having a play of lustrous rainbow colors
In Pappachi’s study, mounted butterflies and moths had disintegrated into small heaps of
iridescent dust that powdered the bottom of their glass display cases, leaving the pins that had impaled them naked.
moving in an uncontrolled, irregular, or unpredictable way
The labored form of each letter and the irregular space between words was full of the struggle for control over the
errant, self-willed pencil.
"Errant" also means "straying from the right course or from accepted standards"--while this adjective is used here to describe the pencil, it can describe many members of Estha's family. Young Estha's pencil mistakes might lead to some red pen comments from Ammu, but other mistakes lead to more permanent and disastrous consequences that cannot be erased.
deficient in amount or quality or extent
With the last of her
meager salary she had bought her daughter small presents wrapped in brown paper with colored paper hearts pasted on.
full of trivial conversation
She seemed terrified of what adult thing her daughter might say and thaw Frozen Time. Fear made her
garrulous. She kept it at bay with her babble.
the attribute of being brief or fleeting
It was a grand old house, the Ayemenem House, but aloof-looking. As though it had little to do with the people who lived in it. Like an old man with rheumy eyes watching children play, seeing only
transience in their shrill elation and their wholehearted commitment to life.
having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
The triangular wooden frames fitted into the gables were intricately carved, the light that slanted through them and fell in patterns on the floor was full of secrets.
the power to foresee the future
In her younger years, with
prescience and good management, Mammachi had collected all her falling hair in a small, embroidered purse that she kept on her dressing table.
lacking spirit or liveliness
Then she thought of Margaret Kochamma and the
languid, liquid notes of Handel’s music grew shrill and angry.
a facility where things can be deposited for safekeeping
The day that Chacko prevented Pappachi from beating her (and Pappachi had murdered his chair instead), Mammachi packed her wifely luggage and committed it to Chacko’s care. From then onwards he became the
repository of all her womanly feelings. Her Man. Her only Love.
"Repository" also means "a person to whom a secret is entrusted"--this definition would not fit the example sentence because Mammachi's feelings, although inappropriate, are not a secret, since she makes them clear through her actions and praise. Chacko both demands and hates this attention, while Ammu sees this as another unfair part of life since "all Indian mothers are obsessed with their sons and are therefore poor judges of their abilities."
not clear to the understanding
Surprisingly, Baby Kochamma accepted this explanation, and the
enigmatic, secretly thrilling notion of Men’s Needs gained implicit sanction in the Ayemenem House.
"Men's Needs" are enigmatic to Baby Kochamma since she has never fulfilled them. The idea that men's needs would be different from women's needs is meant to be enigmatic to the readers. The author Roy also mocks the idea by using the adjective "implicit" ("being without doubt or reserve") to describe the sanction ("official permission or approval") that is given to something that's not fully understood.
kill in large numbers
Of course they did not even remotely suspect that the missile, when it was fired, the one that would
annihilate the family’s Good Name forever, would come from a completely unexpected quarter.
"Annihilate" means "destroy completely" in this example sentence. But the given definition and the words "missile," "fire," and "quarter" suggest a level of destruction that comes with war. This exaggeration of what could happen to a family's "Good Name" both mocks the characters who think it's that important and emphasizes the physical destruction caused by the focus on preserving an untouchable idea.
walk or tramp about
Mammachi had a separate entrance built for Chacko’s room, which was at the eastern end of the house, so that the objects of his “Needs” wouldn’t have to go
traipsing through the house.
implied by or inferred from actions or statements
Margaret Kochamma never returned the money simply because she never found it. Her pockets were emptied as a matter of routine by Aniyan the dhobi. Mammachi knew this, but preferred to construe Margaret Kochamma’s silence as a
tacit acceptance of payment for the favors Mammachi imagined she bestowed on her son.
lacking in harmony or compatibility or appropriateness
Kochu Maria’s fan was more or less hidden by the blue-and-white checked, frilled, absurdly
incongruous housemaid’s apron that Mammachi insisted she wear inside the house.
openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
Kochu Maria was
wary of other peoples’ versions of the outside world.
of or relating to or proceeding from the sense of touch
She was surprised at the extent of her daughter’s physical ease with him. Surprised that her child seemed to have a sub-world that excluded her entirely. A
tactile world of smiles and laughter that she, her mother, had no part in.
"Tactile" takes on an extra meaning here because Rahel is laughing at being tossed and caught by a man who is considered Untouchable. Although not a part of the caste, Ammu, being divorced, is also seen as untouchable. But seven-year-old Rahel is not concerned with labels of untouchability, because to her, Velutha and Ammu are her beloved friend and mother. Throughout the novel, the author Roy supports this childlike embrace of the world.
the dressed hairy coat of a mammal
Ammu saw that he saw. She looked away. He did too. History’s fiends returned to claim them. To re-wrap them in its old, scarred
pelt and drag them back to where they really lived. Where the Love Laws lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.
audacious behavior that you have no right to
In the angry quietness of the Play (the Blue Army in the green heat still watching), Ammu walked back to the Plymouth, took out her suitcase, slammed the door, and walked away to her room, her shoulders shining. Leaving everybody to wonder where she had learned her
shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
He worked hard on his public profile as a sophisticated, generous, moral man. But alone with his wife and children he turned into a monstrous, suspicious bully, with a streak of vicious
reject with contempt
An hour after the lights went out,
disdaining Mammachi’s frightened pleading, little Ammu crept back into the house through a ventilator to rescue her new gumboots that she loved more than anything else.
Mammachi played a Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol melody on her violin.
cloying, chocolate melody.
mentally acute or penetratingly discerning
By then she had performed unfalteringly under the twins’
perspicacious scrutiny and had confounded all their expectations.
The twins' perspicacious scrutiny appreciated their cousin's perspicacity: Sophie Mol was astute ("keen in judgment") in gauging the prevailing ("most frequent or common") temper, which led her to rudely reject Baby Kochamma. Also quick to figure out that she'd rather play with the twins, Sophie Mol turned down Mammachi's offer that she replace the twins in braiding a rat's tail and counting moles.
unfriendly and inclined toward anger or irritation
He introduced them to his
lie in a sheltered position
On the edge of the clearing, with its back to the river, a low hut with walls of orange laterite plastered with mud and a thatched roof
nestled close to the ground, as though it was listening to a whispered subterranean secret.
The low status of Velutha's family is shown in the description of their home--even the roof is nestled close to the ground. But the walls are made of "orange laterite"--laterite should be "a red soil produced by rock decay" and it was once a source of aluminum, nickel, and iron. This, and the theory that the Garden of Eden was made of red soil (which makes Adam and all his descendants made of red soil) suggest that this hut's inhabitants are worth a lot more than their status.
cause to grow or sprout
The low walls of the hut were the same color as the earth they stood on, and seemed to have
germinated from a house-seed planted in the ground, from which right-angled ribs of earth had risen and enclosed space.
walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
Day after day, month after month, while his brother was away and his father went to work, Kuttappen lay flat on his back and watched his youth
saunter past without stopping to say hello.
supervise or be in charge of
After Chella died, he was moved into her corner, the corner that Kuttappen imagined was the corner of his home that Death had reserved to
administer her deathly affairs.
wishing or appearing to wish evil to others
On bad days the orange walls held hands and bent over him, inspecting him like
malevolent doctors, slowly, deliberately, squeezing the breath out of him and making him scream.
stick or hold together and resist separation
The room was dark and clean. It smelled of fish curry and woodsmoke. Heat
cleaved to things like a low fever.
collect discarded or refused material
There were other things from the Ayemenem House that had either been given to them or
salvaged from the rubbish bin. Rich things in a poor house. A clock that didn’t work, a flowered tin wastepaper basket. Pappachi’s old riding boots (brown, with green mold) with the cobbler’s trees still in them. Biscuit tins with sumptuous pictures of English castles and ladies with bustles and ringlets.