Love, remember, and write against all odds

Rohini Shukla

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2018.069


Abstract

If I had to tell it again by Gayathri Prabhu is a dauntless memoir about a father-daughter relationship that is afflicted by mental illness. Set in the years between 1948 and 2014, the story moves in and out of Karnataka with Prabhu’s survival endeavours, personal and professional. Along the way, the reader gets an intimate look into middle-class family life and a woman’s struggle to become someone of her own in the face of paralysing circumstances – child sexual abuse, adolescence bereft of basic coping skills, divorce, a delicate bond with her father SGM Prabhu, two lost pregnancies, and a precarious career. All this is written about with a rare kind of sombre beauty. I was overwhelmed when I first read the book, but the second time around, after the initial deluge of emotions had passed, I realised why Krupa Ge says that “this book was necessary. An essential one. It had to be written.” The reasons, as is the case with an exceptional piece of literature, go well beyond the inherent value of writing about stigmatised and misunderstood realities. If I had to tell it again pushes its reader to ask fundamental questions about parenting, how mentally ill individuals relate to each other and to the larger world, and the human ability to hurt, nurture, love and forgive.

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