Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 8

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 8

Tick, Tock

  • REMIX!
  • Okay. We're in the eighth chapter now, so if things are a little too confusing be sure to read the next couple of pages. Saleem basically recaps the book so far for those of us who've kind of fallen asleep. We won't hold it against you. Go ahead, read it. We'll wait.
  • Back? Onward!
  • Now it's a countdown until midnight. With thirty hours to go, Ahmed Sinai is having a cocktail hour with William Methwold and inventing the idea of an ancient family curse.
  • Twenty seven hours to go now, and people are dreaming dreams of movies and tetrapods. Aadam Aziz jumps out of his bed at nineteen hours to look at the perforated cloth. With sixteen hours to go, Wee Willie Winkie's wife is already in labor.
  • Six hours left and we find out that William Methwold is bald. Then, finally at midnight, Amina (Ahmed Sinai's wife) gives birth. Next to her, at the exact same time, Vanita also gives birth.
  • When Ahmed hears about the birth of his son, he gets so excited that he breaks his toe. Everyone rushes to help, which leaves Mary Pereira all alone. You can guess what happens next: She swaps the babies.
  • Ahmed Sinai and Amina are not Saleem's biological parents—Wee Willie Winkie and Vanita are.
  • By the way, while everyone was busy fixing Ahmed's toe, Vanita hemorrhaged to death.
  • Padma thinks this whole story is crazy. He hardly even talked about his "real" parents. But Saleem explains that his real parents are the ones who raised him. Which, it turns out, includes Mary Pereira, who decided to become Saleem's nanny to atone for her sins.
  • Soon afterwards, Saleem's best friend Sonny is born, but that's not the important thing. The important thing is that the day after he was born Saleem was featured in the paper for being the child born exactly at the moment of India's new independence. We think he's full of himself and so does Padma. She tells him to shut up.