Subscription Subscription
Home > Sunday Mid Day News > Its okay to not be okay

It’s okay to not be okay

Updated on: 14 April,2024 06:34 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Fiona Fernandez |

Sidhartha Mallya’s debut children’s book has a talking pet dog offer life lessons to normalise conversations around mental wellness

It’s okay to not be okay

Sidhartha Mallya

I chose Sid so that readers realise that it’s probably based on Sidhartha’s experiences with mental health. If I am doing this, it should be all right for you too,” reveals Sidhartha Mallya during a video interview from the United Kingdom, to discuss his first children’s book, Sad Glad (Puffin-Penguin Random House).

One morning, young Sid doesn’t know why he is feeling different. He wants to lie in bed. He is confused and sad. “Why cannot we be happy at all times?” he asks Duke, his talking pet dog, who plays therapist to the five-year-old by telling him that it’s okay to feel different things at different times. It’s a simple story with a happy ending. But the real message lies in between the lines. “After I wrote my first book, If I Am Honest in 2021, I wanted to continue the conversation around mental wellness. I am always going to be a kid at heart; I enjoy engaging with them [children]. I took to writing poems on mental health on Instagram. Sad Glad started as a poem but at some point, I realised it could become a picture book. I wrapped it up in under a day,” shares Mallya, adding that Martin Scorsese’s famous quote: ‘The most personal is always the most creative’ washis inspiration. “I thought about what I would have benefited the most from if I was young Sid; I realised that it was learning more about my emotions.”

Vibha Surya’s vibrant illustrations bring to life young Sid’s innermost feelings and his chats with DukeVibha Surya’s vibrant illustrations bring to life young Sid’s innermost feelings and his chats with Duke

Apart from children, the storyline will appeal to grown-ups too. “Absolutely. I wrote if for that young boy. But, more for the adult me. It serves as a gentle reminder to know that feelings can change over time. Adults might better understand the concepts that this book discusses. It is one thing to understand it on an intellectual level, and another to embrace it in daily life. Sad Glad was a reminder that I needed at this point in my life.” It’s why he hopes to draw parents into the dialogue, quickly adding, “I am not a parent, so I cannot offer advice. What I can share, based on my experiences, is about communicating with children.” Mallya, who has an acting career in the UK, and is also an acting coach, recalls his learnings from these sessions. “The youngest is 19; the oldest is 60. I notice multiple [mind] blocks in these actors. With men, it’s the fear of emoting because they are brought up to believe that boys don’t cry; with women, it’s a challenge to raise their voices because they are told that it’s ‘unladylike’. When you dig deep, you discover that it’s always a time from their childhood [that’s behind the hesitation]—they’ve either been dismissed, shushed, or not acknowledged, and this stays with them for life.”

Mallya feels parents should be mindful about the language they use with children. “If you say, something is right or wrong, it creates a mental block. There is no black and white with feelings and emotions. Children cannot be punished for emoting differently. They will let is fester and perceive it as ‘wrong’.” While juggling all these balls, the presence of a support system is critical. Mallya’s fiancé Jasmine, whom he says, he is set to marry this year, comes in for praise. “We got engaged last year. Neither one of us feels like we can’t express ourselves openly in front of the other. It makes our relationship healthy. Let people be, and allow them to experience feelings. When someone close breaks down, it’s natural to rush and offer advice. Allow them to be, but let them know that you are around,” he advises.

Towards the end of our chat, Mallya shares what he thinks could be a contentious statement—about mental health and the education system. “In schools [India and elsewhere], the grading system should be done away with, especially for the creative arts. It’s subjective; one person’s art cannot be better than another’s.”

Talk cricket with Sid 

ON RCB: I am no longer involved with RCB. But I congratulate the women’s team that won the Women’s Premier League (WPL) recently. Their captain Smriti Mandhana is cool; I am a fan of Elyse Perry.

ON WOMEN’S SPORT: Delighted to see women’s sport, including cricket, get attention, and TV air time. The WPL is hailed as the marquee T20 tournament globally. It’s great that India is at the forefront of this revolution.

ON FRANCHISE CRICKET: I prefer it to international cricket because you can put behind nationality, break barriers and play just as fans of the sport.

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!

Register for FREE
to continue reading !

This is not a paywall.
However, your registration helps us understand your preferences better and enables us to provide insightful and credible journalism for all our readers.

Mid-Day Web Stories

Mid-Day Web Stories

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK