Loss and Small Things
“Ammu explained to Estha and Rahel that people always loved best what they Identified most with.”
I finished re-reading my favourite book (of all time) today – The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
It has been almost a decade since I first read it. I remember when I, a precocious 17 year old, turned the last page of the book all those years ago. I remember having devoured every word, every sentiment, every fullstop contained within its covers, in a week. I remember feeling breathless and empty. Like I had just completed a pilgrimage and, at the end, found myself devoid of all other reasons to exist. I remember telling my mother, “If I died now, it would be OK. I’ve led a complete life because I read this book” (I wasn’t joking about being precocious). It is a book that has had the most profound, long-lasting effect on my spirit and sensibility. Perhaps, for this reason, I was so reluctant to revisit its pages. Encountering the reality that something is not quite as beautiful as you remembered it to be is one of the most devastating experiences in life.
But one Sunday afternoon, I strolled into my parents’ library, looking for a book to read. And, like a spurned lover avoiding an irresistible ex’s gaze at a crowded party, I decidedly ignored The God of Small Things. Some temptations, however, you are just not meant to turn away from. And so, I carefully slid the book out of its spot on the tightly-packed shelf, and sat down to be heartbroken, once again.
The book is, without a question, the most intense literary journey that I have ever encountered (and, arguably, will ever encounter). Roy is the most measured yet manic author I will ever read. Every word, no matter how seemingly whimsical, is deliberate. There are moments where you are so completely unsure whether to laugh out loud, or weep uncontrollably – it could drive you mad. Language becomes a mere formality as the tragedy of the journey starts to take control.
The God of Small Things. Its depression, its darkness, its profound explorations of society and the complexity of humanity, its characters (oh, such rich, layered characters), its stories of loss, heartbreak, redemption and condemnation – words could never do this book justice. But, most of all, what makes this book so remarkable for me is the deftness with which it dissects my most private, inner musings. It is a most astounding reality that a book, written by a complete stranger, can so completely give voice to all that makes you a person.
Today, as I read the last words of the last paragraph of the last chapter of the book, I felt like my 17 year old self, again. If ever there were a book, within whose pages and tear-stained realities I would want to spend my entire existence – it is this one.
“She knew who he was – the God of Loss, the God of Small Things.”