Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children


Salman Rushdie

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Traditionally speaking, an ayah is a native nursemaid employed by Europeans in India. Throughout Midnight’s Children, protagonist Saleem Sinai repeatedly refers to his nanny, Mary Pereira, as his ayah. Rushdie’s use of this term reflects the influence of British culture and customs within postcolonial India, even after India’s independence, and this is consistent with Rushdie’s frequent references to British colonialism and postcolonialism. Saleem’s family is not European, yet they still call Mary an ayah.

Ayah Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Ayah or refer to Ayah. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Midnight’s Children published in 1980.
Book 2: At the Pioneer Café Quotes

And while chutney—the same chutney which, back in 1957, my ayah Mary Pereira has made so perfectly; the grasshopper-green chutney which is forever associated with those days—carried them back into the world of my past, while chutney mellowed them and made them receptive, I spoke to them, gently, persuasively, and by a mixture of condiment and oratory kept myself out of the hands of the pernicious green-medicine men. I said: “My son will understand. As much as for any living being, I’m telling my story for him, so that afterwards, when I’ve lost my struggle against the cracks, he will know. Morality, judgement, character…it all starts with memory…and I am keeping carbons.”

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Mary Pereira, Padma, Aadam Sinai
Related Symbols: Pickles
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: How Saleem Achieved Purity Quotes

What my aunt Alia took pleasure in: cooking. What she had, during the lonely madness of the years, raised to the level of an art-form: the impregnation of food with emotions. To whom she remained second in her achievements in this field: my old ayah, Mary Pereira. By whom, today, both old cooks have been outdone: Saleem Sinai, pickler-in-chief at the Braganza pickle works…nevertheless, while we lived in her Guru Mandir mansion, she fed us the birianis of dissension and the nargisi koftas of discord; and little by little, even the harmonies of my parents’ autumnal love went out of tune.

Related Symbols: Pickles
Page Number: 378
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ayah Term Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the term Ayah appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Tick, Tock
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...sinful secret, Mary quits Dr. Narlikar’s hospital and offers her services to Amina as an ayah, which Amina accepts. The Times of India interviews Amina and takes photographs of Saleem, running... (full context)