In this essay I will discuss the following aspects, in admiration of Arundati Roy’s The God of Small Things. I will include the characteristics of departure as the idea of home being the place that migrants leave as well as a place that seeks out at this destination. The next topic I will discuss is the crossing of borders, and the reasons for the characters trying to do so. The process of returning as well as departures and the source, reasons for doing so, in addition to the consequences and problems that the returning migrant may have after their arrival.
Factors of time and space play a significant role here. The novel The God of Small Things, which was published in 1993, takes place in Ayemenen, Kerala, India and throughout the novel it goes back and forth between the years 1969 and 1993. India is multi-cultural, the people consist of Hinduism (which is the bulk), Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. India also has its very own a caste system of Touchables (Ipe family) and Untouchables (Velutha).
The Touchables are separated into Brahmins (priests, scholars), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (merchants and bankers like the Ipe family and Shudras (servants). Even though a law was passed in the 1950 to prohibition discrimination against the Untouchables, we are able to see that in the novel that cultural discrimination is still so powerful in Ayemenem. India was unbound from British rule and became an independent state in 1947.Moving has to occur between two spaces that are different from one another in relation to language and culture of these residence. Furthermore, a migrant leaves the place they are currently staying at to find a new place in another country to call home. A migration (a departure made by a person) also has to find a place in order to be permanent, which means that a homecoming is not intended. Bearing in mind the aspects mentioned above we can see that there are several migrations/ journeys in the, The God of Small Things. The first journey or migration that takes place is when Ammu moves to Assam, where her husband stays. Later she returns to Ayemenem with her children when she leaves her husband. After the death of Sophie Mol and her relationship with Velutha is exposed, Chacko her bother banishes her from Ayemenem and she is forced to live in a variety of places within south-west India. This could be known as a purposeless journey as she has no specific destination. Estha (Ammu’s son) is separated from his twin sister and his mother in order to live with his father in Calcutta. 23 years later he is re-Returned (Roy 1997, pg.9) to the home where he grew up in Ayemenem, this is where he meets his sister Rahel again. The unusual thing about this journey is that it does not happen because he chooses to move but he is forced to leave. Baby Kochamma made the decision for him to move to his father those years ago. Rahel is more independent and chooses to make her own decisions regarding her journey. She chooses to move to Boston when she marries her husband who was American, she also chooses to return Ayemenem. Chacko is the only character who appears to be a successful migrant in the novel. He moves to a country that is greatly adored among anglophile Indians; England. He creates a family with an Englishwomen. Like Aummu’s marriage he fails too and he returns to India. After his daughter passes away he emigrates again but this time he goes to Canada.Even though the journeys of all these characters are different, all their journeys revolve around Ayemenem and at some point in their lives they return to Ayemenem. Migrants do not intend to return to the country they originally left. If a person does return that means that it did not work out at the place they left to. In the novel this happens several times. Ammu and Chacko return after getting divorced, Rahel returns because she is not happy in America. Rahel also leaves in order to meet with her brother again.’Rahel and Estha’s return to Ayemenem signifies the postcolonial return to history and the historical archive. It is a return that simultaneously reveals what is lost or hidden but which continues to haunt the historical archive, what is made visible again in the act of return- the tessellations of family. The aim of this return is a kind of exorcism of old ghosts, in order to facilitate new beginnings, new departures. (Mullaney, pg.44-45).Sophie Mol and Margaret visit India, for the Ipe family, mainly for the elderly like Mammachi, their visit is not necessarily a visit but a returning home. According to her a wife must always move to her husband, not the husband moving to the wife. When Sophie Mol visits India, Mammachi play[s] a Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol melody on her violin. (Roy 1997, pg.183). To her Sophie’s home is in Ayemenem.Escaping also forms part of the novel, escaping falls under departure and returns. The novel includes escaping to Ayemenem, when the characters who migrating they have nowhere else to go, this including Ammu and Chacko after they get divorced, this includes when Estha is returned by his father. I believe that there is additional meaning behind this escape in addition to being an attempt to getting away from Ayemenem. In the novel it shows Ayemenem as being a good home to both Estha and Rahel, but when the Orangedrink lemondrink man abuses Estha, he no longer feels safe. Estha realizes that he is no longer safe in his own home anymore I’m going Akkara,  To the History House.  Because anything can Happen to anyone,  It’s Best to be Prepared. (Roy 1997, pg.198). He then leaves to find a new home in the history house across the river.The river in Ayemenem is the most terminal border that exists in the novel. The protagonist’s home is on the one side of the river and the history house is on the other. This is where Estha plans to run away too, where Velutha and Ammu meet and the place where Velutha is then beaten up by the policemen. The river is also deadly to Sophie Mol as she dies trying to cross the river.Velutha and Ammu’s relationship, which happens on the opposite side of the river, this is seen as the foulest transgression of rules set by traditional Indian morals as it disrupts the cast system. There is importance of this misbehaviour and is to be found: As a paravan, Velutha in TGST belongs to this stigmatized untouchable’ group, and it is this fact that makes his affair with Ammu ” and their mutual erotic touching’ ” such a transgressive act. (2007, pg.23).Rahel, Sophie Mol and Estha run away from home looking for somewhere else to stay. Estha does not plan to teach his mother a lesson, but he is determined to leave and live on his own. This is clear when Estha speaks to Rahel; Are we going to become communists?’ Rahel asked. Might have to.’ Estha-the-Practical. (Roy 1997, pg.200). The children lie to Velutha about what they are going to do when he fixes their boat [Velutha:] I don’t want you playing any silly games on this river.’ We won’t. We promise. We’ll use it only when you’re with us.’ (Roy 1997, pg.213). The Ipe house that Estha and Rahel return to is representative and at the same time at odds with the new Ayemenem in which it sits. If the Ipe family are out of place, they are also totally in place, their troubled crossings of time and space practise the multiple crossings that characterizes India’s past and present histories. In the early 1990s Ayemenem has not only won but lost its engagement with the new and global economy. The transatlantic links and movements of goods, money and labour that once were at the heart of British colonial enterprise continue despite the ostensible dismantling of Empire with Independence. (Paenultima ratio). If Ayemenem in the early 1990s, observed by Estha on his midafternoon walks new, freshly baked, iced Gulf-money houses built by nurses, masons, wire-benders and bank clerks who worked hard and unhappily in faraway places, (Roy, 1997, pg.13) that material is accomplishment by other losses. For the residents of Ayemenem, one of the losses experienced in their trading with the world is the Meenachal river, smells of shit and pesticides bought with World Bank loans (Roy, 1997, pg.13). The river’s purpose in the community of things has been disrupted. Ayemenem”s Fisher People are the key to the region’s many pasts being disrupted, erased, elided, and displaced in its troubled transactions with the managers of the global economy. (Mullaney, pg.50).In conclusion as Julie Mullaney wrote The novel is all about crossings and crossing points, journeys started, made and derailed; the sum of all the departures from and returns to and across India. (Mullaney, pg.50). These points are crucial elements within the novel, these points make up the novel.ReferencesMullaney, J. (2019, March 16). The God of Small Things reader’s guide. Retrieved from Google books.Migration and Return in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. (2019, March 16). Retrieved from paenultima ratioRoy, A. (1997). The God of Small Things . London: Flamingo 1997..