First published:- 1997
Read in:- January, 2014
As I stand just outside the compound with the untended garden, an uninvited, random visitor, the darkened Ayemenem House resembles a haunted mansion, belying the truth of the lives it once nurtured with maternal protectiveness in its cozy interiors. Derelict. Abandoned. Forgotten.
But I remember, you see. I remember the lives lived, and the loves which were birthed by circumstances, loves which breathed for a while before perishing on the altar of conformity.
I remember Chacko and Sophie Mol. Ammu and Velutha. Rahel and Estha.
And, most of all, I remember You. You, the painter of this portrait of a family's downward spiral into oblivion. You, the creator of this life-sized painting of a city and a nation, and all of human civilization in turn.
I see You as an iconoclast, persistent in your demand for liberties we are too submissive to dream of acquiring. You ask for things so heedlessly, so powerfully. The right to love whom we want and how much we want. The right to be equal. The right not to be discriminated against. The right not to be left languishing in solitude, battling painful memories. The right not to lose, at any cost, one's faith in the goodness in human beings.
You are the rebel we never considered becoming. We do not have courage like yours, you see.
(Your opinions aired on national television are so often misinterpreted. Deliberately. Craftily.)
The sun, inside of You that refuses to be subdued by the drear of political machinations, by the evil lurking in the human heart, by the sham of 'development' perpetrated under the helpful charade of inexistent liberty, equality, fraternity, by every one saying 'No no no, you ask for too much. The world cannot ever be a fair place.', sent a little light my way.
That light gives me hope. Your Small God gives me hope.
He augurs that the overlooked small, mundane cruelties will only snowball into a tragedy of life-altering proportions later on, a gigantic boulder hurtling down the slope of a mountain crushing everything in its path into an unrecognizable gory pulp of flesh and blood. Small God's wrath will eventually consume Big God's apathy and reduce it to mere cinders.
I hope your Small God is right.
You speak the esoteric language of children, whose inner worlds are but their own, beyond the reach of the sharpened claws of the Love Laws - worlds which are free and infinite, where fables, dreams and terrifying realities churn into a nonsensical lovely mass, worlds untethered to earthly considerations. The two-egg twins' interlinked worlds, which stubbornly rejected the continued tyranny of the cycle of injustices perpetuated outside, were the same.
Their combined muteness throbbed with the dull ache of longing, loss and irreparable damage. Their collective passivity stood out as a blistering denouncement of humanity always coming second to zealously preserved blind prejudices. And You spoke through Rahel and Estha's silence which rung much louder than a giant church bell chiming away nearby.
We stew in our own insecurities and the irrelevance of small personal outrages, unable to take a step forward, helpless captives in the iron grip of the status quo of the world. While You, Ms Roy, take up your pen and fearlessly hail The God of Human Dignity, Empathy and Love - The God of Small Things.
So in this space, I thank that God for the Arundhati Roys of the world.