The old boatman who ferries people and goods across Dal and Nageen Lakes in Kashmir. Tai is the personification of Old India, and he represents a time and place that is untouched by British colonialism and other Western influences. Tai becomes angry with Aadam Aziz when he returns from a German medical school a changed and modern man, reflecting Tai’s own fixed identity as a strictly Eastern character. Tai has an affinity for storytelling, and his incredibly long life serves as an endless source for the stories of India’s rich history, which he happily shares with Aadam in his youth. Notably, it is Tai who tells Ilse Lubin of the place in Dal Lake where European women go to drown, and after her suicide he becomes sick with a mysterious illness, suggesting his guilt in connection with her death. Tai is killed in 1947, when he is shot during the Indian and Pakistani disputes over the territory of Kashmir, but he lives on through his stories and Hanif Aziz, Aadam’s son who inherits the boatman’s infectious laugh.
Tai Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children
The timeline below shows where the character Tai appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: The Perforated Sheet
Book 1: Mercurochrome