When Communist Legend EMS Became Victim Of Arundhati Roy's Wild Imagination

In the novel, Roy makes EMS appear as a landlord in Kottayam whose ancestral home had been converted into a modern hotel. There's more...
When Communist Legend EMS Became Victim Of Arundhati Roy's Wild Imagination
When Communist Legend EMS Became Victim Of Arundhati Roy's Wild Imagination
outlookindia.com
2017-05-23T17:03:23+0530

BJP lawmaker Paresh Rawal’s nasty tweet about Arundhati Roy seems like a comeuppance for her even nastier portrait of EMS Namboodiripad, the Communist legend.

The Indian army had tied a civilian to the bonnet of an army jeep, trying to use him as a shield against stone pelters. BJP MP Paresh Rawal wants author and activist Arundhati Roy tied to an army jeep instead of those throwing stones. Right-wing politicans wearing nationalist blinkers perceive Roy’s articles as seditious and in-defence of stone pelters.

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Though Rawal was harsh about Roy, it remains a published fact that in her only published attempt at fiction, God of Small Things, she was nasty and unethical -- about a man who was the chief minister of the first ever democratically elected Communist government in the world and known for his humble living.

Though her Booker Prize winning story was fiction, Arundhati Roy, through multiple references, painted the picture that her character “Comrade Namboodiripad” was EMS Namboodiripad.

She portrayed him as a profit-minded estate holder. In the novel, Roy makes EMS appear as a landlord in Kottayam whose ancestral home had been converted into a modern hotel.

To top it, old Communist workers were fawning bearers in the party boss’s hotel. Roy writes: 

“Comrade Namboodiripad’s house functioned as the hotel’s dining room, where semi- suntanned tourists in bathing suits sipped tender coconut water (served in the shell), and old Communists, who now worked as fawning bearers in colorful ethnic clothes, stooped slightly behind their trays of drinks.”

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“It's an absolute lie that Heritage Hotel in Ayemenem is my father's ancestral home. The depiction of the “communist party boss” who converts his home into a hotel where old communists now work “as fawning bearers in colourful ethnic clothes” is unethical,” EMS's daughter Dr. Malathi Damodaran told Outlook in 1997.

And worse, Roy’s character Comrade Namboodiripad turned the hotel into a hub for incestuous parents. Again, she writes:

“In the evenings (for that Regional Flavor) the tourists were treated to truncated kathakali performances (“Small attention spans,” the Hotel People explained to the dancers). So ancient stories were collapsed and amputated. Six-hour classics were slashed to twenty-minute cameos.

The performances were staged by the swimming pool. While the drummers drummed and the dancers danced, hotel guests frolicked with their children in the water. While Kunti revealed her secret to Karna on the riverbank, courting couples rubbed suntan oil on each other. While fathers played sublimated sexual games with their nubile teenaged daughters, Poothana suckled young Krishna at her poisoned breast. Bhima disemboweled Dushasana and bathed Draupadi’s hair in his blood”

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EMS’ family was generous enough not to file a libel suit against Roy, which could have nixed her chances of getting a Booker.

“I don't want to give the impression that we are against the novel. We only wish to present the truth,” Damodaran had said.

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