Saleem claims that Shiva is still alive, and he is terrified. They still have “unfinished business” that will persist as long as Saleem lives. For now, Padma wants to be married in Kashmir, and Saleem agrees.
Marrying Padma in Kashmir represents a return to Saleem’s roots. Saleem says throughout his story that men go to Kashmir to appreciate its beauty or die, and he intends to do both.
Saleem continues his story, and after his release from the Widow’s imprisonment, he returns to the magicians’ ghetto and finds Picture Singh there with his son, Aadam Sinai. Under the care of Durga, a local washerwoman, Aadam has been nursed back to health and there remains no sign of his tuberculosis.
Durga is another example of a strong woman. Her breastmilk has healing properties and she alone is responsible for Aadam’s good health.
Picture Singh has fallen in love with Durga, and it is not difficult to understand why. Each day, new stories fall from Durga’s lips; however, Saleem is no longer interested in stories, and he soon discovers that Durga is a succubus. Reunited with his son, Saleem becomes convinced of his impending death.
Young Aadam Sinai, at less than two years old, requires “perpetual attention” from Saleem, and he keeps him busy. According to Saleem, Aadam is part of a new generation of magical children, one that will “not look for their fate in prophecy or the stars,” but instead will “forge it in the implacable furnaces of the wills.”
Aadam introduces the new generation of magical children, and his birth represents the ultimate failure of Indira Ghandi to destroy the children of midnight and a unified India. Aadam symbolizes optimism—he will accomplish what Saleem couldn’t.
Picture Singh hears of “the existence of a rival” snake-charmer in Bombay, and he convinces Saleem to return to the city with him and Aadam Sinai in search of the famous snake-charmer. Saleem agrees, and he is soon on his way back to Bombay.
Picture Singh’s rival does not present any real threat to Singh’s status as the best snake-charmer; rather, he exists solely to get Saleem back to Bombay—and Mary Pereira, another missing piece of his identity.
When they arrive in the Bombay, the city has greatly changed and barely resembles the Bombay of Saleem’s youth. Most of the stores he knows are gone, and up on the hill where Methwold’s Estate used to stand, a tall, pink, skyscraper obelisk stands instead.
Narlikar’s women have been successful in building their pillar to business and progress. The tall obelisk skyscraper, clearly a phallic symbol, is ironically colored a feminine pink, and it is visible proof of the women’s power.
Saleem and Picture Singh arrive at the Metro Cub Club with Aadam Sinai, in search of Picture Singh’s famous competition. They are led to a backroom by a woman who walks with her eyes closed, stating, “Here you are in a world without faces or names; here people have no memories, families or past; here is for now, for nothing except right now.”
The Metro Cub Club’s initials, M. C. C., connect it magically to the Midnight Children’s Conference, as it too exists outside of time, just like the midnight hour. Saleem’s name and identity do not matter in this club; here they are outside the hierarchical constraints of society.
Picture Singh soon meets his opponent, Maharaja of Cooch Naheen, and the two quickly begin to charm all manner of snakes. They both manage “impossible feats” with their snakes, but ultimately, it is Picture Singh who manages to “knot a king cobra around Maharaja’s neck, and Maharaja immediately gives up, declaring Picture Singh the winner.
Maharaja of Cooch Naheen is Hindi, and it loosely translates to Ruler of Nothing, reflecting the club’s theme of nothingness. Singh has no real danger of losing his title to Maharaja—he exists simply to bring Saleem back to Bombay.
Afterward, a waitress brings Saleem and Picture Singh bowls of bright green chutney, and Saleem immediately recognizes the taste. The waitress tells him the chutney has come from Bragaza Pickles, a factory located north of town, in the area of the old Methwold’s Estate. Saleem takes off running, leaving Picture Singh behind.
Saleem immediately recognizes the taste of the chutney because it is, unmistakably, Mary Pereira’s chutney. This harkens back to the ability of food to elicit emotions and trigger memory, in a way, becoming its own form of storytelling.
Arriving at the factory, Saleem meets a feisty Padma for the first time, and standing at the top of the stairs is his former ayah, Mary Pereira, the owner of Bragaza Pickles. She lives in the pink obelisk, which is owned by Narlikar’s women, with her sister Alice, who also convinced the women to invest in her sister’s chutney.
By convincing Narlikar’s women to invest in Mary’s chutney, Alice finally atones for running of with Joseph D’Costa and prompting Mary’s jealousy, which resulted in Saleem and Shiva’s switch.
As Saleem visits with Mary, Aadam Sinai finally utters his first word: “Abracadabra.” Saleem decides to stay on at the factory with Mary, who becomes Aadam’s ayah, and becomes the manager of the pickle factory, overseeing the all-woman staff.
Aadam’s first word is proof of his magical identity, and he will, presumably, discover the purpose of the children of midnight.
Saleem vows to preserve his stories the same way he preserves Mary’s chutney, and he labels the last jar “Abracadabra,” indicating the end of his story. Saleem immediately decides to begin writing his future, and he starts by describing his wedding in Kashmir, where he crumbles into six hundred million pieces of dust and is trampled on by Aadam Sinai and the other guests.
The fact that Saleem begins to write his future suggests that he has control and purpose. Like his son, the writing of Saleem’s future implies that he is an active participant in it, and that it will be “forged by his will.” Ironically, Saleem still writes his own death into his future, just the way he predicted it, at the age of thirty-one. Technically, Saleem and the Midnight Children’s Conference completely failed their objective and millions of people were horribly affected; however, with Aadam comes the “virulent disease of optimism,” and there is hope for a unified India.