I would see my mother screaming at the walls and talking to imaginary people as if they were before her: Mallur Sandeep on his book ‘The Story of Maya’

1. Describe your experiences with Schizophrenia, if any.

I was exposed to Schizophrenia from a very young age. My mother has been ailing from this problem since birth, so I have witnessed her behaviours and actions under the influence of this illness. Of course, I knew it was called Schizophrenia much later in my life. When I was young, however, I would see my mother screaming at the walls and talking to imaginary people as if they were really in front of her. The Story of Maya is loosely based on my mother’s life and her struggle with Schizophrenia. Unfortunately, till today she continues to suffer from some of the symptoms of this illness. In my early twenties, I had a psychotic breakdown and was diagnosed with Schizophrenia myself, which has now progressed into a mood Disorder. So I’m very well-versed with Schizophrenia.

2. What inspired your literary curiosity?

I used to love reading from a very young age. I was initially an avid reader of comics like Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha series, Chandamama etc. Then I moved on to the Hardy Boys series in my teens. Since my spiritual seeking started, I’ve predominantly read books about spirituality.

3. How did Maya’s character come into existence?

My mother inspires Maya’s character. She is an imaginary character based on accounts of my mother’s college days which I heard through my relatives, but to date, I don’t have any confirmation of these events. The events that led her to develop Schizophrenia are still unknown to me.

4. Is writing every day a ritual? 

As of now, it’s not. However, I do journaling in an e-diary every day.

5. Tell us about the first book you read that made you cry.

I once remember reading one of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s books, which must be “A Mystic’s Musings”. Suddenly, I looked at his photo and started crying for unknown reasons.

6. Describe a lesser-known aspect of you.

I used to play a lot of pranks on neighbours along with my colony friends in my childhood.

7. What would it be if you could tell your younger writing self anything? 

Just keep writing without bothering about whether it will be received well by the audience or not.

8. What do you think makes a good story?

A good story is one where the reader can identify themselves or someone in their life with one or more characters.

9. What advice do you offer those with mental health issues?

Do not restrict yourself only to taking medicines. Try alternative healing methods such as Yogasanas, Pranayama and Meditation. These practices and medication can help one lead a balanced, successful life.

10. A piece of advice for our readers, please?

Never give up on life. Tomorrow is a new day. Things can and do turn around just when everything seems hopeless. So just be strong and hang in there at all costs.