“Looking back now, to Rahel it seemed as though this difficulty that their family had with classification ran much deeper than the jam-jelly question.
Perhaps Ammu, Estha and she were the worst transgressors.”
″ ‘Feeling hot, baby?’ the man like a knot asked Rahel kindly in Malayalam.
Then, unkindly, ‘Ask your daddy to buy you an Air Condition!’ and he hooted with delight at his own wit and timing. Rahel smiled back at him, pleased to have Chacko mistaken for her father. Like a normal family.”
“That whole week Baby Kochamma eavesdropped relentlessly on the twins’ private conversations, and whenever she caught them speaking in Malayalam, she levied a small fine which was deducted at source. From their pocket money. She made them write lines – “impositions” she called them – I will always speak in English, I will always speak in English. A hundred times each.”
“Neither question nor answer was meant as anything more than a polite preamble to conversation. Both [Rahel] and [Comrade Pillai] knew that there are things that can be forgotten. And things that cannot – that sit on dusty shelves like stuffed birds with baleful, sideways-staring eyes.”
“Their beautiful mother’s mouth, Estha thought. Ammu’s mouth.
That had kissed his hand through the barred train window. First class, on the Madras Mail to Madras.
‘Bye Estha, Godbless, Ammu’s mouth had said. Ammu’s trying-not-to-cry mouth.
The last time he had seen her.”
“Frightened eyes and a fountain looked back at Ammu.
‘D’you know what happens when you hurt people?’ Ammu said. ‘When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.’ ”