New Delhi, Jan 31: A new novel by Bengaluru-based writer Shefali Tripathi Mehta stresses on the need to understand mental illnesses and see those suffering from them with greater empathy, without censure or stigma.
"People on Our Roof" is about the struggles of 23-year-old Naina, her undying loyalty to her schizophrenic mother Naintara and autistic sister Tara.
Published by Niyogi Books imprint Olive Turtle, it follows a semi-arranged plot, with childhood memory fragmentations and flashbacks alternating with the present and emphasises on Naina's thoughts and feelings.
Naina is the sole bread-winner of the family. Her grandparents, who raised her after her father abandoned the family, left for her an old house in a posh south Delhi colony which is eyed constantly by greedy relatives.
As a child, Naina resented her mother and younger sister, and wished they were a "normal" family. In one instance, she even asks for another mother but as an adult Naina has learnt to care for them and understands that they cannot always control their actions.
Desperately trying to maintain some modicum of normalcy, she makes friends, falls in love, gets loved in return, and occasionally tries to look for her long lost father.
Running as a leitmotif throughout the book is her attempt to piece together the shards of her broken childhood, and find out why her father left and, more importantly, who he left with.
"People on Our Roof" is the fifth book by Mehta, who works with the Azim Premji University and writes on social issues, travel, parenting and disability awareness, and curates Gond art to support tribal artists. - PTI