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Another illusion unmade by his absence; GIBREEL STRIKES CAMP, the headlines yelled, but had he gone up or down or sideways? In that metropolis of tongues and whispers, not even the sharpest ears heard anything reliable. Rekha Merchant, reading all the papers, listening to all the radio broadcasts, staying glued to the Doordarshan TV programmes, gleaned something from Farishta's message, heard a note that eluded everyone else, and took her two daughters and one son for a walk on the roof of her high-rise home. His neighbour; as a matter of fact, from the apartment directly beneath his own.His neighbour and his friend; why should I say any more? Rich, certainly, but then Everest Vilas was not exactly a tenement in Kurla, eh? ." Just before dawn one winter's morning, New Year's Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky. What- ho, old Chumch." At which the other, a fastidious shadow falling headfirst in a grey suit with all the jacket buttons done up, arms by his sides, taking for granted the improbability of the bowler hat on his head, pulled a nickname-hater's face. Saladin Chamcha, fell like titbits of tobacco from a broken old cigar. Just two brown men, falling hard, nothing so new about that, you may think; climbed too high, got above themselves, flew too close to the sun, is that it? What Farishta heard wafting across the improbable night sky was an old song, too, lyrics by Mr. Accelerating towards the planet, atmosphere roaring around them, how could they? Down down they hurtled, and the winter cold frosting their eyelashes and threatening to freeze their hearts was on the point of waking them from their delirious daydream, they were about to become aware of the miracle of the singing, the rain of limbs and babies of which they were a part, and the terror of the destiny rushing at them from below, when they hit, were drenched and instantly iced by, the degree-zero boiling of the clouds. I am strictly for your eyes only, maybe you are going crazy, what do you think, you namaqool, you piece of pig excrement, my love. You are the one with the high moral tone, that's a good one. No, don't tell, just go." When you were sick I could not see you, in case of scandal, you knew I could not, that I stayed away for your sake, but afterwards you punished, you used it as your excuse to leave, your cloud to hide behind. Rekha's curse; and after that, verses in a language he did not understand, all harshnesses and sibilance, in which he thought he made out, but maybe not, the repeated name _Al-Lat_. While at Himalayan height a brief and premature sun burst into the powdery January air, a blip vanished from radar screens, and the thin air was full of bodies, descending from the Everest of the catastrophe to the milky paleness of the sea. Two actors, prancing Gibreel and buttony, pursed Mr. Saladin Chamcha, appalled by the noises emanating from Gibreel Farishta's mouth, fought back with verses of his own. at Heaven's command," Chamcha carolled through lips turned jingoistically red white blue by the cold, "arooooose from out the aaaazure main." Farishta, horrified, sang louder and louder of Japanese shoes, Russian hats, inviolately subcontinental hearts, but could not still Saladin's wild recital: "And guardian aaaaangels sung the strain." Let's face it: it was impossible for them to have heard one another, much less conversed and also competed thus in song. " No, no, Gibbo, her voice whispered in his ears, don't expect him to confirm. A suchmuch thing." O, you can lecture me now, she laughed. Now that I am dead I have forgotten how to forgive. Hell, because that's where you sent me, damn you, where you came from, devil, where you're going, sucker, enjoy the bloody dip.Exit Pimple, weeping, censored, a scrap on a cutting-room floor. in the matter of Farishta's halitosis she was not, however, altogether wrong; if anything, she had a little understated the case.Rhinestones fell from her navel as she went, mirroring her tears. Gibreel's exhalations, those ochre clouds of sulphur and brimstone, had always given him -- when taken together with his pronounced widow's peak and crowblack hair -- an air more saturnine than haloed, in spite of his archangelic name. and one week after he took off, an exit more tragic than Pimple Billimoria's did much to intensify the devilish odour that was beginning to attach itself to that forsolong sweet-smelling name.FARISHTA DIVES UNDERGROUND, opined _Blitz_ in somewhat macabre fashion, while Busybee in _The Daily_ preferred GIBREEL FLIES coop.

How to win the darling's love, mister, without a sigh? "I tell you, you must die, I tell you, I tell you," and thusly and so beneath a moon of alabaster until a loud cry crossed the night, "To the devil with your tunes," the words hanging crystalline in the iced white night, "in the movies you only mimed to playback singers, so spare me these infernal noises now." Gibreel, the tuneless soloist, had been cavorting in moonlight as he sang his impromptu gazal, swimming in air, butterfly-stroke, breast- stroke, bunching himself into a ball, spreadeagling himself against the almost-infinity of the almost-dawn, adopting heraldic postures, rampant, couchant, pitting levity against gravity. "Hey, Spoono," Gibreel yelled, eliciting a second inverted wince, "Proper London, bhai! Those bastards down there won't know what hit them. Above, behind, below them in the void there hung reclining seats, stereophonic headsets, drinks trolleys, motion discomfort receptacles, disembarkation cards, duty-free video games, braided caps, paper cups, blankets, oxygen masks. James Thomson, seventeen hundred to seventeen-forty- eight. They were in what appeared to be a long, vertical tunnel. Chamcha, clutching his legs, made an uncomprehending query: "What the hell? With death comes honesty, my beloved, so I can call you by your true names. It was you who left me, her voice reminded his ear, seeming to nibble at the lobe. He clutched at Chamcha; they burst through the bottom of the clouds.Rekha Merchant read Gibreel Farishta's farewell note in the newspapers, wrote a letter of her own, gathered her children, summoned the elevator, and rose heavenward (one storey) to meet her chosen fate. On the gigantic, luridly coloured hoardings from which he had watched over the populace, his lazy eyelids started flaking and crumbling, drooping further and further until his irises looked like two moons sliced by clouds, or by the soft knives of his long lashes.15 "Many years ago," her letter read, "I married out of cowardice. It was a long time before people understood how sick the great man was. Finally the eyelids fell off, giving a wild, bulging look to his painted eyes.Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses For Marianne Contents I. Guided by a complex coding system of slashes, circles and dots which Gibreel remembered from his childhood among the fabled lunch- runners of Bombay (of which more later), the chair-men zoomed him from role to role, delivering him as punctually and unerringly as once his father had delivered lunch. The wheelchair stood empty among the silenced sound-stages; his absence revealed the tawdry shamming of the sets. Long before his illness he had formed the habit of being transported from set to set on the great D. Rama lot by this group of speedy, trusted athletes, because a man who makes up to eleven movies "sy-multaneous" needs to conserve his energies.

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