem moves onto something else.
  • So the weird thing about Mian Abdullah is that he hums at an extremely high frequency… so high, in fact, that it causes men to get erections. We told you it was weird.
  • Anyway, even though this is totally strange, everyone is excited about him because his Free Islam Convocation opposes the partition of India that the Muslim League is seeking. (We know there's a lot of history in here, so you should definitely check out the "Setting" section.)
  • The thing is, Mian Abdullah is going to die. Because of a peacock fan. Bad luck. This part of the book is pretty crazy.
  • There are assassins in the moonlight, dogs eating their faces, and crescent knives glinting. And all the while Mian Abdullah is humming.
  • In the end, Nadir Khan survives and somehow ends up living with Saleem's family. Here's how: he runs away.
  • Near Dr. Aziz's house, Rashid the rickshaw boy is pretending that he's really a cowboy. He's running around and yelling (silently, of course, because it's the middle of the night) just like his favorite movie hero. While doing so he almost runs into Nadir Khan.
  • Nadir asks for help, and Rashid takes him to Dr. Aziz. Very hero like indeed!
  • With the last line of the chapter Padma asks if the cowardly Nadir Khan is going to be Saleem's father.