Thursday, 5 April 2012

Are you interfering with your adult children’s choices?

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

We want the best for our children, especially when we are fearful about the choices we see them making.  However, sometimes our interference has huger consequences than if we’d sat back and waited.  This novel weaves around twins, their mother, their cousin, grandmother, uncle, great aunt and the servants.  The mother, Ammu, has no support from her parents, Christians in Kerala, India, largely because they feel they have the right to make her decisions, despite their disregard of her needs.  Although Christian parents in Kerala would normally arrange for their daughter’s marriage, her cruel father won’t.
She eventually finds her own husband, but they are appalled that not only has she chosen her own husband, but that he is Hindu.  Having married him,  Ammu is stuck with him, until his alcoholism and desperation cause her to take herself and the twins back to her parents, where they are unwelcome, as the children are half-Hindu, and she is a divorced woman.

Even worse, Ammu then goes on to have a relationship with someone her family and her society really disapproves of, and they react with blunt force.  Because she has crossed caste lines, not only does her family retaliate, police officers also become involved.  Their reaction leads to horrifying consequences that destroy the lives of the children, as well as several of the adults.
This is not one of the new, ironic, humorous novels coming out of India.  It is heavy, monsoon moldy, dark and grieving.  In considering literature therapy, this is a book that makes you beg for fresh air, sunlight, joy and freedom.  Realizing that rigidity and control have created the appalling situation in these characters’ lives might help us to relax our rigid and controlling wishes for our loved ones. 

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