The book is about Ela, a young self assured 13 year old.
Presented as happy, mature and enjoying a deep sense of security within her family she is the apple of her parents’ eye. Suddenly her world is shattered and that’s where the journey of the book begins. It is the journey of the human personality, the foundations and anchors it needs as it takes shape in the journey of life.
The human being is a social animal with an intrinsic need to be an individual in our own right. Everyone needs affiliation, an identity and validity to their existence. This and more is provided by our parents who form our first community. It contributes to a healthy self-esteem, which in turn dictates our autonomous behaviour.
Born completely dependent on others, growing up, upbringing, individuating to independence, and cultivating personalities depends very much on the experiences and interactions we have with persons who influence us.
A good part of early childhood is spent in making sense of the world around us and leads to developing a sense of security that fosters independence. We develop the ability to trust ourselves and others.
Life begins with an unquestionable trust that our needs would be met. However experiences could upturn this unquestionable trust to breed mistrust or distrust, then our world falls apart.
We need a template to understand and resolve inner conflicts which come to the fore now and again. This is where stories of human interest hook us on.
Conflicts offer an opportunity for us to look at life from the inside, where our deepest fears, intimacies and anxieties lie, often buried in the privacy of our self. Disclosure is the window that will bring it out into the open. It is a difficult process and the slightest hint of a threat will shut it off.
It calls for an inner strength that will help face all that such disclosures throw up. When the mind goes through all the worst case scenarios it stills seeks that a ray of hope.
Ela’s story is all the above and much more.
Ela, growing up with the confidence that comes from the most satisfying experiences in life, especially a secure home front, was the envy of many of her peers. It did not seem to daunt her in any way. Sailing into her teens with a self assuredness all her own, she was ready to herald the sense of independence that comes with this stage of development—‘I’m not a baby anymore,’ ‘I’m a grown up’.
It was a day of gifts and joy and a great deal of camaraderie, when the bolt struck and Ela went into a tizzy as the ground beneath her feet gave way.
She felt abandoned and lost, she felt she was sinking with no one to pull her up, a whole lot of emotions that come from the feeling of being let down churned her mind, she felt let down so badly as if every strand of the close knit carpet beneath her feet was stripped by those very people who wove the foundations of unconditional love and family-based intimacy and openness. What does she do?
She weaves a cocoon around her, cutting the world out she seeks answers to inundating questions that define one’s basic identity- parents, allowing in a feeling of persecution. As happens to everyone, she is in deep conversation with her deepest self, raising questions that seek her genuine roots. While she makes herself a recluse in her own home, her mind is on the most intimate, personal exploration and no one to share it with. There is the conscience that throws up points and counter points of view to bring in perspective. In her state of mind questions are not explored objectively, and tend to firm up self opinionated views and a highly judgemental stance.
It is at this juncture that the author provides a trusted scaffold that helps her, albeit gently and sensitively, to show her that her behaviour is a result of far more imagined situations that reality. A much loved aunt!! She steers her to consider the perspectives of the other persons in the high drama.
However it is the disclosure of a peer’s experience that helps her gain a meaningful, positive understanding of the complex psychological upheaval.
Sensitively written, all credit goes to the author, who essays the narrative like a piece of science fiction, wherein she enters the chasms of Ela’s mind and the tapestry unveils. She juxtaposes the two dimensions of a conflicting mind, the angry, desperate, abandoned one on the one hand and the conscience is an engaging conversation style, so natural that most of us would relate to it. It is as if the conscience was awakening to a maturity all its own.
Incorporating a sensitive side of deep psychological implications, the value of peer dependence and the value of communicating when in anguish with someone you trust are the values the author brings in.
Engaging, it is a must read for parents with kids still at home, young adults, and perhaps everyone who seeks an understanding of the impact of some deeps truths that we encounter in our communities today.
Certainly value added to the literature on the anguish of a young mind.