The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy.
When I started thinking about this book “The God of Small Things” as when did I read it last? I had no memory, all I had was some flashes here and there of Ammu the protagonist and her two kids Estha and Rahel (Twins). Also, when I read it last I had no idea what Booker Prize meant either and what it would take a writer to get one or what kind of a book / story. But now as I finished it today and sitting totally blown away by the story, I have no words as how to put two and two together for this one. Initially as I started reading the book it almost felt like another done to death topic of some part of India (read South India – Kerala to be specific) shown in bad light, people below poverty line, untouchability, illiteracy, hunger, unemployment, religion, politics and what not. But as the story progressed and I got hooked to the minutest nuances that Ms Ray has captured is truly unbelievable. Right like the way it is titled, she has left no stone upturned in her efforts to show the bleak reality on your face as it is, so much so that I could actually not only feel the heat, the smell, the colorful description of the things, I actually started reading the prose as she wanted me to read and fluently too as Ammu’s kids read it backwards if you know what I mean. Like they will read a word “Rose” as “esor” so on so forth. The way they sing a song word to word typical South Indian way with exact pronunciation. That’s some commendable thing.
Terrific story of Ammu, her struggle, her two egg unidentical twins (a boy and a girl), her love and loss, dreams, hopes, a little happiness here and a lot of sadness there. What I loved about the book is the flow, the way it keeps coming back to the present and going back (mostly) to the flashback as how it all happened and twins get separated (and why?) makes up for a mind-blowing read. The best part of the story is the detailing and I was totally mesmerized by the way she had not only written the characters and their nuances but even the background of where it all was happening was so damn amazing, colorful and real that almost throughout I could see it all happening right in front of my eyes. If you have read any of “Gabriel Garcia Marquez” book and have gone on a surreal journey that he takes us, Ms Ray has done almost the same magic with her book. Alas! to our shock, surprise and amazement she was a one book wonder (as of recently).
It’s already 48 hrs since I am done with the book but its memory is still haunting me so much (in a good way) that even after picking up an Agatha Christie as my next, I have just put the bookmark on first page and not able to start it. Memory of Ammu (for some reason I keep seeing Smita Patil’s face) and her two inseparable fatherless kids (not so beautiful with no special features) who are in awe (read love) with an untouchable guy called Velutha (imagine Makarand Deshpande with specs, topless, wearing a mundu folded well above his knees knotted at waist) with a body shining with sweat and sticking saw dust overall, always smiling to look after the kids teaching them a trick or two here and there. As I said Ms. Ray’s detailing is so in-depth that she has created real life characters who refuse to go off my mind, I could actually see their expressions, feel their pain(s), see the amount of sweat making their cloths go darker like the way a red shirt goes maroon with sweat all over it. The way they talk, walk, their eyes shine with little happiness although they very well know that there is no future and all they have is a hope of a tomorrow, beyond that they just do not think. If you have ever loved a love story, I guess this will supersede it manifolds, I haven’t read a more beautiful love story than this one. If you don’t believe me, I will recommend you pick up the book and just read the last ten pages, it doesn’t work like a spoiler even if you jump straight, what beauty. And this has the best ever love making scene in the history of my book reading, NEVER I have read anything which comes any closer to this one’s sensuality, simplicity and never feels out of place, its simply mind-blowingly beautiful, which not even made me smile, or made a big lump in my throat, it made me highly emotional as I knew what was coming next but still it was terrific. Take a bow Ms. Roy, you made me a fan of yours. I am definitely reading this book again and I guess will make it a yearly practice now 🙂 the ending is so inspiring.
If you have read it, I am sure a lot of you must have, do tell me if how you like it and if you haven’t, I will say its a must must read for all. It is another piece of literature from our part of the world which is timeless as of now as nothing much has changed in the last two decades of it being written, I am sure you will agree with me on that. I totally loved it. With that I believe now I will go to her next book which came out recently with certainly very high hopes and wish that it works for me exactly like the way this one did.