After a seven-year hiatus, Shaka’s Rock-based author Nirvashnee Naidu has released her second book – and this time it’s a collection of poetry that reveals her truth.
In 2015, Nirvashnee published her book Footprints on the Moon, a novel she now admits she wrote under the guise of fiction. The story revolves around an abusive relationship, which reflected, to a large extent, her own reality.
A year ago, her daughter turned 21 – the age at which Nirvashnee first experienced abuse – and she says something hit home. “I could no longer remain silent,” she admits. “I always felt I had a social responsibility to use my voice to enlighten and encourage, but now I felt like I had a moral obligation to do so. And that’s where my second book came from.” Where the Lotus Flower Blooms is a book of poetry that spans 30 years. It follows her journey through pain, abuse, depression and anxiety, but is also rich with love, hope and healing.
Before releasing the book, Nirvashnee felt nervous about the potential backlash, but the experience has been nothing but positive. “There are so many young women who have sent me messages and said they can’t believe how I’ve summed them up,” she says. “They can’t believe that other people have experienced this too.” She is much more open about her experience now, having found catharsis in her writing. “It’s so beautiful that we’re now living in a world where kindness and healing are contagious, and we can lean on each other and not be afraid to tell our truth and be vulnerable,” she says.
Nirvashnee was first diagnosed with depression at the age of 21, but without access to information, she struggled to understand and talk about her situation. “The first time I was diagnosed with depression, I had to look it up in the dictionary,” she says. “There was no medical definition; it just said ‘pit or cavity’ and ‘a hole in the ground’. This image really stuck with me, and I started writing poetry with this in mind.”
Over the next 10 years, Nirvashnee was hospitalised three times for depression and hid her mental health problems from the world. She has since educated herself and found ways to manage her mental health. She wants to encourage others who are suffering from depression and abuse to speak out and seek help. “Silence is the most dangerous thing. By trying to protect the people you love, you end up sacrificing yourself,” she says. “You must take care of yourself first, and only then will you be able to take care of others. We were taught that to be silent was to be strong, but that’s so far from the truth.”
Writing has been an important part of Nirvashnee’s personal healing process, and she wants to share a message of hope through her poetry. “Through this book, I get to honour the 21-year-old girl who no one honoured back then,” she explains. “I get to protect her now because I didn’t keep her safe then. And I get to say to my parents and my children, I’m ok. I made it.”