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Fischer and Mehdi Abedi Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 5, No. 2 (May, 1990), pp. 107-159 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/656453 . Accessed: 09/09/2011 09:36
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Bombay Talkies, the Word and the World: Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses
Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi Departmentof Anthropology Rice University
They Shoot Novelists Don't They?' The migrantsensibility . . . I believe to be one of the centralthemes of this century of displaced persons .... And for the plural, hybrid metropolitanresults of such imaginings, the cinema may well be the ideal location. -Salman Rushdie (1985:53) All those who henceforthmay intend to write such a book or turn it into a film, or display it in movie theaters,or publish it-all of them will now have to contendwith the dangerof deathfrom Muslims. -President Ali Khameinei,Fridayprayers,3 March 19892 Salman Rushdie is in hiding, but in the Muslim world he is everywhere. In the old section of Dhaka, in Bangladesh,he may be seen on postersstuckto molderingwalls, with a noose aroundhis neck. A recent marchthere, provokedand politicized by Islamic fundamentalists,was led, I was told, with the chant, "Salman Rushdie must leave Dhaka!" The sloganeerswere informedthatRushdiewas not in Dhaka, that he is somewhere in England. They were unfazed. "Salman Rushdie must leave England!" they cried, and marchedon. -Mahnaz Ispahani,New Republic, 3 July 1989 Aside from being a brilliantly funny re-visionary novel, Satanic Verses (Rushdie 1988) has become a highly charged social text, a lightning rod or projective screen against which contemporary cultural and social conflicts are drawn, enacted, and elaborated. On the one hand, Satanic Verses is a defining novel for the last two decades of the 20th century: the text itself performs half a dozen critical functions in re-visioning the cultural reorganization, intercultural intereferences (interreferences, interferences) or cross-readings, among sizable migrant populations of both middle- and working-class varieties; and particularly focuses attention on the competing sources of psychic fixation between religion and the movies for Muslims raised in traditional religious environments who now live in secular non-Muslim ones. In addition, by drawing heavily on traditional Islamic lore, the novel forces readers who might want to engage and refute its irreverence
to seriouslyengage and reevaluatethatlore and the basis of traditional belief and authoritystructures.Insofaras thereare such readers,Satanic Verses has the potential for being world-transforming. the other hand, the Rushdie affair that On surrounds text is particularly the fascinatingin the way it generatesdifferentiated audiences:it is an example par excellence of the pluralizedglobal world, of the culturalproduction.As a highly charged postmodernconditionsof contemporary social text thatgets people to further enact the conflicts it describes, it exemplifies the kind of criterionof truththat psychoanalysis, for instance, also relies upon: eliciting furtherelaboration,clarification,working out. The ethnographiceffort to map the differentiatedand shifting audiences that the Rushdie text and social text generateillustratesas well the challenges of multiple audiences for ethnoganthropologyalso faces. raphythatcontemporary Above all, the Rushdie text and social text focus attentionon the problems of translation have become increasinglycentralto the anthropological that project: translationnot merely across languages and culturalbordersbut among interest groupsand discoursescompeting for hegemony within social arenas, be they loRushdie's text and social text (andnumerousother cal, national,or transnational. similartexts) makevivid the point thatin Muslim worldsthe secularintelligentsia and the religious intelligentsiaare engaged in culturalclass-warfare,each using (Fischer 1980, 1982, systematicdiscourses the other only partiallyunderstands 1984; Fischer and Abedi 1990). This culturalclass-warfareoperatesat two nonon homologouslevels simultaneously: the domesticlevel withincountriessuch as Iran, Pakistan, and Egypt for control of the state and of the general collective level to create a space for culconsciousness of the masses; on the international turaldiversity. The power relationsinvolved are complex:the secularintelligentsia is very much on the defensive in the domestic arenasthroughoutthe Islamic world, including in the communalor minorityenclaves inside Westernnations; yet they appearto be allied with the strongerforces on the internationalscene. The complexity, of course, is richerthanthis, andthe issue is how to createmeans of translationand negotiationbetween the contendingideals and self-protective defenses on the various sides, lest the culturalwarfarebecome merely self-destructiveto all. Rushdie's novel is a majorachievement, among other reasons, because it opens up vistas both within its text and in its relationswith the world outside the text that illuminatethe complexities, and at least gesture at the inadequate tools for translation.Humor, when it works, is one of the healthiesttools because it holds in stereoscopicview alternativeperspectives.As CarlosFuentes puts it,3 that is be cannot absent,sincethere no contemporary language can Humor, certainly
utteritself without a sense of the diversificationof that same language. .... Fiction world. .... Our of is not a joke ... [it] is a harbinger a multipolarand multicultural
to and for freedom the multiracial the polycultural on future depends the enlarged and itselfin a worldof shifting, powercenters.[Appigdecaying, emerging express and nanesi Maitland 1989:45-47]
BOMBAY TALKIES 109
Rushdie's Satanic Verses, in sum, simultaneously illustrates and illumiand enact:(1) nationalandglobal nates, thatis, transcribes causes othersto further culturalclass-warfare;(2) the strugglesover restrictedliteracy versus hermeneutical critical skills that have used the Qur'anas a battlefieldfor 13 centuries;(3) anxiety-ladenambiguitiesof an increasinglypluralistworld in which selves, cultures, andlanguageitself areundergoingreassemblythroughmass populationmias grationsat the proletarian well as the middle-classlevels-reassembly in radically multiple, composite, humorous, and deconstructingways, where translation ratherthantraditionis foreverat issue, providingboth desiredand unwanted unendingcritiques and nonabsolutistrevisionaryperspectives;(4) new communication forms and media that constitutethe crucibles in which these new conditions of life are being worked: the novel, the movies, video, radio, television, magazines, advertising,propaganda,and nightmaresgeneratedby the anxieties of constantdemandson translation interaction and with culturalotherswith whom consensualgroundsof agreementcannotbe taken for granted.The thirdof these to (3) is the heartof the novel and includes: (a) contributing the "decolonization of the English language," turningEnglish into an ever more compendiousworld language that encompasses the cadences, rhythms, allusions, and culturalflexibilities of otherlanguages;(b) bringingback an appreciation Persian(-Mughal) of cultural sensibility, intended in part to expand Europeanconsciousness into a largerOld World cosmopolitanism, but also working to highlightthe politics of difference within the Islamic world of Shi'ite versus Sunni interpretations, therebydisturbingthe pieties of all Muslimsthatthe Qur'anis a catalog of simple rules that provides unambiguousguidance for all aspects of life; (c) having fun with the psychologicalandemotionaldynamicsof the chamcha(Urdu, "spoon," "toady") figureas a rangeof intercultural types from the sycophanticservantsof colonialism to the immigrantNew Man/Womanin the (post)modernworld who must operate in and out of multiple cultures;(d) providinghilariouslyvital and humanizingportraitsof several classes of "hystorical" immigrantsspilling into Britainfromthe Indiansubcontinent,intendedto dispel raciststereotypes;(e) and togetherwith Rushdie's previous novels, gaily attackingnationalistpretensions, ideologies, corruptinginstitutionsof power (state, family, religion, the media), narrativesof the British Raj and its successor states (India, Pakistan, Iran, Britain), and focusing especially on that uneasy overlay of England and the PersoIndo-Islamicworld that is to be found in working-classEngland(Bradford,Birmingham, Leicester, Southall, the East End), OxbridgeEngland (Rushdie himself), the Anglifiedupper-classareasof Bombay(Malabar Hill), Karachi,Lahore, or Islamabad,and above all in the movies. Satanic Verses standsin two sociologically distinctcurrentsof writing, correspondingto the two arenasof culturalclass-warfare.On the one hand, it stands withinthe streamof modernistwritingthatattemptsto find a home within Islamic countriesfor modernsensibilities, the traditionin Iranof Sadeq Hedayat,Bozorg Alavi, Jamalzadeh,Gholam Hosain Sa'edi, Sadeq Chubak, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, Simin Daneshvar;in Egypt of Taha Husain, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Naqib Mahfuz, Nadwa al-Sadaawi;and many others in North Africa, the Levant, and Mesopo-
110 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY
tamia (see Fischer 1984). On the other hand, Satanic Verses stands within the streamof the postmoderncomic novel, the traditionof JamesJoyce, GabrielGarcia Marquez,ThomasPynchon, and GunterGrass(with roots going back to TristramShandy,Don Quixote, and Gulliver's Travels)that has done so much to reenvision the contemporary world and revaluethe narratives the past. Although of Rushdie is the first majorpostmoderncomic novelist for the Muslim world, he does not standalone even here in Middle Easternand South Asian writing. He is partof a gatheringstreamof writing and filmmakingby Jamil Dehlavi, Amitav Ghosh, Elias Khoury, Hanif Kureishi, Parviz Kimiavi, RustamMistry, Bharati Mukherjee,Mira Nair, Anton Shammas, Bapsy Sidwa, Sara Suleri, Adam Zameenzad, and the "Decentrist" poets of Beirut (Ghada al-Samman, Hana alShaikh,Emily Nasrallah,Laila Usairan,Daisy al-Amir, CalireGebeyli, and Etel Adnan;see Cooke 1987). Few of these latter, except Dehlavi and Rushdie, are concernedwith Muslim belief structures.But all are concernedwith the psychic that transformations living in or with the moder West has wroughtfor those of background-themes centralto Satanic VersesmorethanIslamper non-European se. Thanks to the death threat issued against Rushdie by the late Ayatullah Khomeini, Satanic Verses has become the most heavily publicized novel ever written about Muslims. A black humorjoke among Iranianexiles in America speculates that Khomeini must have signed a 50-50% promotioncontractwith Rushdie to secure for the Islamic Republic a share in the proceeds of increased sales due to Khomeini's advertising.The book was publishedin late September 1988, and was given a dismissive review in Tehranwithoutany special notice or concern.Rushdiewas well known:bothMidnight'sChildrenandShamehadbeen translatedinto Persian, the lattereven winning the state prize, awardedby Presiof dentAli Khameinei,for the best translation a novel. Both these previousnovels satire about (mis)uses of Islam. It was only four and onecontain considerable half monthslater, on 14 February1989, thatKhomeiniissued thefatwd declaring Rushdieessentially an apostate, mahdural-dam (one whose blood may be shed of withouttrial, the termused to facilitatethe execution andmurder Bahai's). The It fatwa was disputedin its legal validityby variousMuslimjurisprudents. is significantthat the agitations against the novel began not in Iran, but in two quite differentpolitical arenas:India and England. Let us deal with the political arenasfirst, then the Islamic objections, so that as we can clearthe groundto actuallyreadthe novel. "Let's remember,'" Rushdie wrotein October1988 to India'sPrimeMinister,RajivGandhi,afterIndiabanned the novel, "that the book isn't actually about Islam, but about migration,metamorphosis,divided selves, love, death, Londonand Bombay." Beyond the Text that and limcommunity theso-called intelligentsia... It'sunbelievable whatpains we to one sectiongives pleasure the other ... Yes, Mr. Rushdie, area religious barbaricall call people ... Callus primitive, us fundamentalists, us superstitious
Even more shocking and saddening... is the communicationgap between the Mus-
Many Asians view theirintellectualsas being as racistas the whites.6-12 January1989. . in the Westernmind. .is being attackedfrom the pulpit as the most serious threatto Islam. make films and television programmes engage in instantpunditryaboutthem do not understandtheir innermosthopes and fears. (3) anti-Benazir Bhutto politics in Pakistan. the Bangladeshisabout FarrukhDhondy's television play King of the Ghetto and the Muslims about Hanif Kureishi's film My Beautiful Laundretteand recently about Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. and the struggles over the decline of Congress Party hegemonic control of the state. initiatorof the ban [In Appignanesiand Maitland1989:45-47] The intensity of Muslim reaction can only be understoodin the context of the deep suspicion and alienationprevailingbetween the Asian communityas a whole and its intellectuals . where fundamentalists wish to destabilize a government that would prefer to be a secularist. for me.BOMBAY TALKIES 111 ans. This is broadlyhow the Hindus felt aboutNiradChaudhury'sidiosyncraticwritingson India.. . . (4) and in Iran.the zealot protestsserve to confirm. only loosely interconnected. but above all a politics that turns upon the difficulties of an immigrant working class actively recruited by England in a time of labor need.P. and that they earn a handsome living and white acclaim by selling tiredstereotypesand biased stories. but now being squeezed in a time of economic transition. jockeying between those who would nor- . . -Bhikhu Parekh. . -Fadia Faqir. I tried to write againststereotypes. nordo I intendto. the competition between Saudi and Iranian fundamentalists. the saddestirony of all. and religious forces. but your book only serves to define what has gone wrong with the Westerncivilisation-it has lost all sense of distinctionbetween the sacred and the profane.. (2) communal politics in India. I have not readit.23 February1989 [In Appignanesiand Maitland1989:150] In most Arab countries HananEl Sheik's novels..Independent.IndianM. 22 January1989 [In Appignanesiand Maitland1989:75] There are four primary. Observer. A group of men accused SuhairEl-Tell. Most of the sixty-six Arab intellectualsblacklistedrecently by a Saudi Islamic group who announcedthe holy jihad on Modernismlive either in London or Paris. call us what you like. 11 This is. I experiencedsimilarproblemswhen my novel Nisanit was published by Penguin earlier their year. . a novel based on her experience of being marriedto one of the Muslim Brethren. by the people it's about . -Syed Shahabuddin.. balance wheel against ethnic.. I do not have to wade througha filthy drainto know what filth is. . . (JanataParty). all the worst stereotypesof the Muslim world. . . .I should see my book burned. the large masses of Asians have long felt that those Asians who or write. political arenas ignited by Rushdie's novel: (1) immigrant politics in Britain: Pakistani-led. a Jordanian journalistand novelist. thatafterworkingfor five years to give voice and fictionalflesh to the immigrantcultureof which I am myself a member. . Saudi-funded Muslim politics. of promiscuityfor using a phallic image. . TimesLiterarySupplement. The Jordaniannovelist ZulickhehAbu-Risheh'sIn the Cell. -Salman Rushdie. Yes. p. sectarian. Nawal El-Saadawi's writings and the poetryof [Muzaffar]El-Nawaband MahmoudDarwishare banned. largely unread.
emphasis in original) Great Britain. a unifiedMuslimenterpriseof faith and power spreadwith phenomenalspeed in the fastest permanentconquestof recordedmilitaryhistory. directed from the port of Leeds nine miles away. For our purposes here. One of the best accounts of the dynamics of the situation in Bradford. since after all.And England. Council of Mosques. is Dervla Murphy's Tales from Two Cities: Travels of Another Sort (1987).spiritual. if books fail to confirmthe stereotypesalready acquiredfrom home. . .hypocriticaland exploiting Englishman. Those Muslims who find it intolerableto live in a United Kingdom contaminatedwith the Rushdie virus need to of seriouslyconsiderthe Islamicalternatives emigration(hijrah)to the House of Islam or a declaration holy war (jehad)on the House of Rejection . and who identifies the troubles of the Mirpuri.Anyone who fails to be offended by Rushdie's book ipso facto ceases to be a Muslim . -Shabbir Akhtar.material. . and societies. we need only briefly indicate the shape of these political arenas. Campbellpuri. a gun in the other and an accounts ledger in his tin trunk. Pakistani migrant labor from Mirpur first came to Bradford during World War II. as a The anti-racists'views on children's books/stereotyping/prejudice Most of my wakingchildhoodhourswere spentreading non-EnglishEnglish-speaker. itantwrathis destined for the dustbinof history ..Talesfrom Two Cities (1987.. and those determined to try to insulate internal Iranian development from the powerful influences of the West.rampagingaround the world with a Bible in one hand. sartorial. as with the other political arenas. .legal. Britain Thereis no choice in the matter. is appropriate to an Irish writer who spent a year living in two inner-city immigrant enclaves of Bradford and Birmingham. non-Muslimswould do well to rememberthat the last time there was a hijrah. . . . . and Sylheti Pakistanis with the Irish immigrants who underwent not so different experiences in the same cities during the early days of the industrial revolution. in some ways. The Dickensian title.. and then.what those books reinforcedwas my stereo-type(since slightly revised) of the arrogant. to man the munitions factories. is the most important of the political arenas for understanding the novel.Bradford in Guardian. Even very young childrenreadcriticallyor sceptically. whereas the novel is primarily about people from urban Bombay. -Dervla Murphy. initially as seamen. the novel is about Muslim migrants from the Indian subcontinent to London. there is a bit of indirection: the constituency of the protest in Bradford where the book was publicly burned on 14 January 1989 seems to be Pakistanis of rural background (primarily Mirpuris from Azad Kashmir). continualblasphemiesagainstthe Christianfaith have totally undermined Any faith which compromisesits internaltemperof milit. and the play upon travel and ethnographic genres. Still.112 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY malize relations between Iran and the West.At no age did I receive an imprintof inferiorpeoples dependenton Whites for every sort of salvation. .27 February1989 [Reprinted AppignanesiandMaitland1989:239-240] fascinate me. belongs to God. written long before Rushdie's book was published. like all else. As for hijrah . school.. one is never in the minority.unimaginative. . The 1947 Partition of India stimulated the . with God on one's of side.
Southall and Leicester discovered that sixty per cent of Asian traders are graduates. the evasion of sex instruction" (Murphy . and 81 women. upwardly same tight-knitbiraderi(kinshipgroups)and so "no Irish self-servicing network of businesses was at once set up" (1987:71). (For a grim accountof Bradford. highly disciplined. in 1961 there were 3376 male Pakistanisin Bradford. ignorance. "a survey of 500 retailbusinesses in Bradford.see Kutantlyfundamentalist reishi .fear. jealousy. andunemployedbrownyouths bitterlyturnto religion andpolitics. hostilities. Blacks deploredPakistaniheroin-dealingand Sikh arrogance. Bradfordwas rocked by disputes over Ray Honeyford. economic conditions worsened. and stereotypingmerely black-whiteones: InBradford.and it is a place where unemployedwhites don't mince words abouttheirresentmentsof browns.the seeking. the DrummondMiddle School headmaster. the Gurdwaras.E.it is the younger generationthat is more milithantheir fathers.the drug-peddlingof Blacks.for LondonTransport. then returning home.E.. for the British and Hotel and Restaurant Association. permissionfor Muslim girls to wear track-suitsduringP. and a third of Britain's hospital doctors are browns..BOMBAY TALKIES 113 growthof a temporarymale migrantlaborforce. going back and forth. lessons..000 people. contempt. separate-sexP. and swimminglessons. and deterioratingrelations between ethnic groups. dislike. there was only one brown pregnancy.And so on and on. toleranceof occasionalBrownbreachesof the school attendance law.as comparedto nine per cent of White traders"(p. in Britain generally "the proportion of unwed mothers among Browns is one per cent as comparedto nine per cent among Whites. the Muslims allowed who their Mirpuris deplored looselivingof Gujarati wives to drive delivery vans . Thousandsof women and childrenarrivedduringthe 18 monthsbefore the 1962 Act Immigration made it more difficultto maintainthe patternof workingin Britain for a few years. in apparentlyinfinitepermutations combinations and of misunderstanding.Hindus deplored Muslim faction-fightingand Black laziness. Nor are fears. Racial tensions increased. and Bradfordwas one of the worst hit. displacing 10.[Murphy 1987:81. being religiously hardlineis also a way of assertingtheir personal and culturalidentity. the PakistaniMuslimsarehard-working. in 1984 and 1985. 63). In 1967 a further stimulusto migrationwas given by the ManglaDam hydroelectricproject.resentment. In the 1950s and 1960s Englandactively recruitedlabor both in the Caribbeanand in the Indiansubcontinentfor the textile mills andfoundries.The Irishdid not have.educationmobile communities.who was appalled at having to allow: "the servingof halal meat. while pregnanciesamong whites were commonplace. says Murphy. which flooded 250 Mirpurivillages. and this it remainedthroughthe 1950s. and thirteenper cent among Blacks" (1987:69). Under conditions of deterioratingopportunity. Sikhs deplored the sharp practices of Gujuratimerchants. In the 1970s. Statisticsare revealing:at High Hill School. for many young Muslim men.) For nearly two years. the adoption of a multi-faith syllabus for P. Frequently.E..emphasisin original] ill-treatment women-and thedangerous of of to Mirpuri politics Sikhsattached rival Still.
114 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY had 1987:117). and believed firmly in the old virtues of hardwork and Christianvalues. whose founder. insofar as they botheredwith the text at all. Roger Scruton(the editorof the SalisburyReview).occasions that othereducationalauthoritiessuggested broadenedtheir experiences. by the end of October 1988: (1) withdrawalof the book from the marketand pulping all extantcopies. (2) public apology. in orderto strengthenthose who traditionally .not only had Indiabannedthe book. and published in such journals as M. if publicity and attentionwere what they wanted.and gradually became associatedwith the SalisburyReview. (3) paymentof damages to an Islamic charity. they might in burnthe book. exacerbatedby the exposureof the fact thatBritain'sblasphemylaws appliedonly to Christianity. initially. but IndianMuslim activists had urgedtheircolleagues in Britainto do the same. Murphy'saccountof Bradfordpreparesone easily enough for the furorover SalmanRushdie's book. Withinten days of the book's publication.Casey. Brown breachesof school attendance to do with sending children on visits back to Pakistan. After a two-year campaign. aroundthe world. Among the more interestingand disturbingeffects was the furorof debate The LaborPartyseemed to be in the worst disarset off about multiculturalism. As with so many demonstrations this was done in frontof the police station. H. ray. he was opposed to the faddishintroduction multicultural of curricula.journalof the New Right Conservative Philosophy Group. with a centuryof socialist secularismabandonedby LaborMPs attempting to representMuslimconstituents. althoughmany Muslim parentswere increasinglyuncomfortable with the political leadershipthat accomplishedthat end. a shockingbut nonviolentact. OtherLaborMPs called for a multiculturalism thata numberof brownintellectualsskeweredfor being a way of preserving conservative. would have been satisfiedhadPenguin/Vikingor Rushdiebeen willthe protesters ing to insert a disclaimerthat there was no relation between the contents of the novel and Islam. and made better students. Faruqi'sImpactInternational. It had an electrifyingeffect Bradford. But as a solicitor advised.It was these excerpts that became the text for Muslim protesters. East Africa. The eventual burningof the book in Bradfordcame after four months of feeling ignored.these new immigrantssomehow would threatenthe stability of British culture. Honeyford was forced out. John Casey (a CambridgeUniversity of don) called for the repatriation brownsand blacks.even going so far as to supportthe call to revive and extend Britain'sblasphemylaws. and Honeyfordarguedthatthe new immigrantsfrom the Subcontinent. Honeyford was a dedicated teacherwho himself had come up the hardway from the slums of Manchester. Efforts were made to have the blasphemy laws be extended to Islam. and the West Indies were unlike earlierimmigrantsto Britain who were absorbedinto a strongculture. or at least reducingthem to a legal category of guest-workers.this in 1982 when nearly half of the browns and blacks had been bornin Britain. The Union of Muslim Organizationsasked the governmentto ban the book under the Public OrderAct (1986) and the Race RelationsAct (1976). The demandsquickly became.embassies. It is claimed that. Offendingpassages were photocopiedand distributedto leading Islamic organizations. separatistenclaves.
38-39). HanifKureishi. that Rushdie knew he would create anger.bombings. He claimed that Rushdie describes God as a bald-headedman and says Islam condones sodomy. that Rushdie's novel has made it legitimate for nonMuslims to openly attackand ridicule their faith. racist graffiti and catcalling has shifted from "you fucking Paki" to "fucking Muslim. and finally (most importantly)that it is a matterof control: parents musttake challenges like this seriously or theirchildren(his own sons) would not take religion seriously. 25 July 1989. He too began by condemningRushdie. Over the years. He hadreadthe novel andfelt it clearly insultedIslam.and again being curtly dismissed when he daredchallenge his teacheron a hadithinterpretation. and they opposed sex-segregatedschools as places where girls are isolated and taughtonly to be wives and mothers. But my brothers have got more religious" (Guardian.HannaSiddiqi. When pressed.Homi Bhabha. but then did a fascinatingabout-face. 17). or who themselves are subjectto domestic violence. and incest. will confirmthe worst stereotypesof non-Muslims about Muslims. As one British-bornMuslim intellectual notes. Asian). he said thatRushdiewas only out to make money is (thoughhe agreedthis was not evil: runninga restaurant also to make money). having separateschools. a Londongrouporganizeditself as "Women againstFundamentalism. . He would not kill Rushdiehimself. . that Rushdie is partof a Jewish conspiracy (his publishersand most of the writerswho sign petitions in his defense are Jewish). There is now a growing Muslim subjectivityin Britainthat is replacing earlier political categories (black. 28 July 1989b. The disagreementmakes it increasinglyclear thatintellectualssuch as Rushdie. of Condemnations Rushdiecome to manyMuslimlips easily. brown. among others. One of his sons came and sat with us afterthe fatherleft.extension of blasphemylaws. p. a month after the book burning. fundamentalism is about the control of women."One of its PakistaniMuslim spokespersons. pp. etc. observed that Laborremainedimperviousto rethinkingsocialism from a minoritypointof view. In March. observed: "When the Rushdie affairblew up many women immediatelyidentifiedwith him. recalling with some heat how he had been kicked out of the mosque in northern Sumatrawhen he was 12 for daringto standup and condemnthe imam for telling risquejokes duringthe sermon (khutba). rape. and that the party seemed only engaged in tactical defensive maneuvers(Statesman. but he would not care if someone else did. Confrontationssuch as the Honeyford and Rushdie affairs not only clarify divisions within society. death threats. they also create new phenomenologicalsubjectivities. Muslims out on the streets retortthat the graffiti and catcalling confirmstheir worst fears.campaignsagainstpublishers." and what the racists do not comprehendis that the latter is both less hurtfuland more resistanceprovokingbecause it is where one drawsthe line andmakesa stand.An Indonesianrestaurateur quite agitated got at the mentionof Rushdie.BOMBAY TALKIES 115 delivered the ethnic vote to Labor. These women run a counseling service for immigrantwomen whose sons are repeatedlyarrestedby the police. In my family there were lots of fights about how I should live my life. If Rushdiefearsthatfundamentalist book burnings. To them. Homi Bhaba. . my par- ents have become less orthodox. . but sometimes other attitudesemerge underneath.
suddenlydiscovers that he is "ashamed to be a Muslim. Patriarchy-family suddenlypeople who neverwere parfeministhave discoveredthis issue.andthird. control-feminism: 3.will taxes to fall most heavily on immigrantfamilies who crowd to share space and save expenses. the 2. Education:CatholicsandJews have theirown schools. and today it is Muslims who are the alien excluded and thatthe next time it will be Muslims and blacks in the ovens (this is not idle fear to anyone who has heardGermanjokes about Turkish workers in Germany. Muslims point out with some justificationthat there is a mood of using comparativeevils among othercommunitiesas a none too subtle false cover for selecting Islam as the most troublesomeof the world religions. given family demographics. since a national curriculumis being made. In sum. this may be a moot point.) the 4. why not Muslims? As to content. second. the Rushdie affairin Britainis serious politics thathas to do with at least four issues concerningMuslims in which they feel their voices have been systematicallyignored: 1. a quite different politics than performingin Bradfordfor the Muslims directly involved in an effort to create bridgesof communication. but. Multiculturalism: left (Labor)seems to have greatdifficulty in recogthatpeople for whom they wish to speakhave ideas at variancewith secular nizing socialism.people who come to Britain must adaptto British ways. This Muslim observer had particularlyharsh observationsabout Tariq Ali. The Tories meanwhile are pushing a strong assimilationistline: mulis ticulturalism fine as long as it is practicedin private. thatJews in fact paid a very high price in Germanyfor such willingness." and produces a satiricalplay (Ali andBrenton1989) aboutKhomeini'sdeaththreat. the response of some Muslim observersis first.116 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY and TariqAli have no standingto speak for the Muslims. Interestingparallelsare drawnwith the Jews: to the argumentthatJews have managedto put up with a low level of casual anti-Semitism and Muslims must learnto do the same. and not aboutthe beatingsof Hinduwomen talk whose families fail to come up with the absurdlyhigh dowry prices? To the response that abuses in Hindu families are equally of concern.reinforcing their prejudices. andwhy do the WomenAgainstFunticularly damentalism mainlyaboutIslam.England.andeven Belgium).done undertight securityat the Royal CourtTheater-on elite turffor largelynon-Muslimaudiences.thatthe frequentliberalline about having fought two world wars to establish the right of freedomof speech sounds . or observed the rise of the New Right in France. (A similarargumentis made by Muslim fundamentalistsin the United States about the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Sciences Fundamentalism Project. The poll tax proposedby PrimeMinisterThatcher: shift fromproperty a head tax not only is regressive. who after twenty years of tryingto createa secularsocialist consciousness among Pakistanis. that Jews are now accepted as partof the West.
exacerbatedsince independence by cynical manipulationof patronagenetworks to control or contest electoral politics. When Rushdie's book was published. part cliched assertion about Western decadence. publishedan interestingopen letterin the Times of India (13 October 1988). Syed Shahabuddin.thatMr. part eloquent defense of Muslim religiosity ("Call us primitive. amid anti-Semiticinsinuationsby the Muslims who objected to the newspaper'sinvitationto Rushdie to speak at a book fair it was sponsoring. In otherwords. complete with both monetarycorruptionand underworldviolence. In South Africa the tactic worked as well as in India. The Indian governmenttook an easy way out: it banned the book on the groundsof public safety.as I know. it explicitly addedthat "the bandid not detractfromthe literaryandartisticmeritof Rushdie'swork. In Pakistan. but as partof the Ministryof Finance decision (underSection 11 of the IndianCustomsAct).Mr. and with CongressPartyfortunesfailing. was put in the uncomfortableposition of having to ban a . letter Gandhi. things were considerably messier. India AlamKhan. Pakistan Pakistanand South Africa followed the Indianexample.. Fundamentalists could not forego the opportunity use anti-Rushdiemarchesto threatenthe new to of BenazirBhutto. to October 1988 The political arena in India is even more deadly than that in England.SuleiMr. and partlawyerly invocation of the constitutionallaws that protectreligious feelings of Indiancitizens. Civilization is nothing but voluntary acceptance of restraints"). part aggressive complaint about Rushdie's portrayalof Islamic figures in a novel that Shahabuddin proudlyadmittedhe had not read. leaderof Pakistan'sfirstdemocraticgovgovernment ernmentin a decade."'Twelve persons were killed during anti-Rushdiedemonstrationsin Bombay on 24 February1989 when the police opened fire duringa strugglebetween two factions to assertcontrolover Muslim leadership. Bhutto.The my vote? realissueis. . but the relationshipof Rushdie's novel to it has to do with the social relations beyond the text ratherthan with the content of the text. .Shahabuddin.the the oppositionJanata partyM. much less attendedto. whois to get theMuslim -Salman Rushdie. The history of communalviolence has deep historicalroots. generalelections were scheduledto be held within the year. PrimeMinister Rajiv Gandhicould not affordto alienateMuslim voters.BOMBAY TALKIES 117 disingenuousto Muslims who feel they have no access to the media. .P. the political arenain Britainis a fascinatingand seriousone. and cannot seem to get their issues listened to. Youknow. who spearheaded effortto get the novel banned. Khurshid manSeitandtheiralliesdon'treallycareabout novelone wayor theother. albeit not before the antiapartheid WeeklyMail was shut down for a month.
17 February1989 [Reprintedin Appignanesiand Maitland1989:87] ... 24 February1989 in [Reprinted Appignanesiand Maitland1989:11] We Muslims shouldbe as wary of the enemy's culturalfrontas we are of the enemy's militaryfront. the authorof the book entitledTheSatanic Verses .. A Saudi Arabian imam and his Tunisian assistant imam were assassinated in Brussels for asserting on television that Rushdie should not be killed. Indonesia. Malaysia. Six persons died in the march on the United States Information Service in Islamabad on 12 February. (2) the domestic politics of Iran: the defense of the revolution. to otherwise.. I call on all zealous Muslimsto execute themquickly . publishers and booksellers had to make moral decisions about whether to go forward with publication and distribution. as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents. she could have had little love for Rushdie who had mercilessly satirized her in Shame. Iran and its positioning in the international arena are the political settings that are most important to a reading of the novel. the issue of SalmanRushdiewould not be so important them as to place the entireZionism and arrogancebehindit. despite bomb threats and boycott threats.. Bombs did go off in two bookstores in London. Iran God wantedthe blasphemousbook of TheSatanic Versesto be publishednow. -Khameinei.. Qatar. -Khomeini. and to order troops to shoot demonstrators who were using the book to challenge liberal democracy.God willing. have been sentenced to death. including the competing traditions within Shi'ism of tolerating dissent versus militant. 14 February1989 in [Reprinted Appignanesiand Maitland1989:84] After Britain.. it is the worlddevourers'effort to annihilateIslam and Muslims. Religious figures in Egypt and elsewhere also came out condemning Rushdie. so that would bareits trueface in its long-held the worldof conceit. Egypt. In the West. arroganceand barbarism enmity to Islam . Fridayprayers. Reactions in other countries were politically more contained. Whoeveris killed on this pathwill be regarded as a martyr. versus democratization of literacy and critical . now America was adding insult to injury by disseminating the novel further.. and the struggle between restricted literacy. There are four distinct elements here: (1) the role of Shi'ism in the world and in the novel. but also condemning Khomeini's call for Rushdie's death. Moreover. another died and 100 were injured in demonstrations the next day in Kashmir. These demonstrations were timed to protest the American publication date of the novel: bad enough that Britain had not withdrawn the novel.118 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY book. keeping power in the hands of ulama and other elites. and the Sudan also banned the book. two in Italy. four or five in the United States. Bangladesh. -Khomeini. brutal suppression of all dissent.
(3) the furtherstruggleby the Islamic state and its opponentsto control the new technology of film. Khomeini.the due process legal proceduresof Islam were being violated. In termsof politicaldramaand skill.promised a $1-million bounty to the person who killed Rushdie. and its successful playing upon the gullibility and ignoranceof Westerners.(2) it blocked a series of moves by internalfactions to normalizerelationswith the West. Westernintellectualseventually defined the issue as one of illegitimate censorship and the right of expression. and most importantly. In fact. that helped consoliand date power. and is not enforceableunless there is a trial under Islamic due process. nor of the moralparableswithin Islampromotingtolerancein dealing with blasphem- . by issuing a fatwa and out-classed the notice achieved by calling for Rushdie's death. Khomeinihas thus categorizedRushdieas an apostate. and thus any effort by Muslims to write a refutationwould require a self-examinationof precisely the sort that the novel itself engages.BOMBAY TALKIES 119 thought. the voices of progressivesand liberals. They did not know enough aboutIslam to pick up the few timid calls by moderatesamong Muslim traditionalists thatRushdiebe at least triedbefore being sentenced(as muftis in Egypt and Saudi Arabiaproposed). proposedby the fundamentalists. and even traditionalconservatives. were muted. by directly using the mass media to incite people to kill Rushdie.of course. Western intellectuals seemed not to be aware of the long traditionof satire in the Islamic world. a cleric. In the West. these Muslims were trying to remind the world thatIslam was being violated by Khomeiniin three important ways: assassins werebeing encouragedto kill for money rather thanfor Islam. and that enforceda breakwith the United States. are drawnfrom the hadith.subjectto the deathpenaltywithouttrial. including that from which the title comes.Technically. out-trumped the Bradfordbook-burning. Implicitly. with one partialexception. and of who is a proper Muslim. HasanSanei. including what various gatekeepers regardas blasphemy(see Javadi 1988. Khomeinihas transgressed normalIslamic law here as he has done elsewhere. that his book be refuted. The (1) timingof Khomeini'scall was not arbitrary: it was a way to seize international leadershipfor a cause celebrethatothershadcreatedin otherarenas. Moreover. That is. ignoranceof the internalculturalpolitics of the Muslim world caused many people to accept the definitions of Islam. head of the 15 KhordadFoundation. The day afterKhomeini's fatwa. and Wilson 1988). and by asserting thatno repentanceby Rushdiecould be accepted(repentancecan only be judged by God accordingto usual Muslim interpretation). and (4) the international politics of Iran.admission was being made that perhapsthe book could not be refuted because. Khomeini's fatwa is but an opinion issued in response to questions submittedto him by Muslims in Britain.Within the Muslim world. Sprachman1981. The death sentence functioned much like the seizure of the American embassy hostages in November 1979 that helped pass the controversialnew constitutionthat was being opposed by AyatullahShariatmadari others. intimidatedby the extraordinary clout fundamentalism achieved in the precedhad ing two decades. however. and in the next days this amountwas addedto by other contributors. all the stories about Islam in it. and that the bountieson Rushdie's head besmirchedIslam.
darenotcompliment passCallit rather sortof beggarly a withthe nameof reading.Onlyif theyattacked should be dealtwithviolently. whichthe mindof the dreamer of and whilethewholemateriel imagery the zinessanda littlemawkish sensibility. controlof passion. reflects transmits movingphantasms ing office.not unlike the strugEnglandover whetherthe workingclass (andslaves gles in 18th-and 19th-century in America)shouldbe taughtto readand write.[citedin Appignanesi Maitland sincerelyrepented 1989:95] The furorover Rushdie's novel and Khomeini's response to it should bring into view for Westernerssocial cleavages thatMuslimshave been strugglingwith for well over a century. "Why?" "Because I doubt the existence of God.if theattackers believers. "Allah-o-Akbar! This is the beginning of certitudeand faith.he replied. they and they shouldbe forgiven." To this the Imamreplied. addictionto reading: I their Foras to the devoteesof the circulating libraries.theyshouldbe answered the sameway-book against to intending misleadthe deceitfully.or rather but for furnishes itselfnothing lain day-dreaming. opinion against opinion. ImamSadiq.should donewiththosewhoattacked in book. But." Taleqaniused the story as a protestagainst the tendency of the Islamic Republic to deal with the left by execution.120 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY ers and doubters. of course. is proudlycited by Shi'ites for his philosophicalacuity and ability to transcendpolitical adversity. To be sure. bothpoliticalandintellectual elites were saying that Islam was keeping Muslim societies backward. One might recall thatin the 1930s at the height of liberal and constitutionalism secularismin the MiddleEast. "Halaktu!" ("I am undone").by the 1970s no public figuredaredopenly assertsuch a position. Two media of communicationhave also undergonerevolutionin the interveningtime: readingand the movies.4 as Taleqani's sermon at Mutahhari'sdeath memorialis appropriate well to Mutahhari'sown opinions:5 If be Islam he Islam? theyattacked What. Coleridgeexpressedthe fears aboutLesesucht. openly. tancedmirror. Readingis not merely an empowto eringdevice. The latterhas become a hero of the left for his free-thinking. at manufacturedtheprintobscura camera ab dozeis supplied extraby sortof mental of the and fixes.he said. asked. there were worries about pulp literature.objectifying. Other stories have to do with Imam Sadiq and Ibn Abi al-'Awja.and Imam Sadiq. perhaps.andthus providinga disby externalizing. Several of the latter have to do with the sixth Shi'ite Imam. kill-time. The readingrevolutionin the Islamic world is.eventhen.not unlike mid-20th-centurydebates over television and Hollywood films. enlarged scope for reason. one of which was invokedby the late Sayyid MahmudTaleqani(the protectorof the Islamic left duringthe 1977-79 revolution)in his speech at the death memorialfor "Ayatullah" MortadaMutahhari: young man came to the A Imam and said. time.For 19th-century proponents of the spreadof literacyit signifiedthe expansionof bourgeoissociety.whichpro tempore . The demographicsand political sociology of differentstyles of religiosity have changeddramaticallyin the interveningperiod (Fischer 1982). it is (andwas understood be) a meansof promotingself-reflection and textualizingthought.a space for analysis and self-critique.
and traditionalstructures(see LarryMay 1983). Hollywood films.the ideology of taqlidwas used to build up a hierarchicalclerical organizationthat could both oppose monarchyand imperialism. so as to people the barrenness a hundredotherbrainsafflicted of with the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite purpose. the revolutionvia movies may be fasterandmorepowerful. and also repress heterodoxy and free thought.she chokes and dies on a fishbonewith no one aroundto help.S. particularly more open in social environmentssuch as that of India. television.A scene in Satanic Versesechoes the protestagainstcommunaland religious separatism. there has been a struggle between those who would restrict literacy and those who would expandit. it has been argued. Inevitablythe movie house.g. Ali Shari'ati)who urgedthe young people to read. If there is a reading revolution slowly emerging in the Islamic world.wherethe strugover the issue of taqlid [followership]have been recurrent. In the novel Shame.is never sanguine aboutthe revolutionarypotential of the movies.In the earlierpart gles of the centuryand in the 19thcentury. The Indianfilm industry-the largest in the world-operates .of separationof Muslims and Hindus. interpret.6 There are both parallels and some interestingdifferences with film developmentsin the West.BOMBAY TALKIES 121 one man's delirium. the skillful staging of demonstrations around the U.with parallelresults:SaladinChamcha'smotherthrowsa dinner party during the Indo-Pakistaniwar. one that allowed (and rewarded)individualsto breakaway from communal.. embassy for nightly satellite news broadcasts in the United States). aptly called "EmpireTalkies.and the increase of critical abilities is potentially fostered. [Schulte-Sasse 1988. and to exploit them internationally(e." is torched.Nowherehas this strugglebeen sharper thanin Iran.served the functionof providingpeople a way to thinkout the implicationsof new behavioralstyles defined by an affluentcommodity-filledworld.and rethinkIslam on theirown without need for clerical authority. In the past decades. Rushdie. emphasisin original] This could have been writtenby the ideologues of the Islamic Republic of Iran aboutthe Rushdienovel and in fact was. she insists on standingby her buffet and eating.Counterpositions have often been taken that have assertedthat ordinaryMuslims should follow leaders who know better. interestingly. The conflagrationis as violent in its microcosmic way as the massacres of the Partition. the authorityof the clergy is threatened. Islam is a traditionthatin generalrequiresthe individualto take responsibilityfor his or herown actionsbeforeGod withoutmediation. but also in Iranwhere the Islamic revolution has been very concernedto control these media (film. he has a wonderfulscene in which a Muslim cinema owner who refused to accept the idea of Partition. and while her guests scurry for cover duringan airraid. in fairly similarwords. the strugglehas shiftedto one between clerics who wish to retainauthorityover interpretationand judgment. video). With the rapidspreadof literacy. insists on showing double-featuresof Hindu "masala" films and westerns for Muslim audiences in which cowboys slaughtercows and eat them. and modem reformers(such as Dr. In the past decades. familial.
While some Muslims. geography. suggestingsomethingaboutthe shapeof his novel (froma villagelike outside. we need to clear the ground on the natureof the borrowingsfrom the Islamictradition. Thus there is a standard circularmovementfrom village to the corruptions urbanlife back of to the village. fear.Gibreel's worldwideappealis not unlike thatof Raj Kapoor. hate. RamaRao. swept acrossIran. Sree 420 ("Mr. for instance.Various styles of cinema modify these functions.Iraq. chief ministersof Tamilnadu and Kamataka. and using dramato dispel the arbitrariness the plots of of life and a resolving of characterinto their underlyingoriginarystate.8 Bombay films drawupon traditional aesthetics-building artaroundthe eight rasas (moods. including most prominentlythatof the late chief ministerof Tamilnadu. R. and RamaRao.122 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY similarly.and finalreturn India). Among the films of the 1950s that took on this shape. hilariousscene of Gibreel's hospitalizationand being visited the by IndiraGandhiand "her pilot son" (Rajiv) is modeled on a true event in the careerof AmitabhBachchan. N. dealing in love marriages. Raj Kapoor. While there are roman a clef elements in Rushdie's book that deepen the amusementfor those in the know.7 ing-class.But before turningto this corpus. chargeRushdie with blasphemy. and from povertyto affluenceto willed poverty(renunciation. the film Charkh-eFalak ("Heaven's Will") with the starsFardinand Bayk Imanverdi. R. G. G. who specializes in bringingIndianfilm to the West. emotions). and theirdistortionsof events or descriptionsin the novel are examples of how rumor and decontextualizedexcerptingcan pervertreality.ethical development).The movie producerSisodia (Whisky-andsoda). pessimism. dharma(moralvalues) andnivritti(renunciation) win over adharma(greed.cross-castepoor boy gets rich girl. andthe Soviet Union. suspicion. There is a corpushere thatought not to be dismembered. 420") was one of the most popularand is a referencepoint for Rushdie's openingscene. thathe is essentially a traitor. Turinto key.. Awaara.andAmitabhBachchan. Ramachandran. encourTamil workaging more critical. T. resignation)are exploredand tamed. Egypt. in which negative feelings (anxiety. as well of to as providingsome specifics such as its theme song which Gibreel Fareshtasings as he falls to earth. G.Syria. into the corruptions Babylondon. and personal virtuerewarded. social-justice oriented film in South India. . andthe need for worldlyinvolvementis put in perspective(see Chakravarty 1987. loneliness) andpravriti (worldliness).Gibreel'splaying gods on betweenstage screenandeventuallyin real-lifeLondonis modeledon the blurring role and political roles of M. mainly those who have not read the novel. and perceptualangles on history.whose 1950s movie.M. social. exploiting real knowledge for nefariouspurposes. Rushdiemodels Gibreelon the Indianmovie starsM. otherMuslims acknowledge thatRushdieis all too knowledgeableaboutIslam. Mishra 1985). figures. and social conflict thatresonatefrom one novel to the next. its songs being translated a dozen languages.emomarkable tional moods. It is the fourth in a series of renovels which togetherprovidea comic universeof scenes. is modeled in parton Ismail Merchant. or political reflectionand participation. provided the political basis for several state and regional political careers.even spawningan imitationin Iran. the primaryconcernhere is the interplayof the movie medium and traditionalbelief systems.
who is one of the two lead characters in the novel. epigram to UmbertoEco's Foucault's Pendulum(1989) Hazl (satire)is education.enmeshthe actorin the strugglesof early Islam:he findshimself in the role of the ArchangelGabriel. This is the rationale for certain progressive Muslims to damn the book out of an opportunisticsolidaritywith their more fundamentalist brothers: irreverent not the transformative defidelity. Masnavi (cited in Javadi 1988:16) Two sets of chapters are interbraided to form the structure of Satanic Verses: five chapters deal directly with the traumas of being an immigrant in Britain in the 1980s.At issue here.take it seriously And do not be deceived by its outerform. of course.thatit may be understoodby your wisdom. which this argumentwould repress. boys and girls.what we have concealed in one place we have disclosed in another. a Bombay film actor. Qur'anic Sources and A-maze-ments Only for you.overwhelmedby the needinessof the Prophet for furtherrevelationsto relieve the unbearable psychological pressuresof being caughtbetween the demandsof Islam and those of his pagankinsmenand townsmen (not unlike the psychological pressuresof an immigrantcaught between his childhood Islamic trainingand the sensibilities of a secular Britain-there is not only analogy but also "leakage" between the two sets of chapters). is familiarizing-revisioning the entireparodicand satirictraditionin the Islamicworld.BOMBAY TALKIES 123 The point of thus identifyingthe Qur'anicsources of Rushdie's novel is not to prove his fidelity to Islamic traditions-that is conceded by many Muslim critics-but to provide an accountof the richnessof traditionalgrounding.this argumentalso repressesthe moral parabletraditionwithin Islam. But the more specific counterarguments the chargesof blasphemyare that to these chaptersare psychologically realistic. and that they ground themselves in . The most strikingthing about the four nightmarechapterson a first superficial readingis theirlack of inventiveness:they stick too close to Islamic tradition for comfort. -Heinrich Cornelius Agrippavon Nettesheim. De occulta philosophia. -Jalaluddin Rumi. they argue. promotingtolerancein dealing with blasphemersand doubters. Several of these parableshave to do with the sixth Shi'ite Imam. like videotapes that always pick up where they last stopped. producesonly mockery. have we writtenthis work. ponder the meaning we have dispersed in various places and gathered again. childrenof doctrineand learning. Examine this book. four interstitialchaptersdeal with the nightmaresof Gibreel Farishta ("the Angel Gabriel"). of really creative literature.the other side of the strugglebetween the movies and traditional religion for the heartsand souls of men and women. These nightmares. More importantly. includingthe one that was invoked by the late Sayyid MahmudTaleqani (the protectorof the Islamic left duringthe course of the 1977-79 revolution)in his speech at the death memorialfor "Ayatullah" MortadaMutahhari.recountedabove. Imamal-Sadiq. includingwhat various gatekeepersregardas blasphemy.
who in some versions of dogma are supposedto be models of (inhuman)perfection (3.Other parodic features have not attractedire: the parodies of Khomeiniand the Prophet'smiCrdj journey.is somethingthatis acknowledgedin the novel. 2)-there is nothing in the novel that is not explicitly groundedin the hadith literature. and to refer to a Pakistani(or in the novel an Indian)charismatic village girl who leads her blindly faithfulfollowers to theirdeaths. only the brothel scene might be said to be a Rushdie invention.and unleash dormantBritish blasphemylaws againstthe hard-wongains of freedom of expression.9 and the anxieties about the text of the Qur'annot containinganythingman-made. This is not an area of easy creativity for immigrants. groundedin a frequentlyused moral parable about chaste behavior of women that Ayesha transgressed. and of Manat. Childhoodreligiosity often repeatsitself obsessively. or rather threelinkedpairsof. but even it is only inventive in its outer form: its psychology is registeredexplicitly in the Qur'an. Of these. to refer to Empress Farahof Iran.who feel their identityinsufficientlyvalued by the wider society. 22:52-55) The title alludesto a famous storyin the hadithliterature: Muhammad. in which the title storyoccurs)andof the throwing down of SatanandAdamfromParadisein the brilliantopeningscene of the novel. kill the author. Satanic Verses:the Gharaniq Story (53:19-23. Similarly. . the so-called ifkincident. the lack of inventivenessin the novel aboutIslam is trueto the subjects being depicted.in the othertwo linkedpairsthe pointingout of moralfailings of prophets." sura53. That there are quite specific sociological reasons for Muslim defensiveness and anger in an increasinglyracist Britain.under extremepressurefrom opponentsin Mecca. Almost immediately. The point is demonstratednowhere more clearly than in the authoritarian angerof otherwisequite pragmaticMuslims in Englandto burnthe book. andthe kernelof Rushdie'sinventionis presentin Shi'ite uses of the nameAyesha to rhyme with "fahisha" ("whore"). Let us examine the complaints. 4). (5) the brothel scene and (6) the three uses of the name of Ayesha (the youngest wife of the Prophet)to refer to a whore in Mecca. and who furtherfeel the interiorgroundsof their identity being underminedby the new lives they must lead. (3) the use of the name "Ma(1) hound" and (4) the calling of Ibrahima "bastard" for sending Hagar into the desert. had a revelationthat Lat. Uzza.the most important the 360 goddesses of the Ka'ba.124 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY the psychological structures explicitly mentionedin the Qur'anand elaboratedin the hadith. andportrayedat some length in scenes set in the East End of London. The novel is about immigrantsand the struggle in their interiorpsychological discourses between influences that come from the movies and those thatcome from traditional religion. especially in towns such as Bradford. Therearesix. the parodiesof the opening of Sura al-Najm("The Star. might be accepted into the Islamic belief structureas archangelslike Gabriel.anythingnot revealed by God (1. primary complaintsby Muslims: the title story and (2) the Salman Farsi story.and that is the for context (sabab al-nuzuil) the revelation of Sura al-Nur ("The Light") on female modesty.
Buraq.Manat the They are the high flying birds (al-ghardnrq) Minha al-shafa'atu turtaja for Maytheyintercede us So reportsHisham ibn Muhammadal-Kalbi (d. and for Him. . The passage.1? referringto a pre-Islamicchant that echoes uncannilyin the Qur'an. wa al-Lat al-'Uzza WaManat al-thalithat al-'ukhra Fa innahunna gharaniqal-'ula al LatandUzza Andanother. That is. You and your forebears without authority. meaningfulinflections and intonations.either by misreadingthe signs of natureand of the outcomes of humantrials in the world. Muslims debatethis story underthe name algharaniq ("high flying birds." "exalted females. dripping with sarcasm.] l What!For you. They are nothingbut names which you have devised.BOMBAY TALKIES 125 he had regrets about such compromise. for which God has sent no guidance (huda).and the back and forthmediatingof angels. third.that have intrigued." "angels"). the the Qur'aishused to circumambulate Ka'ba chanting. this The words in brackets are not part of the Qur'anic text: these are the "satanic verses" that Satancaused Muhammad a momentto think was partof the revfor elation. "They are nothingbut names you have dePhrasesand warningsabout those who claim (false) intercessors. In pre-Islamictimes. 204) in his al-Asnam("Book of Idols"). full of echoes and mirrorings. this is naughtbut a revelationtaughthim by one terriblein power")." 53:19-23): HaveyouseenLatand'Uzza? Andanother. moreover. turningits suggestions into parody. the female ('untha)? Behold such would indeed be an unfairdivision (qismatundizd).puzzled. or vised . the male. the ascent of the human/ Prophet. Listen to the echo in Sfiraal-Najm("The Star. . and to the Prophet'snight journey (mi'raj) on his high flying winged horse. . and has Theyfollowsurmise desirealthough guidance cometo themfromGod. resonates with many other passages in the Qur'an. .. Orshallmanhavewhatever fancies? he To Godbelongs worldandthehereafter. The whole passage comes immediatelyafter referencesto the Qur'an itself ("By the star when it plunges . and delightedexegetes for centuries. for which God has sent no authority" occurs also in 7:71 and 12:40.onomatopoetic word selections. their intercession (shafa'at) is to be hoped for.12 to observe the punishmentsand rewardsof heaven and hell. third. A second relevation abrogatedthe first. It is another example of the fun house a-maze-ments analyzed in chapter 2 (Fischer and Abedi 1990). and that subsequentlywere abrogatedby the following lines.Manat? the [They are high-flying birds (ghardnfq). the sfiraopens with the threemodes of communicationbetween the heavens and the world: the descent of the divine.
"are angels female?": 37:150. Godannuls and firms signs/verses His (ayat). (alqa)something umniya). References to correctly readingthe signs (dydt)of God are too numerousin the Qur'anto list. and confirmedwith the knowledge of other passages. of course. 52:39. unpoetic.andHe may . point out that there are a numberof words in the Qur'an that occur only once. andthe Arab makingOzer [Ezra?]a "son of God. 16:57. saying." Listen to the psychology of Gato briel's (God's) reassurance Muhammad: thee[Muhammad] or NeverdidWesendanymessenger (nabi)before (rasul) prophet into Satan threw a butwhenhe formed desire(tamanna. to The story is that Gabrielwould periodicallyask Muhammad recite the Qur'an back to him. Interestingly. for which God has sent no authority [sultan] ." and "for you the male. The point is thatlines andpassagesof the Qur'ando not standalone but areto be interpreted. hudd ["guidance"]. that is. and for Him the female" also echo and re-echo throughoutthe Qur'an. clarified. elsewhere in the Qur'an. is nowadaysa populargirl's name in the Arabworld. "I did not bring thatto you." and this phrase reverberatesthroughthe Qur'an (53:19.)14 is Of otherpassagesthatresonatewith these lines. andfor Him.. 7:53. "your sons and God's daughters":37:149. The sarcasmcuts multipleways: shouldGod be assigned daughters(by men) while Arabs prefer sons? Does God prefer sons as do Arabs?Is not God above such petty discrimination? sarcasmis directed The at Christiansas well: does God have a son (Jesus)?(The Qur'anaccuses Jews of God has a son. 37:153. That dizd occurs only once in the Qur'an. and they respondto Muhammad'sconcern that he might be misled. 30:13. "those who do not believe in the hereaftergive angels female names": 53:45.""recitation"). whatSatan but his umniya casts.andGodcon("desire. is further evidence for some thatthis passage may be a lateraddition.a numberof these are Persian. 39:43. a word hardto by pronounce. selected here as a word of derision. The goddesses of the Ka'ba were called the "daughtersof God. Gabrielstoppedhim at the Satanic insertion. and especially 10:18.126 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY by deliberatelytamperingwith the Qur'an. the female" firstof all refers to the Arabprivileging of the male. revealed some ten years after the Meccan verses of 53:19-20. the most important in Sura al-Hajj(22:52-55). they pray not except to a rebel Satan":4:117). They underscorethe rejection of Satan's suggestion..dzd.) There is perhapsanotheranomaly: the third line ("they are nothing but names yourselves have named . 43:19. and in so reciting Sura al-Najm. (Contemporary pressed feminist irony is added by the circumstancethat the third rhyme word. The sarcasmof "for you the male. Some modem scholars (e. These are Medinanverses.") The Christian God has daughters? The sarcasmis underscored the word .g.(Exegetes. Mehdi Bazargan)argue that this anomalyis a telltale sign of it being a lateraddition.occur in 6:94. "[those who] praynot except to female beings.. a laterrevelation.13"Daughtersof God. and regiven prominenceas the rhyme word at the end of the line. no guid- ance [hudd]") is extremely long relative to both the two precedingand the two following lines. and is thus not a normalQur'anicterm.forGodis full of knowledge wisdom..considered ugly..
weak (da'lf). Theirchainsof narrators includesuch important reliablefiguresas Ibn 'Abbas. many exegetes such as IbnHajardo not rule out the possibilitythatthe storyhas some foundation: afterall. in Jalal-ud-DinSuyuti and Jalalud-Din Mahalli's Tafsiral-Jaldlayn ("Qur'an Commentary the two Jalals"). but 57:14). but the fact that the story persists as a subject of exegetes' discussions is testimonyto the reality of the temptationboth for Muhammadand for laterMuslims in their own struggleswith such "Babylons" as London. Muhammadibn Ka'b. Dahhak. In Sura al-Najm itself. except thereof. 85-152).an interior struggle. .The line between wishful thinkingand righteousdesire becomes an ethical puzzle. and in other source books. the verses following say: Howmanyan angelthereis in theheavens whoseintercession availsnaught. people who learn nothing fromscripture theirown "wishful thinking" ("desires") (2:78. by in several different versions in Suyuti's Lubab. suggesting precisely the desires of Muhammad underpressurethatRushdieattemptsto portrayin realisticdetail. .This is nothing inventedby Rushdie. a test for the true Muslim.[22:52-55] are This is an extraordinary passage. Gibreelrecognizing both desires contestingin himself: "it was me both times. or Hamburg.in his al-Mizdn(vol. as it was for Muhammad. Paris. is a key problem in the Qur'an:Jews in the Qur'an are often called knowers only of amani. Desire. surmise [53:26-28] against The story that Muhammadcould have used the Satanic suggestion is rejectedby almost all exegetes. surmise. the word alqa here indicates Satan's careless. wishful thinking. Ummiyun. is an epithet not only for Jews. that is.andthosewhose is makewhatSatan hearts hard. 14:396-397). baba.") For some exegetes. The abrogationof Satan's suggestion is very clear. The late Allama Sayyed MuhammadHusain Tabataba'i. or missing a link (mursal). in Tabari'sTdarkh ("History"). all the narrationchains (isnad) are defective in one way or another:they are broken (munqatic). The firsttraditional questionfor evaluatingthe statusof these storieswould be to query theirisndd. and (according to Tabarsi in his Majma'al-Baydn)from them to the Prophet. 4:123. me first and second also me.BOMBAY TALKIES 127 castsa trialforthosein whosehearts sickness. New York. angelswithfemalenames. they argue. chaotic. Muhammadis also called ummi. unsystematicthrowing about.Accordingto some exegetes.Theyhavenotanyknowledge theyfollowonly and availsnaught truth. also if God gives leave.therearemultiplechains going back to CAbdullah 'Abbas and to several of the tdbi'in (second-generationMuslims). . the fact thatthere are many versions and chains of narration (kathratal-turuq) indicates that there may be some validity.however. that predetermines(is partof the essence of) Evil's failure in the struggleagainstthe divine Good (a very Zoroastrian conception). invokingthe inimitablesyntaxof Indian English. The story appearsin the early Sira (biographyof Muhammad) Ibn Is-haq by (A.H. However. Sa'id ibn Jubayr. the pluralof umniya. (As Rushdieputs it in the novel. Those who do not believe in the world to come name the . 2:111. and Muhammadibn ibn Qays.
variantis the speculationthathypocrites(munafiqin) inspired by Satanthrew in these verses. An alternative. Satan . lexical ambiguity-ghardnlq was (5) argument)therebyshowing intendedto refer to angels. but thus he could not have mistakenthe devil for Gabriel.that the story is sahlh (correct. including Ibn Hajar. of course. Muhammad wishes thatSatanexploited. was a mere mortaland could make mistakesin recitation. turnson otherreasons thanthe evaluationof the isnad. (3) doctrinalevaluation-the fallibility attributedto the Prophetin the story is itself evidence of its fabricatednature. not paying much attentionto the words. 44-46). tryingto as he had Adam and Eve. Thereare.since the Prophetwas infallible.g.(4) ironic these verses as hijdj(for the sake of reading-Muhammad interjected interpretive theirabsurdity. and which God would subsequentlyabrogate. Least impressive are doctrinalarguments:the Qur'an is the word of God. who imaginedit had come from Muhammad(and somehow got copied down in enough people's mus-hafsand memoriesto laterbe in incorporated the text) (cited in Ibn Kathir1981:vol. 2. "Are they prettybirds? Is one to prayto birds for intercession?" Tabarsi.of which this is an example (thus argues'Abu-Ali Jubba'i. p. God would have destroyedhim (e. but the polytheists mistook it to refer metaphorically be to their gods. and the story is not to be trusted. pass. Yet anotherpossibility is suggested by Tabarsi: insertedthese verses for the sake of argument.intendedto be maybe Muhammad orally heardas silly reductio ad absurdumsuggestions. summarizeseight possibilities to explain these verses: (1) psychological speculations-the word umrecited niya can mean both "recitation" and "wish". Muhammadwould begin to become anxious and desire more revelation. and the opinionof variousscholars. could he have made such a significantconcession. counterdoctrinallines of argumentthat stress that Muhammad. but does so instead on doctrinalgrounds. pp. and thus the verse was abrogatedlest misunderstanding perpetuated. thus. but which God again did not allow to misguide him. Much more interestingare the speculationsby various exegetes to explain how such verses might have come to be in the Qur'an. 10:16.although a prophet. Muhammadis not merely trustworthy(amln). for instance). 550). and finds he cannotreject it on such formal grounds. Baghawi. (6) anotherpsychological possibility-as Muhammadrecited relying on the flow of the sound of the verses.128 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY cites the numerouschains of isnad.but into the ears of the polytheists. an opportunitywhich Satan would exploit by interjectingsomething. Most of the extendeddebate.nor as infallible (ma'suim): a messenger of uncompromisingresistance against polytheism. 90-92). Shaykhal-Tusi.in his Majma'al-Bayan (vol. moremanipulative. (2) textualevaluation-the isnad is weak. and Muhammad a trustworthy is prophetwho has neitheraddedto nor subtracted from the divine revelations. which God the Qur'anthe polytheists would interrupt had or subsequentlyabrogated. and even had he done so on his own accord. 7.. 7:292-293). makingothers imagine it was partof the Qur'an. reportsfromMujahidthe psychological speculationthatwhenevertherewas a delay in the flow of relevations. valid). in his al-Tibyan(vol. suggests that Satan threw his suggestion not into the mouth of Muhammad. in his Tafsir. perhapswhen Muhammad with verses of their own.
the Qur'anand the hadithliteratureare themselves full of richly didactic stories: the Qur'ancalls itself the best of all stories (12:3).says the whole nexus of alleged contexts of revelationlinking the two sets of verses is historicallysuspect (Subhani1979:364). saying thatthey could have been deceived by false rumors. revealed some ten years later.) The point in all this is. Had they not heardof some compromisebetween Muhammad his opponents. the Europeanscholar William Muir (1878) suggests that a groupof the Muslims who fled from the oppressionof Muslims in Mecca to Habasha (Ethiopia) returnedsome three months later.and second. from the early periodof Muhammad'sprophethood. where the verses of gharaniqare said to have been.like all Muslims. and so there is little basis to give credenceto the idea thatMuhammadattempted to compromisewith the polytheists. thatalthoughthe Qur'aninveighs againstpoets and spinnersof idle tales (lahw al-hadith) which distractone from the path of God. To argue for a connectionbetween the two would be to arguethatthe verses of gharaniqwere in the Qur'anfor a decadebefore they were abrogated!On the other hand. a narrator the Rustamand Esfandiarstories . There is yet a ninth possibility given in the Qur'an itself. but Satanmodifiedthe inflectionwith which it was said so that it seemed to convey the opposite meaning. and thus arguablymight be opposed to all novels and other fictional genres. the most truthfulof stories (3:64). if they were later additions/revelations. even ten years later. (8) the literal meaning of the verse asking intercessionis contradictedby the rest of the sura.) The text remains ambiguous:it provides supportboth to those who wish to deny the Satanic verse episode ever happened.and in any case the dispute over tribal gods was not the only reason for the tension between Muhammadand the leadersof Mecca. in the same period as Sura al-Hajj(22:52-55).while Suraal-Hajjis a Medinansura.and that speculationsof the sort engaged in by Rushdie are not his invention. and Uzza for intercession!No one seriously alleges this. (JafarSubhani 11979:362-363] has respondedto Muir.or alternatively(7) the verse was intendedto mentionthe three goddesses andcondemnthem. was put througha trial so that he/Muslims might experience the devices by which the signs of God may be recognized (10:22). The verses of Suraal-Najm(53:21-23). Manat. and to those who wish to affirm that it did happen. that the debate is fully developed in traditional Muslim scholarship. 15 Finally there has been some debate on the grounds of historical (im)possibilities.BOMBAY TALKIES 129 caused him to recite the pre-Islamic poetry which sounds very similar to the Qur'aniccadence. first. is a Meccan sura. that would mean that for ten years Muslims had been asking Lat. Suraal-Najm. The sabab al-nuzulof the verse condemningidle tales is said to be condemnation of specifically of Nadhr ibn Harith.in any case. MuhammadJawad Balaghi. in the introductionto his Ala' alRahmdn. the notion that Muhammad. After all.might have been immediate correctionsof (53:19-20). but it would be the resultof taking literallythe claim that 22:52-55 is the abrogating verse for the al-gharaniq incident. there would and have been no reason for them to return. (Were the abrogatingverses only revealed ten years after the original event. but they might also be temporallymuch later.
information. and more directly the psychology of Muslim migrantsliving in the West. and for the moral universe in which manis placed as in a test or a trial(10:22). or has been in some other way tamperedwith (as Muslims claim is the case with the extantTorahand Gospels). at which point the wrath of the Prophetis unleashed. Salman. the Salman Farsi story. thatthe Qur'anis incomplete. and tests the Prophetin the hope that belief can be affirmed. but the Prophetdoes not.who helpedthe illiterateprophetcompose the scripture. Iranianslike to say that as dogma admits. How could such a person compose a Qur'an?It must have been the Zoroastrian priest. false pieties. insofar as they are sincere efforts to thinkthroughthe psychology of both the early days of Islam.) . (This part of the tale is taken from Tabari's account of Muhammad's scribe. of the Qur'anmight not be divine revelation. 'Abdullahibn Sa'd. Muhammad was illiterate. In Rushdie's version.130 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY (the epic tales of ancientIran)and the Kalileh and Demneh stories (the fables of ancient India). contains materialthat was not supposedto be there. Salmanin the novel tests the Prophetby changinga little word temporary here and there. 'Why has a sign not been sent down upon him fromhis Lord?'Say to them: 'The Unseen belongs only to God' " (10:21). hence the play with mutashabihand muhkam. Rushdie's speculationsin his novel. is that the Qur'an itself places Muslims an obligation of dealing with uncertainty: Uncertaintyis characupon teristicboth for man's knowledge of the world ("They say.analogies. Salman. The counterargument. and otherdevices of entertainment. The chargeagainstRushdie is thatthe tone or way he invokes the gharaniqincident. one of the first converts to Muhammad'sleadershipand one of of the transcribers the Qur'an. Nine times the Qur'an rejects those who call the stories in the (tales of the ancients). are no differentthan the debatesin the long historyof Islamic scholarship.and moreoverhe was from a traditionthatknew little of scriptures. SalmanRushdie)wants to establish the truthvalue of Islam andget rid of the naivetes. The storyof SalmanFarsi("Salman the Persian") is an Iraniannationalist. TheTwoSalmans:SalmanFarsi and SalmanRushdie The concern about the "Satanic Verses" is not merely about whether the incidentat Mecca happened.narrative. in other words. asdtfr being the Arabic pluraliQur'anasdtir al-awwalTn zation of the Greekhistoria (inquiry.history).which often too have drawnon humor. thus. course. and the calling of the Prophetby the anti-Muslim slur "Mahound" constitutes a pattern of undermining the authority of the of Qur'anictext. until rathermajor changes are made. or even all.anti-Arabone.parables. 2]).tafsir and tawil analyzed in Fischer and Abedi [1990. is psychologically a Muslim figure who like so many emigrantsin the West (above all the other Salman. chapt. andpolitically in motivatedperversionsthatmakemany versionsof Islamunsustainable the conworld. Salman is a figure of desire: he desperatelywants to believe in the Prophet. who lost his faith after the Prophetfailed to notice a here is of the secularMusThe figuration deliberatemistakein his transcription.the concern is the allegationthat some. and Rushdie merely retells it in vivid fashion. hoping the Prophetwill notice.
fled when Muhammadreturnedto Mecca victoriously. The novel sets itself not only against misuses in state coercion. the owner of the ShandaarCafe. adaptingthe Islamic message to the contemporaryworld. It could be argued.moreover. and succor for the beleaguereddenizens of Brickall Street. a linguistic usage that is in its implicationsno betterthan "Mahound. how many Westernersstill refer to Islam as Muhammadanism. and Mishal attemptsto explain the posters and sweatshirtswith the goat-devil logo as a similar gesture of defiance against the rampantracism of Thatcher'sEngland. and at some point becoming subject to the repressive wrath of fundamentalist brethrenwhose sense of Islam is violated.and others. but his son. althoughone of the opponentsof Muhammad the Battles of Uhud and Badr. SalmanRushdie. MahoundversusMuhammad: TurningInsults into Strength "Mahound" was a medieval Christianterm of abuse for the Prophetof Islam. in all religious traditions. the supplier of food.Muslim critics find this explanationdisingenuous. long before Khomeini issued a literal death threat.Abu in Sufyan. The tactic is recognized to be lame and ineffective in stoppingracism. is famous as a symbol of female vio- . Mahoundis the of name of the Muhammadof Khomeini. This is all too realistic and obvious. but also against the repressions and distortionsof socializationthat Rushdie and so many others. Rushdie adopts this name "to turn insults into strength" (1988:93). rather like the defiantwearingof yellow starsto resist anti-Semites.Abu Sufyan's wife.Moreover. Joshi attemptsto write poetry that takes the speeches of Enoch Powell and turnsPowell's racistrhetoricagainstthe fascists. and his daughter(UmmaHabiba)marriedthe Prophet. when he has JumpyJoshi and Mishal Sufiyanproposethe same strategyagainstfascists.have seen as problematic. a place to gather.There is a good Muslim in the novel who lives up to the name Muhammad. Abbas. Historically. and immediately soughtforgivenessthroughthe Prophet'suncle. who in the name of Islam (mis)use the power of the state in morallyquestionableways.BOMBAY TALKIES 131 lim. Not only was he forgiven. Abu Sufyan is one of the firstShi'ites. And it is in this context that the name "Mahound" must be seen. Abu Sufyan and his wife Hindare interestingfiguresthatdeepen the resonancesof Rushdie'scrafting.thatRushdie's use of the term Mahoundis a dramaticallyeffective tactic to draw Westernattentionto the ways in which Western linguistic usages unthinkinglyinsult and degrade Muslims: after all." Secondly. Zia-ul-Haq. however. and not only did he convert. Mu'awwiyya. but important buildingup the prideand will in to resist among Muslims.but whatthey fail to acknowledgeis firstof all that Rushdie problematizesthis strategy in the Brickall Street scenes. since he was the firstto come to Ali and offer to raise an army to restoreAli to his rightfulplace as the successor to Muhammad. Rushdie uses the distinctionbetween Mahoundand Muhammad to focus attentionon moraland immoralappropriations Islam.and whose primaryvirtue is explicitly described as not being a fanatic. That person is MuhammadSufyan. his house was made a sanctuarywhere people could seek refuge (like the Shandaar Cafe). was made a scribe of revelation.
It is said. and this fits with the Hind of early Muslim history.When Rushdiechides Ibrahimfor having abandonedHagarand morality(a fathershould not Ishma'il. a brother. too. Mu'awwiyyalaterbecame the founder of the Umayyid dynasty and thus has a bad reputationamong Shi'ites. are cursed by Shi'ites with the epithet "son of the liver-eater. wrathshould or where he stood when he rebuiltthe Ka'ba. TheBastardIbrahim:Basic Moral Questions a Muslim critics claim to see in Rushdie's chiding of Abraham/Ibrahim continuationof the disrespecttowardprophetsthat they see in Rushdie's use of the name Mahound.Allegations were raisedaboutthe compromisingposition she had allowed herself to .chewed it up and spat it out.But Abu Sufyan's own reputation a sincere convert to Islam. Thatfundamentalists' be stirredup by Rushdie'spointingout a feministcritiqueof male chauvinismcan discredit. woman. an uncle of the Prophet.and an uncle in the early battles against the Muslims. only be to Rushdie's credit and to fundamentalists' TheBrothelScene: TheIfkIncident(24:11-21) In the fifth or sixth year of the Islamic era. Do they in fact celebrate the survivalof Hagar?Thatis.Mu'awwiyya and Yezid. These were people caughtin the messy realityof nastypoliticalbattles. moreover. as sors: Ali and his descendants. converted. At the Battle of Uhud. unsympathetic to the plight of Chamcha. there are even some wild Shi'ite accusationsthatAbbasandAbu Sufyanconcocteda secret alliance that would keep the caliphate in the hands of their descendants (the Umayyids and the Abbasids)ratherthan allowing it to go to the rightfulpossesseems secure. and as the owner of a house deemed by the Prophet worthyof being a sanctuary.just as are the owners of the cafe on BrickallStreet.and focus more on the maqdm(footprint) of Ibrahim. and the womenfolk with Hind made garlandsout of the noses and ears of the enemy.the place where he stood when he came to visit his son and grandson.132 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY lence and brutalityin vengeance for her menfolk.failed to reenterher closed palanquinat one of the rest stops. at which point he received a revelationthatmandatedvengeance be limited to equivalence:one life for one life. do they consciously reenactthe dual relianceupon reasonas well as on faith in God when they runback and forth as she did? Or do they deemphasizethe parableof Hagar. he not only mildly invokes contemporary abandonconsort and child to the desert). Rushdie's Hind is also a hard. She lost her father. the Muslim forces were crushed. She was found by Safwan who escortedher back to the caravan. thatthe Prophetwas so enragedat the desecrationof Hamza's corpse that he swore to kill large numbersof those involved." But she. and swore not to sleep with Abu Sufyan until they were avenged. She is thus known as "Hind the liver-eater. Hind is said to have rippedout the liver of Hamza. on the returnfrom an expedition to the Banu Mustaliq. but he questionswhethercontemporary Muslim pilgrimsknow why they congregateat the hajj. but not evil. Ayesha. a son. and was left behind." and her son and grandson. the youngest and most beloved wife of the Prophet.
"Whores and writers. Thereis a controversialscene in Rushdie'snovel.is not fully partof the game. and then returnedto Iran. vomen's behavior and on male tongues. but are given a shortperiodof grace to phase themselves out of business. I see no difference.16 . and he and Ayesha remained at odds. The linkage between whores and writersis a comment on the way Khomeiniandotherfundamentalists treatwritersand intellectuals. the whorehousesare to be closed. the Qur'an that originally refers to the psychology of jealousy and insinuationabout the Prophet's wives. and Salman narratesthe ifk story about Ayesha's indiscretion.Rushdie comments. and analogically is a commentaryon Khomeini's Iran.We are the people you can't forgive. Muhammadhad a revelation that cleared her of wrongdoing. however. markedby their special seclusion. Shi'ites in have seen Ayesha as a model of female transgression. In the brothels. Imam Ali. who is being hidden by the madame in the labyrinthof the whorehouse. rules. and Shi'ites often rhyme Ayesha's name with the word for whore.For the whores. "Writersand whores. No Shi'ite names his daughterAyesha. the Prophethas thirteen. Baal is found and taken for beheading. He cries out. when he is imposing the rules and taboos of the new religion. prayersin secret to the old gods. (The madame. bringresistanceand avoidance. like Khadijeh." Mahoundreplies. It is a scene thatis set after the victoriousreturnof the Prophetto Mecca. as in Mecca centuriesearlier. who has by now also been forced into hiding. and tries to impose rules of proprietyboth oi. after all. Imam Ali. and even that after the Prophet's death no man would be allowed to marryhis widows.Baal writes verses to each of his twelve wives. Rules." The entire scene works in terms of psychological realism. lead to salaciousjealousy. It is. But the scene is also linked to the satireaboutKhomeini. Baal becomes a drinking partnerwith Salman Farsi.) In a cute side intuition. firstwithdrawn to London. the defeated poet that Abu Simbel had hired to vilify the Muslims. fahisha.ratherthan as a particular model of a good Muslimwoman (FatimaandZeinabarethe models of good Muslim women). where.BOMBAY TALKIES 133 be placed in. it also becomes public that they have the names of the Prophet'swives. The resentmentabout the Prophet'swives and the special status accordedthem. Revelationsalso imposed social conditionsof concealmentfor the wives of the Prophet. it is the dreammarriagethey would never have. people talk about the black marketin pork. and they each choose the role of one of the Prophet'swives. The othereleven whores decide thatthe same psychology may delight other customers. and as they become public.used the story to warn women against allowing any situationto arise in which even the appearanceor possibility of misdeeds could arise. Sunni women who live in a predominantlyShi'ite Iranand who are given the name Ayesha usually have another name which they use in public. Mahound.Rushdie has the whores all marryBaal. would not allow the issue to die. and Baal is encouragedto act out the role of the Prophet. rules. and after him Muslim preachers. and especially they mutterthat while ordinaryMuslims are limited to four wives. A customerin one of the whorehousesgets excited at the idea of havingthe youngestwhore in the brothelplay the youngestwife of the Prophet. and furtherproposed punishmentsfor those who spreadrumorsand talk idly about chastewomen.
and an epileptic village girl.134 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY When Muhammadreturnedto Mecca in power. The parody of Khomeini is a tour de force. The chapter is in two parts. very tolerant." an extravagance that infuriated most Iranians. [Appignanesiand Maitland1989:29] Ayesha-Fahisha Three Ayeshas occur in Rushdie's novel: the whore in the Meccan videotape nightmare discussed above.. a weapon of the West turned against its makers") who begins the daily broadcast with ritual abuse of the Empress. the image of Malcolm X that the Islamic Republic tried to use to urge American blacks to rise against the Great Satan. including among other things the Imam's radio broadcaster. "the voice of American confidence. Burnthe books and trustthe Book. and so on . the electronic age). the interlude before Khomeini returns victorious to Iran in 1979 from his exile in Iraq and Paris. the Ethiopian convert. celebrating so many years of "continuous monarchy. it also seems to be an homage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez..bribes. spiritual transformation). not only Muslims. a desert town of sand and its derivatives: glass (mirrors) and silicon (chips. Now there you have an image that I thoughtwas worth exploring. of time. who leads gullible villagers on a pilgrimage to Mecca on foot into the Arabian Sea where they drown blissfully in a mirage of absolute faith (many of the images work as elaborate visual puns). And I think.) The latter two occur in a chapter called "Ayesha. he was very. America.andtwo were actresseswho had performed in satiricaltexts. shredthe papersand hear the Word. Bilal (the name of the first muezzin).." an interlude before the Muslims return victorious to Mecca. Ibrahim Yazd. We can now turn back to the novel. figured as an American convert (Bilal.. one about the Imam in exile (introduced by an evocative reminder that this is a nightmare: "now the dream rushes him up the outer wall").. sexual relationswith lizards. only five or six people were executed . if I remembercorrectly. clad in butterflies (beautiful raiments." [1988:210] The reference to the calendars is of course to the new Pahlavi calendar that the Shah attempted to introduce in the late 1970s. the spokesman in Paris at his side... but primarily. which would have made the present. from Houston. of calendars. who has a similar figure covered in butterflies. The sexual innuendo and the use of curses is true to the rhetoric of the revolution which delighted in the language of "exposing" the Shah and his regime. "Death to the tyrannyof the EmpressAyesha. two were writers.of America. .. and to the chapters on Gibreel Farishta's nightmares in which he stars as the archangel Gabriel struggling with the Prophet in the oasis town of Jahilia. murders. and the village Titlipur ["Butterfly Village"] is a reference to the song "Titli Udi" from the Hindi film Suraj. with lists of her crimes. (The last is based on a famous incident in Pakistan (Ahmad 1986). and the other about blind faith solutions to problems in India. Jahilia is the . the year 2500 odd. And of those five or six people. both to the chapters on Muslim migrants struggling to create a place for themselves in Thatcher's Britain. the Empress Farah Pahlavi. as it was revealedby the Angel Gibreelto the Messenger and Mahoundand explicatedby your interpreter Imam.
polymorphous perversity and fecundity run riot. which had the qualityof convincingeach readerthatit was his personalautobiography. of deafness to Islam. then and the book filled up ourcountryandheadedout to sea. a trade center whose economy was under threat from the shifting of trade from caravans to boats. land of female goddesses par excellence: from Kali to Indira Gandhi. a schizoid personality going crazy by insisting on maintaining the continuity of his selfhood. with an Oxbridge accent. and obviously as both Salman Rushdie (the Gibreel.17 a jumbo jet named "Bostan" (a name of one . of a single northern countrycalled Britainwhose inhabitantshad long ago become immune to the book disease. The image of the town of sand. India. It is one of four hijacking scenes that tease with historical allusions. and in fundamentalist rhetoric it applies as well to the current age of decadence. writer like Angel Gabriel Marquez. gibbering movie reel. so thatwhen the miracleof the printingpressesoccurredwe noddedour heads knowingly. but primarily serve to introduce the lead characters. is not merely true to a desert oasis with its adobe buildings. the name of the Egyptian temple whose site was drowned under the waters of Aswan High Dam." (1982b:3) Review of GabrielGarciaMarquez'sChronicleof a Death Foretold The opening scene introduces all the major themes of the book. mountains. 360 idols and more. and under the spell of that nostalgic witchcraftwe arose from our wooden benches and gardenswings and ran without once drawingbreathto the place where the dementedprintingpresses were breedingbooks fasterthanfruitflies. and the Chamcha. Hind. by modem technology. but Rushdie also has the ruler named Abu Simbel.andthe books leaptinto ourhandswithoutoureven havingto stretchout our arms. as psychological studies of the South Asian Muslim immigrant.underground railwaysand desertshad been completelyclogged up by the endless copies emergingfromthe bewitchedprinting press.the flood of books spilled out of the printroom and knockeddown the firstarrivalsat the streets and the sidewalks and rose lap high in the ground-floorrooms of all the houses for miles around.BOMBAY TALKIES 135 name for the age of ignorance before Islam. 420"). no matterhow virulentthe strain. Gibreel Farishta ("Angel Gabriel") and Saladin Chamcha. but of course the foreknowledgeof his sorcerydid not release us from its power. andwe understoodin the insanity of our possession that the phenomenonwould not cease until the entire surfaceof the globe had been covered. because for many years he had talked too much about angels for someone who had no wings. we had all been ravishedlike willing virgins by that tale. that is. with the exception.so thatthere was no one who could escape from that story. as well as symbols that will be unpacked or created throughout. whose enemy is water. composed of discontinuous parts). -Salman Rushdie. England-besotted alien. Muslims as the enemies of the city of idolatry and false commodity religion are crystallized in the image of them constantly engaged in ablutions with water. as Melquidadesthe gypsy told us. if you were blind or shut your eyes it did you no good because there were always voices readingaloud within earshot. until seas. Air India Flight 420 (reference to the popular film "Mr. Abu Simbel's Queen is that other great threat. exalted females. "Angel Gabriel. of course. Reading the Novel: Hijacked Souls We had suspectedfor a long time that the man Gabrielwas capable of miracles.
playing to the satellitetelevision newscastjust the way they have seen it done on television. "mutation? Yessir. . the young Sikh terrorists struttingat the doorway. falling hard. untranslatable jokes. home." The fall from Paradise. and her Canadianaccent (who terrorizeswho.Chamchahead-firstlike a new bornin three-piecesuit and bowler hat.The scene that aroundthe hijackerswith completesthe opening section of the book is constructed the plane on the groundat the Zamzam(the well at Mecca) oasis. West the East. a spectralfigureof Rekka Channel). Qaf). the exterminatingangel." while Gibreel Farista holds himself perversely upright.structural. severed mother-tongues. terrifiedof water. what deals. brokenmemories." a me- tamorphosingdescent from Everest (mystical peak) of catastrophe. floatdown to earth. an egg yielding its mysteries.Tavleen. deja vu similacra.real unreality.. ." a space of mutation.the only survivors. Alleluia Cone andPamelaLovelace). The issue for the 20th centuryand the theme of the book is "how does newness come into the world? How does it survive.As the two lead characters Merchanton her flying carpet curses Gibreel with the name Al-Lat."down and along the hole thatwent to Wonderland. or East the West?). Babylon. Mecca the city of sand. pitting levity againstgravity.The two main characters.as Daniel Defoe put it in his History of the Devil. . turned fallen angel (andman) into a vagabondwithoutfixed place. singing Christmascarols and "Rule Britannia. a deja vu that he had alreadydreamt:he had alreadydreamtof the woman terrorist. belonging. lost loves." The explosion occurs above the city named "Mahogonny. AlLat the female rival of Allah from the Qur'anicstory of attemptsto repress the idols of Mecca. ." "if you live in the twentiethcen- . repetitionsanddisplacements(mechanical. It is a nightmare:for Chamcha. the ice-woman (fair-skin. the icewoman. London". who means business. extinguished futures. extreme and dangerousas it is? What compromises. into Alphaville. those bastardsdown therewon't know what hit them. it is a wateryreincarnation the "English sleeve" (the somersaultdown. what betrayalsof its secret naturemust it make to stave off the wrecking crew. . Some symbols: Everest (like Sinai and Mr. which serves as Rushdie's epigram (1988:1). patterned and psychological).and the beautifulCanadian-accented woman terroristwith grenadesand dynamitesticks stuck between her thighs and breasts. made the century possible. singing funny songs. sloughed off selves. the otherthreehijackingscenes introducethe themesof dreamsand reality afterthe movies. but not random . If the opening scene introduces the problems of newness come into the world. forgotten meanings of hollow booming words land. a repetition("what did they want.nothingso new aboutthat . Thejumbojet is "a seed pod giving up its spores.is blown up by Sikh terrorists by a Canadianled accentedwoman (shadesof the Air Indiaflight blown up fromCanadaen routeto in Englandby Sikh terrorists revenge for the Indiangovernment's1984 Operation Bluestarinvasion of the Golden Temple in Amritsarand killing of separatistSikh leaderSant Jarail Singh Bhindranwale). the guillotine?" "Just two brown men.violated privacies." "debris of the soul. made possible by the century . nothingnew. nightmare.136 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY of the four gardensof Paradise). the Englishbeloveds of the Indianmen.
they were here to be on tv"). the archangeldies. that fantasticoccupationin which .regenerated. and over Europe she pulls the pin."Gibreel Farishta to Saladin said Chamcha much later. At the very end. But Chamchais transformed the explosion into a devilby figure with foul breath. embarrassinghim. only having to cope with his own psychic crisis. It is the fall metaphorcome full circle (Adam and Satan both fall from heaven. Gibreel is introduced first. it is a time to joke aboutreincarnation. a Sikh who has cut his hairand given up his turban(violence is sharpestagainstthe traitors). doing voice-overs for radio commercials but never showing his dark face on television. Chamchaand Gibreelare a pair. the perfect alien. where Chamchais asleep and is wakened by the stewardessand finds his English mask has slipped and the Indian-Englishlilt and syntax of his youth squeaks out. Both are twice born.Chamchais afflicted with a seatmate who is an American creationist scientist who has been out to convert India. for which guilt he is afflicted by never-endingnightmares. Me. I didit on twooccasions. he loses his halitosis and gains a halo. for Gibreel desperateto fight off sleep and his ongoing nightmareof being the archangel(it always picks up where it left off like a video. man survives amid the "death of God"). leaving EnglandandBombayto Chamcha. their positions reverseagain:Gibreel. metonymic remindersof the grimly comic absurdityof reality:Tavleen shoots Jalandari first.18 and was put to work as a tiffin runnerin Bombay. Finally. thereby opening the stories within the frame story. the discontinuousself survivesin a triumphof postmodernism. Spoono."firstyou haveto die. on the way from Bombay.while the continuousself is destroyedby its religious megalomaniathatoverwhelms it. the exotic celebrity. just before the hijacking occurs. the one an illusionist on the Bombay film stage who has lost his faith. as if it is real and we are the dream). so it addsup. And there is the scene that explains the origins of Gibreel's guilt-drivennightmarethat is the source of the Muslim thematics of the novel.as if the hijackingwere a second gestation creatingfifty siblings born at once (like midnight's children).Andnow.Spoono friend. thisnota bloody finething?"[1988:31] Gibreel the Bombay actor is effortlessly turnedinto a denizen of England. in the modernworld. There are historical details.it counts. go throughhospital transformations: "Tobe bornagain.newmanwitha newlife.BOMBAY TALKIES 137 tury. He was born in Poona (long before it was Rajneesh's lair) as Ismail (the sacrifice) Najmuddin("star of the faith"). Vilayet. I onlyhalf-expired. and has eaten pork." "the three men hijackerswere too narcissistic to want blood. Two intermediatescenes explore the interiorityof the two main characters: there's the scene inside the plane. and only after his hospitalizationand recovery does he lose his horns and bad breath. but and hospital plane. a would-be Englishmanwho pursuesthat other 20th-centurycareer. you don't find it hardto see yourself in those more desperatewho seek to shape it to their will. hereI stand before in Proper my you a is London.the other. Tavleen ordersthem to take off. imitating myriads of characters both humanand commodities.
This uncle taught him to think aboutreincarnation. Rama. Meanwhile. he was orphaned(his father.the monk who disciple taughtthat one should practicecarryingwaterthrougha crowd to learnto live in the world without being part of it. andthe son is in a board- . the Buddha)until one day.SaladinChamchahad spentin England. what did he have in store for the rest of the country?"Duringhis illness. Released from the hospital.she was hit by a bus). and was adoptedby an uncle who hopedthata child would diverthis wife's obsessive babying and controllinghim.He landed a job in the film his industrywith the film magnateD. (The allusion is to the 2.one Muslim. Then suddenlyon his 40th birthday.)The note encourageshis downstairsneighborto jump out the window with her children:her spiritfloatingon a carpetsurvives to curse him as he floats down from the hijackedplane.which togetherwith his mother'sstories about the Prophethelped preprogram later nightmares. which he haddecoratedin the motif of a bedouintentby a Frenchdesignerrecommended by the Shah after he had done such a good job at Persepolis. one more Hinduized. Rage at his fatherwould turnhim into a secularman (Rushdie 1988:43). he began to hemorrhage.the stardisappears. and skin translucent mountainice. mysteriously. He had been en route to find his love. and became a star in theologicals (playing Ganesh. a fierce and stem (ChangezChamchawalla) of Chanakaya. years later the fathertakes the son to London.ran out of his skin.leaving behind only a note in his EverestVilla penthouse(on the exclusive MalabarHill). figuring(with the logic of Indianpolitics) that "if God had unleased such an act of retribution against his most celebratedincarnation. is given a childhood psychology: son of a fertilizermanufacturer ("empire of dung").500-year celebrationof continuousmonarchythatthe Shahhadcateredfrom Parisin 1971. also a tiffin runner. At one point the lad is embarrassed carryingfast food chicken stuffedin his shirtup the elevator. pushing himself in rivalrywith his son for the love of their wife/ mother. he rushed immediately to the Taj Hotel where he stuffed himself with English pork to prove the death of God ("pork sausages from Wiltshireand the cured York hams and the rashersof bacon from with the gammon steaks of his unbelief and the pig's trottersof godknowswhere. Hanuman. Here Gibreellearnedthe skill thatwould allow him to do 11 movies simultaneously(a truefeatureof Bombayfilmmaking). one poor.Krishna. muchto the outrageof his subjects.(Like Saleem and Shiva in Midnight's Children. one too refined.138 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY millions of hot lunches from home are delivered to offices all over town. at which point he began to miraculously recover.At age 13. too. and there met and had an orgiastic three-dayaffair with a woman mountainclimberof near white hair. while the father sits in the hotel room fasting. one too plebian. returnsthe wallet andmakeshim spendthe money on theirfood andlodging.he became angry.) Saladin.they aremetaphorical changelings:one rich. then finally prayedthat God not exist. secularism").then emptywith despair.Even IndiraGandhiand her pilot son came to the hospital to pay theirrespects. the fathertakes it away. Alleluia Cone. When the boy finds a wallet of money. the same 15 years that Gibreelhad spent in the Bombay movie industry. Alleas luia Cone. The fatherleaves. Gibreel prayedto God. W.remembering roles by the complex codes the of tiffin running. but nothinghappened.
began by eating a mouthful of English sand" [1988:44]. particularlyafter he tells her abouthis life as an unseen man of a thousandvoices." "en. "A City Visible but Unseen. Pamela Lovelace." "dee.In the end he must returnto England. letterby letter. with whom he goes to bed within 48 hours of returningto India. an Englishman. it takes 90 minutes of painful mouthfulsof tiny bones. Zeeny is posed as a contrast." (1988:58). he wasn't able to say").a car built for a servant thanthe front. ("The eaten kipperwas his firstvictory. and . drives him aroundin a "beaten-upHindustan.No one is willing to show him how to eat it. a Holi world." [1988:52]) and art critic (opposed to myths of authenticity. City of Apparitions.The title is "London" spelled out as in a nursery rhyme. a shadow. She's an M.BOMBAY TALKIES 139 ing school where he is presented with a kipper for breakfast. "ell. but he is not allowed to leave until he finishes it." "en. and abouthis costar Mimi Mamoulian(the Jewish-Armenian). while Chamchahas the dis-ease of wanting to be someone else. Zeeny Vakil.mutant.one who revels in eclectic hybridism. the firststep in his conquest of England.Zeeny is "a siren temptinghim back to his old self." so that it looks like "Halloween Divine" ("Elloween Deeowen")." This pair of chapterspresentsthe English wives/lovers of the two main charactersnot only as sirens of Indian males' desires. a follow-up chapteris called.RushdieportraysLondonas a landscape of psychological mutations.Jewish.she stood in hernewsprintsarimunching on party food "to show that Hindus-Muslimscan love as well as hate" a (1988:46).) On his first return home. and tries to reclaim him for India.the fatherremarries womanwith the same name." andspoutstearsthe color culture. Just in case one missed it the first time. a ghost. his mother chokes to death on fishbones duringthe Indo-Pakistan war: while everyone else coweredunderthe tableduringthe air-raid.revels in the eclecticism of Indianculture). He also visits an old friend. but faints even before making love "because the messages reachinghis brainwere in such seriousdisagreement"(1988:51). William the Conqueror. But it was a dead self. Archetypically.She takes him to heated political discussions. and fatherand son quarrel.The novel takes place as Saladinreturnshome once more to tryto make some sortof peace with his father("what Saladinhadcome to India for: forgiveness. and to his English wife.D." "ow. but as themselves tragi-comic.the back seat betterupholstered and consistency of buffalo milk.changlingsjust like the two lead characters: Rushdie's point aboutAsian immigrantslaying claim to a historyof Huguenot." "ow. and went to Bhopal the "moment the news broke of the invisible American cloud that ate people's eyes and lungs. (works with the homeless.it is said. Irish. But whetherto give or receive. as a teenager she had already boasted a Mary Quanthairstyle. the archetypeof painful learningof the immigrant. using an Indianversion of a Sartreparableto display differences in moralattitude. but the visit goes badly. Night of All Souls: The Cast In a brilliantlytitled five-scene chapter.incapable of a sense of tragedy. and he accuses Indiansof a lack of moralrefinement.
and in her social service and social radicalismtries to overturnall that her backgroundrepresentsfor Saladin. which reveries imprisonand involve Gibreel so that he viscerally feels the pain of the dagger thrustsof the duel in her memory ("violent pain in his Rosa Diamondis a colonial navel.who anglicized his name from Cohen. Other charactersare addedto the cast who also help make the point that. she frequentlyslips into reveries of her life in Argentinaand the violent honor feuds of that colonial society. leaving her with the aristocratic to menstruate. and tried to conform to an English gentry pattern. he was readyto be anythingthey wantedto buy." Saladin "was a real Saladin. iteratedin several places. she sees the two figures floatingdown and immediatelybecomes the vehicle of Rushdie's conceit. and would periodicallylock herself in the bedroom.except that "whereas the Normanfleet came sailing openly. pretendingto be ChairmanMao who killed Father ." wantinglove. that this is anotherinvasion like that of William the Conqueror. everyone is wrappedup in dreamsof being other/elsewhere. First of all. house-parties. she had no confidence at all" (1988:50). and most importantly. headscarves. A manwith a holy landto conquer. whereas in fact . Rushdie's first novel).only afterhe had pursuedPamelafor two years and marriedher did he discover that she had no self-confidence.near whose house Chamcha and Gibreel land: she is the figure of the elusive "real England. saddle soap.each of them rushingtowardsthe very thing from which the other was in flight.his England"(1988:175)." "no shame. psychologically. these shades were sneaky". he was the actor'sactor:"In the theatereverybody gets kissed and everybody is darling.He would read no Polish literature.saying it had been pollutedby history: " 'I am English now. .Alleluia Cone is the daughterof a Polish Jewish emigre. Second."'He would celebrateChristmas an "English rite. They are thus opposites and theirs is "a marriageof crossed-purposes. Gibreel's English "significantother" is a similarlycomplicatedmirror. not only herself lost in reveries of the past. Her parents"had committedsuicide togetherwhen she hadjust begun over theirheads in gamblingdebts. wartimeprison camp survivor." "reeking of patchouli. but imposing these reveries on others. . a pulling pain")." PamelaLovelace is SaladinChamcha'sEnglish wife." Saladinneeded someone to believe in his remakinghimself as an Englishman. imagininghordesof them. family pews. the mystical "rose stone" (of Grimus. of analogueto the primarydream-imprisoning Gibreel by Islam: "He was being held prisonerandmanipulated the force of Rosa's will just as the Angel Gibreel by was obligatedto speak by the need of Mahound. .The most surrealof these is 88year-old Rosa Diamond. The actor's life offers the simulacrumof love." She works on a community relationscouncil. thatchedhouses." the philosopher's stone. widow of an Argentinian.140 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY other immigrant/minority experiences is richly redeemed. hockey-sticks. bellow of a voice that marked her out as a golden girl . a "voice composed of tweeds. and large dogs.wearinga white kurta. summerpudding. Third. yet he too could dress up as "everybody's goddam cartoonof the mysteriesof the East. she yells at them to come out into the police floodlights. and art historian.nuns.' he would say proudlyin his as accent." thickEastEuropean but spoil it Scrooge fashion. .
which calls the police. And the identification of immigrantsis made complete by a vendor saying to Alleluia." She becomes a mountainclimber (Cone). Batuttaengages in variousbusiness schemes (Batutta'sTravels.. (Shades of Primo Levi: "Why does a survivorof the camps live 40 years and then complete the job?") She reactedby returningto "Cohen. Their motherassimilates Gibreel's mutteringswhile he is asleep to dybuks (demons of East EuropeanJewish folklore).000." and Alleluia has a bizarrevision of elephants(pachys). and is told.and he asks if they will take a $40. the synagogue. scaler of Mt.The paddywagon andhospitalscenes togetherwith the laterClub Hot Wax andriot scene in the East End of London. it turnsout he has enough to cover the check in the bank. and she throws him out. the home of generations of immigrants/mutants.000 cash. the Jewish-Armenianactress. a benign entertainer (she dresses him in jodhpursand smokingjacket). Mimi Mamoulian. and Billy is arrestedfor passing a bad check." To Gibreel." she says in Nietzscheanfashion. he committedsuicide. frigid. of which the wildest scam is the day he takes Mimi to a New York furrier and picks out an expensive mink coat for her. and subsequentlyappearsin ads for outdoorproducts. While Gibreelis co-optedinto Rosa Diamond'snostalgia.. I am fully aware of Billy I'manintelligent female.19 They have a stormyrelationin which he has jealous rages. namedafter the 14th-centuryworld traveler. with a face not to be shown. able to do fifteen minutes on Stoicism and more on Japanese cinema . ship.. He goes next door and sells the coat for $30. Ibn Batutta. The second store tells the first. It is Fridayafternoon. she retorts: modernistcritiquesof the West . "a brown Jew. provide the . And as an intelligentwoman. andhe over 70. Chanukka. hordes of invadingpachyderms: "What's a pachy?" she asks. Monday morning when the banks open. Eventuallyshe takes up with Billy Batutta. Alleluia Cone. and threatensto sue the store for millions for false arrest and damage to his reputation.000 check. Why did she climb Everest? "To escape from good and evil. is Saladin Chamcha's female complementon "The Alien's Show": she too is a thousandvoices.ice-clearskin. Night of All Souls: The Plot The story line is built aroundimmigrantsbeing treatedas mutants.playboy Pakistani.When Alleluia was 14. and Bloom's": "no more imitation of life. wants to produce Hindi films in Englandand have starslike Gibreelcavortat BradfordTown Hall. [1988:261] exploitation.. a bit actorin the colonial past. equally traumatized their father'sdeath by but in differentways. who with the stutteringproducerSisodia (Whiskyand Soda). They do. she is a vision of the ice-woman(climberof Everest. that after 23 years (the spanof the Prophet'smission) he was being drivenout by "Pakis.BOMBAY TALKIES 141 Christmas.I haveread with Wake. the would-be Englishmanturnsinto/is treatedas a goat-devil and is hauled off in a paddywagon.they settle for $250. Chamcha. City of Apparitions. ending up in a hospitalfull of similarmutants.visionary secularsign of the supernatural).andamconversant postFinnegan's Don'tteachme about boy'sreputation. When Saladintries to warnMimi aboutBilly. She has a sister.. Everest. is transformedinto a supertanker fleet).
. ." "But how do they do it? Chamchawantedto know. as if . and a huge phallus. BrickallStreetitself is portrayed with epic batthe as a mythologicalbattleground. some of us aren'tgoing to standfor it.Glass Berthawith a skin of glass. Hind. "It isn't true.20 black activist accused of being a serial murderer. horns.takes a toy as a remembrance leaves. Saladin grows hooves. No survivors . a Sikh ex-justice of the peace struckmute for seven years by a racial attack. ."but old times metamorphosis for old fogies. and they want him to join them: "The point is .Terrifiedby the vision of the goat. word of the goat-devil in the attack begins to leak into the dreamsof the locals." A thousandand one dreams: "the non-colored dream of sulphurousenemy crushing their perfectly restored residences" while blacks and browns "found themselves cheering." The beating is such that he ends a up in the hospital.. burningthe town like toast. . The inmatesbreakout and Saladintries to go home. . was being treated . where the wardsare full of transforms: manticore(tiger head with three rows of teeth). but now there are fewer pitched battles.they install Saladin in the attic of the cafe. buttons.Meanwhile. set for a moder Mahabharata. Jamshid"JumpyJoshi" is in bed with Pamela.142 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY comic heartof the novel: both British xenophobiaand immigrantinsecurityare wildly parodied. and we succumb to the pictures they construct" (1988:168). partialplants and insects. my husbandexploded. gatheringplace for the locals of BrickallStreet. Nigerian businessmen with tails.and leaves to search for his otherwife. . In the paddy wagon. . who runs a cafe nearby.The mutationsare inextricablyexternallyand internallygenerated.It is the scene of old battles between the Socialist WorkersParty and the fascist National Front. . JumpyJoshi seeks help from MuhammadSufyan. that his metamorphosis ." Saladin had tried to telephone earlier. more vicious petty harassmentunder Thatcherism:skinhead whites who spit in the food of Asians. the husbanddecides he too must have remarried. a woman water buffalo. they runback upstairs." Suddenlysweatshirts.an accountantwho each night obsessively enand his gages in a ritualof rearranging sitting room furniture pretendingto be the a conductorof a single deckerbus on its way to Bangladesh. andpeople wore them as marksof defiance. who sees Saladin as the devil incarnate. Senegalese holiday makersturnedinto serpents. beastly dead. We're going to breakout of here before they turnus into anythingworse. and rubberdevil horns began to appear. in the case of into an ass (Lucius Apuleius) a kiss was required. "They all dreamedhim rising up in the streetlike the Apocalypse. .posters. How to turn Saladin back? They ruminatethat once upon a time.. . tles between new Kurusand Pandavas. he develops bad breath. The police beat him and make him eat the pellets.Pamelawailing. . and the Indianversion of the story in which it is his best friendwho has marriedhis wife and upon seeing this. Saladinlearnsthat some of the inmatesare planning to break out. "What puzzled Chamcha was . . having a flash of an English story about a man thoughtdead who when he returnsto find and his wife remarried. They describe us . where his erstwhile best friend. . and defecates small pellets." Over the objections of MuhammadSufyan's wife. banal.
taking drugs to suppress his paranoidschizophrenia. He is takento the ClubHot Wax. UhuruSimba in police custody." Azreel the exterminatingangel. . people without background. They part. Mishal and Anahita.In the second scene. the serial murders startup again. Gibreelmeanwhileis trulyunstable. It is composed of three short scenes. Uhuru Simba. Batuttaand Sisodia throw a party at the SheppertonFilm Studio: the decor is a grand set of Dicken's London. He watches the paradeof mutantson television. Gibreel likes low-brow Indian films. Powell. and while drunkwhites harassAsians in Sufyan's cafe. .Saladinbecomes really angry. and moves into the lower rooms of the house. He calls Hal Vance. and tries to get his job back ("I have a contract. an African Prince. Gibreel becomes an Azreel figure blowing away pimps . for I shall soon summon my lieutenant. then is put to sleep. Torture . etc. and where duringthe evening a villain (Mosely. eight feet tall. Chamchaawakes in the Club Hot Wax transformed back into his formerself. luminousred eyes.21In the third scene.without history" and there's no job for people like him. and the television cameraswhich convey the scene unfavorably towardthe Asians. and this anger begins to shrink his horns. burn. Gibreelbuys the trumpetAzreel fromJohn Maslama. after the death of Dr.Azreel. Abdul Karim. and who recognizes Gibreel as the Messiah. reacting against their kindness ("I'm not your kind. munshi to Queen Victoria. . avatarsof Simon Legree) is melted in a microwaveto the chantof "Meltdown. and the unglishman perpetrating leashingof the cops. . "Preparefor the vengeanceof the Lord. At firsthe is angryat Sufyan's daughters. . As Chamcha's anger grows. The denouementof the Elloween Deeoween chaptersis called "The Angel Azreel. he returnsto Pamela but realizes he no longer is in love. Chamchadrives Gibreel wild with anonymousphonecalls abouthis wife. Seeing in the fanzine Cine Blitz (Blitz is a Bombay weekly) that Gibreel is making a movie comeback and will make films in Londonwith Sisodia and Billy Batutta. Chamchaattendsand sees his beloved Londonat the feet of his rival. a black Florence Nightingale. Don't be silly"). the black activist accused of being a serial murderer. and goes to a meeting in defense of Dr. and a sizable erection." Gibreeland Alleluia take Chamchato theircountry house in Scotland. leaving the upper rooms to Pamela and Jumpy Joshi. Maggie the Bitch .BOMBAY TALKIES 143 Saladin's angergrows in the attic. a loony Guyanian who claims to be a follower of EmperorAkbar's universalisticreligion. he emerges from the attic.bur."Mrs. . In the morning his spent angerhas turnedhim back into his humanform. the creatorof the Aliens Show." Chamchawreakshavoc thinkingof Gibreel. Gibreel. . where one dances amid wax figuresof migrantsof the past (Mary Secole. burn.During the party he goes manic. declaiming. wants to invent a whole goddam new middle class. They play the game of their ten favorite movies: Chamchaquotes Nabokov and lists ten cosmopolitan movies. generatingattackson blacks until Sikh youths catch a white Enone of the murders. but is told that Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher.). I've spent half my life trying to get away from you") and against their delight in the way people are taking up his cause in the streets ("Go away. this isn't what I wanted"). nostrilsspewing yellow and black smoke. but their differences become more obvious.This then triggers riots.
Rushdiebegins with the basic moralquestionof Islamic philosophy:what is the role of man?One of the centralmyths of Islam is the story of why Satanwas thrownout of heaven:Satanrefusedto bow to Adam because he styled himself a strict monotheist. In Rushdie's handsthis subject becomes the image of Mecca as Jahilia(the termfor paganignorance. Doubt is the humancondition.and falling as that half-awaredreamthat one is asleep. being pure reason. Pamelaand JumpyJoshi die. Rushdiedoes parodyIslam.echoes the riots of Sammyand Rosey Got Laid.blowing away council housing.and for the secular moder world in the lingo of fundamentalists). burningthe Sufyan cafe and the Brickall communityrelations building. The riot scene. ablutions. a looney tune and a gone baboon"). Manat. The humanfoibles of prideand arrogance in one's own reason are often spoken of as shaitani.andthe greatdevil scene of Saladincoming down fromthe attic. transforms world into archetypesworthy of a Spielbergextravaganza.falling as "shaitancast from the sky" past his daughtersLat. Cone in Rushdie. so again no moral struggleand achievementare possible. and Uzza. a fear of being half mad thatthe Prophethimself must have occasionallyworriedaboutas he made his way up Mt. and because angels. But Rushdie's scene following out the mythic world of Brickall's Mahabharata. and little boys who possess these foibles in abundanceare often tolerantlycalled shaitan for their willful naughtiness. possess little doubt. who laugh at the struggles that lie ahead for the Prophet(anotherrole forced on Gibreel in the nightmare). so thereis no moralstruggleto overcome desire. Theological Flashbacks While much of the four interstitialchaptersof Gibreel's nightmareof being the Archangelhas alreadybeen discussed above under"Qur'anicSources and Amaze-ments. eight feet the tall.where water is the great enemy: "In the sand city.144 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY of teenage prostituteswho bear the names of the wives of the Prophet." The image generatesa series of elaborations(the watery . In the mayhem.Rushdiethematizesthis by having Gibreelsee himself frequentlyas "Shaitancast fromthe sky. their obsession with watermakes them freakish.full mad. but much of this parodyis a critiquenot foreign like to fundamentalists Khomeini.Gibreel is just past 40 too)." a few comments may be in orderhere in the context of the novel itself. Hanif Kureishi's film aboutPakistaniimmigrantsin ThirdWorld Britain. tragicand apocalyptic. ablutionsmade endlessly: indeed this is the subject of rich humorousanecdotesby Muslims aboutthemselves. Both KhomeiniandRushdiemakefun of ritual for ritual's sake." andeven Chamchaas a goat-devil. He was thrown out of heaven for his pride and his fanatical literalism. spewing smoke from his nostrils. that can lead to panic of not being in control ("Got bugs in the brain. always ablutions. Gibreel'sdreams often begin with falling: falling past his motherwho calls him shaitan for having put Muslim meat compartmentsinto Hindu non-veg tiffin carriers. Araratat age 44 (Mt.Muslimslike to point out thathumanbeings are superiorto angels both because angels have no passion.
and it is only throughthe heroismof Hamza(uncle of the Prophet)that the manticoresarerouted:he kills two (bothbrothersof Hind). shades of the manticoreSaladinfinds in the hospital). and Ayesha the prophetessof the Indianvillage are all so described. the beautifulswans of sfra 53:19-20 are changed by Rushdie into black apparition-like birds. voices like a mix of trumpetsand flutes. in Rushdie's fable is the patronof the goddess Al-Lat. and while the primarystory of Al-Lat is a purely Muslim one (and thus the only meaning that half-literateMuslims can see). and the lowly task of carryingwater is honored in Rushdie's account in the figureof Khalidthe watercarrier.Professionalactorthathe is.one of the Prophet'sfirstconverts. he thinksthroughthe imageryin terms of camerashots. But wateris also a purifying agent. andtwo othersrun . The Muslims are worse than unprepared: Khalidthe water carrier. punningon theirbeing both sharkbusinessmen and sherk (hereticsof the variety that allow God's divinity to be shared with othergods). Rushdie makes one furtherjibe here that again is not out of step with Islamic tradition:he calls the Qureishitribe.as well as the creative-destructive sense of divinity.Hind is also the name of the wife of Brickall Streetcafe owner. seeing him as Satanincarnate. Hindu?Hind.andUzza: PamelaLovelace. MuhammadSufyan: she is the hard businesswoman.Abu Simbel recites Islamic prayersas if a convert. Perhapsthe white skin and hairof the female idols of desire connect with these images of Lat. and the harder female.just as Hind in Rushdie's fantasycity swears eternalenmity towardMahound. the Muslim.Bilal (the black first muezzin). the fes(allowing compromise)is set on the last night of a masquerade tival of Ibrahim.BOMBAY TALKIES 145 in reincarnation the English Channelfor the two brown men who fall from the Englandas maritimepowerversusIslam as a continentalpower.the "Shark" tribe. and Salman Farsi (the scribe) had gotten drunkin despair at the Prophet's compromise(this would have been before the revelationsthatcompletely forbade drinking). and nails like corkscrews.but behindthe scenes his men are out to kill the Muslims. The scene imagining the aftermathof the first revelation carnival. Alleluia Cone. blue eyes.also Saleem-Shivaandtheirparallelsandcrossingwith GibreelSaladin). the story of Al-Lat is internalto Gibreel's nightmarethat he is being forced to play the roles both of the archangelGabriel and of the Prophet.notjust a fallible human shaitan. First of all. The assassins wear masksof manticores(scarletlions with three rows of teeth. The story of Al-Lat's rivalry with Allah is richly worked out in Rushdie's fable: there is much more to it than reductionto the gharaniqstory. Islam as the religious East). Waterhere representsthe virtuesof Islam againstthe ignoranceof the pre-Islamic Mecca ruledby Abu Simbel and Hind. Abu Simbel (Egypt) and Hind (India)both became Islamicized but only Egypt fully so: India maintainedits own strong Hindutraditions. But in any case. moreover. as had been agreedthroughthe compromiseformula.and all turn out to be false gods. a complementarymeaning within the symbolic economy of Rushdie's novels is the goddess figure of India in (thinkof Parvarti-Kali Midnight'sChildren. who has no sympathyfor SaladinChamcha'splight. ruled by Abu Simbel and Hind (the tribeof Muhammad). egg-pod-airliner: Englandas the secularWest. Manat. Is there replicationhere of the softer male.
"Ayesha": the interludebefore the Muslims returnvictorious(displacedto the interludebeforeKhomeinireturnsto Iran). and Manatso easily: his dreamscontinue. despite the fact that Khomeiniearly in the revolution made it a crime to vilify him or the revolution. Beyond EmpressAyeshafahisha the enemy is history herself (female). vision of revolution. movies too") and fights off sleep. Uzza. but the latterforces the voice. Thereis then the two-partchapter. hoists up his skirts and climbs onto Gibreel's back. Elba not St. to pour over nessman-Prophet him. The Muslimsnow have to slip out of Mecca/Jahiliato save themselves from the revenge of Hind. "the curtainsare kept closed so thatno foreignercan creep in". The Imam conjuresup Gibreel. shacked up with a redheadwho turnedout to be a formerlover of the Savak chief-one needs to be vigilant in this world. while jinn. As they ." slings his beard over his shoulder. and the three winged creatures(Lat. Bilal X (shades of Malcolm X). ordershim to fly him back to "Jerusalem.but he slowly remembersfaintingat the sight of his drunk disciples.the mystical flying horse. . and otherduties)." "exile is a dream of glorious return . Gibreel and the busiwrestle. his Risalah Towzfhal-MasdCil: all the rules of purity. another pictureof EmpressAyesha in the bedroomdrinkingblood. "enemy of images.e. . andthe resultsof blind faith in village India. Meanwhilethe Prophetwakes up in Hind's bed. Then thereis the wonderfulimage of the flight of Khomeiniback to Iranand the final course of the revolutionin February1979. water washes away sand. history is an intoxicant(figure of desire). frozen in time". and it is strikingthatno Muslims seem to have been in the least perturbed by the vilificationof Khomeini. They spar: "You are sand." In a brief interlude. waterfilteredby an Americanmachine. Uzza. his son Khalid(AhmadKhomeini)bringshim glasses of water(Khalidthe watercarrier). "but he's only human and falls down the rabbithole and there he is in Wonderland again up the mountainand the businessmanis waking"). Urdufor one's ruralhomeland).The Imamin exile section (displaced from Paristo London)is done with the trenchant of a Daumier:"unsleeping.Gibreel manages to rouse himself from this distressing dream("dreams cause all the problems. "guardsdisguised as women in shrouds and silvery beaks stroll the KensingtonStreets". afreet. It begins as a parodyof Muhammad'snightjourney (mi'raj) on Buraq. and a portraitof the Empress Ayesha: they plot each other's deaths". . she claims she had found him in the streetdrunk. a convert and formersinger. the Voice. Helena . I am water. Bilal is at the radio transmitter. . yes thatsoundslike me" (comparesura22:52-55). an endless paradox: looking forward by always looking back . His disciples conclude thatthe episode was a didactic lesson: "You broughtus the devil. "some representations allowed to remain:conventionalimages of homeland(Desh. ." "The desert soaks up water. turningWesterntechnology against itself.146 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY away. . When he moved in the are picturesslid noiselessly from the walls". All this is deliciously funny.. pen staring into the future. The Prophetnow returnsto Mecca to expunge the foul verses. and after the revolution clocks will be banned. But poor Gibreel cannotget away from Lat. as he begins with the ritualabuseof the Empress(see above).he wrote a famous monographon water on (i. and Manat) watch.
Gibreel kills Sisodia. Cone). a few turnback. Gibreel has made a series of films with Sisodia but they have not done well: "The Partingof the ArabianSea" with Ayesha played by Pimple Billimoria. what Rushdiehas done is to turnthem into powerfulpsychologicalfigurations. The Imamthen. They arrive at the ArabianSea and march in: the sea closes over them. her skin becomes luminous (the same happenedto Pamela Lovelace and Alleluia Cone). Gibreel's nightmarethen turnsto India. Ayesha sells dolls. the avenues are filled with demonstrators. not as a chamcha. defect. for it containsthe threeintuitionsaboutSalmanFarsiwantingto believe. whose grave once curedthe impotent. only to have his belief shattered.and the Ramayanaredone with the old heroes as evil and the villain as hero. Guns shoot down the people. Chamchais left saying: let the bulldozerscome. Bibiji. areravishedby flood andothercalamities. her hair turns white at age 19. but is otherwise a slip: there is a Jain version of the Ramayanathat does precisely this inversion. placing on manthe full responsibilityfor (moral) creation. are all in the hadithliterature. brings resistanceand avoidance (black marketin pork. secret prayingto the old gods. but as . Victory of waterover wine. but loses her touch. It is the Fall come full circle:the archangel Satan and Adam both are thrownout of Paradise:only Adam survives in today's worldof the deathof God. The survivorsall claim to have seen the sea partand the promise of miraclefulfilled. andthe Archangelcame to her (she who lies with an archangelis lost to men) and told her that Mishal has cancer and they must walk to Mecca to kiss the black stone. Perhapsa strongerending might be found. in which maybe a Zeeny Vakil-like figurein the West might star. and an epileptic girl.about how the imposition of rules. rules. The chapter. and testing the Prophet. and a few bodies are recoveredand revived." The final chapterof the book is a modem apocalyptic. mothersurging their childrenon to be martyrs. as people die. as noted above. the new could not be born. Alleluia. The last seemed like a deliberateprovocationof the sectarians. is a comment on Rushdie himself.The butterfliesare familiarsof a holy saint. if the old refusedto die. grown monstrous. The key chapterof the four is the "Returnto Jahilia" (Mecca) afterthe hijra. and below in the city. The stories. It is Nietzschean modernismrestatedin Muslim idiom. Ayesha.) In the end. a film aboutMahound.BOMBAY TALKIES 147 approachthe city [of Tehran]they see the palace on the slopes of the perfectly conical mountain(Mt. of course.The palace burstslike an egg andthe winged apparition Latbreaks Al out of Ayesha's shell. and it is Chamcha who survives. "The Partingof the ArabianSea. (This. to Mishal. stuff for anothernovel." follows this sad procession. The Imam forces Gibreel to fight her till she falls.realistic analoguesfor contemporary psychic pressuresamong those caughtbetween fundamentalistreligion and secularlife "in the movies. and aboutthe resentmentthat is psychologically vented in the brothelsatire. covered in butterflies.done by Gibreelknowing it cannotsucceed. a village zamindar'swife prayingfor a child. Chamchahas returnedto Bombay to see his dying father. mutteringsabout the special license the Prophethas to marryso many wives. rules. and himself.lies with his mouthopen at the gates of the palace and the people marchin. not Gibreelwhose storyhas dominatedthroughout: note the chapter headings are all devoted to Gibreel.
anxious. contemporary politics and technologies. breaks with a series of traditional tropes about the past. intercommunal. this novel blazes a far distance.but as a fellow ex-imperialist"). becomes politicized. Such postmoder literature attempts to reconnect in Gestalt-switching ways the ruins of the past. Postmodern literature. includingthe novel of memory.but also differenthistoricalages. not only opposing characters. about the Third World. Rushdie's work . humor-filled. TheSatanic Versesis a post-colonialworkthatattemptsthe onerousduty of unravellingthis culturaltranslation. And it permitsme to think of myself in Britainnot merely as a first-generation immigrant. alteringthe past to fit its presentneeds. or the uneducated frame (be it technologically inept. with other issues than repression and resentment. There can be a political edge to such projects: re-describingthe world is the necessary first step towardschanging it. with movies and the media thematized not just as dreams and displacements and fantasy work.3 March(1989a:34-35) Rushdie's work performs six critical functions: 1. and about nationalism.New Statesman. . civilization and otherdawningrealitiesof humanlife.24 February1989 [Reprintedin Appignanesiand Maitland1989:245] So where do we turn. interferences). It lends a certaintone. we who see the limits of liberalismand fear the absolutistdemands of fundamentalism?This is ironically the central problem in The Satanic Verses. But as a first portrayal of Muslim immigrants in Britain. such as Rushdie's. and the emergent interreligious. social levels. interideological world of cultural intereferences (interreferences. seeing both past and present as deeply conflict-ridden and ideologically outrageous. It first of all breaks with the tropes of nostalgia for past community. but as creative/positive political forces (Max Headroom style?). creative imagination and in- teriorityof several classes of ex-colonials and immigrants("I must say I'm very takenwith the idea of being a Mughal. .ANTHROPOLOGY 148 CULTURAL a multicultural pioneer. Guardian. And particularly at times when the state takes reality into its own hands and sets aboutdistorting it. It attempts to block racist and narrative stereotypes. -Homi Bhaba. [Rushdie 1983c:78] While Muslim fundamentalists are necessarily unhappy with rejections of their project to see the world as an emergent Muslim oeconome. Literature to Think With The novel is the privileged arenawhere languages in conflict can meet. or democratic values and respect for Western rules of the game) imposed by well-meaning conservatives or resentful reactionaries. includingthe "sufferingvictim" frameimposedby "politically correct" liberals and radicals. first by providing a powerful sense of the vital. then the makingof the alternativerealities of art. bringingtogether in tension and dialogue.22and therebyblocking stereotypescreatedfrom typifications. -Carlos Fuentes. .
Rushdie's magisterial second novel.asourancesdisplacement. especially under the EmergencyAct of the 1970s. the artistRasheed Araeem. [Rushdie This is workedinto the textureof Satanic Verses not only in a generalphilosophical way. etc. Shame. most decent society ever created" [1983c:81]).and Islam underthe shadowof Khomeiniare all equally subjectedto merciless attack. past. goes beyond Kureishiand Dhondy's accountsby transcending workingclass genres and tropes they have applied to the newly intercultural. Rushdie lays claim. corruptdisciplinaryinstitutions(the state. Anglo-Indian. Irish.BOMBAY TALKIES 149 is equally disruptiveto the romanticviews of Britainheld by most Englishmen andAmericans("the Britisharedeludedaboutthemselvesandtheirsociety.the Huguenots. alternativenarrative perspectives. and violent.thehistory immigrant forebears Tagore RamMohan as or 1983c:82] Roy. ignored(the observes one reader [Brennan 1987]. is thecultural political history thephenomenon migration. Yet. the compradorauthoritarianism. Marx as muchourliterary are Swift. order. most just. bungling.24but also with Kureishi's films. In a similarvein. life We claim.displacement. breaks with the Raj and GandhianIndependencestruggle epic frames of most 20th-centuryIndian. It is continuouswith not only the motivating scene for Rushdie's preceding novel. FarokhDhondy. Mukherjee of shortstories on life in North America to the inspirationof BernardMalamud. and others have begun portrayingthe harsherundersidesof Thatcherite England:racist.ideological veils. howthe ever.One of the centralandmost powerfulscenes in Satanic Verses is the riot scene in the East End. and it remembersnot necessarily the key moments of the anticolonialistmovement. 2. seen througha magical network ("parliament") of those born at the midnight stroke .minoritystatus: Indian writers England accessto a second in have fromtheir own tradition.the pastto whichwe belongis an English of Britain.23Rushdie.Conrad. but throughthe women to whom Rushdie's charactersare marriedor dedicatedher firstcollection pairedin work settings. Rushdie. My Beautiful Laundrette. Hanif Kureishi. class-riven. in a minority group. Revisioning history.and Sammyand Rosie Got Laid. apart quite racial It and of of history. Midnight's Children. economically pressed. But the novels are all far richerthanpolitical attacks:they revision history in unforgettable ways.25 displacing the law. the police. to the wider literarytradition of migration. They still for the most partthink it the fairest. complains another).) of both Third and First World authoritystructures. The narrativeconsiders the fate of the Indian generation born in 1949. It does so by a stunningrevaluation the independencemovementin which the latteris all but of narrative rushesfrom Amritsar1919 to Agra 1942 withoutcomment. BritainunderMargaretThatcher.andprogresspaeansof those heroic epic narratives attendingto the by and the unruly vitality underneath.the Jews. Rushdie's novels gaily pull apartnationalistpretensions.The Congress Partystate of IndiraGandhi. canquitelegitimately the tors. the media. the Sindhi/Punjabi state of PakistanunderZulfikarAli Bhutto and GeneralZia-ul-Haq. as does BharatiMukherjeein America.immigrant worldof the 1980s Britain.and BritishwritingaboutIndia.
The parallels and conflicts told by fallible narrators here with GunterGrass and Gabriel Garcia Marquezare obvious. Desani's All About H. as Irelandand the marginsof Europedid a centuryearlier.is a linking of generational perspectivewith family history:history as sets of stories of rivalries with theirown axes to grind. certainly more intensively.28is built around . which turnedbabu English against itself. language.who accordingto Persiannationalist satiricalaccounts was the behind the scenes authorof the Qur'anfor the illiterateArabprophet.[Rushdie 1982a] One may say thatJamesJoyce began this taskanddid it in Finnegan's Wakemore richly. he is heir to a traditionof such play with IndianEnglish beginning with G.the Persianstratumis even more central:"Griof" mus" is an anagram simurg. more fully in the novel about Pakistan. sanitized. of course. This generationhas suffered ratherthan being liberated. whereasRushdieis availableto a wider audience. new angles: The British . . how falsely civic-bookish do standardhistories of India and Pakistan seem by comparison. Hatterr. such play nowadaysis not limitedto the Englishfromthe Subcontinent: Africa. And the English language . also left us this dominion of spoons. and unrealistic seem most science fiction projectionsof futuresociety by comparison!As Rushdie points out. is taintedby history as a result.26 novel "teems" with possibilities of renewal and rebirthas well. In any case. But Joyce is unreadableexcept to the few.new histories.and how flat and unrealmost sociologies of Britain. againstboth political or Arabicized("pure") Islam and againstEuropeanculturalcolonialism. and Raja Rao's experimentswith the rhythmsand movementof both vernacularand Sanskritlinguistic patterns.and elseresources. . and in any case Rushdiemore centrally involves the mid and late 20th-century Subcontinent and Muslim worlds. The bungling/suffering.150 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY of independence.needsto be decolonized. An interestingundercurrent maticin Rushdie's work is a redemptionof a cosmopolitanPersiansensibility("I must say I'm very takenwith the idea of being a Mughal").however. muchelse in thenewlyinits chamcha lingers in remade otherimagesif thoseof us societies. their where are also contributing the4.expandingits richnessand flexibility. Expandingcosmopolitan sensibilities.How static. Decolonizing the English language. the Persianscribe to the Prophet. is not a dirge of pessimism. In the latter. . abouta vision quest of an AmericanIndian(a play on Columalthoughostensibly bus's quest and displacementof "Indian" onto the Americas).each of whom have specialpowers. 3. there is the identification (which Rushdie has acknowledgedin interviews)of Salman Rushdie and SalmanFarsi. infusing it with new rhythms. The novel. dependent culture to be morethanartistic are outsideAnglo-Saxon who use it frompositions UncleToms. V. Somethingof the unwashedodour of the like The around cadences. . This is most explicit in Grimusand in Satanic Verses. The liberationtrope is that of an older generation's the story. A complementary narrative device." the mysticalbirdof Persianlegend. used again.In Grimus. the Caribbean. both of which are spilling theirpopulationsinto the West.27 And.
the alteredspellings of of Indian-English. "There is no lack of knowledge. Or. war. like Finnegan's Wake or Gravity'sRainbow.a blasphemer. includingworriesby the narrator fabulations. both golden calf idolatry. accordingto one way of seeing things. includingthe Anglo-English literalisttranslationsof InIndian-English dian languageidioms. and violence. compare Firdausi's line. primitive and archaic. the champions who protectthe integrityof the Iranianempire. television. and above all. to the Mediterranean (betwixtNew World and Old. There are hilarious versions of historical events seen from askew points of view not unlike GunterGrass's technique in The Tin Drum.an abominationof abominations.language as a word game drawing attentionto the polyvocal linguistic strataof English as a world language drawingon multiple horizons of usage. Grimus. Containedwithin it. as well as images from Firdausi's Shahnameh. the interpolations Urduand Hindi. multiple dialects. Fromanotherangle. There are ironic referencesto Raj genre writing-especially to E. and it too opens up cosmopolitan vistas for Indiancivilization. a complementarycritical focus is the psychological and emotional dynamics of the chamchanot just as a toady or collaborator. and various stages of the Anglo-Indiannovel-as well as a critiqueof all these by parodying their misuses. a "teeming" of stories in the loosely connected thousand-and-one nights manner. guided by an English pedant named Virgil Jones. Qaf of the Qur'an. therebycritically drawingattentionto the imperialrelationshipsthat aboutthe effects of his own implicatethem both. considerhim sociopolitically:most migrantslearn. and there up an islandmountainpurgatoryof cosmopolitanism (Calf Island. a revaluationof the independencemovementfrom heroic to bunglingtones. like the thirtybirdsof Attarwho eventuallyfindout thatthey are the simurg ("thirty birds").andMt. as Timothy Brennan(1987) deftly points out. as mentionedabove. The chamcha. is a deliberatepresentationof a whole literarytraditionto an English-speakingreadership-Vedic.) Midnight's Children is an encyclopedic novel. oral storytelling." (In Firdausi. you could see pathosin him.a "postmodern" news media style of desensitized accountsof catastrophe. in his willingness to risk:not all mutantssurvive. M. Arizona.BOMBAY TALKIES 151 Attar'smystical poem.It is an invertedDanteanjourney (or Prophet'smi'raj) from Phoenix (a simurg-likebird). The chamcha is not only a major figure in Rushdie's novels. is a centraltheme. cinema. thematizingas centralthe domestic collaborator. but then it is dispersedamongstall the folk. [Rushdie 1988:49] . but also is a stock figure of other Third World literaturesas well. that is.the chamcha. Occident and Orient).the sira aboutJudgmentDay). As it is put prophetically in the Satanic Verses: A man who sets out to make himself up is takingon the Creator'srole. epic.29 5.the Simurg. Forster'sA Passage to India and Paul Scott's Jewel in the Crown-as well as a metacommentary the narrator bothIndianandmodernistWesternfictional on by techniques. and can become disguises.the simurg is the mystical protectorof the House of Zal and Rustam.and cosmopolitanismmore generally.but as a range of intercultural types. Puranic. heroismin his struggle. he's unnatural. The Conferenceof the Birds. The ascent to the peak is to find wisdom. If the Persian stratum.
first you have to die . and gesturesslipping back into the cadences of he Indian-English had struggledso hardto overcome: "Accha. singing Christianhymns and "Rule Britannia. Spoono. Saleem's uncle's half-Iranian wife is driven insane by the need to be a chamchato 47 wives of the "numberones" (1980:467). face. evil lies less in the corrupted elite or the state. is an illegitimate child of an unknownfather who may be English. and then became a sex idol when he played Krishna). . So. nor comprehendthe emotionsof embarrassment. His occupationis an actor. Sallyspoon. the monkey Hanuman. modesty.the interaction alomaniaof leaders who confuse their persons with the nation and the gullible . or having a properplace.the movie star. He is said to know no shame. passing detail is blown up to full frame in Shame. againstMuslim taboos. . means what? . sent for schooling to England. is named after a poet known best he throughan English translation. if you please. As he falls from the aircraft. thanin the betweenthe megcollaboration betweenthe masses andchamchas. big give one whiskysodaonly" . How had the past bubbled up. . in transmogrified vowels andvocab?Whatnext?Wouldhe taketo putting coconutoil in his hair? he Would taketo squeezing nostrils his between thumb forefinger. Pakistani leaderswhose fortuneswere built on the miseries of fleeing Hindusduring this Partition. bibi. and then the hit song from "Mr. takingon roles andfindingthey controlhim. first one needs to fly". and blowingnoisfortha glutinous silverarcof muck? [1988:34] ily anddrawing His very name is an orgy of transformations: SaladinChamcha. raised by three mothers. Thatis. On my head. "To be born again.. the stewardesswakes him and he finds his voice." There are interestingchamchafiguresin Shame andMidnight'sChildrenas well..who falls from the airlinerin bowler hat and three-piecesuit.wherehe learnsto manipulate librarypurchased people from a Europeanhypnosis manual. Saleem Sinai. the man of a thousandvoices who on British radiocan imitateany character. for instance. .these trousersEnglish.estrangedfromhis homelandandfamily. sings an impromptu he ghazal. comparinghis storytellingto the Bombay talkies (illusions that become less coherentthe closer to the screenyou come)." is the ferventwould-be Englishman. the narrator. red Russian hat. and embarrassedwhen on the plane returningfrom Bombay. . . andtreatinghis own tale of skepticallyas he hopes one shouldthe lies andideological propaganda the state. Gibreel Farishta.152 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY SaladinChamcha.son of ChangeezChachawalla. who plays gods (the elephant-headed Ganesh. Hoji Hoji .. educated with his grandfather's from an Englishman.but is not allowed to show his face. . He had come awake with a jolt . okay. 420": "O my shoes are Japanese. More centrally.my heart'sIndianfor all that.Salad Baba. Salahuddin.worries about his own culpability for events as the writerof fictions.30 In Midnight'sChildren. As Brennanpoints out. Omar Khayyam Shakil. fearof ing the slippageof his masks into recurring nightmares being an archangeland of fearinghimself going mad because of transgressions prophet. Spoono my old Chamch. shyness.is also never himself. he representsa stratumof colonial society trainedto be withoutconscience.he strugglesto stay uprightand awake and not slip back into nightmare.
thinksShame does. he needs the collaborationof plebian commentatorssuch as Padmaand Shiva. while Saleem grew up rich. builds upon the repressedviolence of guilt.for one. and violent political leadersof India.Shame with oral stories told by elite women.10 March1989. challenges Muslims to develop a critical consciousness that can withstandscrutiny. Shiva is a changelingwith Saleem: Shiva grew up poor.to whichRushdie of It of are .the critics. with theircreativedreamings. Notes ShootWriters. so harsher .writing. Brahma. a 1984.. But it. she and Saleem have a conflictualrelationship. Ironically. Satanic Verses is a much mellower book. It does not parodythe Qur'anicstyle. 52. Satanic Verses takes the hadithliteratureof Islam seriously. and may indeed gain for it more readers. less parochialone as well. too. but able his to reach for higher beauty). movies. pp. (Brennanprovides a superbreadingof how these figures work as unifying recursive transformsof the Indian myths of Ganesh.rough. and thatto write for all India. The whole corpus of Rushdie's work gives rich food for thoughtfor a large range of problemshaving to do with the process of immigration-its strains. better. and humiliation-powerful emotions capablenot merely of triggeringriots in the East End. uninterestedin the "lessons of the past". and Parvati. Rushdiethematizesthe media of communication. and by exposing to the outside world what normally is communal discourse. impotentand sterile. does not destroy the text. Midnight's Childrenwith plebian forms writtenby a scribe in the fashion of the Ramayana. rough and elemental. Don't They? a collection essays. Saleem the figureof the impotentintellectuals. shame. Muslim.) Shiva is the figureof the potent.comparedto Shame. "lotus" (bornin slime. Both in their own ways can be chamchas.casting doubt on the reliabilityof the stories Saleem tells and the way he tells them or the effectiveness of the telling for personslike her." begins. Shiva.BOMBAY TALKIES 153 masses impatientwith history lessons or skeptical questioning. with each character having a magical folkloric functionas well as a novelistic character development function. sexually potent. thattreatsitself with good-humored humility. "Myfirstmemories censorship cinematic . or. 18. 6.Grimusdeals with myth. destructive. Hindu. and Satanic Verses with movies and the Qur'anicand hadithliteratureas they reverberatethrough oral storytelling (of Gibreel's mother) and dream. and of the world of Indian politics. scripture." 2lranTimes. crude. he exor a plained. Finally. as Brennan. not just in their discourses but in the very media they use to express themselves. but also of death sentences againstnovelists. Merelybanning boycotting book. Rushdie thematizes and metaphorizesthese nationalistillusions as a problemof writing in oral folklore form that at the same time is a literarynovel form.editedby GeorgeTheiner is of 'They in contributedpiececalled"Casualties Censorship. Saleem Sinai recognizes thathe himself has a class position. It is a much richer. gullible. its class differences-and the problems of culturaltransformation milieus where in intellectualsand people are often at odds. Padmais servant/mistress.
ghurndyq. (1989:95). saying now is no time for such debates. eds. One day duringthe hajj in Mecca. 3Firstappearingin Guardian." A thirdfamous story-again very relevantto a revolutionarysituationwhen much is excused on the grounds of crisis-has to do with the first Imam. but the Imam told them to let Ibn al-CAwja speak. it is a comic commenton the earlierscene. calling out "Nonsense!" frequently. T. 4IbnAbi al-'Awja used to heckle duringImam Sadiq's lecturesat the mosque in Medina.but is if thereis a God and Muhammad his messenger.presumablysupernatural. To my ear a second fear also resonates. 7Inthe 1950s Sagyagit Ray introducedboth a neo-realist. else the fightinghas no point." It is worthknowing that Khameineioriginally was one of the moderateswho suggested Rushdie might gain clemency with the properapology and withdrawalof the book. 9Otherversions of dogma.22 February1989. "On the contrary. 1987). who duringhis acting careeralways played heroroles.ghirniq.See Dickey (1988).as if he were saying. "How do we know God exists?" One of Ali's men drew his sword to slay the man. "How long will these oxen [Muslims] continueto plough this desert [barren religion]?" The Imamrespondedby citing the verse prohibiting duringthe hajj. and and his D. The term occurs in pre-Islamicpoetry in several variantforms:ghurnuq. disseminatedthrough the electrificationthat made ruralcinemas popular. and also a sense of the analytic. of course. of God setting trials for his followers. G. Ali. lines that defended the down-trodden.eds. a model precisely in the humanmoralstruggleto attainrighteousness:this is the position the Qur'antakes when it speaks in Sura al-Najm.154 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY methodsmust be found.M.swept to power by fan club organizations. R. saying. intellectualpossibilities of modernistfilm. If there is no God. partyused films filled with party symbols and colors. made famous through reviews and interviews with Rushdie probingthe relationbetween his own life and those in the novel: young Chamchais forced to eat kippersfor breakfastat public school in England. He swore to get revenge on England:to show them thathe can conquer. (1989:247-248).we must clarify why we are fighting.ghur- . Ramachandran (d. not allowed to get up before he finishes. 6Withinthe novel itself. but Khomeiniunequivocably quashedany such suggestions. It is 90 minutesof agony: no one shows him how to eat it. "We hadto do somethingbefore they turnedRushdie'snovel into a movie.then Muslim worshiperslose nothingby theirworship." 5Firstcited by Malcolm Yapp in the Independent. reprintedin Appignanesiand Maitland. species of bird. and he struggleswith the bones. the Imam argument disputatious came to Ibn 'Awja and said. and everythingis absurd. the well-knownTawhid-iMufad. during the battle of Jamal:A man came to him and said. andcarefullyonly spoke M. Eventuallythe Imam asked Mofaddal ibn Umarto write a response.Studentswere incensed and wanted to beat him up. G. raTheqharadnqare an unidentified. N. then woe is to you on JudgmentDay. and elsewhere. 24 February1989.you endangerus all by deflectingattentionfrom the battle. But afterthe hajjseason. 8Fourchief ministersof Tamilnaduhave been actorsor filmmakers. reprintedin Appignanesi and Maitland.social conscience-orientedfilm. Ibn Abi al-'Awja came to the Imamand said. But Ali stayed the sword. Rama Rao of Karnataka. "Let me answer with your own style of logic.The two best known such political figures are M.K. insist that Muhammadis a fallible humanbeing.dal.
ghardniq. as matter-of-factly if they were bullock-carts. afreet. maqalid(the Arabicizedpluralof the Persiankelid. who does greater evil thanhe who forges againstGod a lie. and he had the idea that everything continued below the surface of the soupy air . the Sassaniantax adaptedby Islam as a poll tax on minoritiesof the People of the Book. reprintedin Appignanesiand Maitland (1989)." and "exalted females.Rushdiesays "420" means "fraudand deception" (1980:193). nine-tenths of their reality concealed from his eyes. 3"'Andwhen Our signs are recited to them.." "pretty birds. seemed to be sticking up throughthe atmospherelike a profusionof hot icebergs. a power thatmanyulema are said to have possessed.e. lo. the chastisementof a dreadfulday' . 14For example. ShaykhAbu Ja'farTusi's al-Tibydn(7:292). they say. . where the "Satanic Verses" are said to have occurred. 'Bring a Qur'another than this.Pegasus.The notion of tayyal-ard (the ability to be is transported throughspace instantaneously) a common lesser miracle(karamat)in Shi'ite folklore. djinns.BOMBAY TALKIES 155 dntq. sura53. But until each Brown communityhas produced . youth or young woman. demons.. . or alter it. except what is revealed to me." (1988:22). al-Munjid. Louis. and as a secondarymeaning. 15"When we let the people taste mercy after hardshiphas visited them." "high-flying birds. pl. the visible world . 'These are our intercessorswith God' " (10:16-18).. . possibly connected with barq ("lightening") as in a flash of (divine) inspirationor vision. '8Najm("The Star"). gharaniqa." Channel4. . ghardniq. or cries lies to His signs? . . It would seem iconographicallyto be relatedto the winged horsesof ancientIranand Mesopotamia. . citing al-Hasan[al-Basri]gives the meaning also of "angels.and otherethnographers other immiof from a grantgroups. describes it as a water bird with wide wings and long legs. white. angels. 12"Buraq" is a term of uncertainorigin. describes in flat journalistictones: "any group abruptlytransferred remote corer of Asia to a Europeancity will inevitably have quite a high incidence of 'nervousdisorders'and some older Mirpurissuffer from a chronic lack of physical wellto being attributable no specific disease." Other translationsvariously use "swans. I follow nothing. swift). He grew up believing in as God. clear signs. . 7InMidnight'sChildren.. they have a device concerningOur Signs. beautiful. .' Say to them: 'It is not for me to alter it of my own accord. those who look not to encounter Us say.The closest other figure is the horse of Imam Husain. It is a singularimage in Islamic iconography." 1614February1989." l Tilkal-ghardntqal-culawa inna shafa'ata-hunnala-turtaja. if I should rebel against my Lord. 9'"Especially in the afternoon heat when the air turned glutinous." i. Truly I fear..or the classical chimera.. 20Theseare stunningfigurationsof what Murphy. . and centaurfigures. andthatcertainlythe Imams possessed. "key") for which there exists a perfectly good Arabic word (mafatih). Dhu al-Janah (literally "winged. The respected Arabic dictionary. which mystiImamHusain's wife (the daughterof the last Sassanianking of Iran)back cally transported to Iranafter Husain was martyredat Karbala. compiled by the Jesuit Fr. also jiziya. "BandungFile.
both the repressedviolence that seethes in people subsuch that he could well understand to such attack." (Murphy 1987:54). 22Thefull irony perhapsrequiresthe precedingline. cannot have the necessary 'feel' .doctors." Borges would love the classificationscheme.The creationistturnsup a second time as well late in the novel.Sikhs. and the word "teeming" to convey (Rushdie 1982c:19). Mememi.156 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY its own professionalhelpersonly limited aid can be given. andpsychiatrists. "I came to this seminarto learn. West. O. we're not Indianlike you. and it is this lattermood which Rushdieintendsthe exuberanceof the multipleplots and subplotsto exemplify.and Mughals. 29GeorgeLamming's Mr.. White social workers. an attackon his sister in the London underground. North. and Ashis Nady (Rushdie 1982a). one need not be pessimistic aboutthe abilitiesof thatcivilization and to constantlyundergotransformations generatenew stories. see Lesley Hazelton(New YorkTimesMagazine. Manoni. the creationist scientist who had been to India:each is a pervertedimage of the main character. 30Seefurtherthe accountin Brennan(1987).however kindly and well-equippedwith background knowledge.and Maslamaa religious fanatic who cannot tell Gibreel's screen role from his actualperson. Only thing is. to 26Reacting criticisms that the novel ends on a pessimistic note. Chinua Achebe's A Man of the People.a creationist making nonsense of Chamcha'sdesire to be a modernWesterner.and view thatIndiais a counamongthe manyinsightsI've gained is ProfessorNarasimbaiah's try made up of Hindus. with the consciousness smashed into 600 million fragments. Rushdie replies that he intended a of the narrator stories may end badly (and have done contrastbetween form and content:while particular so historicallyfor India). the 28Compare line in Satanic Verses "Columbuswas right. 23Fora stunningportraitof the undersideof white British working-classviolence as revealed in football (soccer) games. maybe. Ali 25Tariq (1981) notes that the massacre at JallianwallaBagh in Amritsarin 1919 was not as significant as the Moplah uprising in Malabarin 1921 or the Naval Mutiny and generalstrikeof 1946..but see also the essay literatureby FrantzFanon. Christians. Moreover. Buddhists. Slim. 8 May 1989). is 21Maslama the pairto Chamcha'sseatmateon the airplanefrom Bombay. the subtle but profoundshift in category. Rushdiehas recalledboth and the intense shame this generated. 27Seealso Dissanayake(1985). . . East. You betterget used to us" (1988:54). the world's made up of Indies. TariqAli would have liked more stress on the Partition so thattraumatized much of the middle classes. Gibreel already had an earlier encounteron the railway with Maslama in which the latter was his seatmate. Ngugi wa Thiong'o's accountsof Kenyan chamchas. 24Inseveral interviewsas well as in the novel's narrator's voice. A. . and the lamentablecodes of honor that might cause a fatherto kill jected his own beloved daughter. Jains.
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