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"O, my shoes are Japanese," Gibreel sang, translating the old song into English in semi-conscious deference to the uprushing host-nation, "These trousers English, if you please. but for whatever reason, the two men, Gibreelsaladin Farishtachamcha, condemned to this endless but also ending angelic devilish fall, did not become aware of the moment at which the processes of their transmutation began. Lamarck: under extreme environmental pressure, characteristics were acquired. "Start flying, now." And added, without knowing its source, the second command: "And sing." How does newness come into the world? Of what fusions, translations, conjoinings is it made? Afterwards, when his feet were once more firmly planted on the ground, he would begin to doubt this, to ascribe the implausibilities of his transit to the scrambling of his perceptions by the blast, and to attribute his survival, his and Gibreel's, to blind, dumb luck.
A universal beginning, a miniature echo of the birth of time . But Gibreel has already named it, I mustn't interfere: Proper London, capital of Vilayet, winked blinked nodded in the night. The aircraft cracked in half, a seed-pod giving up its spores, an egg yielding its mystery.
What compromises, what deals, what betrayals of its secret nature must it make to stave off the wrecking crew, the exterminating angel, the guillotine? Harder and harder he flapped, and as he flapped a song burst out of him, and like the song of the spectre of Rekha Merchant it was sung in a language he did not know to a tune he had never heard. Chamcha willed it and Farishta did what was willed. Of what type -- angelic, Satanic -- was Farishta's song? Happy birthday, mister; happy birthday to you." Whereupon Saladin Chamcha coughed, spluttered, opened his eyes, and, as befitted a new-born babe, burst into foolish tears.
On my head, red Russian hat; my heart's Indian for all that." The clouds were bubbling up towards them, and perhaps it was on account of that great mystification of cumulus and cumulo-nimbus, the mighty rolling thunderheads standing like hammers in the dawn, or perhaps it was the singing (the one busy performing, the other booing the performance), or their blast--delirium that spared them full foreknowledge of the imminent . How does it survive, extreme and dangerous as it is? But at the time he had no doubt; what had taken him over was the will to live, unadulterated, irresistible, pure, and the first thing it did was to inform him that it wanted nothing to do with his pathetic personality, that half-reconstructed affair of mimicry and voices, it intended to bypass all that, and he found himself surrendering to it, yes, go on, as if he were a bystander in his own mind, in his own body, because it began in the very centre of his body and spread outwards, turning his blood to iron, changing his flesh to steel, except that it also felt like a fist that enveloped him from outside, holding him in a way that was both unbearably tight and intolerably gentle; until finally it had conquered him totally and could work his mouth, his fingers, whatever it chose, and once it was sure of its dominion it spread outward from his body and grabbed Gibreel Farishta by the balls. "Sing." Chamcha held on to Gibreel while the other began, slowly at first and then with increasing rapidity and force, to flap his arms. As to omnipresence and -potence, I'm making no claims at present, but I can manage this much, I hope. These were the first words Gibreel Farishta said when he awoke on the snowbound English beach with the improbability of a starfish by his ear: "Born again, Spoono, you and me.
without any fixed place, or space, allowed him to rest the sole of his foot upon. The Angel Gibreel 1 "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die. Saladin nosedived while Farishta embraced air, hugging it with his arms and legs, a flailing, overwrought actor without techniques of restraint. This person had, however, no time for such "high falutions"; was, indeed, incapable of faluting at all; having just seen, emerging from the swirl of cloud, the figure of a glamorous woman of a certain age, wearing a brocade sari in green and gold, with a diamond in her nose and lacquer defending her high-coiled hair against the pressure of the wind at these altitudes, as she sat, equably, upon a flying carpet. A scream, that same scream that had fluttered in his guts when Gibreel swam across the sky, burst from Chamcha's lips; a shaft of sunlight pierced his open mouth and set it free.
To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Knocked a little silly by the blast, Gibreel and Saladin plummeted like bundles dropped by some carelessly open-beaked stork, and because Chamcha was going down head first, in the recommended position for babies entering the birth canal, he commenced to feel a low irritation at the other's refusal to fall in plain fashion. Hybrid cloud-creatures pressed in upon them, gigantic flowers with human breasts dangling from fleshy stalks, winged cats, centaurs, and Chamcha in his semi-consciousness was seized by the notion that he, too, had acquired the quality of cloudiness, becoming metamorphic, hybrid, as if he were growing into the person whose head nestled now between his legs and whose legs were wrapped around his long, patrician neck. The roof of cloud fled upwards, the water-floor zoomed closer, their eyes opened.