Unlike my other blogs so far, this one’s hasn’t come quite so easy. Not because I enjoyed The God of Small Things any less, but because I was taken aback by the unexpected emotional complexities it evoked and addressed. Arundhati Roy delves into characters and subjects unlike any other novel I’ve read, not shying away from the darker aspects and desires of human life, and instead portraying them in an honest and emotive way.
This novel follows the lives of two siblings living in Ayemenem, India: Rahel and Estha. Crucially, they are twins, and subsequently share a bond that goes beyond the realms of even the closest of siblings. Life is not easy for them, and their upbringing is shadowed by a dark and unknown incident, gradually revealed as Roy flashes between the twins as adults and permissibly naive children.
If you are happy in a dream, Ammu, does that count? Estha asked. “Does what count?” “The happiness does it count?”. She knew exactly what he meant, her son with his spoiled puff. Because the truth is, that only what counts, counts…..”If you eat fish in a dream, does it count?” Does it mean you’ve eaten fish?
Her writing style makes the experiences of the twins both familiar and completely alien. Incredibly beautiful and apt descriptions frame the book, intertwined with childlike comparisons and understanding which any reader you can relate to. Barn owls become ‘barn nowls’, time is something you can change on a wristwatch, and when you’re told to ‘Stoppit’ you ‘Stoppited’. We are confronted with a plethora of experiences from the mundane to the unimaginable as Estha and Rahel navigate their way through growing up, and grasp at understanding the complex and troubling sequence of events in which they are entangled.
As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these:
a) Anything can happen to anyone.
b) It is best to be prepared.
This is a book of contrasts; the beautiful and barbaric working together to tell a lamentable tale. You can’t help but feel immense empathy for those involved, and a pang of appreciation for the wonderful, ordinary life that you yourself have lead.
And there it was again. Another religion turned against itself. Another edifice constructed by the human mind, decimated by human nature.
That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how.
And how much