Posts Tagged ‘schizophrenia’


Interview on Indian Women Blog

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab, Roll of Honour, Sepia Leaves

Friends, for some good reason the Indian Women Blog interviewed me recently on my writing, my thoughts, my past and next work. Here is the interview. I feel flattered to be featured here.

‘Even after writing those hundreds of pages, I feel even more uncertain about myself. The more I explore myself, the more my way of describing myself through labels dissolve. Yet, I feel satisfied with my attitude to life. It is this: do not be defined by anyone else, seek your own language and ensure it cannot be appropriated.’

Please read …

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Friends, it is a matter of immense satisfaction that almost a decade after this book came out, it still evokes interest. The lovely and talented Sheila Kumar came to the recent book reading at iBrowse, Catholic Club hosted by the gracious Marianne Furtado De Nazareth.

Sheila wasn’t fully satisfied by the interaction because it veered towards the subject of the book – mental illness – which is critical but was less about the craft of the book and the author position. So, as she does, she wrote a review but also interviewed me. Frankly, I was quite blown by the questions. There were about a writer’s relationship with a story. We hardly talk about it. I loved answering them.

‘Also, though I am a writer and like to connect with the world, (I even seem extrovert and warm to friends, readers and strangers), I am actually very private and shy. I am very hesitant to single out myself with a ‘why me, God’ kind of question or use the first person narrative: the ‘I.’ I constantly ask myself: doesn’t the world suffer much more than me? Aren’t there much bigger issues to talk about? Why would someone read what I write? Yet, all my writing is first person. The inflection point is: when I know that the story is no longer about my emotions but taps into a universal consciousness, then I put it out for readers. Then they earn the epithet you just gave them – honest.’

Please read …

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My Mother’s Breast from A book of Light

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

Thanks to DailyO and the publisher Speaking Tiger Books here is my story ‘My Mother’s Breast’ from Jerry Pinto’s the anthology on the accounts of mental health care givers ‘A Book of Light’.

However, do buy the book. It has 12 more such stories. Publishing houses, when graceful and open with subject matter, still need people to buy books. It is a matter of survival. This story is the epilogue to my novel ‘Sepia Leaves’. If you haven’t read it, and like this story, maybe buy and read that one too. Both books are available on Flipkart, Amazon.

Meanwhile, here is the story …

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New Asian Writing Interview

   Posted by: aman    in Roll of Honour, Sepia Leaves

Thanks to Margerie from Ireland for chasing me to to this interview. It has come out well.

‘I battled my own self for the longest period, even went through clinical depression for a few months. There are issues like masculinity, sodomy, gay sex, my own views on the events of 1984, the code of honour among schoolmates, communal violence and so on. All of them troubled me when I wanted to write about them. I felt I will earn enemies. It is best to stay silent rather than invite criticism. But I could not sleep. I felt I was cheating by not writing. This is my truth of communal violence and of public schooling in our country. I needed to write it, put it out, to gain some semblance of equanimity in my life. I am very thankful the people have accepted my truths. The book has been lauded, nominated for awards; I have earned a good scholarship from it. The acceptance is a validation of my effort.  I feel, in our world, we have space for truth. Let us work to bringing out those truths.’

Read more here

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So, the book is getting around. Around the 30th anniversary of the attack on Golden Temple, Operation Blue Star, I received this review of my novel Roll of Honour from a US based Sikh website.

‘Sandhu’s story is full of shocking brutality, and definitely not for younger audiences. Unfortunately, so are many of the stories of 1984. For those who are willing to give this book a chance, however, Roll of Honour offers a lesson that readers are not likely to forget.’

Read more here

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This is what happens when you have been roaming the Dargahs and tombs of Sirhind and get late keeping your appointment with dear friend and contemporary intellectual from Punjab Daljit Ami. By way of penalty, he calls you to the studio and forces a brief interview on you. My first in Punjabi. Interview by Jaideep.

Please see here …

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Friends, it is September 2013. Roll of Honour completes one year with us. In this year we collected over fifty reviews and interviews on Roll of Honour and some more on Sepia Leaves. Thank you so much for your love and support. I feel humbled and honoured. Please read all the pieces in the right panel under ‘Roll of Honour’.

This week Dr Charanjeet Kaur from the esteemed literary journal Muse India interviewed me on both my books and the writing life. Thank you Dr Kaur. Please read here …

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Finding my Faith

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

When I was a child and had to escort my mother to the doctor’s chamber, I believed that the psychiatrist was a magician and my mother would be altered when she came out of the session. I did not then know that the doctor was human, and ever since then I have struggled with psychiatry. My struggle also got me my friends. Dr Ajit Bhide is the kind psychiatrist in my article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry special January 2009 issue. Dr Bhide not only helped me deal with my traumas and depression but also nudged me to write Sepia Leaves. Click here to see the article.

Yesterday, I cried when I got the email from the magazine and read the Sepia Leaves review in it. I cried because I felt that my parents’ struggle had finally been acknowledged by those with whom I had struggled. The circle of psychiatrists in India, the official magazine of psychiatry in the country, had finally found it worth while to listen/read my story and empathise with it. Click here to see the Sepia Leaves review by Dr Alok Sarin in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry – the official newsletter/mouthpiece of the Indian Psychiatric Association .

My work with psychiatry is not yet over. Some time in the future I plan to work in the area as a counsellor/activist.

Thank you Dr Bhide for not letting me slip away. Thank you Dr Sarin for reviewing the book. Thank you Dr Rao, the editor of the magazine, for putting it all together.

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HIV vs. Schizophrenia

   Posted by: aman    in Other

On December 1, I was playing the radio in my car and it was flooded with messages about AIDS and HIV. That is World AIDS Day, wear a Red ribbon.  Each message or conversation revolved around how AIDS is a limited contagious disease, it does not spread by touch or eating meals together, how we must learn not to discriminate a carrier or victim, and so on. Another important part of the messages was: practise safe sex. Very right. With 2.8 million people suffering from the illness we must do our best to spread the messages and educate ourselves.

But I also wondered. What about Schizophrenia? Or Bi Polar Disorder? Or Depression, Stress, Anxiety Disorder, or sheer inability to handle our lives. Those do not spread through touch, or meals together, or even through sex. Are we doing enough for them?

I have always felt that there is an essential difference between the two kinds of disabilities: mental and physical. When one is physically disable one can make a plea for better attention from the state or society. One can stand at Gandhi Statue in Bangalore or Jantar Mantar in Delhi and hold black flags to influence policy and compensation. But when one is mentally disabled one has only one place to go to, hide in a dark room in one’s heart and go silent.

We do not hear the voices, we do not know the sufferers. But there are many. I am no expert but at least one in every five people I meet I learn of someone in their family suffering from a mental breakdown. See this: Mental Illness 

Wonder if we can do more for mental illness while we try to work on AIDS.

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A Dentist …

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

I read Sepia Leaves and I found it really moving. The reason I wanted to read it was because I wanted to relate to the protagonist of the boook. I had a mother who was schizophrenic and she is no more now. While reading the book I could see the past unfurl before me. Lot of incidents that have been potrayed have happened in my life too.

I apppreciate you writing this book and maybe the social stigma associated with this disorder can be partly, if not fully, removed. Once again, hats off for taking this bold step and as it is said in the book I too carry the genes of my mother. :)

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