By Nur Khalisah
A true story of the author’s uncle, Seng, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, The Sound of Sch: a mental breakdown, a life journey takes us back to old Singapore – 1961, –where people had little knowledge of mental illness and were scornful of the mentally ill.
In this story, we will see Chu’s dedication to her family, making ends meet and playing the role of sister, mother, wife and daughter in two different generations. Adapting to changing times and battling her own emotions, Chu’s fiery spirit to provide a better life for Seng is heartening.
Providing an introspective read, Danielle Lim delves into the deep ends of mental illness that society overlooks: The effort caretakers put in to care for the afflicted, the struggle in securing income to help the afflicted get by and most importantly, the constant effort to make people understand and accept the afflicted.
In addition, the book sheds light on the ordeals that the sufferers go through. The pain of loneliness, the guilt of being a burden and the helpless feeling of watching an afflicted family member wasting away, tugs heavily at the reader’s heartstrings.
Besides that, Lim uses the different common languages in Singapore such as Malay, Chinese and even Singlish to add a personal touch to the story. Thus, locals would find it easier to relate to and identify with the book.
A beautifully written piece of work, The Sound of Sch signals that perhaps the deadliest disease of the human mind is not the mental illness itself, but the mental stigma that shackles our mind and imprisons our hearts from breaking down prejudices against the unsung heroes.