Sunday 28 August 2016

A story yet unwritten- 'Before Death'

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

        One day when Anil returned from the shop, he found his father lying on the bed. He shook him, shouted expletives at him but to no avail. It was just him and his father at their house. His mother had died long ago of general neglect. Nobody really expected her to live. She was spiteful in her last years and died a bitter neglected death. All the relatives came running after hearing about the death. Death was important to them. Nothing else could pull them to the town but death. Funerals were a great time to show that one cared deeply and they lasted shorter too, unlike the long bedridden phase where the dying needed to be cared for.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Advice That Mattered

I am blogging about my dreams and the people who helped make them true for the #AdviceThatMattered activity at BlogAdda in association with Stoodnt.

I have had a steady career in the sense that I have followed the wise advice nuggets of my elders and have completed my graduation in a safe field ie dentistry. My dad's logic behind helping me take admission in one of the topmost dental colleges in India was that if I become a good dentist, at least I will never be jobless (Ironic because the job market for dentists in India is rapidly shrinking).

I came to Delhi and started my practice here but, there has always been this artist within me. Dentistry allows for some amount of artistic expression but, my canvas was bigger. I wanted to draw cartoons, write stories and be known for it all. Marx had imagined a society where someone can be a scientist by the day and fisherman in the evening. Well, I wanted to be in that society; not fishing, but writing.

I did have a blog (this blog) but then, I began dreaming about writing a book some day or having a career as a novelist. Now, it is common knowledge that one should follow their true calling and there is no harm in chasing dreams. I did want to do so but, there was a practical side to the whole thing. No one succeeds overnight and the prospect of giving writing or cartooning my everything would have left me no where. I am not sure if writers ever pay their bills. Dying under debt just didn't sound that smart.

A friend of mine knew that I could write. I used to hang out with her and discuss career. She was one of the most reasonable and sorted people I had known. Safe choices like engineering and MBA were her cup of tea. I floated the idea of writing a book to her and she pushed me toward writing saying, "I am taking safe steps and planning ahead because I do not have what you have. Very few have what you have and it is the art of telling a story. You know your way with words and it is the reason you should, you must write a book."

With her push, I decided to balance time between writing and dentistry and the result is my first manuscript which is the semi-autobiographical account of a dentist's love life. Although it is yet to be published, just the joy of finishing a manuscript has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the push that made it happen. 

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Book Review- A Book Of Light- Jerry Pinto

ISBN- 978-93-86050-17-5
Title- A Book of Light - When a Loved One Has a Different Mind
Edited by- Jerry Pinto
Contributors- Shashi Baliga, Leela Chakravorty, Sukant Deepak, Nirupama Dutt, Anabelle Furtado, Lalita Iyer, Sharmila Joshi, Manoj Menon, Patricia Mukhim, Parvana Boga Noorani, Ina Puri, Amandeep Sandhu, Madhusudan Srinivas
Genre- Nonfiction
Publisher- Speaking Tiger
Pages- 175
Price- Rs 399

The dude in the picture below is Jerry Pinto. The writer who wrote Em and the Big Hoom- a book that immediately made me his fan. He spoke in the book of his mother's condition. She was a bipolar patient with schizophrenia. The odd taboo associated with psychiatric illnesses in India can only be removed if we are willing to talk about it. 

This guy is talented too. He has done the cover illustration for the book in question- A Book of Light. This one is a compilation of personal accounts of people from mostly the journalist or writer fraternity who have suffered at the hands of fate. Fate that has taken away the minds of their loved ones and wrapped those minds with barbed wire.

The stories in this book are heart breaking and the accounts are real as it gets. The editing is nice and except a punctuation error (apostrophe related) in Anabelle's story, I could not spot any errors.

The publishers have done a great job with the presentation and the hardbound book demands to be treasured in your bookshelf. The pages are crisp and off white and have a very international feel to them. Although relatively young, Speaking Tiger is going to make a name for itself.

Coming to the content, the book has beautiful stories which are personal accounts of the writers. Sukant Deepak's story about his bipolar dad shakes you from within. It is written with such intimacy yet, such distancing that it allows for the reader to assimilate the helplessness the patient's family feels.

Leela Chakravorty's angst against his schizophrenic mother is again a very personal account. It shows how it is not always as easy as it seems to love your family.

Amandeep Sandhu's story made me cry. It was the sheer burden of his mother's psychiatric illness and adding to that, her breast cancer, that made me realize how difficult it is to understand someone's pain.

Nirupama Dutt's story read like a story. It was a story of adoption and inner turmoils more than anything else. It had more sunshine moments than other stories in the book.

Patricia Mukhim writes about a Khasi mother's account of her daughter's illness. This one is again a story with positives and strength but, the fight against fate is difficult to win.

Sharmila Joshi writes about her neighbour who fought his demons. It was again a sensitively written story. Alcohol, depression and other demons are strong in this one too.

Madhusudan Srinivas's is a very small story of acceptance and sharing. Positive message awaits at the end.

Lalita Ayer's story is her love story with a schizophrenic Swedish guy. The sad part lasts for little less duration of time in the story and it is majorly a love story but the end has a thick blanket of guilt over it.

Anabelle Furtado fights her own demons in the story and it is a very brave thing to do.

Manoj Menon's story has some dark humour which ends up warming up your heart and makes one think about how different can mental illnesses be.

Shashi Baliga talks about his father but, the illness seems to be absorbed and assimilated in the family so much so that we are not really sure if it meant something more than 'mood swings'.

Parvana Boga Noorani talks about a mother and the unexplainable things that happened with her. It is written with poise and sensitivity.

Ina Puri's story raises some pertinent questions about depression.

All in all, the book contains heartfelt emotions and true to life feelings. It does have the light as promised on the cover and is an inspiring book for all those suffering.

Monday 8 August 2016

Half Baked Story

As she trots with glee on the wall, I see her. She is carefree and smiling. She is smiling without a camera panning across the garden. There is no one looking and she still puts up a show. I am here, minding my own business, in my own garden. Well, not really because where's the fun in that? I am minding everyone else's business and adding it all to my recipe. I am brewing something and it is not a broth. I have this large pan and this large ladle. I lift up the liquid and pour it back down as it bubbles up and boils to perfection.

It isn't perfect though, it is more or less crude. I watch it sometimes, and sometimes I just let it simmer. I watch her as she tiptoes around my cooking. She is carefree and a little careless too. I am concocting stories and I need some spices. The catch (not the brand of masala) is that I have no spices and must get them myself. Well, she is around me and her heels are on my fence. I am not annoyed, I really like guests. She slips from the walls and falls in my garden. She dusts off herself and now the dust is a part of the recipe. I call it fairy dust because it is extremely rare. I do not know why but this garden is usually empty and so are my hands when I go out to get spices. I had knocked on every door and asked every neighbour, some called me a friend and some closed the door on my nose.

This girl though, she stayed and dusted her hands in my cooking. The story got spicier and she leaned in to smell.

"Careful, you will end up in my stories," I warned her with a smile.

She took my advice and that's why this story is half-cooked.