June 2, 2023

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Bookmarked Musings: Victory City-Rushdie’s Magic Carpet by Ramlal Agarwal

2 min read

In this essay, Ramlal Agarwal observes Salman Rushdie’s writings on India as a country in two of his major works – Victory City and Midnight’s Children.

Salman Rushdie’s Victory City is another magic yarn decked with bits of history, mythology, magic, fantasy, miracles, and a multiplicity of narrative techniques and styles. It is about Pampa Kampana, a woman who founded the city of Bisnaga and was instrumental in the founding of the vast city of Vijayanagar. She lived for 238 years, coinciding with the period of the umpire. 238 years is a long period for the life of an individual or an empire. Rushdie deals with both.

Pampa grew up with bitter memories of her early life. As a nine-year-old girl, she witnessed her mother embracing the raging fire in accordance with the Sati system prevalent in medieval India and thankfully banned by the British when they arrived in India.  On her way back, Pampa feels that she possesses divine power, which spoke to her to say that she was blessed with long life and youth and would find empires, possess magical powers and be called Pampa Kampina. It also asked her never to say no to life and resist bigotry. Pampa could not understand what was happening and believed that Goddess Pampa Kampana spoke through her. Walking in an inspired state of mind and feeling hungry, she arrived at the hut of a monk called Vidyasagar, who gave her food and shelter.

Vidyasagar was a learned man and had vowed abstinence, hence, the two slept in two corners of the hut. However, it could not last long, and Vidyasagar violated her chastity while Pampa remained silent. Pampa grew up into a beautiful woman. It was about time the Portuguese had come to India. Pampa fell in love with one of them, a very handsome horse dealer called Domingo Nunes. Pampa’s

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