cross-stitch pattern, a criss-cross of contrasts in emotions, language and movement of time, The God of Small Things is superb in its architectonics. Violent love and violent hate form the warp and woof. The omniscient narrator chooses the time of Rahel’s homecoming on Estha’s re-return to start the story. But the narrator is not impartial. She takes sides with Rahel, who seems to be her prime concern. Rahel is shown at two points of time: at the age of seven, and at the age of thirty-one, the latter being “a viable die-able age” at which Ammu, Rahel’s mother, died. The two major emotions of the narrator are love for Ammu and hatred for Baby Kochamma. This theme of love and hate is built up by innumerable loops of contrasts or opposites in language and movement of time.
Most often the narrator seems to identify with Rahel resulting in the false impression that Rahel is the narrator. The reference to the characters as Baby Kochamma (Navomi Ipe). Margaret Kochamma, Mamachi (Soshamma) and Pappachi (Benaan John Ipe) helps creating the wrong impression. The narrator’s ha tred of Baby Kochamma is so great that every act of hers, every word of hers and even her pet name Baby is laughed at. Chacko introduces her to his ex-wife and child “My aunt, Baby” and Sophie Mol’s response in the words of the narrator “But aunt babies confounded her” (144) The narrator does not take into account the generation gap between Baby and Ammu. Baby, brought up under the Victorian idea of morality, does not seem to be obsessed with the woman’s needs as Ammu is. She graciously accepts the man-less-woman-state, while Ammu quarrels with it. Her love for the Irish priest Father Mulligan is a foil to Ammu’s love for Velutha.
She pictured them together, in dark sepulchral rooms with heavy velvet drapes, discussing Theology. That was all she wanted. All she ever dared to hope for. Just to be near him. Close enough to smell his beard. To see the coarse weave of his cassock. To love him just by looking at him. (24)
But the narrator does not stress the point that Baby is also a rebel, a progressive by the standards of her day. She became a Roman Catholic and tried to become a nun. But, when she discovered that it was of no use, she made her parents take her back home. She remains in love with Father Mulligan, who also returns her love in his own fashion. They keep up a correspondence till the death of the Irish priest who became a Hindu Sanyasi in the evening of his life. Even after his death, Baby continues the ritual of writing in her diary, “I love you. I love you.” (298)
This is ridiculous in the narrator’s opinion. She seems to believe that ‘living’ as far as a woman is concerned is having orgasm. “She danced for him.On the boat-shaped piece of earth. She lived.” (337) “The Cost of Living” is a glorious epilogue to feminism and free sex that Ammu craves for. It describes sex in its full glory, and the last word “Tomorrow” is suggestive of the everlasting dominance, supremacy of carnal passion over human intelligence. Thus the novel is a justification of Ammu’s woman’s needs as well as an atonement for the death of the innocent ‘god of small things,’ Velutha.
Sophie Mol’s death is only a marker of the movement of time as well as action-“After Sophie Mol’s Funeral,” (11) “That was only days before she died.” (135) Chacko breaks the door of Ammu’s room and orders her to get out of the house be cause of his daughter’s death. It is her death that necessitates the ‘Return’ of Estha. But the narrator very deftly uses the event as an icing to hide the cake under.
The real action of the novel takes place within a fortnight, between Sophie Mol’s arrival and her funeral. The duration of the sex-episode lasts fourteen nights. And twenty three years later, the action is reviewed through the perspective of the favorite character, Rahel. Naturally the bias and prejudice of Rahel find a place in the narrative. Rahel’s distrust of Baby Kochamma and Baby Kochamma’s distrust of Rahel are movement and counter movement of a psychic symphony.
In medieval terminology, Baby Kochamma is the villain, Ammu the tragic heroine and Velutha the brave knight-errant. Baby Kochamma is said to plot and scheme from the very beginning. She tries to transform the two-egg twins, Rahel and Estha, into cultural ambassadors of India to their British cousin who is two years older to them. Her efforts fall flat on two accounts. One, the two-egg twins refuse to rise up to the mark. Two, their English cousin is a better strategist than they. Sophie Mol wants Rahel to leave one ant alive. “Let’s leave one alive so that it can be lonely.” (186) She gives the twins “an involved, though somewhat inaccurate description of sex.” (135) Rahel’s calling her “Thimble-drinker” (135) seems to be scatology.
Velutha, the innocent victim of callous society, is more cultured than the Brahmin converted-Syrian Christians and the touchable Nairs. When the children dress themselves in saris and present themselves at his hut as Mrs. Pillai, Mrs. Eapen and Mrs. Rajagopalan, Velutha keeps up the fiction and joins them in the play. He introduces them to his paralyzed brother and gives them tender coconuts to drink. He chats with them as if they are adults and gives them each a wooden spoon by way of presents. He loves the children and plays with them as per their require ments. The children love him by day and their mother loves him by night, and the love brings to him savage brutal death. He is certainly “the God of Loss.” The broad outline of the narrative technique is that of Kathakali, which Rahel has learned to love and appreciate under K.N.M. Pillai’s guidance. In Kathakali the story is known to everybody, yet the artist captures the viewer’s imagination by the way of its presentation. Arundhati Roy remarked on a BBC interview that her training in architecture tremendously helped her in writing the novel. She follows architectural methodology. The introductory chapter is an index to the reader regarding the main events and characters. But the way “the bleached bones” of the story are stuffed and restored to shape evinces a master’s skill.