Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Current book: The Satanic Verses
Pages read: 170 - 259

In this bit, Saladin finds out that he's in a hospital ward with several other immigrants who have sprouted unusual animal features (Do you see the allegory? If you're having trouble, rest assured that Rushdie will SMACK YOU IN THE FACE WITH IT.), and eventually they stage a revolt and break out. Saladin goes to his house, of course, where he finds his wife, Pamela, with an old friend of his, Jumpy Joshi (pretty much always referred to as Jumpy). Pamela and Jumpy are having an affair, but frankly, Saladin's too concerned with being the incarnation of Satan to worry about it. Jumpy takes Saladin to the home of a friend in London who can conceal him and care for him. This man, Mohammed Sufyan, is unhappily married to a woman by the name of Hind, and they have two daughters, Mishal and Anihita, both of whom are going through their rebellious teenage years, and therefore find Saladin, in the corporeal form of the ultimate bad boy, rather fascinating.

Gibreel, in the meantime, has found Allie Cone and is staying with her in seclusion. That's all that's really happening in his life, but he's also continuing to have vivid dreams in which he plays the role of the angel Gabriel. In the latest, Ayesha, a young woman in a tiny village in India that is known for its huge population of butterflies, becomes Gabriel's wife. As the chosen one of an archangel, she is a holy woman, and often has visions or episodes from which she emerges naked, clothed only in a cloud of butterflies. One day, she dreams that the whole village must go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, including the elderly, children, and the infirm. They must, she says, go entirely on foot, including across the sea, which, it has been promised, will part for them so that they can complete their journey. One of the men of the village, Mirza Saeed, is highly skeptical of her, but he is the only one. Even his wife, whom Ayesha correctly told she was dying of cancer, believes in the girl, and abandons her husband to follow Ayesha to the sea.

I'll provide more analysis when it comes together more. It's a bit early for the theme of the whole thing right now, except for the part about the British viewing immigrants as no better than animals (or, in fact, some kind of animal-human crossbreed). Oh, established populations and your continual pattern of treating newcomers as second-class citizens. Happens every time. You'd think that at least in America, which is, of course, almost entirely populated by immigrants, we'd have got over this idiocy by now. But clearly, seeing as Arizona has entered some kind of panicked pseudo-police-state-existence, we haven't. I sigh at you, modern society. Sigh.

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