“They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.”
Arundhati Roy’s debut novel, set in 1969 Kerala, tells the story of twins Rahel and Esthappen(Estha), and how their entire life changes in one day. The book underlines how the norms of the nineteenth century Kerala, that laid down rules that separated the touchable from the untouchables, and declared who should be loved and not, destroys the childhood of the twins.
Their broken little family is all geared up to welcome Uncle Chacko’s ex-wife and his daughter Sophie Mol, all the way from England, unaware of the tragedy that is in store for them.
As the story unfolds, one falls in love with the mischiefs of the die-hard Elvis Presley fan Estha, the practical one with the puff and the outspoken Rahel with a fountain-clad in Love-in-Tokyo. Their mother, Ammu, who ran away from a broken marriage, their blind grandmother Mammachi, uncle Chacko who is divorced and their grand-aunt Baby Kochamma, their arch enemy, together make the household a yet another typical Syrian Christian home in Kerala. The family’s loyal servant, an untouchable and the twins’ best friend, dark as night and sarcastically called Velutha, is the other character of significance.
Being a Keralite myself, the book was a walk down memory lane and I could easily identify with each and every character. I have grown up seeing the things the twins saw (of a lesser extremity), asking the same questions and playing the very same games. Ammu, Mammachi and Baby Kochamma could easily be the ladies next door.
The author has done a spectacular job in hooking the reader to the story, with a steady build up of suspense. The writer’s apt portrayal of the characters lets the reader connect with each one and the puns in her writing often make one laugh out loud.
The way she has laid bare the racism that prevailed in Kerala in a blunt manner is quite commendable. Her way of writing and storytelling is in itself quite fascinatingly unique and beautiful.
For as long as I have heard about the book, one thing that always baffled me was its title. I just couldn’t figure out its meaning. The book takes its time in unravelling the meaning of the title to the reader, like a well-cherished treasure. And boy could she come up with a better title! Easily, one of the best parts of the book for me is indeed its title.
The God Of Small Things is the kind of book that once you are done reading, you need a minute to just let everything sink in. I loved this book immensely and would recommend it to everyone.
The book is every emotion all at once-wit, tragedy, love, hurt, and drama, among others.
Story – 5/5