KOZHIKODE: Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy on Thursday explained the circumstances under which she wrote her latest book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Addressing a function at the venue of Kerala Literature Festival at Kozhikode beach, she read out a few pages of her book that talks about the state of oppression in Kashmir, the disregard for the forest people in Bastar and the dramas revolving around inequality.
“The appearance of a little abandoned black baby girl on a city pavement in Delhi was what provoked me to start writing my new book many years ago. I used to spend a lot of time at ‘Jantar Mantar where all kinds of democratic and social movement would merge. At 2 in the morning one day, a baby appeared and nobody knew what to do with it. All the wisdom of our political and social movement didn’t know what to do with it, including me.
Finally the police were called and I was so affected by that. But today that living lung of democracy has been shut down in Delhi and if you want to protest, the minimum fee is Rs 50,000 and you have to hire the Ramleela ground,” she said.
“This moment in Jantar Mantar was what made me think about the novel. For me, God of Small Things was about a family with a broken heart at its centre, but it was still comforting for the people. It had a roof and still had something familiar. But the new book is about the ‘unhome;’ the ministry blows the roof of that place and leaves everyone to deal with a shattered heart.”
“So the first person you will read about in the book is Anjum, a Hijida or a transgender. And many people asked why I started the book with a Hijida and I was offended. All the characters in the book go through an incendiary border running through them. Hers is a border of gender,” she said. “I rarely go to a literature festival and this is my first one. We have to stand up today to a dispensation such as we have not seen before in our country and it is time for us to really get together and use everything we can against it, she said. Arundhati also detailed each character in her book. The moderator of the session was Divya Dwivedi.