Teen author deals with mental health, unconventional romance, in ‘Until It Rains Again’

The theme of LGBTQ+ rights is extremely close to this teen author's heart because she's a passionate advocate for human rights.

Published: 25th September 2022 07:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th September 2022 07:16 PM   |  A+A-

'I am intrinsically a very emotional and empathetic person': Ruchika Rashya Bhuyan. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

Teen author Ruchika Rashya Bhuyan is ahead of her age. It is no mean task to write literature while in school. One needs to be a voracious reader and be able to think both deeply and widely. But to publish a book that deals with sexuality and its dilemmas, one needs a firm ground to understand and argue. At 15 in 2021 studying in the 10th grade (Ruchika is currently studying in the 12th grade at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. She had passed her matriculation from Sanskriti The Gurukul School in Guwahati), this girl from Assam authored her maiden book ‘Until It Rains Again’. It hit the stands this year. ‘Until It Rains Again’ is a fiction that explores the journey of 17-year-old Alaina Kaur, its protagonist, as she approaches the cusp of adulthood and finds herself in a mental ruckus of friendship, relationship and sexuality. Excerpts from an interview with Prasanta Mazumdar.

What is ‘Until It Rains Again’ all about?

The book portrays mental health and unconventional romance through a gripping first-person narration. The plot explores the emotional development of Alaina through monologues, as she faces conflicts in her friendship, relationship and finds herself in a dilemma about her sexuality in a heteronormative Indian society.

What was your inspiration behind this story?

The inspiration behind this story was largely my own life. As a person, I am extremely contemplative and introspective. I like to reflect upon every little experience that I have. Given that I wrote this book during the pandemic, I had a lot of time to myself to think about my journey so far. As someone who faces mental health issues, exacerbated especially during the pandemic, I felt the need for a raw, authentic story to be told. Talking to my friends and peers, I knew that mental health and the emotional journey that teenagers undergo till they become an adult is not spoken about enough and they are often misunderstood, branded as ‘rebellious’ when truly we are just trying to find our ways in life.

Another intent behind the narrative was to reach out to those who face issues similar to that of the protagonist and struggle to find themselves, and let them know that they are not alone (as my dedication reads “to the nebulous stars flickering away in some corner of the cosmos – we shall rise again.”

What is the message that you wanted to convey?

The theme of LGBTQ+ rights is extremely close to my heart because I am a passionate advocate for human rights. Our generation has had a lot more exposure to such sensitive themes than those before us, which explain the taboo and discomfort enfolding the issue. With that in mind, my objective was to provide a personalised lens to the story of a young adult narrated through their mental voice aimed at not only sensitising the public but also capturing the beauty of raw human emotions. The language of emotions can transcend barriers that no words or activism speeches can.

To these ends, if I had to sum up in one line, at the crux of my book lies the message of accepting people for who they are and accepting yourself for who you are. This process of acceptance is not one without conflict, struggle, self-loathing to some extent, and even existential crises. We tend to listen to so many voices, succumb to them even, when at the end of the day it is only our own voice that can guide us and comfort our confused, afraid and searching hearts. To quote the protagonist: “I lost myself multiple times in trying to be someone else. I lost my identity multiple times in trying to find it in others. But I knew now that I could just be me – and that would be enough.”

How did you strike the idea of writing about the LGBT community?

Initially, the idea struck me after reading the book, “Call Me By Your Name” by André Aciman. It also portrays the story of characters belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. After reading it, I got a very deep and enlightening insight into the struggle for internalised homophobia that people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community face. I was not only sensitised to their struggle but I also felt like theirs is a story that needs to be told, especially given their lack of representation in literature in India and Assam.

What is your exposure to it?

With social media and the Internet, and self-directed research, I have educated myself about the community. Moreover, I also run a nonprofit initiative known as ‘Girl Up OurStory’ under UN’s Girl Up International campaign. We advocate for women’s rights and human rights in general. In working for the same, I have conducted a lot of research for advocating for the cause of the LGBTQ+ community through our newsletters and online sessions.

Do you have personal friends from the community?

I do, and being with them honestly makes me realise that they are as much human as anyone else.

What is it that led you to write about them?

I am intrinsically a very emotional and empathetic person, and as mentioned, after reading ‘Call Me By Your Name’, something just sparked me to write about the LGBTQ+ community. As a teenager, I am still exploring my own sexuality, so in some ways ‘Until It Rains Again’ is very personal.

Have you interviewed any of them before writing the book?

Not really. Many of the internal monologues of the protagonist are projections of my own thoughts. However, I have read articles about stories of struggles that people of the community have faced, which did provide me the insights. The book also largely covers general teenage issues like heartbreak, friendship tension, etc., for which I did interview some of my friends.

How did you, in the first place, think of writing a book?

The thought of writing a book had been sitting in the back of my mind for quite a long time. I entertained it for the first time when my father appreciated my budding pieces of poetry and suggested the plausibility of publishing an anthology in the future. In fact, I majorly write poems and on slowly realising that my themes of writing were transforming to more mature ones, I thought of compiling an anthology.

Did you want to become an author?

Yes, I have always wanted to become an author. I think, beyond just that, I have always dreamt of being a storyteller and I am still in pursuit of it through different art forms like dancing, spoken word poetry, and writing, of course.

What are your future plans?

In all honesty, I am quite indecisive and don’t like to have a set path laid ahead of me. I want life to surprise me. For so many years, I have just forced myself to follow the conventional, socially-acceptable route but recently, I’ve realised that it does not lead to any candid happiness because it is no longer my life if I am living it in other people’s ways. Right now, I am preparing for university and planning to pursue the subjects I love: Economics and English. Perhaps I will take up a career in Finance while pursuing writing as a passion. But one thing I am certain about is that ‘Until It Rains Again’ is definitely not my last book.

Where do you want to pursue your higher studies and in which subject?

I want to pursue my undergraduate studies abroad, preferably in the United States, with an intended major in Economics and minor in Creative Writing/English Literature.

Who is your favourite author? Are you a regular reader?

I am a regular reader but my favourite author keeps changing. While I am an evergreen John Green lover, I am currently craving classics and enchanted by the writing styles of James Baldwin and Jane Austen.

India Matters


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