by Tara Dhar
A while ago, a friend gave me a copy of The Sound of Sch. Intrigued by the title, I started reading, and was hooked from page one itself.
The author intended it as a tribute to her maternal uncle, her grandma and her mother, all of whom walked a difficult path, of caring for the uncle, who developed schizophrenia at a young age. Yet equally, it is a moving memoir of growing up in a Singapore which was very different from the one we live in today, in which we read about a Balestier plagued by ‘gangsters’, the author’s grandma travels long distances to wash the clothes of well-off people for a small payment, people frequent bomohs to get cured of illnesses, and many similar vignettes.
The main time-line of this deeply personal story of strong and enduring family-bonds goes from 1961-1994. From chapter 6 especially, as the author herself enters the story, we see everything mainly from the perspective of a little girl of nine, trying to make sense of a complex adult world.