Written by Rupal Jhajhria
AKASH DHANURKAR, a resident of Pimpri-Chinchwad, lost his sister to depression. He then thought of beginning a dialogue on the issue to try and raise awareness. In an interview to The Indian Express, he talks about his latest book, Kanya — Green Ocean of Regression, and how challenging it is to write on issues such as depression, anxiety and drug addiction
What led you to write a story like Kanya?
I think a story like Kanya must reach the masses as it highlights depression, drug addiction and a rare skin disease. I was never a writer and since the story is based on the life of my sister, I thought of coming out with it. I feel it can rescue others from facing a similar situation that can lead to putting their lives in danger. I aim at saving someone from falling prey to depression; I want to send out a message to those who are battling depression that they are not alone but can put up a fight against depression and drug addiction. All of these factors led me to write the book.
What was the most challenging part in writing about issues such as depression and drug addiction?
I would say there were a lot of challenges — right from understanding depression to learning about its consequences. In our society, we have failed to understand depression in the first place. I understood depression only when I lost someone precious. But even as the world is moving ahead, we have continued to lose so many as they are unable to speak out about their problems. I have seen my sister battling the final stage of depression and nothing else could have been more challenging than that.
Kanya also highlights some major aspects of a rare and deadly skin disease, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). Tell us a little about it.
So, SJS is a rare and deadly skin disease that spreads in hours. However, the struggle to battle the disease is tough. How would a person survive if the entire skin of your body starts peeling off? Having seen a patient of SJS closely, I can only say we must not consume medicines without prescription. Also, no government hospital was aware of the treatment for this disease, which itself is an alarming situation.
Apart from real-life experiences, where else did you find inspiration to start a dialogue on depression through your book?
I think, in our country, a high percentage of people are struggling from mental health issues and, hence, writing on this topic can be tough but not impossible. We see people suffer from depression and anxiety daily, and yet we assume that things are normal, which is where we fail miserably. I think nothing less than real-life experiences inspired me to write a story.
According to you, what is the most important thing you need to consider in terms of language used or style of writing when writing on serious issues?
I think you must consider being involved with the lead character of the book. You must ensure that you research wisely. Without research, the content can hardly make an impact. And I think, everyone has their own style of writing. So that hardly matters until it fails to change a person’s perspective on depression.
Will you take up writing as a career?
I will not be an established writer or author until I make people fall back on reading and writing. We have come so far and have accepted technological advancement, but we have forgotten that writing is an exercise that can be taken up at any place and at any point of time.