Friday, December 21, 2007

The Dimple Episode

Lets go back to 1995, Aprilish time. Just when the school starts usually. This was my 5th std. There I was a newbie to school and excited as I was seeing a lot more kids than I was usually used to. My 4th std was in a school where I was the only one in the class. (Read it twice, thrice, yes its true , more on that on a different post). The one before that was in a villagish town called Thiruvallur, scarcely populated and schools were pretty small with 15 at max in a class and if I remember correctly they din't have walls separating the rooms, and to digress, I remember Radha's small pox vaccination on her shoulder and I cried out "miss, Radha has a poochi (insect) on her shoulder miss". So yeah, my excitement on seeing lots of children of my age group, was justified.

I was very shy back then. I will only ask for a leak if its truly a bladder burst situation. And on that particular day, If I had to wait for another minute, I would have died of internal urinage(a la haemorrhage).
I popped up my hand, with my little finger pointing skywards and the 'miss' said, "go quickly". I will have to appreciate her observational skills, urgency was apparantly apparant on my face and the body language. I was literally stamping my feet in tandem, 'march past'ing in my place.

And yeah, I ran like Forrest gump. That was the first or second day, and the first time I'm using that particular toilet. Because of the urgency and the less intuitive, bad interface, I was walking down uncharted territories, namely Girls Toilet. Doors where shut as I was walking by each one of them. All the while stamping legs. 3rd door was ajar. I slightly pushed it open, following which was easily one of the most embarrassing situations in my life. I see my classmate Dimple, pulling her pants up(first few days, we were allowed to wear color dress and she wore a barbie doll jeans that day), and thankfully her panties in place. Then I make the eye contact, she had this 'i-shit-on-my-undies' look, I was having the 'breathe-breathe-push -push-i'm pregnant' look with my hands in my crotch (just in case). I ran out, found the boys toilet, pissed off. Pissed off. The relief briefly overtook the feeling of embarrassment. I walked out, knees trembling, looking forward to a possible 'shortest dismissal(chucked out of school for premature promiscuous behavior)' in the history of Indian schooling. And she was standing, lean and tall(easily taller than me by 3 to 4 inches) and cute and angry all at once.

Dimple: I will complain to class teacher *knodding her head to mean 'u r dead baby'*
me: hey sorry, I thot it was boys toilet.
Dimple: ...
me: I'm new to school.
Dimple: what did you see?
me: just the jetty(panties)
Dimple: Promise? *lends her right hand*
me: promise.
Dimple: *wash your hands moron!!* ok. *smiles*

We walked back in silence to class, and we tacitly agreed not to tell this to anyone. The agreement was intact, until this post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The God of small things

Arundhati Roy - The God of small things

This is like a politician making a true promise to the people. That's how rare is the occasion of me writing a review on a novel. For starters the book is easily the best novel I had read so far. That brings the next question, how many have I read and what are they ? Its countable using fingers and mostly recommended by bibliophiles who recommend them, authentic in person review and not forcible coaxing. This was amn exception though, I picked it up at landmark as I was happily jay walking with my friend during summer 06 in Chennai. You should also know my reading traits. I have read the first 2 chapters at least 15 times, before completing the book. I took 1.5 years to finish the book since it was bought. I like to savor every bit of what's been said. If I ever so feel uncomfortable in while reading, due to the gap between the reading sessions, I start from the beginning. This one unfortunately had many such breaks. Okay, lets get to the book.

The book is about 2 children, Siamese twins, to be precise. Rahel (a she) and Estha (a he) are the characters, who are absolutely adorable in every way, especially their childhood. Arundhati Roy is indeed the GOD of small things. The attention to detail is mind boggling. Not like green door, yellow wall kinda stuff, but in a beautiful way. These are things I like in a book: How succinctly an emotion is presented? The language used, I like it when it defines its own language and keeps it that way through out the book. The book by all means has its own language, quite remarkably different from anything I have read and to say that I have fallen in love with it is an huge understatement. The screenplay is different, in the sense that, in a semi-random way, the story moves back and forth in time. The story telling, which in my view, includes the language, the depiction of emotions, depiction of scenes and the screen play, easily gets it a 6/5.

The story takes place in Ayemenem, a village near Kottayam. Revolves around one incident that changes the lives of the 2 children. The book has its moments, plain embarrassing at places, some would call it gross but I wouldn't. The story as a whole is tragic and to shoot a small surprise it would easily qualify under 'humorous' genre. There are places where its very touching, vicarious emotions (I almost teared up in few places, if not for the masculine shell) and more so frequently funny. Funny as in a wide grin and not as in ROTFL.

The book describes in detail the characters in a way that's very realistic and conceivable. Kochu Maria, Baby Kochamma, Velutha, Ammu, Pillai to name a few. The book touches every aspect of Kerela, from communism to climate to the accented language.

It got the booker prize in 1997, reason behind which becomes obvious at 1/4th of the book. When I reached the end, its a mix of the disappointment of the book being completely read, the nostalgia I felt, the satisfaction of being able to feel and empathize with the characters and their emotions.

If you like this book like I do, then we should make really good friends.

If you read, not to get to the end of the book, but to cherish the reading, you will most probably love it. Arundhati Roy is the real God of small things. If you get to read this book and love it, you will become a Deity.