A passage inspired by ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy
She was happy that she outlived everyone.
She had outlived Ammu, who died at thirty-one. Not old. Not young. a viable die-able age.
She had outlived Pappachi, and perhaps, the Imperial entomologist’s moth too.
She had outlived the deep waters of Meenachil, the trees, the sky, the stars, and most of the fishes in it.
She had outlived Mammachi and her pickle factory too.
And after Mammachi’s demise, when Chacko packed his grief and emigrated to Canada, no one was left around to remind Baby Kochamma that she was living a lie.
No one was around to confront her that what she thought was ‘only’ her’s, didn’t bore her any claim.
No one was around to remind her that just like Ammu, she hadn’t had any right over any corner of the old Ayemenem house or its furniture that she cherished. Neither the recently taken up satellite TV, nor the blonds, wars, famine, football, sex, music, coups d’etat in it. Nothing.
Neither the deserted Paradise pickles factory nor once what was the ornamental garden and the adjoining rubber estate that still generated an income. Neither Mammachi’s jewellery was her to retain, and nor the sky blue Plymouth whose chrome tail fins still shined.
She outlived Father Mulligan too.
Although she was still immensely and deeply in love with him, she was never able to go near him, enough close to smell his beard, to see the coarse weave of his cassock. She was never able to discuss Theology with him in dark sepulchral rooms with heavy velvet drapes. Father Mulligan never reciprocated her love.
There was the only one thing that truly belonged to her, Father Mulligan’s memories. Nothing else was her, or for her, not even Kochu Maria – the vinegar hearted, short-tempered, midget cook.
She was old. She knew that finding a new employment and shelter wasn’t easy. And for the amount of work she did, it was impossible. Plus, if she left, she would miss Hulk Hogan and Mr Perfect, whose necks were wider than their heads, wore spangled Lycra leggings and beat each other up brutally. And a good chance to claim Mammachi’s jewellery and Ayemenem house after Baby Kochamma dies too, she would lose. Kochu Maria was confident she would outlive Baby Kochamma. But no one was around to tell this to Baby Kochamma.
No one was around to tell her that she hadn’t outlived everyone, but she was left alone, deserted and abandoned, just like an ugly piece of cloth that no one wants to admit they own but lays in some corner of the wardrobe because, for some reason, one can’t get rid of it. No one was around to tell her that everyone she had played her games with had left her high and dry.
Maybe this was what history wanted. Maybe she was destined to be alone. Maybe this was history’s payback to her for being shrewd. For seeking pleasure in other’s pain. For irrigating her fields, nourishing her crops with other people’s passion.
No one was around to tell her that she too will have to reap what sowed when she said it over Velutha’s dead body.
I know I’m quite late, but it’s just recently I read ‘The God of Small Things’. After I finished the book, I felt I should pay a little homage to Baby Kochamma’s depraved and twisted character and introduce her to the real picture, which, for her, might be misted in the June Ayemenem monsoon.