At the exact moment the Indian Defense Minister decides to use all necessary force against the Chinese army on the Himalayan frontier, Amina Sinai receives a telegram from Alice Pereira. She tells Amina to return to Bombay at once as Ahmed has suffered a “heartboot.” Unsure of what a “heartboot” is exactly, Amina and the children leave Pakistan at once.
Amina, still convinced by a sexist society that it is her duty to care for her husband, rushes home to Bombay with Saleem and Jamila. The use of force against China leads to a sense of renewed optimism in India, and Saleem feels this as well when he returns home.
Alice has remained with Ahmed these last four years. As his only companion, Alice has been answering his phone, fetching his drinks, and enduring his never-ending verbal abuse. The Narlikar women are still trying to persuade Ahmed to sell them Buckingham Villa, and they call him twice a day, every day. So far, they have not convinced him to sell; however, they do convince Alice to come and work for them, and she promptly quits Ahmed’s charge. Alone in the mansion, Ahmed’s heart began to swell with hate and self-pity, ballooning out into the shape of a boot.
Ahmed is being slowly destroyed by the Narlikar women. They are the reason he lost so badly (financially speaking) with the tetrapods, and now they want to destroy his home as well. Their theft of Alice is the last straw, and Ahmed metaphorically succumbs to the women. These women serve to dismantle gender stereotypes as well, and Ahmed is at their mercy.
Back in Bombay, Amina takes to nursing Ahmed back to health. She pours all of her energy into his rehabilitation, “driven by an unstoppable will.” Ahmed begins to recover and as he does, he becomes a better man. He stops drinking and he no longer mistreats his family. Under Amina’s devoted care, Ahmed finally falls in love with his wife.
Notably, Amina and Ahmed finally begin to fall in love, after all these years, only after Amina walks away from Nadir for good. Amina no longer tries to love only pieces of Ahmed; instead, she loves all of him and she is successful.
Saleem wastes no time reconvening the Midnight Children’s Conference. He seals off the part of his mind that contains Mary Pereira’s secret, and he doesn’t call to Shiva. Soon, as China defeats the Indian army along the Himalayans, the children become angry with Saleem for his secrets and neglect of Shiva. Within a month, the children all leave Saleem, refusing to answer when he opens the midnight forum in his mind.
Saleem completely sidelines Shiva, and this does not sit well with the other children. In an abuse of his power, Saleem keeps Shiva’s true identity from him, and makes the unilateral decision to remove him from the lives of the other children. Saleem rules over the children selfishly for his own gain, and he loses because of it.
As war between China and India builds, and Indians of Chinese descent endure racism and government internment, Ahmed and Amina finally enjoy a decent marriage. Ahmed has also begun to show Saleem affection again, and they are a happy family for the first time. Saleem’s nasal congestion worsens, locking up completely, nearly suffocating him.
India further partitions itself, and in an outward display of racism, segregates the Indians of Chinese descent in response to their growing fear of China’s contestation of the original Partition lines. As dissent builds, Saleem has a physical reaction, again underscoring his connection to his country.
As Indian armed forces continue to fall, China suddenly declares a ceasefire, content with gaining control of the Himalayas. The next day, Ahmed and Amina pack a picnic and head toward the beach with Saleem and Jamila Singer; however, they never make their picnic. Instead, they take Saleem to an ear, nose, and throat clinic to have his nasal passages surgically cleared.
Saleem’s “nose goo” is his direct line of communication to the Midnight Children’s Conference; without his snot, his telepathy is not possible. This loss mirrors India’s loss as China permanently claims more of her land for their own country.
When Saleem wakes from his surgery, his sinuses are clear but his telepathy is gone. Amina finally convinces Ahmed to move to Pakistan, and after finally selling Buckingham Villa to Narlikar’s women, they all board the SS Sabarmati and arrive in Karachi.
After the loss of his “nose goo” and his power, Saleem’s connection to his country is weakened, and this is reflected in his move back to Pakistan, aboard Sabarmati’s name sake ship.