ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Labour Pains

Midnight’s children, born in the middle of the 20th century, have to cope with a radically different time in which the young refuse to grow up and the old refuse to fade away. 

I grew up in a home with a strange collection of books that had, as far as I could make out, little to do with the personalities or interests of my parents. This motley material left me laden for life with all manner of fears, hopes and aspirations.

Two in particular yielded a life plan just as I entered my teens. The first was an encyclopedia-like item about a tribe in Africa that conferred an age of 60 upon a newborn child. Each year the age would be marked down by one and it was the custom that if an individual survived to zero, which was rare, he or she would, without being asked, leave home and retreat into the forest. This was celebrated as an ingenious, civilised way of coping with the constraints of a resource-poor society.

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