The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy \\ Book Review // Trauma
The book is a slow burn, but in the book’s last quarter, everything makes sense, and you find out why the book won the Booker. Obviously, the writing and the story are not the only reason behind the booker; it also is the topic of the book and INDIA.
The western art community seems to be quite insecure from Asian countries, so when there is art (somewhat good) that shows the ugliness of Asian countries, it is given gifts and rewards. It motivates the authors to create more art on those topics, showing the world how ugly the Asian countries are so the western countries can dance in their broken but apparently comparatively better system.
The winning of Parasite at the Oscars is one example. The winning of The God of Small things is another. The White Tiger by Adiga, Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, and River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. All of them explore the deadly state of their state.
But I could be entirely wrong because all of this is based on a very small number of the books I read. And seriously, what we know is a drop, and what we doesn’t know is an ocean – Dark series.
I am sure of one thing more than anything now.
All stories are love stories.
The movies, books, and theaters – every story I read, every tale I listen – all ends up being a love story and a conflict that makes it tragic.
The God of Small Things is a story of several love stories. All of them ended badly. A family is going against family, nature and going against all the laws of love. All the characters defy the rules and regulations of the society they were born in to fulfill their heart desires. They are ready to take the burn.
This is going to be a spoiler review because I really want to talk about the book.
To say the story is about twins would be wrong. The story is about a family in India. I am talking broadly because the arc would be similar, whichever character’s story you read.
Love –> Tragedy.
Inter-caste marriages and inter-religion marriages are a matter of insults and violence. However, incest love is wrong in every part of the world. Arundhati Roy put all of it into one book, in one family, living in one house.
The book explores the broken communism of India, where the high-caste people have total control and they are not looking to bring any change in the system. Just an illusion of the change. The caste thing is not a joke in India. You can take your eyes and not see it, but it is still there in everyday actions, everyday decision-making, and in everyday communication.
The castes are then associated with skin colors. The lower caste and black people. The upper caste and brown people. Though there are no white people in India, so white is rare. White is desired. But for the black, brown is white. And for the brown, dark brown is black. AC brown is white, and working class brown is black. Iphone brown is white and Oppo brown is black.
The family this story is about comes from an upper caste family. A low brown family.
First, there is the father, who is mostly absent, but hit the mother. So the mother handles the house. There is the sister of the father – who fell in love with a Christian person. She changed her religion and herself for love. Get abused and comes back to the house.
There are two kids. Chacko boy and Ammu girl.
- Chacko: falls in love with a girl and stagnates. Had a girl name, Sophie Mol. The wife divorced him and got a better husband.
- Ammu: falls in love with a rich person. The person becomes an alcoholic, and she divorces him. Ammu had twins. A girl and a boy.
Two siblings, both divorced. So see the difference between how the family received them. Ammu was hated for what she did, but Chacko was accepted.
But they lived there indeed.
- Estha: boy twin of Ammu.
- Rahel: girl twin of Ammu.
There was an affair between Ammu (upper caste girl) and Velutha (lower caste boy – carpenter – a communist), which ended with the death of Sophie Mol.
Forbidden love ends in tragedies. This is the story of the book. The end is given in the starting.
What we see is how it unfolds. The process of tragedy. Each small thing made it happen. Contributions. Butterfly effect.
The God of Small Things. The God of Loss.
The book shows us everything that happens and how it affects the outcome. How one chance meeting with the Velutha, how one ignorant movie watching, how one ice-cream.
The way of the loss and the way of the world.
My writing is becoming similar to what I read in the book as the book is written like this. Fragmented sentences. Unfinished thoughts. Similes. And insects. So many insects. When I was reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, I observed the insects. Reading TGOST, I realize AR likes insects.
The Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma is also an incest love story. But those guys came together because they were busy, tired, and managing it all. They fall in love out of habit. Cassandra Clare pen down a lot of forbidden love through Shadowhunter World. Incest, inter-species, and all.
But this is the first time; I have read an incest love story where what the characters did makes some sort of sense. I was expecting this. They were too close to each other. It was not the brother-sister relation from the first page.
I liked the idea of how AR brushed off their past life to get to the point. There is no need to tell their past relationships in detail because it does not matter. Their future was written before they parted ways. They were supposed to come together, and when they came, they fit. The shared trauma becomes their platform. The desire of twins to go into each other was there from the time when they were only 11.
Another interpretation is the Freudian relation. The boy, Estha, was clearly more affected by the event that unfolded. He goes silent. While Rahel worked through dead-end jobs, Estha gave up on everything. The reason could be gender. He was the only boy in the family of women.
Mother, grandmother, aunts, sister, cousin sisters, cousin aunt, and only one uncle who was drunk at the time. He starts seeing Velutha as a friend, a mentor figure. A man for him.
So it all impacts him too much. The sister responds to help him. She helped. Through intimacy. Emotional and Physical. She replaced the mother.
And on the practical level, it is weird. It is weird when you are reading a book. But it makes sense with how the plot grows. It does not come out as a surprise.
The theme of the novel was who we are allowed to love and how much. And seriously, who do we allow to love, and how much?
So these character breaks all the rules and laws. They suffer the consequences.
Madness. Death. No arms. More death. Lonely death in a lonely motel in a lonely city.
But would they do it all again knowing the outcomes? I am sure Ammu and Velutha will do.
I am sure Esta and Rahel will do it because they had to experience the act that destroyed everything. Surely, they never made connections with anyone else because of the trauma at a young age. They only have each other to experience love in its naked form.
Yet another tragedy in the book is that these people do not resist their misery. They take every punch and suffer.
They never stand or look to change their life. It sometimes makes it challenging to like or relate to any character because all of them are too weak. But they were human. I guess the fantasy genre and modern literature has corrupted our mind so that we don’t relate to weak characters.
We always want to see ourselves as these better human beings, a fighter, and survivors because modern stories are giving us a glimpse of heroic life from a long tie, so we want it.
But to relate to the normal character that does not want to bring any changes is terrifying to us. It is too close to home. The selfie without a filter terrifies us.
The God of Small Things is surely a traumatic book and not for everyone. It certainly is not a beach book. Give it a read. I recommend.