you want to be, you can be / You can be just what-all
you want --- croons ayah Mary Pereira at baby
Saleem Sinai's cradle-side, the famous Midnight's
Children. Today he is sixty and knighted too, passing
through the 'pangs of birth, tantrums of childhood,
traumas of adolescence, anomie of adulthood' and
of course, through crucifixion of controversies
and chronic debates.
growing up with India where he was born Saleem
Sir Salman is euphoric. A sexagenarian sophistication
for both !
Patna based special correspondent
books and four marriages after the knighthood finally
came in his life with thrilling experience. "I
am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour,
and am very grateful that my work has been recognized
in this way", said the godfather of post-midnight
unfortunately, this too ignited the controversy and
debate, especially from the Muslim world. Once again
the brilliant weaver of 'dreams into reality, mystery
into magic and truth into fantasy' was accused of insulting
Islam through his award.
Knighthood was benighted by the protestors.
as we can all recall vividly the voice of rage and protest
raised from Iran whose spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini
had issued fatwa ordering Salman's execution
for his "blasphemous depiction of Prophet Mohammed"
in his novel The Satanic Verses in 1989.
novel was even banned in many countries, including India
, with large Muslim communities.
time Iran again took the lead and summoned the UK ambassador
in Tehran Geoffrey Adams and protested the Knighthood
as a "provocative act" by the British government.
When Iran fumed how could other Muslim countries lag
Pakistan too followed the footsteps and told the UK
envoy in Islamabad that the knighthood to Salman was
the British government's "utter lack of sensitivity".
it filtered through Indian border from north and Muslims
in Kashmir too took out protest rally and burnt effigies
against the honour bestowed on one of the greatest contemporary
English novelists of the world.
Britain wasted no time in denying that the award to
Salman was intended to insult Islam but the fire and
fume continued to spread far and furlong.
nobody from the protestor's side took the pain to know
what and how Salman Rushdie was responsible for his
Knighthood award conferred on him by the British government.
It is purely a government's decision whom to delight
with knighthood and whom to not and---the government
in power reportedly plays a decisive role in selecting
can't the Muslim world take it as an honour for themselves
as Salman not only phonetically sounds but racially
belongs to their community?, argues many a common
people in India.
Iran in 1998 had disassociated herself from the much
condemned fatwa controversy against him, saying
the 'Iranian government would no longer support the
then the acclaimed writer-in-cage has been able to take
fresh breath of air, pleasure of the company of his
fourth female companion of the tall, dusky blonde Padma
Lakshmi and luxuries of trouble free travel across the
even visited India on a number of occasions with Padma
by his side hand-in-hand, sometime in long revealing
gowns and sometime in flowery frock flowing above tanned
heard, the insatiable Salman once again is poised for
another separation even though the friends say they
respect each other.
is reared but intellectual compatibility survives!
son of a successful businessman Sir Salman soon became
the most visible face of Indian glitterati, literati
and chatterati class parties confined only to cities
known as metro or mega cities.
as he said, loves visiting India and Bombay where he
was born on June 19, the year that India attained her
Independence in 1945.
few, though, know that glittering novelist Salman Rushdie
has been a student of History at Cambridge University
and has done his schooling from Rugby school in England.
his career in advertising the writer in Salman soon
reared its compelling face and the result was the first
fiction Grimus in 1975 which was generally ignored by
the then literary crowd and establishment.
six years hiatus and Salman was catapulted to literary
fame with his magic realism Midnight's Children in 1981.
The response was beyond expectation even for the young
34 years old Salman Rushdie.
one novel established Salman'a name as a scintillating
writer in English and it even brought him the famous
Man's Booker--- later, Booker of the Bookers .
then six came after--- Shame in 1983, The Satanic Verses
in 1988, Haroun and the Sea of Stories in 1990, The
Moor's Last Sigh in 1995, The Ground Beneath of Her
Feet in 1999 and the latest Shalimar the Clown in 2005.However,
none of them brought fame and glory as an irresistible
novelist to Salman as Midnight's Children.
fourth one Satanic Verses which described a fictional
battle between God and evil portrayed in fantasy, farce
and philosophy brought him only the controversial fame.
the master of perpetual storytelling could only be seen
and read in Midnight's Childrenand to some
extent in The Moor's Last Sigh as many aspiring
writers like me believe.
most of the set of Salman's plot in his writing has
been based in India and Pakistan.
the fatwa ban was over by Iran Salman even made an appearance
in the hit movie Bridget Jones's Diary in 1999.
Satanic Verses Rushdie has never shied away from
controversies and once again with his Knighthood he
has been caught into it, however, for millions of his
devout readers and hundreds of [over] ambitious writers
like me, Salman will always be Sir Salman.
Don for his capacity of startling imagination and intellectual
Let me first admit
that I have not read a big deal of Salman Rushdie. I
could read only a half of Midnight's Children and opening
50 pages of Moore's Last Sigh. But that does not stop
from agreeing with Amarnath on the celebrated writer's
Muslim world, I read somewhere, gave Osama bin Laden
an award roughly translationg to protector of Islam.
First, knighthood or no, a writer remains as big for
readers. Second, giving a reaction award to somebody,
famous or notorious.
Relgion or dharma, coming from Sanskrit "dha (do)"
does not give powers to individuals to go against individuals.
That is why I like sufism that says .. "jo tu maange
rang ki rangai, mera yowana girbi rakhle khwajaji"
or khuda ko dhundha to wo bhi Ali ke ghar se mila.
Hail holy light to Salman and his writings and also
his creative freedom. His knighhood at 60 is just a
token. He is as much a great writer, with or without
any appendage and decorative baggages.
As always, great work, Amar.