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However, just as Adam and Eve can never return to Eden, Saleem cannot return to Kashmir—at least, not to the Kashmir he remembers through Aadam. That Kashmir doesn’t exist anymore, a fact Saleem himself hints at when he first describes Aadam’s Kashmir and claims that “[i]n those days there was no army camp at the lakeside, no endless snakes of camouflaged trucks and jeeps clogged the narrow mountain roads, no soldiers hid behind the crests of the mountains past Baramulla and Gulmarg.” Even at the beginning of the novel, the beauty of Kashmir is tainted by hindsight. In 1915, the valley may have seemed “hardly changed since the Mughal Empire,” but by the time Saleem begins telling his story, Kashmir has transformed irrevocably. Whether or not we believe Saleem’s claim that he directly influenced the political situation, his dreams remain a concrete expression of the nostalgia and desire that fed India and Pakistan’s struggle over Kashmir. Saleem’s inability to recapture his lost Eden reflects the futility of the unyielding struggle between India and Pakistan for control of the region.

Saleem also claims to Padma that the India-Pakistan war of 1965 was a personal Jehad, or holy war, against him. Before Saleem’s family gets eradicated, bitterness and deception have already brought them to the breaking point. Since arriving in Pakistan, each of their lives has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Rushdie accelerates the narrative by packing Amina’s pregnancy, Ahmed’s rapid decline, Pia’s numerous affairs, Zulfikar’s murder, and Alia’s hateful revenge into the span of a single chapter. The family’s existence has become grotesque, and Saleem believes that Pakistan must be trying to drive out his wretched family, the way the human body rejects and expels hazardous material. Only by laying waste to the past and annihilating his memory can Saleem achieve blankness and thus cleanliness. Echoing the novel’s earlier claims that creation and destruction are intimately linked, Saleem achieves purity in the “Land of the Pure” through cataclysmic and utter devastation.