Inspired by a true incident, Kuwait-based writer Farah Naqvi spins fiction in her new book The Light in Blackout (Authorspress; ₹276). A behavioural trainer, researcher, academician and HRD consultant, Farah is a voracious reader who dreamt of being a writer.
In her latest book, the protagonist Alizah leads a contented life until she is diagnosed with epilepsy. “Recurrent seizures turn her from a vivacious and ambitious girl to someone unsure of herself. Yet she fights back with courage and faith to overcome the psychological and physical challenges,” says Farah.
In the process, the book dwells upon family bonding, close friendships, true love and chasing dreams despite challenges.
This story of a girl next door evokes hope and belief and also tries to remove taboos associated with epilepsy. “The pain and scars are not necessarily damaging in life; they can help us become better versions of ourselves,” she adds.
Farah interacted with neurologists and people with epilepsy; one of her motivations was to bring forth psychological issues in the story. “Epilepsy is a non-contagious neurological disorder where abnormal brain activity causes seizures or loss of awareness. Many times, people live in constant fear about when, where and how the next seizure may arrive,” she says, adding how most find the stigma and discrimination surrounding epilepsy more challenging to overcome than the seizures themselves.
Farah says, It can get even more difficult when family members try to conceal it from friends and relatives preventing timely intervention and treatment; it can cause undue feelings of inferiority, anxiety and depression in the person.”
Besides stigma, lack of knowledge of anti-epileptic drugs, poverty, cultural beliefs and poor health infrastructure are a few factors that can delay treatment.
As a behavioural trainer, her programmes adopt a learner-centred approach . “I found defence personnel to be the most motivated, active and keen learners. I try to engage introverts using icebreakers and energisers that invite participation,” she explains. She uses a combination of tools like lectures, role play, outbound training, simulation games, group activities, reflective exercises and psychometric testing. Some of her training programmes have been on emotional intelligence, neuro-linguistic programming, group dynamics, team building, communication skills, psychometric assessments, stress management, leadership and change management.
As a first-time mom, Farah’s pace of writing depended on her “toddler’s generosity to spare me some ‘me time’.”
She finds creative writing addictive and is already working on her next book, a complex tale, again inspired by real event, infused with “tempestuous emotions.” “I am working on a contentious and delicate theme which needs to be discussed and researched instead of being brushed beneath the carpet.”
She hopes The Light in Blackout brings joy and enrichment in the life of those with epilepsy. “If it does, my purpose is served.”