“The law laid down who would be loved, how, and how much.” I recently finished listening to The God of Small Things on audiotape, so I missed the “stylistic tricks [such] as capitalizing Significant Words and runningtogether other words.” I’ve also been reading Snow, at a significantly slowed-down pace since the advent of the spring semester: “How much can we ever know about the love and pain in another’s heart?” (259).
I found both foreign in certain ways. It turns out I had an abridged version of Roy, and Pamuk’s novel is translated from the original Turkish. Perhaps it is worldview, sensibility, perception – so shaped am I by faux middle-class anglo-americanness. Perhaps it is content: “What was the difference between love and the agony of waiting?” (Pamuk, 247). There is “a time when the unthinkable becomes thinkable and the impossible happens” (Roy).
Death figures prominently in both novels. In Roy, memory of the drowned child herself fades, and “absence and loss grow more full and robust” over time. In Pamuk, death is a casual backdrop to mundane and grinding poverty: “heaven was the place where you kept your memories” (289). Memory forms one of the three axes of Pamuk’s snowflake rubric of human life: “Like a snowflake, he would fall as he was meant to fall…” (86). The other two axes are Imagination and Reason, “all of which meet in the centre, the poet’s self.”
The selves of Estha and Rahel, the child protagonists of Roy’s textual dirge, use reason, imagination, and memory to construct “the god of loss” from the “small things” of unpredictable and inexplicable living.