Finding a connect

Finding a connect

When writing offers a cathartic experience, authors like Megha Bajaj breakthrough a crisis to offer solace to survivors of the Big C, writes Purnima Sharma

Megha Bajaj

At heart, a storyteller — a writer of human stories — Megha Bajaj wrote her first book when she was still in her early twenties. Titled Thank You, Cancer, it was penned soon after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2005.

With writing being her constant companion right from her early years, Megha remembers sitting in the quiet space of her terrace, “constantly scribbling, asking questions, making sense of what life was unfolding before her.”

In her thirties now, she laughs recalling how she’d also write a lot of letters (mostly love and a few hate) to her family members — including to the cook and driver. “I think all such seemingly childish expressions helped hone my writing skills,” says Megha whose heart, when she was looking at a career ahead, was set on an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad.

But destiny had other plans in store, and she missed getting admission at the management institute “by a fraction of a percentile”. It was her sister who, soon after these results were announced, caught Megha looking glum and unwittingly, helped her look at another career option. “To cheer me up she just said, “You are good at writing, become a writer! So that’s what I thought I’d do till I could give my MBA exams again,” she recalls.

A year as a freelance writer for various publications soon made her realise that she was no longer keen on an MBA degree as she had already found her calling. And then when all seemed to be going as planned, her mother’s health report showed up stage 3 breast cancer. “Although devastated, we, as a family, battled it out with our optimistic approach and spiritual strength.

And within a year amazed everyone when mom bounced back to better health than ever,” remembers Megha. Her mother’s treatment brought about another change in her family’s attitude — a shift to a healthier lifestyle and way of thinking. “No longer taking anything for granted, we started celebrating each day with renewed vigour.”

And that’s when Megha decided to pen down not just her mother’s but also nine other cancer survivors’ journey with a condition. The book — written as an exercise to relieve herself of what the family had endured was thus, she says, “a deeply cathartic experience.” What made her effort truly worthwhile was the fact that no sooner had she finished writing it, the book not only found a good publisher but also got nominated for several awards.

Megha’s tryst with writing continued with two other books on the Big C followed by several self-help books on subjects as commonplace as relationships and day-to-day inspiration to those as profound as spirituality and God. “It was amazing that as I went ahead, writing helped me understand the depths of my own thoughts and feelings. It also became my best friend, guide and confidante — offering me space where I could go, dwell on the beautiful and not-so-beautiful aspects of life and come back feeling lighter, happier and more understood,” states the writer whose repertoire also includes yet-to-be-released biographies “of a few incredible people” who are leading a holistically abundant life.

And then in around 2010, Megha set up a platform offering online classes on how to become a writer and get published. Among the hundreds who signed up from 11 countries — from CEOs to students, homemakers and filmmakers, there was also a school principal who asked her for help to design a curriculum which empowers school children in the 3 Ls — of language, life and leadership.

“What began as a programme (one class each week) for one school in Chennai has grown to offer help and benefit over 1,00,000 students in a number of other institutions as well,” informs Megha who confesses to deriving immense joy in motivating her students between the ages of three to 73, to move from the ‘I cannot’ stage to one that states: ‘I can — more than I can imagine’.

While writing keeps her occupied most times — she has also forayed into writing film scripts — Megha ensures she takes time out for her other loves (“all of which I am equally passionate about”) — travelling, music and movies.

Meditation too occupies a special place in her heart. “I love the revelations, insights — just watching my mind monkey around one day and getting into a state of breathtaking stillness on the other,” she adds.