About three years ago I was walking through a bookstore and a copy of the ‘The God of Small Things’ caught my eye. I had obviously heard a lot about the book. I had already heard my sister ramble on for hours about how amazing the book was. But to be honest, nothing made me want to read the book because ever since I read Chetan Bhagat I became very skeptical about Indian authors. And also, the book’s title misled me to believe that it was some sort of spiritual self-help book.
But in a sudden impulsive moment I brought the book. And for quite some time it just sat on my bookshelf collecting dust until another impulsive moment when I decided to read it. And that was when it crept into my bones.
The book set in Ayemenem (a small town in Kerala) is about the childhood experiences of Fraternal twins Estha and Rahel. The setting shifts back and forth from when the twins are seven years old to when they are reunited at the age of thirty one. Although the narrative is omnipresent it is loosely grounded in Rahel’s perspective and the book moves towards the key moments in Rahel’s life.
What I love most about the book is the style of writing.’The God of small Things’ is not written in a way where events unfold in a chronological order, instead it is a patchwork of flashbacks and lengthy sidetracks that weaves the Ipe family together. Along with the style of narration, Arundhati Roy creates her own lucid language which has rhythmical analogies to every situation and is lyrical till the end. She manages to sometimes even unwillingly drag you to the place and time she wills. She keeps you engrossed with her power of not letting you know the unknown which very few writers can do.
The book showed India raw, and it hurts a lot to read about child abuse and outrageous rules that crush developing children. But it spiritually cleans you. The book is not about one specific concept or idea. It shows how cold and calculative people can be, it talks about male chauvinism, it shows to the extent people swear on their beliefs and punish those violating the archaic social norms. And along with the storyline, the book also manages to cover all the important events of Kerala. The temples, the elephants and the rise of communism.
The story kind of reassures me in human vulnerability to be loved and to be happy. The characters touch your soul and melancholy washes over you as you cry bitterly when the characters laugh hard. From what could have been just another tragic incident, Arundhati Roy creates a poignant story about the loss of innocence. She explores every character with warmth, their ideas, opinions, desires and their unfulfilled dreams-the definitive human tragedy.
The book made me feel a deeper connection with the world. So be warned, this is no feel good book. It can get really emotional and even crude at times. But it is the most honest book I have read. Arundhati Roy manages to cut through the clothes of caste, religion, race and nationality to reveal the bare bones of humanity. The book managed to make me think in ways I never thought I could. It made me read every scrap that Arundhati Roy has written, only to get more inspired. And it gave me the gift of empathy. So let me end with the great lines. The God of Love. The God of Loss. The God of Small Things.