Clough fan Kal Singh Dhindsa pleaded for the signs to be returned, adding Cloughie would not have been happy.
Buy both books in paperback on Amazon and receive free delivery
My next book to be released will be called ‘Homelands Revisited’.
Collected memories from ex students of Homelands Grammar School for Girls.
A reissue of ‘Homelands from the beginning 1938-43’ & ‘Homelands Remembered’.
It is hoped that profits from this book will go towards erecting a plaque at the old school site on Village Street, Derby.
I wasn’t expecting to do this interview. Martyn Williams caught me on the way out of Radio Derby (Having listened to my BBC Asian Network Interview) and asked me to go back in for a little mini interview for Radio Derby.
A Great #LoveToRead Interview conducted by @martynmnw of @BBCDerby with me about my love of Books
“The Punjabi Alphabet Activity book introduces the Punjabi alphabet to children and beginners who are more familiar using the English language. Read – Colour – Write”
The Punjabi Alphabet Activity book introduces the Punjabi alphabet to children and beginners who are more familiar using the English language
Kal Dhindsa, whose father and uncle both killed themselves, wrote a book about the tragedy; My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree.
“In our culture, men are seen as the breadwinner, men of the house, top of their game,” he said. “So sufferers try to remain strong and we don’t talk about it.
“Women also find it hard to talk because they fear they’ll be labelled as ‘possessed’.”
But he believes his community should address the lack of communication about mental health that leads to people suffering in silence.
“My dad didn’t share what was on his mind – and he took his life,” he said.
“In retrospect the signs were there. We, as a community, need to talk more about these ‘difficult’ things. Talking is the cure to this illness.”
“Kal is a Whooverville regular and a long-time supporter of our event. During the day he will be at the Whoovers stall selling and signing copies of his book My Father and the Lost Legend of Pear Tree, which discusses his father’s battle with mental illness, culminating in his suicide. Being a fan, the book also contains references to Doctor Who.”
We are pleased to confirm that our friend local author Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa will be at Whooverville 8. Kal is a Whooverville regular and a long-time supporter of our event. During the day he will be at the Whoovers stall selling and signing copies of his book My Father and the Lost Legend of Pear Tree, which discusses his father’s battle with mental illness, culminating in his suicide. Being a fan, the book also contains references to Doctor Who.
When I first saw the cover to ‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree’, I presumed it was a children’s book; perhaps an adventurous work of fiction where a top-knotted young boy plays the central role. I started to read the blurb only to quickly realise how wrong I was and now having digested the work, a closer look at the cover makes me feel all the more foolish for my initial judgement. So what lies behind the illustrious cover and engimatic title?
‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree’ started life as a series of posts on a blog run by Derby-native Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa. Depicted as “a true story about a ‘Doctor Who’ loving Sikh Derby boy and his quest for happiness“, the story follows Dhindsa “as he comes to terms with his father’s suicide“. I say story, but the narrative consistently traverses time and space; as the reader is introduced to a particular setting, they are just as swiftly transported elsewhere at the whim of the author’s pen. For this reason the book can sometimes read like a personal journal, offering insights into some of the most personal and private experiences that Dhindsa has faced thus far, but as they are adjoined by precise observations of his surroundings, the work takes on a much broader sense of genre. This is not the kind of story that one might expect to read and whether intentionally or unintentionally, the author’s master stroke is to opt for a form of story-telling that requires alertness and thought from the reader, all the while softening the blow of the subject matter.
The focus throughout is the suicide of Dhindsa’s father. Every page draws the reader closer to the inevitable tragedy that has instigated the author to write, but with it we are given a window into the well-being of other characters, not excluding Kalwinder himself. Only when I had finished reading the book was I able to appreciate how the narrative works in the most wonderful way to alleviate the awkwardness that comes with tackling what remains one of the most sensitive subjects of our time. Suicide and the mental health of a person who contemplates it, is a topic that goes unspoken in most communities around the World, let alone amongst minority communities struggling for identity in the West. But as the reader is strewn along the author’s troublesome journey to becoming a school Science teacher and trailing in his intricate knowledge of the Pear Tree suburb of Derby, the reasons for his father’s decline and suicide are laid bare with both care and respect. If South Asians living in 21st Century Britain need an introduction to talk more openly about mental health and suicide, this book is it.
Kalvinder Singh Dhindsa is a school teacher who has used his summer holidays and spare time to author this, his first book. Looking in, you’d be forgiven for assuming that this undertaking was a form of therapy for Dhindsa, but this is somewhat unfair to the talent he displays in writing. He provides an overwhelming amount of detail when recalling people, places and occasions, which can occasionally appear mundane, but the format of his writing means that you aren’t kept in any one memory for long enough to stop you reading.
I have to confess that I was looking forward to exploring this book to see how it tackled the taboo topic of mental health in the South Asian community, particularly amongst men – which from the preceding paragraphs you will have seen I think it does extremely well. But what kept me turning each page was the deeper story being told here about identity and the migrant experience. Dhindsa brings together the muddied world that is life for the offspring of Punjabi migrants – marrying ‘home’ that is now his UK residence with the ‘home’ that was left behind in Punjab, both traversed through the traditions of the Sikh way of life. In this regard it is a must-read for UK citizens of Punjabi origin, throwing up a mirror for us to reflect on our own journey. I would even go as far as to say that it was an entertaining read, which might appear unkempt for a book on this subject matter, but is not at all untrue. I found myself teary-eyed and chuckling in equal measure, and despite being very different to the author in a number of ways, it was the similarity of our search for meaning that will have me reaching to read this book again.
‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One’ by Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa can be bought at Amazon.
Thank You to the Sikh Press Association for all their assistance.
Interviews on BBC Radio Stoke and BBC Radio Leeds.
BBC STOKE Ajmal Hussain / BBC LEEDS Mussy Abbasi
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree is essentially a story about my father’s suicide and how a reconnection with a ghostly pale face from the past takes me on a journey of regeneration and discovery. Thus allowing me to eventually come to terms with my father’s death and in the process kick off my quest for happiness.
My father Mohinder Singh took his own life in March 2006. My story recounts my Punjabi upbringing in Pear Tree, Derby and the stigma of depression and mental health issues in the Asian community.
In Part One of my story I talk about the lead up to my father’s death and then the subsequent fallout and aftermath. I describe how it has affected me and how those around me have also reacted to it. In most cases, with silence. Either people are too uncomfortable talking about it, because they feel they might upset me. Or they just don’t know what to say and avoid conversation. My biggest fear after the death of my father was that people would forget about him because they stopped talking to me about him because of the way he died. That was not fair. My father was a good man whose mind was corrupted by mental illness. In the Asian community mental illness can be seen as a weakness and something to be ashamed of. My father was unable to speak out. However, if our community can accept that mental illness is genuine and that help is available then many more lives could be saved. We must be able to talk freely about it and find better ways to communicate our thoughts to others who will not judge or desert us.
It is my hope that my story will alert people to the dangers of dismissing mental illness or not taking it seriously. To help people understand how to spot the signs. To show people who have had their lives almost destroyed by it that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always hope, no matter how bad things initially seem.
My pride in my Sikh roots and what my people have contributed to the world is quite evident as you read through Part One. A good example of which is the courageous Gian Singh VC.
In the epilogue of Part Two (2017) I reveal that I designed the Sikh Poppy Khanda to honour all the Sikhs who fought and sacrificed their lives during the World Wars. It was also my way of honouring Gian Singh VC who was a soldier from my mother’s village in the Punjab.
My memories of Quantum Leap, Frequency and Deep Space Nine were originally supposed to be added to the postscript. However on reflection I decided to just stick with my Doctor Who memories and their connection to my father.
A FATHER IN TIME AND SPACE
“I have loved Science Fiction for as long as I can remember. Even before my father’s death some of my most memorable memories in the genre have revolved around father and child relationships. In every case, about a son or daughter travelling back in time to save their father”
Frequency was a 2000 American science fiction thriller film. It was co-produced and directed by Gregory Hoblit and written and co-produced by Toby Emmerich. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezil as father and son, Frank and John Sullivan respectively.
John Sullivan’s Father
‘What if you had the chance to travel back in time and change just one event in your life? What would it be? For John Sullivan, there is no question. He would undo the events of October 12, 1969, when his father, a heroic fire-fighter dies. Now John may get exactly what he wished for – and much more than he bargained for.’
A rare atmospheric phenomenon allows a New York City fire-fighter to communicate with his son 30 years in the future via HAM radio. The son uses this opportunity to warn the father of his impending death in a warehouse fire, and manages to save his life. However, what he does not realise is that changing history has triggered a new set of tragic events including the murder of his mother. The two men must now work together, 30 years apart, to find the murderer before he strikes so that they can change history again.
Quantum Leap was an American television series that originally aired on NBC for five seasons from March 1989 through May 1993. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, it starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a Physicist who leaps through space-time during an experiment in time travel, by temporarily taking the place of other people in order to correct historical mistakes. Dean Stockwell co-starred as Admiral Al Calavicci, Sam’s womanising, cigar-smoking companion and best friend, who appears to him as a hologram.
‘Theorising that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished…He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.’
Sam Beckett’s Father
John was named after his grandfather and was a kind honest hard-working dairy farmer, who loved and respected his wife, Thelma Louise Beckett. Sam, Tom and Katie were the children of John and Thelma. John worked on the dairy farm, sixteen hours a day and seven days a week. However, he also used to smoke many cigarettes a day but then claim he was healthy because he worked hard, slept well, and ate plenty of dairy products. Unfortunately, this would not prevent the fatal heart attack that would kill him.
In the episode ‘The Leap Home, Part I’, Sam tries to make his father stop smoking but fails to convince him to change his diet or even start exercising. Thus, in the original sequence, John would still die in 1973 from the fatal heart attack. This would still bring about a sequence of events that would adversely affect the whole family. However, these events changed after Sam leapt into his own family circumstances in 1971, and was finally able to help change things for the better (with the exception of Tom, who still initially died in Vietnam, until Sam leapt into his unit as a Marine officer in ‘The Leap Home, Part II Vietnam’). As John finally listened to his son’s advice, a future bad marriage for Sam’s little sister Katie was also avoided. In the changed sequence, John was still alive in 1999.
‘Well, a boy can’t feel about his Dad the way you do without his knowing it.’
John Becket to Sam Beckett
End of Series
‘Dr. Sam Becket never returned home.’
Star Trek : Deep Space Nine
Deep Space Nine was an American science fiction television series set in the Star Trek Universe. The show was set in the Milky Way Galaxy, in the years 2369-2375. In contrast to the setting of the other Star Trek TV shows, it took place on a space station instead of a star ship, (the star ship USS Defiant was introduced in season three, but the station remained the primary setting for the show). The stable wormhole discovered by the Deep Space Nine crew was known to the Bajoran people as the Celestial Temple of their Prophets. Commanding Officer Benjamin Sisko, initially discovered the wormhole and its inhabitants. Therefore he became the Emissary of Bajoran Prophecy. The other end of the wormhole lay in the Gamma Quadrant, halfway around the galaxy from Bajor. That section of Space was dominated by the malicious and malevolent Dominion. The Dominion were led by the Changelings, a race of shape shifters to which Odo belonged.
Jake Sisko’s Father
‘The Visitor’ is the third episode of fourth series of the American science fiction television programme Star Trek : Deep Space Nine, first broadcast on 9th October 1995. It was written by Michael Taylor and directed by David Livingston.
After a freak accident in the engine room of the Defiant claims the life of Benjamin Sisko, Jake Sisko lives out his life in an endless quest to locate his father.
Years later and now an old man living alone, Jake is visited by Melanie an aspiring writer who considers Jake to be her favourite author of all time. Surprised that Jake published only two works; Melanie asks why he stopped writing at 40. Jake tells her how his father died in an accident and then suddenly reappeared.
Many years previously Benjamin and Jake went to watch the wormhole undergo a subspace inversion that only happens once in several decades. Something went wrong though and the warp core of the Defiant began to breach. After repairing it, Benjamin was hit by a beam and disappeared. A few months later when things began returning to normal for Jake, he suddenly found his father in his bedroom, only to disappear a few moments later. But this would not be the only time his father would reappear and then disappear in his life again.
‘It begins many years ago. I was eighteen. And the worst thing that could ever happen to a young man happened to me. My father died.’
Adult Jake Sisko
‘I didn’t step forward. I couldn’t. I felt that no matter what I said about him, I’d be leaving so much more out; and that didn’t seem right.’
Adult Jake Sisko to Melanie
‘Let go, Jake. If not for yourself, then for me. You still have time to make a better life for yourself. Promise me you’ll do that… Promise me!’
Benjamin Sisko, imploring Jake to let him go
‘To my father, who’s coming home.’
Benjamin Sisko, reading the dedication in Jake’s last book
‘For you, and for the boy that I was. He needs you more than you know. Don’t you see? We’re going to get a second… chance.’
Jake Sisko, explain himself to his father with his last words
‘You OK, Dad?’
‘I am now, Jake. I am now.’
Jake Sisko, after Benjamin avoids the accident
As they return home together, Benjamin Sisko gains a greater appreciation for his son, knowing he would have given up his life for his father, even though this future Jake would cease to exist due to his sacrifice of himself to save his father.
End of Series
Benjamin Sisko resides in the Celestial Temple
What You Leave Behind
It has now been just over two months since I published my debut book ‘My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One’. In that time I have shifted close to 200 units. These sales have come from Kindle sales, CreateSpace Print sales (Amazon) as well as individual sales, which I have been asked to personally sign.
Waterstones in Derby and Derby County Football Club are now stocking them in their respective stores, as well as Derby City Libraries which now have many copies scattered throughout Derby for the public to borrow.
During this time I have also appeared in the local Derby Evening Telegraph, been interviewed by Nihal on the BBC Asian Network and been seen on ITV Central News. In all three cases I have used the media platform to try and push Mental Health Awareness in the Asian Community.
I have also managed to get a number of good reviews on Amazon.
Am I happy? I guess most people would be, but I’m not most people. I want my story to be read and shared even more widely. However, I get the impression that there still seems to be a block in the mentality of some people who just don’t want to share it or can’t. Or maybe they feel they just don’t have the words to express themselves.
The stigma and the taboo around mental illness is still too strong for people to want to share their thoughts and opinions. I had no choice when I was writing this book. I knew what I was doing would be brutal and upsetting, but there was no way my father’s story was going to remain untold. He was a good man whose mind was corrupted by mental illness. The Asian Community in particular need to be aware of the dangers of not addressing these issues. The longer we stay deaf and blind to it, more people will die unnecessarily. Good people who deserve better.
In the hope of getting even more reviews and shares in the last day or so I’ve even reduced the Kindle price to £1.99. That is how desperate I am to make sure that my father’s story is not forgotten.
On Monday 16th May 2016, I was invited to take part in the centenary celebrations of Pear Tree Library. It was a great honour to be there and stand amongst my people in the heart of my old Pear Tree neighbourhood. You can hear about what I had to say on the day by clicking on the link below.
It was also a great pleasure to see an old Pear Tree Junior School teacher of mine, in the audience. Mr Steve Wetton. I will write about him in Part Two of my book. But if if you want to know more about Mr Wetton’s life you can also read about it in his wonderful book – Choose Happiness
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One.
Available to order in Print and as an eBook very soon
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One PRINT via @AmazonUK
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One KINDLE via @AmazonUK
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree – Part One PRINT via @Creatspace
This gallery contains 12 photos.
The Aaj Kal Show – Radio Derby
A sneak preview of the cover title for Part One 🙂
Available on Createspace and Amazon in mid March 2016 🙂