Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 4

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 4

Under the Carpet

  • So that's the end of optimism.
  • Mian Abdulla is dead and everyone seems a little depressed. Aadam Aziz is trying to lose himself in his work. Then one day, as he's trying to poop, Nadir Khan asks him for sanctuary.
  • The problem is that the Reverend Mother a.k.a. Naseem Aziz, is not down with this arrangement. She's got three pretty young girls up in the house and she knows what men are after.
  • Dr. Aziz shows his famous anger that he inherited from Tai the boatman and really pisses the Reverend Mother off. She takes a vow of silence.
  • This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't like an infectious disease that spreads over the whole house making everyone silent. Unfortunately for all of the girls, their romantic lives start in the silence.
  • Alia dates Ahmed Sinai, hoping for him to propose. Major Zulfikar decides to marry Emerald. And Mumtaz, well, we'll see what happens to her.
  • We thought you should know that the Reverend Mother has the power to see into her daughter's dreams. That's how she finds out that Mumtaz and Nadir Khan have fallen in love.
  • We'd like to take a moment to feel grateful that our mothers can't see into our dreams. Cool? Feel free to join us.
  • Okay, we're back. Eventually Nadir builds up the courage to ask Dr. Aziz if he can marry his daughter. They have a silent secret wedding, and they live in the basement playing hit-the-spittoon.
  • This might not sound too romantic to you, but these are the happiest days of Mumtaz's life.
  • Skipping along to 1945, we are now three years into the silence. But this year, several things are happening. World War II is still being fought and protesters are lying in the streets.
  • More importantly to Saleem, it's damp. Mumtaz gets sick that she has to be treated by her doctor father. Also, apparently back then a general check up included checking people's vaginas.
  • So that's how everybody gets to know that Mumtaz is still a virgin. Yep two years married and still a virgin.
  • Are you surprised that this is what ends the Reverend Mother's vow of silence? Three. Years. Of. Words. That's how many words come pouring out of the Reverend Mother. She doesn't just break her silence, she brutally trashes it.
  • Now Emerald, the youngest daughter, suddenly runs out of the house to Major Zulfikar and tells him where Nadir Khan (who he's been searching for) has been hiding. Even though she promised not to. It doesn't matter though, because Nadir Khan has already run away and only left Mumtaz a note saying that he's divorced her.
  • Soon enough Emerald is getting married to Major Zulfikar. She's being kind of obnoxious about it too since, you know, her older sister did just get divorced and she kinda did try to get her ex-husband arrested.
  • But then something magical happens. Ahmed Sinai, the guy who's been dating Alia, starts talking to Mumtaz and soon enough they get married. Of course Alia doesn't think this is so magical, and she starts to plot her revenge.