Gayathri Ramprasad hit a point in her struggle with mental illness where she realised she wanted to...moreThis review was first published to Bookish Ardour.
Gayathri Ramprasad hit a point in her struggle with mental illness where she realised she wanted to be a voice for those living with such debilitating conditions. I’m glad she decided to do so and has done so. Gayathri has the right voice for bridging the gap between ignorance and awareness. Her voice has a wonderful balance of compassionate understanding, perception, empathy, and her cultural upbringing lends her the experience to reach those ostracised by stigma.
I’ve mentioned before, especially on my personal blog, I suffer from mental illnesses. I’ve had general anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia, OCD, and have struggled with depression and a choking phobia since I was a child. I’m now thirty-one and am currently accepting treatment for all the aforementioned. My life has been greatly affected by my mental illnesses to the point where I have avoided socialising, have been unable to leave the house, and have contacted suicide helplines. Mental illness is difficult enough to live with without the added stigma from both society and yourself.
Gayathri is very candid about her experiences and gives a very in-depth window into the mindset of someone who is suffering with mental illnesses, but can’t see it. I think there’s a time in everyone’s experience, everyone with a mental illness that is, who doesn’t put two and two together when it comes to their growing symptoms. It’s not always denial, quite often it’s ignorance, and it definitely can take more than yourself to realise something is terribly amiss.
Reading Gayathri’s story made me feel connected to someone else who has struggled and gave me hope, not necessarily for myself (I’m not in a state of deep depression), but for society and humanity. When someone like this can experience what they have, live to tell their story, and then finds the motivation to go beyond their recovery, it is truly inspiring and a relief. I was so easily engrossed by Gayathri’s candour and her prose, by the end of the the book I wanted to actively become involved in her global awareness campaign.
Her story, her words, and the way she delivers it makes Shadows in the Sun a very heartbreaking, bittersweet, but rewarding memoir to read.(less)
I find with short stories some are great as only time fillers, others have the ability to remain with you and possibly influence your feelings for a f...moreI find with short stories some are great as only time fillers, others have the ability to remain with you and possibly influence your feelings for a few minutes to an hour, and then there are the ones that resonate with you, having the capacity to stay with you for quite some time. For me An Arranged Marriage is the latter of the lot, reading it in a short amount of time due to its eighteen page length, I found myself being able to contemplate the story for several hours afterwards and can even recall the emotions it evoked days later.
An Arranged Marriage is both an account and a reflection of Reem’s hopes and disillusionment when it comes to marriage and her struggling with a change in ideals because of it. However, it is not a detailed explanation, but rather a summary as told by someone sharing their past with you as if you’re sitting down with them. I think the risk of feeling there is something left to be desired with a story being told in this way is a possibility, but I found it gave a greater sense of who Reem was and there was nothing lacking.
I have different beliefs when it comes to marriage compared to Reem, but I still found that I was able to identify with her, something of which occurred from within the first paragraph. Aliya’s writing has the sense of drawing you in, making you feel comfortable, helping to give that sense of at least being partially there and blocking out the world around you for a time.
I’m not one to read a great deal of non-fiction, I prefer to become lost in another person’s stories as a break from my own, but every now and then I...moreI’m not one to read a great deal of non-fiction, I prefer to become lost in another person’s stories as a break from my own, but every now and then I enjoy a break from fiction all together. It helps when the non-fiction is written in such a way where it could still be considered as a person’s tale, a biography or a journal, in the manner that Two Weeks of Solo Travel in Greece: A Pakistani Girl’s Diary is written.
It becomes clear very early on that Aliya has the traveller’s bug, sharing her travel journal with us as the format of her story. Whilst this is a great way to learn more about travelling itself (if you’ve never travelled in this manner before) or to connect with a traveller (in the case of having the travel bug yourself), you’ll find there are more issues touched upon and discussed in Aliya’s journeys through Greece.
I believe the array of issues touched upon is where the intriguing perspective from a Pakistani and Muslim background comes in to play. Two Weeks is far from a religious account, nor is it about Pakistan, but this does not mean those two elements do not show up from time to time.
I don’t know about others with dissimilar beliefs compared to mine (that of an Atheist), but to be able to read the observations of differences between cultures, especially comparing Western to Eastern societies, influenced by a Muslim outlook is one I find intriguing.
I say this not in the sense of singling a religion out nor from inexperience with another belief system, but because I enjoy being able to expand my horizons by understanding perspectives coming from someone influenced by a contrasting environment to my own. Aliya has the experience of one who has been able to experience and observe different cultures, journey to more than one country, and I find it a pleasure to be able to read her observations about globalisation, society, manners, and education, which all permeate her journey.