Srilata K. in conversation with Ramya Kannan on her book “This kind of Child: The ‘Disability’ Story”
‘Lit for Life‘, the annual literary festival organized by The Hindu, was held at Music Academy, Chennai on Feb 24th & 25th, 2023. Sai University was a proud sponsor of this festival. It brought together around 30 prolific writers and speakers from around the world.
Srilata K, Director, Centre for Creative Writing & Translation, and Professor, School of Arts and Sciences at Sai University, was in conversation with Ramya Kannan at the one-of-its-kind literary festival, where she spoke about her book “This kind of Child: The ‘Disability’ Story“. It was fascinating how the conversation delved deep into a subject like disability, which is often avoided or sidestepped.
Answering Ramya’s question on what formed her book’s framework, Srilatha said, “Writing about a subject like disability and the idea of not keeping out voices, and knowing that there are differences in perspectives powers the book in some ways and had to be reflected in the structure. It began as a collection of short stories. Gradually, however, it grew organically into a bigger book and included more people and perspectives.”
So, how does she define disability? Srilatha explained, “We struggle to accept disability because there is always a fear or discomfort about anyone different from us, and we quickly label them in a box. In the course of writing this book, I met different people who defined disability differently, and one person told me that disability is largely attitudinal. When a mobility-challenged person encounters a staircase, they are disabled because of a barrier — attitudinal or infrastructure, or lack of empathy, and lack of thinking through public image, and not because someone doesn’t have a limb or eyesight.”
This Kind of Child, a collection of real-life experiences and personal accounts, is an eye-opening, thought-provoking, and moving book.