This is the second time I re-read ‘God of small things’ after years and that too with a more mature eye but I felt the same old drag like before as I ploughed through the first few chapters. The events in the book don’t unfold in a chronological order and the timelines can mess you up as the story shifts forward and backward with flashbacks, reminiscences, and foreshadowing of future events. The descriptions can get humongous at times whether be about a person or object and you feel like skimming through it as quickly as possible. The prose has rich vocabulary but many a time is voluminous with too many clauses and at times boring with excessive and irrelevant details. There were times I had to read a sentence more than once to figure out what exactly is going on. But once you get used to the feel of the book you are drawn to the tragic note of the characters.
The main protagonists here are a divorced mother and her twins, Rahel and Estha. They live a very simple life in the beginning but then the social pathos and emotions caused by them eventually lead to their tragic separation. The political and social issues that occur between 1969 and 1993 is quite dominant throughout the book and is based in Ayemenem, a village in the Indian state of Kerala. You have a premonition that there is a tragedy at the end of the story and the narrative takes a mysterious turn as to why the end is so tumultuous and painful. By the middle part of the book, you are quite hooked and want to find out more. The events take a catastrophic turn when a cousin from England visit the twins, which ultimately leads to the separation of the three characters in the story, that is deeply haunting; it makes you feel insecure about life – its unpredictability and its inevitability. The tragedy of their childhood trauma what with being separated from their mother as well as being unwanted by their father to being discriminated by their relatives or the caste system of the Syrian Christians which was prevalent in Kerala, during those times, is life changing for the twins. It leads them to have a listless and dismal view about life while never developing any real attachment to a person or place. I enjoyed reading the book this time as it was quite different from other reads. Marxism and the communist revolution feature strongly at various parts of the narrative as characters are affected by social issues such as class differences and untouchability.
But again, déjà vu, I felt the narrative to be quite negative about life in India whether be about physical appearances, food or lifestyle which I couldn’t relate to being a passionate Indian myself. Another thing I could not connect was the surprising incestuous turn in the twins’ relationship towards the end of the book. There was an absence of build up and I was shocked to reread it two to three times and even google references to believe I really understood what I did. Considering the facts that the twins had a normal sibling relationship as kids or they met after a gap of 23 years and also that they were never active seekers of carnal pleasures in the past, it was quite confusing as to why the author had to throw this angle into the narrative. In spite of all these complexities, I did enjoy the book as it showed me another side of life and how our childhood events can forever tarnish the way we live our lives. Through the characters, one could feel the anguish of how difficult and challenging life or the world can be.