Thursday, June 26

The God of Small Things

Everyone has a soul song. I have a soul book. I have never connected with any piece of literature,music or movie the way I have connected with "The God of Small Things".

I love the book.

The first time I read this book was in 1998, I think. I could not get prints of the book at Patna, so I picked up a friend's copy and photocopied it shamelessly.

Arundhati Roy had happened to the literary scene. Everyone had sung their paeans. Jug Suraiya ( Juguleir vein, TOI) had dedicated a Sunday column to her, so awestruck was he by this literary wonder. Bunny his wife met Arundhati Roy and said - Its a pleasure to shake the hand that wrote " The god of small things." India today had devoted another two pages to her excerpts beside a review. I was very curious.

I am glad I did what I did.I read the book first time on a photocopied print under a yellow bulb in the wee hours of night.

Arundhati's in-the-face story, her complete disregard for social mores and above all the child eye through which the story was told gnawed at my heart. There was a bittersweet after taste that lasted for many days.

But above all, I loved the English, the way she rotated the words, deadly red was redly dead. Later became Lay-ter. Sharp dialogues found its way : 'History's henchmen came to retrieve its detractors." and "It was the culmination of What will Sophie Mol think week?"

I was in TISS, when Arundhati Roy was invited to campus for her stand on the Narmada issue. Let me go on record to say that's the only social work seminar I attended at the campus. My reasons were far more personal. I wanted to see the person who wrote GOST. Probably get a fleeting glimpse of the heart that could feel so passionately and the mind that could pour it out. Without edits.

She was short, frail, very fragile, her description of protagonist in the book is actually her own description and no wonder it is so heartbreaking. What better way to write about love and loss than to tour your own innards.

I went back to the library and pulled out the book again and read it cover to cover this time.

And I wept. My favorite remains this passage

" In that brief moment, Velutha looked up and saw things, he hadn't seen before. Things that had been out of bounds so far, obscured by history's blinkers.

Simple things.

For instance, he saw that Rahel's mother was a woman.

That she had deep dimples when she smiled and that stayed on long after her smile left her eyes.He saw that her brown arms were round and firm and perfect. That her shoulders shown, but her eyes were somewhere else.He saw that when he gave her gifts they no longer needed to be offered flat on the palms of his hand so that she wouldn't have to touch him. His boats and boxes. His little windmills. He saw that he was not necessarily the only giver of gifts. That she had gifts to give him too.

Chapter : Welcome home, our Sophie Mol ( pg 176-177)

The second time, I was stunned by the chill that spawned after I read the book. The brutality of Love Laws , which lay who should be loved and how and how much.

The loss that permeated you long after you left the book was like damp walls after rains. I psychoanalysed Rahel in my psychoanalysis assignment and got straight A with no background in the subject, so high was my involvement with the book.

Since then , I have read this book four times over. There were nights when I would just open a page and read it. Sometimes I cried for Sophie Mol, sometimes I traveled with Estha Mon in Chennai mail towards a silent future. Sometimes, I sat at the banks of river Meenanchal and saw them , the untouchable and the touchable, making love ( How could she stand the smell? observes Baby Kochammma) breaking the laws of love, offending history. And sometimes, I stomped the paravan with my history boots and legitimate handcuffs.

GOST is more than a book to me, its an expression of loss and sadness that comes with it.

Lunatic sadness.

Its a pity Ms. Roy hasn't written another book. And she contends herself with caustic data rich, opinion laden essays. But then maybe its a blessing in disguise.

There can be only one god. " The god of small things".


darksunshine said...

very well said shuchika. attaboy!
i had loved reading god of small things...but as happens with me, i just remember the feeling now.
i loved the imagery the book evoked. now i shall read it again.
let me tel ya again, that i njoyed reading ur post!

White Magpie said...

Hmm..Now ye have tempted me to go and pick that book. So long I've been avoiding that book like plague for god knows why reason..Let me check..