By Megha Kaveri Puthucode Sreeram
There are a lot of things that I take for granted. How much I should be or would be involved in the life of my sibling after both my parents passed on is one of them. The answer to that is I don’t know. I really don’t. In fact, I don’t even know what is an appropriate degree of involvement in another grown person’s life, even if that is my own brother. Now, what if it is the other way around? What if my brother is thinking along the same lines about me, his older sister? The reason I flipped the situation around is because of the two of us, I am the one with a diagnosed mental illness. Although well under control and progressively on the way to recovery, I am still at risk. What now? Should he be protective of me? Even if I had my own ‘family’ in the future? Will he be responsible for me taking my pills or taking care of my health? I don’t know.
These are some of the layers explored by Mira T Lee in her book, ‘Everything here is beautiful’. The story is about two sisters, after losing their mother to cancer, navigating their relationship alongside their partners and children. The story is about love, loss, grief, confusion, boundaries, mental illness etc, explained in (sometimes) triggering detail. Of course, fiction needs that descriptiveness, in my opinion, to make the reader live the story.
The last time I remember being broken by a story was years ago, when I read ‘Norwegian Wood’. That was the last fiction book I remember completing. I never ventured into fiction-reading after. I was a coward I think. I was not ready to break myself down into a thousand pieces in the pursuit of reading a delectable book and then building myself back together after it. It was and still is a pain and pleasure – pain of breaking down ugly-crying and pleasure of having transported to the world of the characters. I spent my short weekends in New York, Ecuador, Switzerland and finally Minnesota, living with Miranda, Lucia, Yonah, Manuel, Esperanza and their families.
Reading (fiction) is something that I am rediscovering now, maybe because I am stronger as a person. I am enjoying it and yet terrified of what the next book will make me go through. It is such a pleasure to open oneself to a myriad of emotions through written words. It is a pleasure I had stayed away from for a few years. And now, it is sweetly scary.