Dear Salman Rushdie,
When I was in secondary school, we were assigned The Moor’s Last Sigh. I remember they attempted to clad our vocabulary to understand your novel by giving us spelling and definition tests. I’m not sure it was the most successful exercise. I will however always remember Zarathustra, in relation to both you and Nietzsche.
When I was working on my undergraduate degree, I read The Satanic Verses. I killed a fly with the book in Italy, and then left the book in a hotel in London. Sorry about that. I read it expecting to be shocked and altered. I don’t think about goats the same way, anymore. It also made me think about police brutality, which I had never really thought about before in my immediate context because of the privilege of my skin colour and where I grew up.
I have not yet begun your newest book Rushdie. I’m sorry. I will very soon. I also want to read Midnight’s Children because Indian History is so vital to understanding modern society. Don’t agree with me, other readers? Well, it is. The British had, for a very long time, traded with and, subsequently, colonized India. When the British left in 1947, they left ‘India’ divided and the catastrophic events of Partition occurred. Rushdie, your novel explores the decolonization of India and the events of partition through fiction. I will read this book; I promise. I am always on the look out for a nice edition. If you’re looking for some secondary literature on the subject, why not look up Neil Ten Korenaar’s book Self, Nation, Text in Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”.
Before I even asked for Two Years, my mom and I were walking through a shop. I had picked it up and put it in my basket. She was about to catch up to me in the store, when she stopped and looked at the stack of your books. She picked the book up. She touched the front cover. She paused. She walked past the other books and came to me. Then she saw the book in my basket. She smiled and said, ‘How do you do that?’ ‘Do what,’ I asked, a little too innocently. ‘Use your brain powers to direct me to the books you want without telling me?’ I smiled, ‘It’s the jin.’
Rushdie, there is a Goya print as your frontispiece. When I got the book, it was a birthday gift from my mom, we went through the pages. My mom saw the print and noted the name. When I saw Goya I cried aloud, significantly, ‘It’s GOYA!’ She smiled, because she had previously bought me an art historical book all about Goya. In case you’re wondering, it’s Goya: Order and Disorder. She then went on to skip to a random page and read out some lines. We were in the car. Our dog was staring at us from the yard, she was supposed to be going pee but was, instead, giving my sister a hard time.
I’m not sure what this all means. I think it’s just what is. You have been with me since I was less read and a lot more green. I wish that I had known then what I have since learnt. I think it would have made your book more meaningful and significant to me. That’s why I advocate that we should all always be students of history. Some authors would have us disregard context, prior knowledge, and an author’s life. Can we, or should we, do this? I don’t know. History and storytelling fix our narratives. They help us to learn how to use words effectively so we may speak our own momentary truths. Our capacity to keep learning and grow consoles me, so I can revisit your books as a different person every time.
When my dog bounces like a bunny or prances like a cat, I often ask her if she is having an identity crisis. Whether it would be useful for us to revisit Sartre? She stares with her big eyes and hopes I’ll give her a treat or, better yet, a full meal. When I am unsure of how or who I am, I look to you with my eyes full of hope and wonder, waiting to be filled with your words and meaning.
Dearest Rushdie, I’m about to begin your book. It will be the most glorious 1,001 Nights yet.