Happy Childhood Memories
She shows how nature has become a subject to devastation, her real intention in the novel is to take people back to nature for their own betterment. Therefore, she has set this novel in the 1960s in a village named Ayemenem in Kerala, an Indian State which is full of natural grandeur- trees, green fields and river. It is significant to mention here that Roy herself spent her childhood days here in this village in close harmony with nature.
Roy opens the novel with the picturesque description of the month of May in Ayemenem, the place where the incidents in the story happen.The colours and smells of the season are painted in a wordly picture at the outset. She writes:
May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humidthe. The river shrinks and block crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits brust . . . .The nights are clear but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation. But by early June the south-west monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn moss green. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across the flooded roads. Boats ply in the bazaars. (The God of Small Things 1)
The picturesque description of that coastal village of Kerala invites the attention of the reader to the drama that is going to unveil in the following pages. A similar scene awaits the reader at the end, in the last chapter. Ammu and Velutha meet at the lap of nature. The nature is conspiring with the lovers in their bold, passionate love making, defying all rules. Roy seems to hold the notion that all institutions are anti-natural, they set forth ‘artificial’ rules to inhibit our natural, elemental drives. Look at the charm she evokes with even the tiny insects and spiders and such ‘small things’ of nature, when the lovers are left alone with only the river and the sky to watch on:
They laughed at ant-bites on each other’s bottoms. At clumsy caterpillars sliding off the ends of leaves, at overturned beetles that couldn’t right themselves. At the pair of small fish that always sought Velutha out in the river and bit him. At a particularly devout praying mantis. At the minute spider who lived in a crack in the wall of the black.
verandah of the history house and camouflaged himself by covering his body with bits of rubbish – a sliver of wasp wing. Part of a cobweb. Dust. Leaf rot. The empty thorax of a dead bee. Chappu Thampuran, Velutha called him. Lord Rubbish. ( )
Arundhati Roy draws reader’s attention towards environmental degradation of which ecologists and environmentalists are worried and concerned so much. She makes us conscious of “man’s assault up on the environment through contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials” (Carson 23). The novel lights with her green thinking and ecological concerns as well as issues.
River Meenachal is the most intergral feature of Roy’s natural landscape. Amost all the major characters of the novel – Ammu, Velutha, Estha, and Rahel have immense love for the river and their many happy childhood memories are associated with it. As children they spend most of their time on river banks or in a boat. They cherish these memories ever after their separation from each other and from river and Ayemenem. The natural beauty of the village is exposed through Rahel and Estha upon their return to Ayemenem after a long gap of twenty three years. The deplorable condition of the river Meenachal takes them back to their childhood memories of its beauty. “It was warm, the water. Greygreen. Like rippled silk. With fish in it.With the sky and trees in it. And at night, the broken yellow moon in it” (123).