Crazy Bird Lady
Uma, a middle aged Indian American immigrant woman is a retired ornithologist facing a debilitating illness, limited extended family support, and fractured personal relationships. She is also faced with challenges resulting from the pandemic and the subsequent racial and anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. The only comfort in her life are her pet parakeets whom she is reluctant to give up despite her declining health and pressure from family members. The central theme of the story is the spiritual inner core that Uma needs to turn to, in order to cope with the challenges facing her and to protect those she loves.
For many women in the South Asian immigrant community, the isolation created by the pandemic has led to mental health issues. Most women do not raise their voices against discrimination and violence within and outside their homes. The reasons stem from cultural biases and lack of access to professional opportunities. Women in this sub-group will not seek help for mental and physical health issues, viewing it as a show of vulnerability. Lack of extended family support and the prevalence of nuclear families in the US results in greater isolation.
Crazy Bird Lady is one such story of an aging South Asian immigrant woman who has run out of options. A tradition of spirituality leads her to look to internal resources within herself for sustenance and survival. The protagonist in this story is depressed, angry and running out of choices. She was once a vibrant professional woman who has lost hope for a future and strikes out at all who offer help. Her story is an example of the journey traversed by many immigrant women in their quest for self-reliance and contentment.