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A review of ‘The God of small things’

The God of small things is a semi – autobiographical fiction written by Arundhati Roy. The autobiographical references can be seen in multiple places, which includes references to her birth place Assam, where the protagonist is born and also Aymenam where she grew up which is exactly where the majority of the story is happening.

The main protagonist of the story is Rahel, who grows up along with her twin brother Esthappen. The story unfolds the life of Rahel. There is something unique in the way the story is being told, the reader will find themselves getting lost in the past and present of Rahel at the same time. There is an aura around Rahel and her mother, Ammu which suggests that they both are very strong women, defying the rights and wrongs of the society they lived.

The story is rich in characters and the author has keenly described the nuances of each character. And also she’s quite imaginative, which could be seen in her using rich vocabulary in explaining the minute details, be it a character or the mood or the settings of the events unfolding.

The story starts with Rahel returning back to Aymenam where she meets her two-egged twin Esthappen after a long time. There aren’t many words spoken between them, but their silence communicates many things. The story proceeds with her memories of being born in Assam, where their father works as a plantation manager. After getting a divorce, their mother moves back to Aymenam with the twins. There they lives with their maternal grandmother, Mammachi who owns a pickle factory and Ammu’s brother, Chacko who runs the factory. Velutha, is another main character, who is the lower caste (Paravan), highly skilled in his work and he helps in running the factory, but he is the oppressed one, without a proper face because of his caste. Both Ammu and the twins fall in love with him, in two separate circumstances. Ammu finds her long lost lover in him and the twins find a dear friend in him. He could be seen sometimes associated with the name God of small things. The story proceeds with the arrival of Chacko’s ex-wife and daughter (Sophie mol) from London. And finally Sophie mol gets drowned in the river and Ammu and Velutha got caught in their love life, which leads to Esthappen being sent to his father and Rahel being left alone in Aymenam.

The story has a bit of sad aura, which lasts throughout. It deals with multiple social and economical situations which were prevalent during that period in Kerala. The untouchability issues, uprising of Communism and the life of women in general. The author adds a bit of sarcasm to most of these issues. Another strong subject mentioned is how differently the society views sexual needs of both men and women. While the sexual desires of Chacko is secretly supported by his mother, the sexual desires of Ammu is seen as a sin by their mother. This is very contradictory but years of conditioning by our society has forced us to believe the same.

The story gives us a realistic feel and somewhere deep down it makes us to empathise with Rahel and Ammu. A novel or story lives through the soul of the reader and I believe ‘The God of small things’ is able to touch the soul of its reader, which make it a brilliant one.

That’s how we became three!!

“Wohoo..we are pregnant “, this perfect line was always in my mind for our pregnancy announcement. And I fancied multiple ways to reveal it to my husband. But how it turned out to be was, me getting excited sitting alone in a room, and my husband caught up in a busy day to finish. But finally at the end of day, we managed to get excited over a video call. Thankfully, I got my lovely friends to be excited with me, we made it memorable in our little ways.

Having seen multiple pregnancy announcement videos, I thought our parents and family will be jumping with happiness. But they were really happy but couldn’t jump though. Since we (me and my husband, George) were staying in two cities and I was doing a fellowship (which was little stressful), these reasons were enough for creating a huge tension in our parent’s minds. I wasn’t tensed much, but was sad because I was alone. I imagined we will be together during my pregnancy, and I missed all those pamperings, dreaming about our little one, talking to the baby, feeling the movements together, and taking the perfect monthly bump photos.

Yes, it wasn’t easy. I missed most of the aforementioned delicacies. But managed to get few during the short visits he paid. And Amma came to stay with me for sometime, for taking care of me. And I was made to feel like home and pampered with my sweetest people, called school team (I was working in a school then). We had all the fun, our students definitely made our baby feel like home and I’m pretty sure she got excited and happy inside hearing all those sweet little voices.

And very recently I realised, I have only few photos with my bump. (Thanks to our lost phones). So I thought, I will save all my memories in this lengthy post.

Living alone wasn’t easy, I cried many times because I missed home. I got stressed many times, because keeping yourself happy all the time isn’t easy. But whatever I went through, I used to tell my baby to be stronger because this too shall pass. And the next day will bring in more happiness and joy. Thank God, we both survived safely and healthy.

And I finished my fellowship, came back home around my eighth month of pregnancy. And I started imagining my perfect vaginal delivery, where I will be holding George’s hand and clicking the perfect family picture. My due date was on February 15th, 2020. George had to go back to Delhi on 9th for some urgent work. But still I hoped to hold his hands inside the labour room since he will be back in two days, ignoring my initial signs of delivery. But before he reached Delhi, our baby reached this magnificent planet earth. And she came through an emergency C-section, as she was reluctant to leave the warmth of my womb by entwining with her umbilical cord. Again my perfect family picture was ruined. Instead of holding our baby, there he was holding his phone with her picture and I was unconscious to even think of this unexpected turn of events.

Though I felt a little sadness for the unexpected turn of things, those tiny little face filled my life with happiness. Her innocence and tenderness could melt any sorrows into joy. Though I couldn’t capture a perfect picture, I carry the memories of the first time I held her. And this is how we started our journey together and each day she amazes me with her charm.

The art of growing up!

‘Growing up’ is a fancy yet familiar phrase. I fancied fancy things to be attractive and colourful, but this might be an exception. The process of growing up could become a nightmare. Why is it so? Because one has to act responsible and making mistakes are no longer tolerated. Everyone expects everyone else to know everything in the most perfect way. Period.

So, when I was a kid I used to envy the adults around me. I used to feel jealous the way they enjoyed their freedom and I believed it would be so much of fun than being a toddler, who ought to stick around elders day and night. But now being a grown up, I wish to become a toddler again. Why so? After all, we went through all those difficulties, fought hard enough with our own laziness, grumpiness and managed to get around every other ‘iness’ to become a responsible adult and finally you wish to become a toddler again. Honestly, I enjoy being an adult but most of the time I am stuck between this body and mind of an adult and those restrictions imposed by others as if I am a child. Whom are to be blamed? Parents, neighbours or relatives? Before putting a blame on someone, I must acknowledge that I was acting smart as an adult, when I had a choice of acting wisely.

But, truth be told, this is how we learn things and become grown ups. There is no short cuts or straight forward paths. Everybody learns at their own pace, this is something I have heard enough. But what most of us don’t learn is to balance our responsibilities of growing up and at the same time allowing ourselves to nurture the true self. Often we fall into the pitfall of either pleasing everyone around us or creating that one different path for ourselves. Both can be exhausting unless we are not enjoying the process. And always remember, the point here is to strike a balance.

After going back and forth with the burden of the grown up decisions I have made, I have reached a conclusion. Life is pretty simple and it will be the sum of the beautiful decisions we have taken at different points in our lives. Until the day we are ready to own the decisions we have taken, growing up will be always end up being a pain and an unpleasant experience. As such, always remember, to keep calm and enjoy the little things around you.