Author Sudha Menon's new book, Gifted, shows how people with disabilities are often more mature than others. Menon shares her experience of writing the book, in a candid chat with the guide
Q. Tell us about the significance of the title 'Gifted'?
A. What I have realised about people with disabilities is that they are gifted with a range of qualities that even normal people don't have. Unlike a regular person who may try to hide or conceal their situation, people with disabilities are far more mature and accepting about it. They do not complain about their condition. They move on in life and are ready to chase their dreams. If we don't celebrate this wonderful gift of theirs, then who will? Let's not just talk about their problems, but their gifts too.
Q. Is that also the message behind the book?
A. My message is simple. We can all learn something from the lives of these people. No matter how hard the struggle is you can reach what you want with commitment. It's not easy, but it's not impossible either.
Gifted, Sudha Menon and VR Ferose, Random House, Rs 299
Q. Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? How difficult was it writing on a complex subject like this?
A. Hardly any. I didn't want this to be a book about research sitting in a library. I wanted this to be a book about inspiring people to do better, and help others to do the same. I spent two years travelling around the country meeting people with disabilities and gaining an insight into what their lives have been like. Though, I did do some basic research, this is a story about opening our eyes to the condition of other people.
Sudha Menon. Author of the book Gifted
Q. Please share some interesting experiences from your journey.
A. I met HN Girisha and I discovered that he had his first pair of sandals when he turned 16, because he was very poor. He is a humble soul and nobody believed in him until he achieved what he has today. That is something that has touched me deeply and been an inspiration for me as well as for my readers.
Q. People with disabilities often have to face a lot of discrimination at various levels. How much awareness is there amongst people about their circumstances?
A. Awareness among people is on the rise. People are talking about the issues faced by those with disabilities and are sensitive toward their needs and requirements. But compared to the way things are taken care of in other countries, we still lag behind. We lack basic equality. I was in Boston for two months and what I observed there was that the perception of the state of such people is very high. They live independently and there are all sorts of facilitates available for them, things which we will hardly see here. Education is a must for such people. There should be special schools for them and centres where all resources are available at one place, or else they have to keep moving from one place to another for every different necessity.
Q. Do you have any tips for those who wish to write a book?
A. I just have one tip: a story should be one that will grip everybody's attention. Write with your heart; that will strike a chord in the minds of the readers.