When Goodbye Begins: life takes over by Geeta Lal Sahai
In When Goodbye Begins: life takes over, author-filmmaker – Geeta Lal Sahai actively involved in mental health advocacy rips apart the stereotypical existence. These five stories are about mental health, innumerable lanes and layers of memories, childhood abuse, infidelity, betrayal, hopelessness, and hidden emotions. There is pathos, feelings, inner conflict and stoic acceptance.
In the title story – When Goodbye Begins, a middle-aged woman, caught between her dreams and the present reality of being a caregiver to her husband, walks on a tightrope. Through her eyes, we experience the broken and painful world of people with Alzheimer’s and their families. In Walking on Ice Sheet in Pencil Heels, the story captures the protagonist Sheena’s struggle with her identity and the frightening and fascinating world of bipolar disorder. In Death of a Memory, Rashi facing betrayal and infidelity, fights with her memories to face the world. In another story – If Only I Could Tell, the author recounts the painful and traumatic world of the child sexual abuse survivor who keeps running away from love, people and self. Caught in the web of childhood abuse, the author, through her protagonist, poignantly shows the long-term ramifications of broken trust and bruised body.
In all five stories, Geeta exquisitely crafts the inner turmoil of her characters. The world of characters in these stories is gripping, and there’s a world within a world.
Targeted Age Group:: All Audience
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Reading horrifying news reports every day. Not a single day goes when somewhere some woman’s body is not brutalised. We are living in a toxic world. My characters rebel against the toxicity in their own way and my journey as a writer begins by thinking beyond what is visible. My stories talk about reality, real characters and their grief. I see what they do not tell the world. And it is this aspect that I portray in my work. Through my characters’ grief, loss and memories, I capture elusive moments of grace and beauty surrounding our pain. I believe that nothing is as powerful as grief to test our character, patience and our beliefs. It is generally said – ‘move on’ – whenever we face problems in our lives. But I think the truth is we never ‘move on’; we move ahead with our memories. And it is these memories that I question, the relevance of them in the present.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
As a mental health campaigner, often I meet people whose world has shrunk, and even otherwise, I listen to personal narratives while meeting people. After listening to them, I always feel that each of us is fighting a battle hidden behind the plastic smiles. This realization motivates me to carve characters, give them a name and as a companion, travel with my fictional characters, giving them hope to push forward howsoever distorted the truth is. In reality, those people may not have done so, but on paper, I make my fictional characters move forward with hope even when circumstances are adverse.
Excerpt from the title story- When Goodbye Begins:
Innumerable little voices begin to prick me. I keep staring at the ceiling, picking up bits and pieces from the rubble of memories, memories beyond time. And as the frosted recollections begin to imprison me, the doctor’s words reverberate, “He is living on borrowed time. For him, every day is a gift. Alzheimer’s has eaten his mind and soul. The truth is that as long as there is memory, there is hope, possibility. However, as memory fades, nothing matters. The past doesn’t matter; the future doesn’t exist. Everything is just a breath away, life, memories, death, so let him live for today.”
I close my eyes, and once again, the doctor’s words echo, “As long as there is memory, there is hope, possibility. However, as memory fades, nothing matters. The past doesn’t matter; the future doesn’t exist.”
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