The God of Small Things – Review

‘The God of Small Things’ is a work of  fiction by Arundhati Roy, which was her début novel and won her the Booker Prize in 1997. The story revolves around the concept that how small things can influence life to an extent that these ultimately change your behaviour and everything around you. The novel also portraits the caste system in Kerala and the price that one has to pay for being from the lower caste, also the way Keralite Syrian Christains live their lives in Kerala has been displayed. As the story progresses, issues like the effect of politics, caste system, forbidden love and social discrimination becomes clear.

The story is around the life of a family, the wife (Ammu), her lover (Velutha) who is an untouchable and her two twins (Rahel and Estha) from her previous marriage, who reunite after 31 years in the small town of Ayemenem in Kerala, along with a distant cousin, Sophie from England. Along with them, there are other characters in the story to support them and help in building the story and its climax.

Both Rahel and Estha are very fond of Velutha, who is an untouchable and works as a carpenter in their pickle factory. He falls in love with Ammu and gets a brutal punishment for the same.  One after another ill-fated incidents keep happening to the family. The twins are blamed for all the misfortune in the family by their mother and she also calls them “millstones around her neck”. The twins then decide to run away from home. Their cousin Sophie convinces them to take her along. But that unlucky night has something else in store for the kids. Sophie falls in the river and dies. She has come from England with her mother Margaret and  were supposed to leave the following day. Sophie’s mother blames the twins for the death of her daughter and goes back. Ultimately the whole blame is put on the shoulders of Velutha and he is accused of raping Ammu, kidnapping teh twins and killing Sophie. Ammu goes to the police and narrates the whole story. The Chief of Police decides to keep the true story a secret,as Velutha is a communist and his wrongful arrest  could result in unrest among the local communists. Ammu is also asked not to disclose the truth. In the end Velutha dies of the beatings subject on him by the police.

After that incident, Ammu sends Estha to live with his father and so Rahel and Estha meet each other after 31 years in the same town. Rahel after an unstable childhood and adolescence in India goes to America to study. She gets married and then divorced before returning to Ayemenem. This is the time when the twins see each other at the age of 31 and after their childhood. The past they had seen has affected them so badly that Estha becomes silent where as there is a disturbed look in Rahel’s eyes. Both of them were unable to find anyone who could understand them as they used to understand each other. Their intimacy ultimately ends in sleeping together.

Though the novel was a huge success but I found this a very confusing book. The name of every character and place is so difficult to remember that it makes the story  incomprehensible, as to confirm the characters I had to go back to the previous chapter or the first chapter. Then many Malayalam words are used along with English which are further disconnecting the story. The whole novel is full of tragedies and because of this reason you cannot read this book in leisure. After reading the novel you feel very heavy and full of thoughts. Not recommended if you want to read for fun or to calm your mind.