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THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS – A REVIEW

by Chitteshwari

I don’t know about you, but when I think of books written by Indian authors, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is always the first that comes to mind. After years of putting it off, I finally delved into its world recently.

Published in 1997, it is a contemporary novel that is highly regarded by both, readers and critics alike. Set in the little town of Ayemenem in Kerala in 1969, it revolves around the lives of Ammu, her fraternal twins Rahel and Estha, and the rest of their family. The plot dances gracefully around one specific event in their lives that changes their world forever. 

The first thing you notice about the book is its writing. Roy is an impeccable writer and it shows in every single line. She works her magic so you can visualize every little detail of the surrounding she is describing. Certain phrases are repeated throughout the book and the result is haunting. In one chapter, she describes, over the course of multiple pages, a Kathakali routine performed by two dancers in a temple courtyard. The description is so startlingly vivid that when it ended, I felt as though I had just witnessed the first Kathakali performance of my life. In another scene, she narrates in detail a horrifying incident of police brutality that sent chills down my spine.

The book is not just an ordinary story, but an eye-opener about the severity of the caste system that exists in India. Throughout the book, Roy weaves a strong political commentary into the writing, giving insight into the advent and rise of communism in Kerala. If you venture into this novel thinking it will be a pleasant, comfortable read, you will soon realize that you are highly mistaken. The author does not sugarcoat things. She serves society in its raw form on the platter and yanks away the reader’s rose-tinted glasses. She does not shy away from exploring topics that are considered taboo even today, and the various court cases filed against her for it serve as plenty of proof. To witness a story so honest to itself and its world is quite refreshing, in the same way, that dipping your toes into an icy lake in the middle of the night is.

Arundhati Roy does not create any one-dimensional story or character. She gives almost never-ending depth to every element of the story, which is commendable, considering that this is her debut novel. The minor characters are in no way just props used to further the main storyline (something which many authors and scriptwriters of today could make note of). Even the local temple elephant, Kochu Thumban has his contribution to the way the lives of the protagonists are shaped, just like every minor element in our real-life surroundings affects our growth as human beings. The butterfly effect is something that comes into focus here. However, one (and probably the only) drawback of this book is that there are maybe one too many characters mentioned. Up until the first quarter of the book, this creates some amount of confusion because one tends to misplace their names and identities.

That being said, Roy presents her characters as they are, with all their uneven edges and rough textures. Everyone is reduced to their crude humanity, stripped down to their naked, imperfect morality. She makes the reader jump from hate to love to sympathy, all in the span of a single page. The reader’s heart is almost a puppet in her skilled hands and she masterfully tugs the right strings every single time. She evokes every emotion in the spectrum and in the end, you’re left with a flood of empathy. You’re not going to find any black and white characters on these pages.

The highlight of the book, however, is the sequence and pacing of the narration. The book starts at the end of the story and finishes in the middle. Roy delves not just into the events of a single night, but everything in the past that led up to the present, and the aftermath of the tragedy, over a decade later. Sometimes she describes only a couple of nights over the course of a chapter, whereas in other places, she covers years of the characters’ lives in the span of two pages. Throughout this narration, the reader is never in confusion, all thanks to the brilliance of her craft. She works the reins of storytelling flawlessly and (almost effortlessly) ensures that every change of pace and every switch in the timeline hits exactly as she intends it to.

The God of Small Things is a beautifully complex book, a mirror held to society and humanity. Arundhati Roy ambitiously takes on a lot of elements and gets most of them right. It’s a must-read, both for fans of artful storytelling and for those who look for books with a cause. A sure contemporary classic in the years to come, it completely deserves that spot in every reader’s bookshelf and heart.

Rating: 4/5

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Powerlessness and other Things

by:Sneha

“I don’t know what to do……”

“What should I do?…”

Such sentences often come into our minds when we have something that pains us and we seem powerless against it. Powerlessness is most certainly a horrible feeling. When you see things happening right in front of you. Wishing you could change it so bad or at least make it a bit better than it is.

You wish and you wish so strongly with all your might to be able to make a difference only to realize that all your prayers and efforts don’t make a difference. It’s like you can see your own hope and faith slowly slipping out of your hands and instead of falling to the ground, you can feel it falling in an endless pit shrouded with nothing but despair. The frustration is nothing less than painful. It plays with your mind and makes you feel so tiny and useless, to say the least.

Sometimes, you keep all these struggles inside yourself, hoping time will be your knight in shining armor and save you from everything. We all know time is usually too slow. People say that time heals everything. In those times though, it sounds like a lie. Like you have to fight it all on your own and all by yourself. After what seems like endless fighting you standstill. You start to hope that if you stop reacting to it, it will just go away. You bear with it and keep bearing with it till you break and then the words become more frantic echoing in your mind muddling it further.

“I don’t know what to do!”

“What should I do!?”

Now that you have had enough. Everything starts to pour out. You start to cry. Whether it is your eyes or your mind or your soul or your heart it doesn’t matter. Some part of you starts to cry.

Maybe it’s just a cry to let everything go or maybe you are screaming with all your might.

Maybe you want someone to come to you and save you from all of it even though you aren’t saying it out loud.

At times like this…..

It is okay to not do anything.In fact you shouldn’t do anything if you have already tried and can’t.

Rest yourself a bit.

Take some time to yourself.

Unwind.

Rely on someone. It is perfectly fine to ask them to stay with you longer than usual. Have a mental breakdown if you feel the need. It is okay to leave whatever is bothering you to someone else. To ask them to sort it out for you. Be it the matter itself or your feelings. Sometimes, you need someone else more than anything and that is fine.

At times like this….

It is fine to wait to make your move.

To be afraid of what will happen.

To think or maybe overthink if you are an overthinker.

To be afraid of every move you make and do things at your own pace.

Once everything settles…..

It is okay to realise that it was something small and easily solvable.

It is okay to realise you could have handled stuff in a better way.

It is okay to realise that nothing could have been done all along.

It is okay to realise that you were entirely in the wrong or totally wronged.

It is okay to realise that you were only confused and that it made everything worse.

It’s okay….

Sometimes all you can do is feel powerless and then let time help you see the real picture and make you realise what it all was.

But once it all settles…

Don’t be bothered by it again.

Let it go.

Forgive yourself and anyone involved.

Thank the ones who stayed with you throughout.

Show gratitude to the ones that helped you get through it.

Once everything settles though…

I want you to know.

You did your best.

You did great.

You are still loved and as long as you try to set things right with sincerity.

Whatever happened and however things went down is not just your fault.

Whatever happened doesn’t mean you are any less than you were before and that you deserve all the happiness that comes your way after it.

Love yourself even after everything happens. It is very important.

Powerlessness will go and how you grow from it all depends on you.