Time and space have always posed a threat to all creative artists. To move with time is the easiest way. To move back and forth is also not impossible. But to be timeless and space less- this is the real challenge. Yet any artist worthy of his vocation has in one way or another tried to resolve this riddle. How far he has succeeded is the real test of his genius. It does not simply mean neglecting the concept of linear time. Rather, it is all about a timeless and universal appeal of the human element the work contains.
The author of The God of Small Things is, at the very outset it is clear, very keen on not being held up by the question of time. The novel is set in a timeless and, one dares suggest, spaceless dimension. The subtle irony in the introduction of the time element should not be missed. It all began with the arrival of Sophie Mol at Aymenen- that is, `for all practical purposes, in a hopelessly practical world'. Why should a writer who is basically pre-occupied with things other than purely practical make such a clear-cut beginning for the human drama she is about to unfold?. The reason soon becomes clear when she mentions another way of looking at the time factor. It is as old as when the Love Laws were written. That is, who should love and how. And how much.
Estha and Rahel, the two-egg twins of an unhappy marriage of Ammu's at Calcutta are eight when it all began and thirty one when the drama is done- the same age when Ammu died. Not old, not young `a viable die-able age'. Baby Kochamma too has to tell the story of a lost love with the Irish Priest Father Mulligan, which never came to anything more than a far away and distant dream. Her aborted attempts to tie herself to him ended in a stern vow of celibacy. Rev. Father Ipe, who was blessed by the Pope directly, could do nothing to it. Papachi has his own irredeemable loss of not being acknowledged the discoverer of his moth, which, to his utmost despair was named after a subordinate of his who didn't deserve it. A Royal Entomologist's loss. His despair finds vent in his regular beatings of Mammachi, till one day Chacko puts the decisive break to it, following which the old man symbolically murders his rocking chair. Baby Kochamma is reduced to her dish-antenna addiction, supported by Kochu Maria the maid servant, gardening being too short a respite for thwarted love.
Chacko had his love in London when he was an Oxford student. Margarette was a hotel waitress, intent on supporting herself. The romance was impossible to last long for Chacko could never fit himself even to a basic minimum tidiness in life as Margarette would have it. Margarette finds her soul-partner in Joe while she has conceived Sophie Mol. The divorce is inevitable and Chacko remains just Sophie Mol's biological father. But Joe meets with an accident and dies, leaving for Margarette `a Joe-shaped hole in the universe'. Sophie Mol is eleven when she comes to Aymenem, to her...