Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Earth Woman

He made them imagine that the earth- four thousand six hundred million years old- was a forty-six-year-old woman- as old, say, as Aleyamma Teacher, who gave them Malayalam lessons. It had taken the whole of the Earth Woman's life for the earth to become what it was. For the oceans to part. For the mountains to rise. The Earth Woman was 11 years old, Chacko said, when the first single organisms appeared. The first animals, creatures like worms and jellyfish, appeared only when she was forty. She was over forty-five - just eight months ago- when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

'The whole of human civilisation as we know it,' Chacko told the twins, 'began only two hours ago in the Earth Woman's life. As long as it takes us to drive from Ayemenem to Chochin.'

It was an awe-inspiring and humbling thought, Chacko said (Humbling was a nice word, Rahel thought. Humbling along without a care in the world), that the whole of contemporary history, the World Wars, the War of Dreams, the Man on the Moon, science, literature, philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge - was no more than a blink of the Earth Woman's eye.

'And we, my dears, everything we are and ever will be- are just a twinkle in her eye,' Chacko said grandly, lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling.

Taken from The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

No comments: