Lifewalla is a beautiful story that explores the multitude of profound psychological and physical impacts that disasters such as the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster can have on its survivors. Through the eyes of Lifewalla’s main character Dilkhush, the reader takes a journey as she revisits her past and returns to the place where her life was
changed forever by one catastrophic event. Through Dilkhush, the reader accesses a deeper understanding into the many challenges faced by survivors—especially women survivors— affected by such disasters: widowhood, health complications, disability and infertility.
Through Dilkhush’s journey back to her home town, we are exposed to an intimateand honest recount of a women’s experience. Having lived through horrifying events that have marred her for life, the reader learns about the various psychological impacts on disaster survivors, as well as the particular ways in which being a woman
in this context exacerbates existing struggles to live with memories of the past whilst attempting to carve out a new life in a patriarchal society. Women survivors of disasters often bear the largest burden of such an experience, often losing partners and children, losing economic security, and at risk of losing support from their families and the wider community whilst struggling with chronic illness. The story of Dilkush explores all of these issues and the unique ways in which women have fought to survive and thrive.
Lifewalla is a gritty and raw story that exposes the legacy of disaster. In an increasingly connected world, with constant access to global events, we are bombarded with images and information about environmental and political crises, and disasters, and their immediate impacts. We are less exposed, however, to the long-term consequences of such events. What happens to survivors after the emergency aid and media coverage has left? How do communities rebuild and thrive in the face of immense tragedy and despair?
Although it is difficult to bear witness to the horrendous experience of Dilkhush recounted in the narrative, Lifewalla is also a story that celebrates the ways in which people and communities have cared for one another in the aftermath of the disaster and the resilience and strength of survivors.
In writing Lifewalla, authour Nina Joshi Ramsey has clearly drawn on her training and experience in stress management and mental trauma to get under the skin of the psychological impact of humanitarian disasters. It is a powerfully written and colourful book which steers clear of what might be some of the more obvious means of expressing the disaster’s aftermath whilst still creating a strong sense of empathy for the complex and difficult feelings a survivor might experience.
The survivors in Bhopal have had to contend with a myriad of health, social and economic impacts in the 30 years following the 1984 Gas Disaster and during the ongoing water contamination crisis. The Bhopal Medical Appeal, a UK registered charity, supports clinics in gas and water affected communities in Bhopal, which address the health, social and economic impacts of the Disaster through the provision of free integrative medical care, and community health and education initiatives.
We are proud that Lifewalla tells the story of so many inspirational Bhopali women gas survivors and, by purchasing the novel, the reader will be helping the Bhopal Medical Appeal support the life-changing work taking place at the clinics we fund in Bhopal.
Bhopal Medical Appeal
Nina Joshi Ramsey’s stunning debut novel, Lifewalla is inspired by the real-life events of one of the world’s worst-ever industrial tragedies: the Bhopal disaster. Often unseen is the reality of the psychological suffering following disasters, but it is the basis of this sensitively-written, insightful book.
On the night of December 2nd, 1984, the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, leaked a deadly cloud of poisonous gas methyl isocyanate on nearby shanty towns as their inhabitants slept.
None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, so the gas quickly spread with instantaneous and catastrophic results.
The disaster claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 people and injured nearly 600,000 more. It’s estimated that over the ensuing 30 years, some 25,000 have since died, while many more survivors – an estimated 120,000 to 150,000 – are still suffering ill health as a result of the leak.
Along with the physical ailments residents must still endure, many have been left with chronic psychological trauma, including flashbacks, nightmares, stress, anxiety and depression. These are still often accompanied by social stigma.
Lifewalla is a story that not only acknowledges this mental anguish, it delves into the intense feelings of especially anger and hopelessness that are commonly understood. Read More