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Echoes From The Vortex (A Memoir): Defeating The Whirlpool Inside

January 3, 2014 | By

In an interview to Learning & Creativity, Monika talks about her experience of creating Echoes From The Vortex (A Memoir) as an experience of churning and discovery, as she battled stoically with cancer.

Monika Pant

Monika Pant’s stories and poems are published in several anthologies around the world. Her real life snippets are published in the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series and a short story written by her was listed for the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

When you are suddenly faced with an uphill battle with the dreaded disease, and you don’t know what the future holds for you, the biggest question you face is YOU.

Doubts, fears, anxieties, depressions…darkness and despair. It’s a disturbing mix of emotions and experiences you deal with, alone.

Your family is there with you, the doctors support you, the medication brings pain and relief, the love and encouragement that pours in from everywhere sustains you and pushes you towards holding forth and waging ahead.

But in the end, it is you who has to answer all the questions that keep cropping up in your mind. It is you who stands in front of the mirror and faces yourself.

Monika Pant, a writer who has been through life’s sharpest twists and turns with courage and conviction, never losing her self-belief, relives her journeys through Echoes From The Vortex (A Memoir).

The experiences – painful and revealing; the discoveries – enlightening and uplifting; the self belief – sometimes shaken, sometimes rock solid. Echoes From The Vortex (A Memoir) takes you on this journey through diary entries, poems and prose pieces written by Monika, as she came to terms with her battle, discovered the depths and strength of love and relationships, discovered her talents and took sure steps towards achieving her dream of becoming a writer.

The book is now available on Flipkart.

In an interview to Learning & Creativity, Monika talks about her experience of creating this memoir as an experience of churning and discovery.

L&C: What made you think of writing this book?

Monika: This is a firsthand experience, a true story. When I underwent this life-changing experience, I felt that it should go out into the world, reaching millions who undergo similar or disparate experiences, and those who need to be reassured that it is alright to be in pain, in agony, to fear and hate and be angry.

I too had read accounts of the life-changing experiences of others and that gave me courage to brave adverse circumstances in my life.

L&C: Is this your first published book or have there been others before?

Monika: No, this is not my first book; I have had my novel published. Also, my short stories and poems have been published in anthologies all over the world.

Besides, my non-fiction pieces are published in almost all titles in the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series.

L&C: Have you always been in the habit of writing diaries? Did you ever think that recording your thoughts, memories, experiences in a diary would translate into a book?

Monika: No, I have never been in the habit of writing diaries. Maybe for a very brief period as a teenager, when I had no one to voice my thoughts and ideas to, and that every teenager does for a time.

This is a diary I have written specifically to record a very personal and profound journey. I had never thought it would translate into a book. Actually, it was my husband who encouraged me to publish it.

L&C: Writing memoirs is a very personal experience because you practically relive every moment before writing it. How was your experience?

Monika: As I told you, it was written at the time of undergoing the journey. But, yes, as it was written in a notebook, I typed it out and, in the process relived each moment before handing over as a manuscript.

I realized then, that it was an inward journey as well that has transformed me into what I am today.

L&C: The memories you have penned are of varying emotions – from happy and pleasant to gloomy and some excruciatingly painful. Life is full of memories. How did you handpick your memories for the book?

Monika: I did not. I hardly did any picking and choosing. Life is a long experience – with memories of the past and dreams of the future. In that sense, this being a memoir, is my life encapsulated; with glimpses of my past, present and future.

L&C: As a cancer survivor, what do you consider is the biggest support for those fighting some debilitating disease or fatal ailment? Is it faith, self belief, family…?

Monika: Self-belief worked for me in this matter. But to each his own, it could be any or a mixture of many factors that give support and courage to keep going when the going gets tough.

L&C: The memoirs are interspersed with poems. Was poetry a release from the agony that you felt within when fighting the dreaded disease?

Monika: Poetry is, and always will be a release – for the ecstasies and agonies in my life. Beyond that, I do not consider myself a poet.

L&C: In a market cluttered with fiction, self-help and “how to” books, do you think there is an audience for personal, straight-from-the-heart non-fiction?

Monika: I do not write for the market. Period.

Having said that, stories – both fiction and non-fiction, if told straight from the heart and with a certain amount of detachment from the side of the writer will always resonate in the hearts of those who read.

The curiosity among readers is the reason why writing will never go out of fashion. Everyone wants to know about everything – what is really going on in another person’s life, in the imagined worlds of poets and fiction writers or even set in alien landscapes.

Whether the writing gets immortalised in the mind of readers is, of course, dependent on the writer’s craft.

L&C: You found an echo of your sufferings in calamities. We do too, in our own small way. Sometimes compared to other greater devastation, our miseries seem smaller in comparison. It is said, “one death is a tragedy. A million, a statistic.” Does the way one looks upon devastation and tragedies change after one goes through life threatening experiences?

Monika Pant

Monika Pant

Monika: I think, disasters on a bigger scale never become a statistic for someone who goes through a life threatening experience. Each individual tragedy becomes enhanced after such an experience and, as you said, one’s own misery becomes too trifling as a consequence. If at all, I considered my personal sorrow to be a mere statistic in the face of a greater devastation sweeping across the world. But then, I speak as a writer who lives through the experiences of others.

L&C: When faced with insensitive stares and blunt, sometimes hollow sympathies, you felt angry. Your husband was the voice of sanity in those trying times. On hindsight, do you feel that such insensitivity of people towards those who are suffering, made you grow in strength, faith and the resolve to fight and win against the malaise?

Monika: Insensitivity of others did not make me want to fight and win. That was innate. My belief in beating the odds was for the love of my loved ones. It was not for proving to others.

Anyway, as I always felt it’s not that I had a choice to fight or not to fight. No one does. It was about survival, because I wasn’t ready to leave my family just then. Survival is nothing great. It’s a basic instinct. So words of consolation or insensitivity do not matter. Only acceptance and love do.

Yes, on hindsight I realize that as a writer, it made me grow and learn about the incapacities of people in dealing with the suffering of others but as a cancer victim, it made me mad. So, as a writer, today I understand a little more about people and their reactions. Perhaps my characters will depict that some day.

Creative Writing

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Learning and Creativity publishes articles, stories, poems, reviews, and other literary works, artworks, photographs and other publishable material contributed by writers, artists and photographers as a friendly gesture. The opinions shared by the writers, artists and photographers are their personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of Learning and Creativity emagazine. Images used in the posts (not including those from Learning and Creativity's own photo archives) have been procured from the contributors themselves, public forums, social networking sites, publicity releases, Morguefile free photo archives and Creative Commons. Please inform us if any of the images used here are copyrighted, we will pull those images down.

Editor in Chief, Learning and Creativity; Consulting Editor, Silhouette Magazine As a professional business journalist, Antara spent 14 years covering business stories but alongside kept alive her passion for writing on cinema. She writes extensively on the changing trends of music, direction and filmmaking in cinema and her articles aim to provide well-researched, complete and accurate information on the legends of cinema for the movie enthusiast. Her articles have also been published in Dearcinema.com and Du-kool.com. Antara is Editor-Creative Director of Wisitech InfoSolutions Pvt. Ltd
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2 thoughts on “Echoes From The Vortex (A Memoir): Defeating The Whirlpool Inside

  • Partho Mondal

    Thanks for this excellent interview! I completely agree with the point made by Monika Pant, “…I considered my personal sorrow to be a mere statistic in the face of a greater devastation sweeping across the world.”

    If only more of us thought this way! Most of our sorrows would vanish into thin air and the world would be a much better place to live in!

  • Madhu Verma

    I really would like to convey my thanks to Ms.Monika Pant, the writer for sharing her personal experiences that she had faced during her dreadful journey.

    It’s appreciable for L&C for being as an Interviewer.

    An anecdote was inspiring and heart touching to me.

    It really made me so aware and awakened that whenever I come across to any of my dear ones who will be undergoing such kind of life- changing experience, then the first thing that should come in to the mind is “Self belief” which really had worked very well in the journey of Ms.Monika Pant.

    She has also shared the fact that apart from the “self belief” it could be many other healing factors. I agree with her sayings that “It gives support and courage to keep going when going gets tough”.

    I agree with her sayings that when out of the blue you get to face with any unknown fight with any of the unrelieved syndrome, and then you become unaware & unconscious.

    You are alone with the exclamation sign (!).
    And in actuality, it is “YOU” who faces the dreaded challenges.

    Out of the whole interview, I was really inspired by the L&C’s second last question regarding the It is said, “one death is a tragedy. A million, a statistic.”

    And it was very well answered by Ms.Pant that disasters on a bigger scale never become a statistic for someone who has gone through a life challenging experience.

    She has also shared that “Echoes from the Vortex” had been written by her when she was undergoing the real journey. She typed each text out and in each process she relived each moment.

    To conclude I learned from the above experiences that one should never give up in any of the dreaded circumstances and must have the patience and self-belief.

    Thanks and great regards to Ms.Monika Pant

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