1. “I told you the truth,” I say
yet again, “Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind.
It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies,
and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous
but usually coherent versions of events; and no sane human being
ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.”
This quotation occurs in Book Two, in
the chapter “At the Pioneer Café.” Saleem has interrupted his story
in order to defend its accuracy to Padma. Throughout his story,
Saleem has appeared anxious about his historical inconsistencies.
He is also acutely aware of how fantastic and far-fetched his narrative
sounds to the skeptical, pragmatic Padma. After he emerges from
his fever-induced dream, it becomes especially important for Saleem
to assert the veracity of his story. For Saleem, everything he says
is true—not necessarily because it happened that way, but because
he remembers it that way. An event from a person’s past gains meaning
for that person’s present existence only when it becomes filtered
through memory and becomes part of the overall story of that person’s
life. Only then can connections be made and conclusions drawn, and
events and instances accrue significance. Saleem has rearranged
history not only because he has forgotten the proper order of events,
but also because by doing so his story gains greater depth and meaning.
Saleem’s rearrangement of facts serves a greater truth as he creates
a new pattern through which to interpret both his own history and that
of India itself.