By Ashwini Rajpoot:Â
The characters of a story breathe life into it; they shape it, fill it and row it through the reader’s consciousness. This is particularly true for a work like Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Reader comes across a myriad of characters and finds themselves immersed in a spectrum of emotions. These characters defy the laws of love that dictate “who should be loved, and how. And how much.” They do not leap out of the pages but live within the words, whispering their stories like poetry. They entice the readers and compel them to become a part of the narrative and listen to them. So, the following are some interesting characters that I came across in the novel.
(Disclaimer: Contains spoilers)
Â 1. Estha and Rahel:
‘Oh Captain von Trapp, could you love the little fellow with the orange in the smelly auditorium?…And his twin sister? Tilting upwards with her fountain in a Love-In-Tokyo? Could you love her too?’
They are a pair of dizygotic twins brought up together from birth. They walk through life sharing common love, madness, hope, and infinite joy. The loss of their mother and the subsequent loss of each other make Estha blanket himself in a cocoon of silence as he chooses to camouflage his way through life. Rahel, on the other hand searches, questions and runs amok hiding from spaces and looking for places, but her eyes still seem to belong somewhere with someone else. While Estha finds quietness, Rahel meets emptiness. When united, they fit together “like stacked spoons.” They are not a pair of twins who belong to each other, but two strangers who find themselves in each other.
‘It is after all so easy to shatter a story. To break a chain of thought. To ruin a fragment of 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.’
A man with sea secrets in his eyes and a lucky leaf from the birthmark tree on his back, Velutha is an ‘untouchable’ who touches, enters and loves a ‘touchable’ woman. He caresses a body that had yearned to be held lovingly, and also enters the imaginary world of the dizygotic twins who had ‘since the beginning’ been loved and understood ‘a little less.’ He is trapped in a place where the God of small things- the God of love is laughed at by the loud God of big things- who snatches away dreams and redreams them.
‘When she listened to the songs that she loved on the radio, something stirred inside her. A liquid ache spread under her skin, and she walked out of the world like a witch.’
This one is a rebel who runs away from the clutches of her family and unfortunately, later trails back into it. But she loses neither her spirit, nor the gleam in her eyes. Her children find a home in the curls of her hair and a history to belong to, in the stitches on her stomach. She crosses the river and transcends boundaries to be with a man she desires. She meets the fate that the society has laid down for her, but she leaves for her children the opportunity to lose everything they had held on to so they can end up finding themselves all over again.
4. Baby Kochamma:
‘As a young woman she had renounced the material world, and now, as an old one, she seemed to embrace it. She hugged it and it hugged her back.’
Estha and Rahel’s baby grand aunt, she is deprived of a world in which she could love and be loved by Father Mulligan- the young and dashing Irish monk. She then manifests this affection on the plants in her garden and later, on her furniture and television set. She extracts the punishment of the loss of her dreams from Ammu who loved and had the strength to reach out for that love. She lives in the Ayemenem house with her servant Kochu Maria- spending her life backwards with poorly applied lipstick and rouge on her face, the reflection of the television world in her eyes.
‘At Pappachi’s funeral, Mammachi cried and her contact lenses slid around in her eyes. Ammu told the twins that Mammachi was crying more because she was used to him than because she loved him.’
A woman with an exceptional talent in music and natural entrepreneurial skills, Mammachi is physically abused by a jealous husband and emotionally abandoned by a careless son. The love for her son finds a trope in maternal concern. Lurking behind her violin music and hiding behind her wrinkled skin is a heart that beats for her son, like that of a woman for a man.