"Pariah" is used as an adjective here to describe the kites, which are small graceful hawks that feed on insects and small animals. The fact that these kites would feed on the organs of a dead elephant would cause them to be rejected by a society in which many of its people worship an animal that can be trained to remove obstacles, fight in wars, or perform ceremonial rounds in a temple.
Pariah kites dropped into nearby trees, to supervise the supervision of the last rites of the dead elephant. They hoped, not without reason, for pickings of giant innards.
appropriate (as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use
On their way back from the Heart of Darkness, they stopped at the temple to ask pardon of their gods. To apologize for corrupting their stories. For encashing their identities. Misappropriating their lives.
having a series of columns arranged at regular intervals
In the broad, covered corridor—the colonnaded kuthambalam abutting the heart of the temple where the Blue God lived with his flute, the drummers drummed and the dancers danced, their colors turning slowly in the night.
The ebullience of rakshasa is often connected to bloodlust: Hindu legends say that rakshasas were created from the breath of Brahma, and their first act was to eat Brahma, for which they were expelled to earth. In stories from the epic Mahabharata, which Rahel and Estha watch in the temple, the hero Bhima both kills a rakshasa who eats human travelers and summons another to help him in the war for a kingdom.
From the crafty ebullience of a rakshasa with a new idea into a gossipy Malayali with a scandal to spread.
The body of the Kathakali Man "has been planed and polished, pared down, harnessed wholly to the task of storytelling." But this role has become unviable ("incapable of success or ongoing effectiveness") in modern India. This is why he needs to perform for tourists, but this way of maintaining viability actually slowly kills him, which brings to mind the contradictory phrase: "a viable die-able age."
But these days he has become unviable. Unfeasible. Condemned goods. His children deride him. They long to be everything that he is not. He has watched them grow up to become clerks and bus conductors. Class IV nongazetted officers. With unions of their own.
He pursued every feeble tremor in the dying body with his mace, hammering at it until it was stilled. An ironsmith flattening a sheet of recalcitrant metal. Systematically smoothing every pit and bulge. He continued to kill him long after he was dead.
"Sloth" also means "apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue"--despite growing up in a Christian household, Chacko is guilty of all seven deadly sins. His sloth cost him his marriage, which led to him indulging his lust with factory workers; he has a gluttonous ambition to die of overeating, and his greed refuses to share the family's property with Ammu; he was wrathful when he broke Ammu's bedroom door; he envied Joe because of Margaret; and he is proud of having read at Oxford.
A year into the marriage, and the charm of Chacko’s studently sloth wore off for Margaret Kochamma.
unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech
"Unctuous" also means "having the characteristics of oil." The verb "anoint" ("administer an oil to" and "choose by divine intervention") suggests that Baby Kochamma sees herself performing a religious healing ritual. She is happy to hear that Ammu has been caught with Velutha because of the immense potential for punishment and revenge, but as a good Christian woman, she could not reveal these thoughts.
Baby Kochamma recognized at once the immense potential of the situation, but immediately anointed her thoughts with unctuous oils.
resembling a beast; showing lack of human sensibility
So after Sophie Mol’s funeral, when Ammu went to him with the twins to tell him that a mistake had been made and he tapped her breasts with his baton, it was not a policeman’s spontaneous brutishness on his part.
As an aspiring politician, it was essential for Comrade Pillai to be seen in his chosen constituency as a man of influence. He wanted to use Chacko’s visit to impress local supplicants and Party Workers.
a complaint about a (real or imaginary) wrong that causes resentment and is grounds for action
“Of course the proper forum to air workers’ grievances is through the Union. And in this case, when Modalali himself is a comrade, it is a shameful matter for them not to be unionized and join the Party Struggle.”
The adjective's origin is from the New Testament, where Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their hypocritical teachings about a God they did not love and laws they did not truly practice; they also presented an appearance of virtue when they were filled with greed and self-indulgence. The example sentence describes the pharisaic nature of Comrade Pillai and his speeches, but the adjective could also apply to Chacko, Pappachi, Mammachi, and Baby Kochamma.
Even Chacko—who knew that the fervent, high-pitched speeches about Rights of Untouchables (“Caste is Class, comrades”) delivered by Comrade Pillai during the Marxist Party siege of Paradise Pickles were pharisaic—never learned the whole story.