One of the greater pleasures in life are the small yet beautiful encounters had by one another; the impact that each individual can bestow upon each other is a powerful one indeed. Introduced to me last summer through the charming William Buckley, Rosa Kaftan is a divine combination of beauty, Kurdish panache, and English charm who has made quite an impact both as a friend and co-worker. Shortly after meeting our friendship became long distance and our few months apart felt more like several, long cold winters. However, in February she made her return to New York and came bearing a thoughtful gift, her favorite read The God of Small Things. Beautifully quailed by Indian author Arundhati Roy, the Man Booker Prize winning novel tells a breathtakingly bitter sweet tale.
Set in Ayemenem pronounced ‘Aymanam’ now part of Kottayam in the Kerala state of India, The God of Small Things is the story of two fraternal twins, Rahel and Estha and the poignant experiences they encounter told non linearly by way of time. Amid Roy’s poetic prose, is the hauntingly dark history of Ammu Ipe, mother to the twins, a battered divorcé raised in a troubled home who carries a heavy hearted past which inflicts upon her children’s up bringing.
While Rahel & Esta like many twins share almost everything; a passion for ‘The sound of music’, answering as one, and a dark secret that can seal there father’s fate. The narrative is colored by the characters of Baby Kochamma and Chakko which balances the grim betrayals of Pappachi and Velutha between Ammu’s immediate family.The purposely dark yet extravagant piece of literature conveys the little things that effect an individual’s life while touching on communism, the caste system, and the Keralite Syrian Christian way of life.
Fancying ourselves ‘The same yet different’, Rosa and I were both drawn to a particular exchange between Ammu and her daughter Rahel as she asks “D’ you know know what happens when you hurt people?” the frightened daughter Rahel replies in the smallest voice “What?” and her mother’s chilling response “When you hurt people, they begin to love you a little less. That’s what careless words do, they make people love you a little less.” Unsettling in every way, it’s needless to say the exchange between Ammu and her daughter will haunt our use of words forever.
I strongly suggest picking up a copy of Roy’s debut novel and as the book itself reads “It didn’t matter that the story had begun, because Kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings.” I think it is very safe to say, it is no secret that The God of Small Things is one such Great Story.
-R & RK
P.S. Thank you Rosie Cheeks it’s truly an honor to call you a friend.