Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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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.
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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
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
As Aadam rolls up his prayer-mat, he sees Tai, the old boatman, approaching on his ferry from across Dal Lake. Aadam is fond of... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Aadam daydreams, recalling his childhood when he once asked Tai how old he really was. Tai had replied that he is old enough to “have... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Aadam is roused from his daydream as Tai approaches shore. Tai tells Aadam that the daughter of Mr. Ghani, a local landowner, is... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Breaking away from his mother, Aadam returns to Tai’s boat to be ferried to his new patient. Tai appears upset, and calling Aadam a... (full context)
Book 1: Mercurochrome
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
In the meantime, Tai, the old boatman refuses to bathe or change his clothes. He repeatedly floats his boat... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...Aadam runs to tell Ilse the good news but can’t find her. She has taken Tai’s ferry to the part of Dal Lake where foreign women go to drown and is... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...is beginning to crack, and he knows that his death is near. He thinks about Tai, who recovered from his mysterious illness only to be shot dead years later while protesting... (full context)