Interpreter of Maladies

City-based entrepreneur Hyma Goparaju’s debut novel The Withering Banyan seeks to address schizophrenia, but with a kind heart.

Published: 29th March 2016 05:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2016 05:13 AM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: While one can never be too sure if the face is the index of the mind, words certainly are a reflection of one’s understanding of the world around and the complexity of the human nature and relations. Like writer Hyma Goparaju’s novel, The Withering Banyan.

Armed with poignant vocabulary, this budding writer weaves a rich tapestry of human relations and  emotions spanning over five generations in her novel. The title of the book – the Withering Banyan – indicates a complex subject, which has been broken down to a lucid and simple story.

The story is about a businessman who starts from the scratch, rises to great heights professionally and financially through hard work and how the amassed fortune had dwindled due to a turbulent father-son relationship. The broken bond results in mistrust and suspicion of the son who suffers from schizophrenia.

“People do not even make an attempt to understand mental illnesses. There are only two aspects people prefer to understand – either you are normal or abnormal. My novel deals with the subject and the complex relations between normal and those suffering from schizophrenia within the family and the society through fictional characters. The work does not touch upon the technical aspect, but the emotional content of such health disorders and how it impacts the people,” she explains.

The novel, though a fictionalised account of five generations of a family impacted by the malady, is a reflection of the interaction and understanding of the people in the real life the author had come across. “Though I have been fascinated with writing and reading since a young age and have written poetry in my school days, I was sceptical about writing the novel. But, once started, it just flowed. The characters told their story themselves,” she recalls.

After taking up writing again in 2011, Hyma finished writing her first novel in eight months and gave the richness of the novel, Frog Books, an imprint of Lead Start Publishing Private Limited, decided to publish it. Since it was released in 2015, there has been several good reviews and was even got shortlisted for the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Contest 2014 in the General Fiction Category.

Hyma, a native of Vijayawada who has been in Hyderabad for more than a decade and half with her husband KVKLN Rao,  an IT professional, in her own right is a self-made entrepreneur, running her company – Indigen Technologies – that she co-founded with others in 2006. The company is basically a R&D unit developing medical devices.

“Currently we are involved with research in improving our indigenously developed device – GOODREST CPAP. The CPAP is continuous positive airway pressure that is delivered to a patient suffering from OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) a sleep disorder that is characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep,” she explains.

Hyma attributes her understanding of people of various regions and backgrounds to her parents and schooling. He father Goparaju Vikram, an engineer with NTPC, was posted at different places across the country. She did her schooling in Kendriya Vidyalaya. She pursued BSc electronics from Siddhartha Women’s College in Vijayawada living with her maternal grandparents and did her MBA with Warangal-based ITM.  “I have never lost my love for academics and now I am doing my PhD in marketing management with ICFAI Business School in Hyderabad,” she says.

However, that does not mean she is taking hiatus from the writing. She has couple of stories she is working and when ready, they will be put on the paper and ready for the world to read.


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