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.