Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lose your city eyes and act accordingly

"When you have city eyes you cannot see the invisible people, the men with elephantitis of the balls and the beggars in boxcars don't impinge on you, and the concrete sections of future drainpipes don't look like dormitories. My mother lost her city eyes and the newness of what she was seeing made her flush, newness like a hailstorm pricking her cheeks. Look, those beautiful children have black teeth! Would you believe... girl children bearing their nipples! How terrible, truly! And, Allah-tobah, heaven forfend, sweeper women with - no! - how dreadful! - collapsed spines, and bunches of twigs, and no caste marks; untouchables, sweet Allah! ... and cripples everywhere, mutilated by loving parents to ensure them of a lifelong income from begging ... yes, beggars in boxcars, grown men with babies' legs, in crates on wheels, made out of discarded roller-skates and old mango boxes ... Children tugging at the pallu of her sari, heads everywhere staring at my mother, who thinks, It's like being surrounded by some terrible monster, a creature with heads and heads and heads; but she corrects herself, no, of course not a monster, these poor poor people - what then? A power of some sort, a force which does not know its strength, which has perhaps decayed into impotence through never having been used. No, these are not decayed people, despite everything."

-- Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children

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