a person who is rejected from society or home
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.
"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.
confined or restricted with or as if with a rope or chain
Kochu Thomban had finished his ceremonial rounds, and lay
tethered to a wooden stake next to a steaming mound of his own dung.
throw away, of something encumbering
In Ayemenem they danced to
jettison their humiliation in the Heart of Darkness.
take possession of fraudulently for 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 savage and excessive killing of many people
He can turn effortlessly from the
carnage of war into the felicity of a woman washing her hair in a mountain stream.
overflowing with eager enjoyment or approval
From the crafty
ebullience of a rakshasa with a new idea into a gossipy Malayali with a scandal to spread.
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.
capable of life or normal growth and development
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.
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."
grave or even gloomy in character
Karna, sheathed in his armor of light. Karna,
melancholy son of Surya, God of Day. Karna the Generous. Karna the abandoned child. Karna the most revered warrior of them all.
showing utter resignation or hopelessness
Ironically, his struggle is the reverse of an actor’s struggle—he strives not to enter a part but to escape it. But this is what he cannot do. In his
abject defeat lies his supreme triumph.
spread negative information about
They were the ones, Arjuna in particular, who had publicly
reviled him for being a lowly charioteer’s son.
stubbornly resistant to authority or control
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.
the act of affirming or stating something
Margaret Kochamma had moved out of her parents’ home a year ago, for no greater reason than a youthful
assertion of independence.
express criticism towards
Margaret Kochamma was
reproached by her employer and given a lecture on Cafe Ethics.
a state of extreme poverty or destitution
Along with the pressures of living together came
penury. There was no longer any scholarship money, and there was the full rent of the flat to be paid.
a disinclination to work or exert yourself
A year into the marriage, and the charm of Chacko’s studently
sloth wore off for Margaret Kochamma.
"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.
capable of meeting financial obligations
Joe was a biologist. He was updating the third edition of a Dictionary of Biology for a small publishing house. Joe was everything that Chacko wasn’t.
the property of excessive fatness
He began to cultivate his
corpulence and general physical dilapidation.
charge falsely or with malicious intent
“She traded me in for a better man,” he would say to Mammachi, and she would flinch as though he had
denigrated her instead of himself.
imparting vitality and energy
She concealed her anguish under the
brisk, practical mask of a schoolteacher.
liberality in bestowing gifts
Mammachi, though annoyed at his drunkenness, wasn’t averse to listening to bardic stories about herself and her family’s Christian
unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating
Baby Kochamma recognized at once the immense potential of the situation, but immediately anointed her thoughts with
"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.
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.
one praying humbly for something
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.
agreement on a secret plot
He had expected to encounter antagonism, even confrontation, and instead was being offered sly, misguided
a complaint about a wrong that causes resentment
“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.”
be bossy towards
Then Comrade Pillai, in a
hectoring voice, quoted Chairman Mao.
“Revolution is not a dinner party. Revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence in which one class overthrows another.”
skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands
And so, having bagged the contract for the Synthetic Cooking Vinegar labels, he deftly banished Chacko from the fighting ranks of the Overthrowers to the treacherous ranks of the To Be Overthrown.
excessively or hypocritically pious
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.
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.
kill in large numbers
And there it was again. Another religion turned against itself. Another edifice constructed by the human mind,
decimated by human nature.