Author: Gayathri Ramprasad
Publisher: Random House India
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Alert: A Book to Buy!
Buy this book. Read it. Then place it in some corner of your bookshelf. And let it lie there, in peace, for life; a sparkling jewel of inspiration, a memento of human strife. Not a greatly written book (Ramprasad is no Rushdie) but a greatly wrought life. Not of a mighty philosopher, nor of a gifted poet, but of one unknown and born common; of a child, daughter, girl, sister, lady, wife, mother, human, conqueror of mental-illness.
“THIS IS A WORK of creative non-fiction.”
She writes, before beginning her story. And she is true. Her eloquence is admirable. The transitions from chapter to chapter are well-decided. More than all, it’s about the style. She found her style, Honesty. In revealing her entire life to the readers, it’s as if she confides in the reader and befriends him rather than being another aloof autobiographer.
Mental-illness is a Disease, Not a Weakness!
We cannot call ourselves humans if we don’t learn from the misfortunes of others. We can overcome a weakness by strong will, but to overpower a disease, like mental instability or depression, one needs proper treatment and medication along with will. This knowledge is the shine of Shadows in the Sun.
How an innocent girl is imprisoned by the disease of the mind, her silent suffering, her vigorous swimming in the stinking pond of Indian society, her emigration to USA, how she musters the courage to breakout of her shell and eventually conquer her mind – with raging honesty, Gayathri screams out to us; wearing a blanket of polite diction to hide the anger in her bosom.
Gayathri writes, “I remember the priest who molested me in my mother-in-law’s house while he purportedly tried to exorcise my demons. I fear that the lack of understanding about mental health issues in India, and resultant stigma and discrimination, will destroy our lives.”
I ask myself, what did our country’s rich culture give us? What did our cryptic mythology leave us with? Interpreted by unqualified idiots, it has become a bank of bigotry. It is now a fad to reject western thought and embrace ‘Indian’ knowledge. Knowledge is universal, and its aim is Truth; unfortunately many fools don’t realize it.
The Dark Side of Faith
“Gayu, if you only prayed with a purer heart, you wouldn’t be depressed the way you are”, the author’s mother writes to her in a letter. “I hate you God! I hate you Amma!” “Why can’t my mother understand that I have a disease that cannot be cured by prayer alone?” Gayathri reflects later. Drenched in irrational faiths, many humans of this world are sooty hell-fires of ignorance with self-delusions that they are sanctifying as flames of enlightenment. “I was born and raised a Hindu. But I want to live the rest of my life as a humanitarian.” Gayathri says in the chapter Finding the Light Within.
I say this to myself at one point in this book, “Atheism is inevitable. Atheism is intrinsic to humanity, it lies deep and hidden in everybody. It takes either education or extreme misfortune to reveal itself. Sadly, inadequately acquainted with the scientific thought process, many confuse Randomness with Religion and Cause-and-Effect with God.”
A Punch in My Face
Having told many that crying is a detestable sign of weakness, these lines from the book came as a punch in my face – “I fail to understand why they cannot accept tears as a form of self-expression and not a tidal wave of emotions to flee from.”
A Jiddu Krishnamurthy quote mentioned in this book goes – “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” This book, Gayathri’s life, is a triumph against the stigma of mental illness, the shackles of a bigot society, the futility of irrational faith, and the atrocities of a sick world; a ray of light; a beam of hope.
Find more on Gayathri Ramprasad, the author, here.