Saleem continues his story, telling a captivated Padma that on February 23, 1975, he marries Parvati-the-witch. Padma immediately becomes upset, but Saleem quickly cuts her off. He reminds her that “women have made him” but “also unmade him.” He quickly recaps the women of his life to an irritated Padma, who claims, “that’s too much women!”
Saleem agrees, thinking also of the Widow, and claims that even “the great cosmic energy” is “represented as a female organ.” According to Saleem, much like Mother India herself, “there is no escape” from women.
According to Saleem, the ultimate cosmic power which rules the world is a woman, and so is India.
Saleem states that Parvati “took her destiny into her own hands.” Knowing of Saleem’s impotence, she uses her magic to summon Shiva to the magicians’ ghetto, and when he arrives to her shack, he doesn’t quite understand why.
Parvati uses her power as a woman to get what she wants. Saleem won’t marry her since he can’t father her children, and Parvati finds a way around this using Shiva—the other half of Saleem.
According to Saleem, Shiva is successful both in the military and socially, and he frequents parties, dances, and other social events. He is handsome, and like Saleem, is cursed with too many women. Shiva is a “notorious seducer” of high society women, and he has had many—and has fathered many children as well. He suffers from a “curious fault,” however, and loses interest in women the moment they become pregnant.
Shiva’s sexual exploits are a reflection of his namesakes, the gods of procreation and destruction. Ironically, despite being named for his ability to father children, Shiva abandons his children and their mothers, which is just what Parvati is hoping for.
On May 15, 1974, Shiva is inexplicably struck by a desire to see Parvati-the-witch, and he immediately goes to the magicians’ ghetto. Shiva takes Parvati in his arms and makes love to her. After, he brings her back to his living quarters, and they spend several enjoyable months together.
Parvati uses her white magic to summon Shiva to her. Despite his strong knees and military experience, Parvati is in complete control of Shiva.
On September 12, Parvati tells Shiva that she is having his child, and his temperament immediately changes. He begins to yell at her and beat her, and he takes to sleeping with as many prostitutes as he possibly can. Suddenly, Parvati releases Shiva from her spell, and he deposits her, once and for all, back at the magicians’ ghetto.
This is Parvati’s ultimate plan, and Shiva plays right into it. Again, he frequents prostitutes and his physical abuse of Parvti suggests that he is guilty of killing the prostitutes years earlier.
According to Saleem, by casting a spell on Shiva, Parvati “invalidated his only defense against marrying her.” Upon her return to the ghetto, Parvati stands, visibly pregnant, on the steps of the mosque, and it is not long before the other women in the ghetto begin to shun her and her illegitimate child. As Parvati is insulted by others in the ghetto, widespread civil unrest unfolds all around India.
Parvati stands on the steps of the mosque because she wants the people of the mosque to see her condition. She knows that she will be shunned, and she does so to manipulate Saleem into marrying her. Again, she has ultimate power over Saleem, just as she did with Shiva.
Picture Singh convinces Saleem that the only way to preserve Parvati’s honor and solve his own problem of infertility is to marry her. Saleem agrees, and after Parvati converts to Islam, they are married. Saleem changes her name to Laylah, a name from his dreams, and together, they are set to have a child.
Notably, Saleem forces Parvati to convert to Islam, and this suggests that religion is more important to Saleem than he is willing to admit. Additionally, Saleem’s renaming of Parvati is a reflection of his own patriarchal power. It also echoes his own father, Ahmed, changing Mumtaz’s name to Amina.
As public discontent with Indira Gandhi grows, Parvati begins the first stages of labor, which in total, lasts thirteen days. During this time, Mrs. Gandhi is found guilty campaign malpractice, yet despite public outcry, she remains in power. Riots and arrests ensue, and Parvati continues to labor.
Similar to Saleem’s birth, Parvati’s labor unfolds alongside a significant historical event. Like Saleem, these historical events connect Parvati’s child to the country of India.
On June 25, 1975, just as Indira Gandhi is declaring a state of emergency, Parvati gives birth to Aadam Sinai, a perfectly formed baby—with the exception of a pair of “colossally huge” ears. Like Saleem, Aadam’s birth has historical significance, and he is “handcuffed to history” as well, his “own destiny chained” to that of his country.
Aadam’s large ears echo Saleem’s large nose. Parvati’s baby is named for Saleem’s grandfather, and despite not being his biological son, there are several physical similarities—just like there were between Saleem and Aadam Aziz.