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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review : 'A God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy

I usually chatter vaguely at the beginning of review posts,perhaps because I always have a lot to say on whatever my mind gets to feed on.So,it was somewhere in May and I had gone to a local bookstore to return another book,in exchange of which I was asked to choose something - books,exercise books or may even have been nursery rhymes (for my maternal cousin) on glossy,thick pages with juicy pictures that exaggerated their price and the emphasis one is supposed to pay for them.I was confused,so I asked the people there to let me in and give me a chance to search by myself.The dusty,wooden compartments were all filled with books for undergraduates studying law,books on definitions of philosophy (that were apparently vague ; I'm not sure because I didn't risk to take them off),introduction to concepts of Physics and old English dramas (and perhaps even the weariest of Anthology stuff -_-).I was about to turn my face and return defeated when a deep green,lotus leaved cover caught my eyes - T H E G O D OF S (mall things? I didn't have my spectacles on.) I am only 5'3.5" and the book was placed higher than I could reach with my hands.I had to stand on my toes (at this point,I was so excited that I didn't care) and try to get it off but that wouldn't budge.So,the store boy came to my help and got the book.Yes,it was THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS.The God of Small Things written by Arundhati Roy.And I do not know how many people will trust me on this but that store doesn't ever sell books that are worth reading.They basically have academic material (yes,they are worth studying) but apart from that,it's nearly miraculous to find something as this in that sort of a store.I was excited.And until a little later than midnight,I kept travelling through the pages.And that night was when I knew I was at the right journey - it wasn't pleasant,it wasn't exasperatingly thrilling but it ran through me.And that is exactly what journeys are meant to do to you.

The book is extremely narrative,throughout - from beginning to end.But the narration is not abjectly philosophical or too deep to let it penetrate through - which is usually the case with the twentieth century masterpieces given birth to by authors like Franz Kafka or Albert Camus.
The description is as real as poetry and that is the magic of the book! You do not have to put too much effort into understanding the little folds,the crevices,the stride uphill.The book is your navigator.The book is the sole in-charge of the voyage.Similarly,it takes you through the extremes of practicality,in an extremely lyrical manner,in a motion that is not overbearing at all.

Roy has made ample use of similes and metaphors (especially similes) across the novel with enough content to neutralise the factuality of their existence.Like sausage and mash blended well.Like you didn't notice that I used a simile in the last sentence,or once in this one as well!
To admit the truth however,my version of truth,that is - I couldn't leave the book aside once I had begun reading.I just couldn't. The magnetism was fine,the words arranged in a perfectly milled base of series of events.The book ; no doubts is indeed a masterpiece and I would crave for the time which I would be able to spend with it everyday.I finished it during a train journey - and when I did,I had to cover my mouth because I was still sobbing and the rest of the population around was asleep.I clung to it even after I had reached the end.And I tried to analyse for the umpteenth time why E.M.S Namboodiripad would think it was anti-communist propaganda.

If you ask some visibly sane individual the same,she/he is supposed to deny this proposition.Roy has definitely pointed out the flaws of radicalism,of communism - the errors that are incorporated into the psyche and into the body along with time ; the very same errors that creep up into ideologies.Of the sort that runs through high maintenance embassy buildings and executives changing names,forgetting roots to keep up with the rush.One that turns an affectionate Marxist father sadistically happy - to watch his son murder his own name,to watch him keep up with the motion of the era on the other hand.To watch Lenin die and to watch illusions born through the vessels of his own descendance.
Institutions aren't familiar with the struggle for equity.Though I do not have any idea if five star hotels used the tale of the rooms belonging to Namboodiripad's family in order to attract attention (and that wouldn't make most of the capitalistic bourgeoisie very happy) but old revolutionaries wearing chef's hats and serving the customers at such places is something very real,very painfully real.
From famines and wars threatening to incite Marxist-Leninist revolutions with the number of dispossessed people increasing the world over scaring old ladies with melons inside their blouses (who loved watching brittle blondes with styled hair stiff with spray defend their own sexual empires ; their sexy dresses and bitchy repartees) of their own furniture to portraying the character of Velutha - the book is certainly not anti-communist propaganda.The book is not a propaganda at all,from any sides.

 "It is after all so easy to shatter a story. To break a chain of thought. To ruin a fragmentof a dream being carried around carefully like a piece of porcelain. To let it be, to travel with it as Velutha did, is much the harder thing to do. "

Velutha is the actual protagonist without being the protagonist in the novel.He has been clearly stated to be a communist,a man who represents the working class ; a Paravan - an untouchable.An amazing artist.With a beautiful smile.
He was beaten to death by the authority not on being falsely charged but on being a communist.An untouchable communist.

"Thomas Mathew came around his desk and approached Ammu with his baton. “If I were you,” he said, “I’d go home quietly.” Then he tapped her breasts with hisbaton. Gently. Tap tap. As though he was choosing mangoes from a basket. Pointingout the ones that he wanted packed and delivered. Inspector Thomas Mathew seemedto know whom he could pick on and whom he couldn’t. Policemen have that instinct. Behind him a red and blue board said:
 Politeness. Obedience. Loyalty. Intelligence. Courtesy. Efficiency."

The book is thoroughly left-leaning,while keeping true to the true left spirit - anti-conformism.With much of a justified vengeance towards baseless patriarchy,chauvinism,institutionalism and capitalism.The approach,the blend,the content,the style is absolutely genuine and absolutely mention-worthy.If there are a few books on this planet worth reading,then 'The God of Small Things' is definitely one among them.The transcendence and the feverish walk and the "Sunny-side-up-sort-of-trek" you experience is one of a kind.The book hits,it penetrates,it points out and it leads.Also being very indulgent at the same time,this is an earnest recommendation. 
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