Funny Boy

Arjie’s overbearing, opinionated, cruel, racist grandmother, who punishes Arjie excessively for fighting with Her Fatness and tries to break up her daughter Radha Aunty’s budding romance with the Sinhalese Anil by sending her to Jaffna and trying to convince her to quit the play The King and I. During the family’s monthly “spend-the-days” at her and Appachi’s house, Ammachi always insists the kids give her an uncomfortably tight hug and then retires for the rest of the day. After her father was killed by a Sinhalese mob during the 1958 ethnic riots, Ammachi refused to associate with Sinhalese people and staunchly supported the Tamil Tigers’ fight for an independent Tamil state. Alongside Appachi, she is also murdered by such a mob in 1983, just before Arjie’s family leaves for Canada.

Ammachi Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Ammachi or refer to Ammachi. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Funny Boy published in 1994.
2. Radha Aunty Quotes

"Because he’s an engineer and he doesn’t have insanity in his family."

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Radha Aunty, Ammachi, Anil Jayasinghe, Rajan Nagendra
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Be careful. We Sinhalese are losing patience with you Tamils and your arrogance.”

Related Characters: Anil’s Father (speaker), Radha Aunty, Ammachi, Anil Jayasinghe
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Radha Aunty didn’t answer for a moment. “Until a few days ago I only thought of Rajan, but now I find myself thinking of Anil as well.”

Mala Aunty sighed. “It’ll never work.”

“But other Sinhalese and Tamil people get married.”

“I know,” Mala Aunty replied, “but they have their par­ents’ consent.

“If two people love each other, the rest is unimportant.”

“No, it isn’t. Ultimately, you have to live in the real world. And without your family you are nothing.”

Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ammachi Character Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Ammachi appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Pigs Can’t Fly
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
...and then meet their grandparents in the drawing room; Appachi (grandpa) scarcely acknowledges them, but Ammachi (grandma) always gives them an uncomfortably tight hug and proclaims herself lucky for having 15... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
After the adults leave, the children are always ecstatic to be free, watched by only Ammachi and Janaki, who is busy cooking and wants nothing to do with the kids anyway.... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
...this lowly role to that of a bridesmaid. But their third day with Tanuja is Ammachi’s birthday, and this spells trouble: all the adults are to stay around for lunch, and... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Ammachi opens her present and the kids leave to play. Arjie finds the girls circled around... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
As the children assemble to explain what happened, they realize that Ammachi is standing in the doorway; she chastises Janaki for failing to “keep these children quiet.”... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...and empty under the sun, and notes that “something had changed.” He dreads returning to Ammachi’s cane, and realizes that he can “never enter the girls’ world again.” He is no... (full context)
2. Radha Aunty
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Ammachi informs the family that Mr. Nagendra—an old friend of Appachi’s from Cambridge—wants to marry his... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...of her and imagines what she will look like when she returns for the wedding—and Ammachi runs into him while he does so, then sends him back to dust the furniture.... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...Sri Lanka, Arjie wakes up excited to finally meet her. When his family arrives at Ammachi and Appachi’s house, Arjie is surprised to find Radha Aunty struggling to play the piano,... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...up offering Radha Aunty a ride home, although they remain silent the whole way to Ammachi and Appachi’s house. (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The second time Anil drives Radha Aunty home, Ammachi interrogates her about “this boy you’re taking lifts from.” Ammachi is distraught to hear that... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...with the dead body. Appa dodges the first question but explains that the body was Ammachi’s father’s, and that he was killed for being Tamil in the 1950s, two decades before.... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
On the next spend-the-day, after play rehearsal, Janaki tells Radha Aunty that Ammachi has visited Anil’s family and told them to keep their son away from her daughter.... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...make to leave, but before they leave, Anil asks about Radha’s fiancé. Arjie understands that Ammachi’s real fear was Radha and Anil falling in love—although he thinks they are not, and... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...rehearsal, Anil asks Radha Aunty why her mother is so anti-Sinhalese, and Radha explains that Ammachi’s father was killed in an ethnic riot in 1958. When Anil asks, she says she... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
When they return to Ammachi and Appachi’s house, Mala Aunty’s car is out front and the whole family is waiting... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...to Radha and Mala talk. Radha admits that she was never interested in Anil until Ammachi got between them. Now, she thinks about Anil as well as Rajan. She hopes that... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
When Ammachi calls to get Radha Aunty kicked of the play, Aunty Doris refuses. They agree that... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...Radha Aunty is set to return from Jaffna, the family hears of violent unrest there. Ammachi arranges a police escort to take Radha to the train station. After rehearsal, however, Amma... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Back in the house, Arjie notices a photo of Ammachi’s father, who was murdered in the 1950s riots, and realizes that this violence might be... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Ammachi leads Radha Aunty to her bed, where Mala Aunty, who is a doctor, examines her... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...at the house, asking for Radha Aunty, whom Kanthi Aunty says is not at home. Ammachi and Kanthi yell at Anil and curse the Sinhalese. Hearing the whole episode, Radha breaks... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Because there was already violence near Arjie’s grandparents’ house, his immediate family brought Ammachi, Appachi, and Radha Aunty to stay with them for a while. One night, Arjie and... (full context)
6. Riot Journal: An Epilogue
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...backpack with clothes and one important personal item. Most of the family is okay, but “Ammachi and Appachi’s area is particularly bad” and they might have to hide in neighbors’ houses.... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
At 3 PM, still on July 26, the family learns that Ammachi and Appachi have also had their house burned down—their whole street, full of burned houses,... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
On July 29, at 10 AM, Arjie writes that the visitors continue—this time, it is Ammachi and Appachi, who are just talking about losing their own house. Arjie is “irritated and... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...returned, yelling that the Tamil Tigers are now in Colombo—a story that the radio denies. Ammachi and Appachi left for Kanthi’s house, but did not arrive, and everyone is worried and... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...Uncle came back shortly after the previous journal entry and reported that a mob burned Ammachi and Appachi’s car, with them inside. Amma broke down crying; Appa insisted on going to... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
In the same entry, Arjie’s narration jumps to the day before, three days after Ammachi and Appachi were killed, and the day of their funeral. Radha Aunty came from America,... (full context)