Raakhee Mirchandani Pens Down An Indian Superhero Inspired By Her 4 Y.O. Daughter Who Beat Cancer
- IWB Post
- October 11, 2018
When New Jersey-based writer and editor Raakhee Mirchandani’s baby girl was born in 2014, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer but the months-old child beat the disease just weeks before her first birthday.
“I find it hard to believe that my infant daughter got cancer; she’s never going to remember it but I’ll never forget it,” revealed Mirchandani. She recently released her debut book, Super Satya Saves the Day, inspired by her fearless now-four-year-old daughter.
Set in Mirchandani’s hometown of Hoboken, the book is illustrated by Tim Palin and presents to us Satya, an Indian-American superhero, who is on a quest to retrieve her cape from the local dry cleaner.
“All our kids deserve to walk into bookstores and read books where the children look and sound like them,” Mirchandani said. “They are not exotic creatures.”
Super Satya Saves The Day just scored the top spot in Amazon’s “Children’s Asian American Books” category.
“When Satya was sick, we told very few people. I just couldn’t have that conversation. A few months after she was cancer-free, we went to the Dominican Republic. I’d wake up with the sun and just write. A lot of it was just therapeutic, I needed to process all the pain and I didn’t know how else to do it,” she shared.
“And then it occurred to me that it was time to share. We had kept it so private and personal and I wondered if we were missing a chance to use Satya and our family as a way to be a light for other families. I never fancied myself a compassionate person, but I’ve grown to realize just how expansive our hearts can be. And the more people you let in, the bigger and happier your life feels. Together with our Hoboken community, we’ve raised over $200,000 to raise awareness and money for children and families battling pediatric cancer,” she added.
Though the book started as a simple DIY project, today it has grown into something much more. Mirchandani realized that there aren’t any books about Indian superheroes?
“I set out to write it with an audience of one. I read it to Satya, and she loved it. She kept asking for it. The way she loved it made me think of the books that I loved as a kid growing up in New Jersey: the Ramona Quimby series, the Tinkle comics my aunt would mail me in boxes from India. I would devour those comics because I was so excited by a cartoon where the names were familiar. I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s because I felt a little bit seen. And then it occurred to me that maybe someone who wasn’t Satya might like the book. What happens when our children open books where they see themselves?” she said.
She also added that Satya had “no hidden agenda”, she is just a little girl having a great adventure “who comes to a realization that what’s super about her is who she is, and her ability to help her community and have some fun along the way,” said Mirchandani.
She is currently the editor-in-chief of Moneyish, a millennial finance site published by Dow Jones, leading one to wonder what drew her to the children’s book arena.
“With children’s books, you get to change adults, too. Parents are experiencing the world through children, and they’re getting a second chance. Maybe their values are a little bit different now. I think that’s really exciting! I reject the idea that all families in books need to have a mom, a dad and a child. I reject the idea that South Asians can’t be main characters in American children’s books. And I certainly reject the idea that men in turbans can’t be on the covers,” she explained.