A broken marriage can mean a lot of things to a family. Marriages can be broken by a lot of things including laws defined by societies about whom to love, whom to marry and whom not to.
The god of small things is a caricature of human pain and life built on the layers of political leanings, the realities of Indian conservative societies, casteism and of course on how other people exploit it just to feel away and free from their own realities.
A multi-generational family lives in a small village in the state of Kerala – a communist stronghold. A woman from the family falls in love with an Irish priest, despite the opposition of her father, but failing to get any near him, is left bitter and becomes the antagonist of the narrative. Two twins witness a rape and murder wherein this lady, their aunt, the one who once loved an Irish priest is almost implicated for lying about the criminal and she tricks the poor children into blaming their servant. All this happens in the backdrop of a violent and turbid communist politics of which the servant who dies due to police beating turns out to be a member of. The aunt hates the communists because they once forced her to weave the red flag while forcible stopping her car on the road. To save herself of any implications, the lady gets rid of the children – blaming them of the death of the raped girl and the servant, breaks down their family – the mother dying at 31 and the father never really bothered. The twins grow broken, traumatized and never really heard or cared for. And the climax of the story just leaves one crying when the two twins finally meet at 31 – the age their mother died. The girl twin no longer speaks and the boy is just a lost one. They, for the first time realize the meaning of love and warmth and that it is them alone who share it with each other.
This review will and any review will, as a matter of fact, fail to capture the perfection Roy has achieved in this book. The 1997 Booker’s Prize winner is a masterpiece of storytelling and narrative. And it is a wonderful critique on politics, religion and casteism.