Coming a Long Way
Megha Bajaj reveals to Nikita Mukherjee what it takes to be an accomplished and recognised writer, and, above all, a seeker
Being a writer is not an easy job. Expressing your thoughts effectively through words is something not every writer can easily do. A good writer is someone whose words touch the heart and soul like a soft breeze on a hot sunny day. One such writer is Ms. Megha Bajaj.
An accomplished author and writer as well as a regular columnist with Life Positive, Ms. Bajaj is a woman of many talents. Her heart-warming personality and homely vibe reflect through her words and stories which have touched thousands of readers. Not only is she an acclaimed writer and author, but she’s also a very curious spiritual seeker who has come a long way on her spiritual journey and has managed to enlighten us through her writings and knowledge.
Therefore, it was about time that such a humble soul, who was previously a part of Life Positive’s editorial team, gets featured for all her accomplishments. Below is an account of the beautiful conversation I had with her.
Q. Tell us something about your early life and how your journey started.
I grew up as the youngest (also the most susceptible and notorious, in the same breath) of a twenty-five-member Marwari joint household at Nepean Sea Road, Mumbai. ‘Wondering’ was my middle name, and I was always asking everyone questions to satiate my curiosity. My family would turn silent and so would my teachers. I wasn’t sure whom to turn to. I was restless, creative, and often found the entire structured school system too much to handle. I would wave goodbye to my unsuspecting mother, and, instead of going down to catch the school bus, go to the terrace and be there the entire day, watching the ocean from a rusted tank. Today, I feel strange. How could a child that young be at complete ease for nine hours, all alone, on a terrace? It was here that I got into the habit of scribbling. I would keep scribbling my questions and strange answers to them that seemed to be flowing out of nowhere. It was also here that I got into the habit of reading. I remember, at the tender age of sixteen when I first had my heart broken, instead of crying or talking about it like most teens, I went to a bookstore, bought the book that pulled me (Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh), and read it in one sitting. I laughed, I cried and felt I had finally found so many answers to life.
Today, when I look back, I feel the hours invested in wondering, thinking, feeling, and conversing with life had a strong impact on me as a writer and a seeker. Peers didn’t know how to pigeonhole me. Was I the intelligent ones or the stupid one? (Whimsical that I was if I felt like studying I would, and would top, or be at the bottom when I didn’t feel like it.) I think I was exasperatingly confusing, undefinable, and straightforward. Also, intense, easily hurt, and sensitive. To conclude, I would say growing up was a beautiful, ugly, carefree, painful, paradoxical experience of several highs and lows.
Q. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from everywhere. Sometimes sitting in a café, watching lovers, I am inspired; other times, watching a sunset. Sometimes, amidst the noise, an idea comes; sometimes, in the deepest of Silence. I am inspired by every aspect of life, and everything around me seems to be a trigger—an answer, a revelation. I love learning from people and their thought processes. In fact, all my books have one thing in common: they are stories of people. How people think, feel, respond, grow, inspire—it awes me.
Q. When you write, what do you aim to achieve and convey to your readers?
I often find writing to be a deeply intimate and cathartic act, and though readers tell me that they feel I have written for them, to be honest, I am writing for myself. And perhaps, my Divine. As I go through so much in a day, I just feel the need to pour it all out on paper. To talk about everything happening. I am not thinking of impressing, I am just expressing. The result—readers connect to it. Since I am honest about everything and make myself vulnerable and share openly, readers feel, “Hey, this is me too.”
Q. I have always felt that writing has the power to make and heal a person. What are your views on the same?
Oh yes! Definitely so! Writing is such a powerful act because when you write, there is a point when the subconscious takes over the conscious and you end up pouring out your truest thoughts and feelings. Writing also gives a tangible form to all the intangible thoughts and feelings you are going through. It gives clarity to chaos. It also helps relieve. For me, whether I am ecstatic or traumatized, I take to writing. It helps me deepen my bliss and relieve my pain. It also pops open all bottlenecks in my thought processes and gives me the power to go towards the future, uncluttered and confident.
Q. You have talked about how storytelling is an essential way of enlightening people. But, in the current dogmatic society, people have forgotten to participate in such a beautifully profound activity. What, according to you, is the essence of storytelling, and how do you think we can cultivate the habit of storytelling in people, as in the earlier days?
I grew up on stories my dadima (grandmother) told me. But when she told stories, oh, she came alive! She would speak of gods and goddesses. And every night, I would dream of things she would tell stories about. She played a huge role in developing my imagination. My books, especially my latest one, The Breakthrough, has been a revelation even to me in terms of storytelling. It tells the tales of eleven people from across India who began their life with nothing but grew into living role models and examples for many. I went and lived with each of these eleven people to get their stories. Writing their stories was an experience, and what is remarkable is that readers tell me, “We feel like we are a part of the whole thing. It’s not a book—it’s a movie! And we are the stars too!” Storytelling is an act of love. You have to be true to the story, yourself, and the reader. And when you do this, it should feel personal to a reader.
Q. Your last three novels, Thank You, Cancer; I Inspire; and One Woman, Two Advanced Cancers Conquered are critically acclaimed books on the journey of a cancer patient. Please enlighten us a bit more about your experience and also tell us what you learned during this journey.
When I was twenty-three, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. To say that it changed me, forever, would be an understatement. For someone who was just going through life a day at a time, suddenly, things like hospitals, medicines, and, yes, even thoughts of death became a part of my world. Fortunately, I come from a family of eternal optimists who also back their positivity with action, and my mother conquered her advanced cancer, much to the doctors’ amazement. To fathom all that was going on—in me, outside of me, and in the world called holistic healing—I penned a book called Thank You Cancer, which got picked by the acclaimed Hay House. It got translated into two languages, won awards, and also got written about in every possible newspaper. Honestly, I was only trying to relieve myself—and relief is what I found. It was so cathartic to write the book.
I Inspire came about with a request from Neerja Malik, a double cancer conqueror, who was so impressed by my writing and storytelling that she felt her story must be shared.
However, some topics are supposed to be trilogies, I guess. In 2013, Mother was diagnosed with stage IV, grade IV brain metastasis, and doctors gave her three months to live. Today, in 2020, my mother is not just alive but ‘kicking’ and the most incredible part is that she has not had a single medicine for seven years or gone for a scan! Faith is a very powerful thing, and she placed hers in our guru, Mahatria, and believed she would heal—and she did. Food was another important aspect, and my mother followed the advice of a dietician, Dr Vijaya Venkat. We felt this journey had to be chronicled, and hence the last of the series came about.
Q. You have flourished and excelled in a creative field where other people mostly struggle to make a mark and do something effective because of the judgmental societal stereotypes. What message would you like to give to every aspiring writer out there who is trying to break through and make a difference through their words?
I love this question for many reasons. When I, as a petite, curly-haired teenager told my father I wished to pursue Arts instead of Science, he said, “But beta (my dear child), you are intelligent; why would you do Arts?” As luck would have it, I nearly flunked Science in the eleventh, shifted to Arts in the twelfth, topped my college and the boards, and my father was in tears when I won the Best Student award. It was the first stereotype-breaking that happened.
The second was that writers don’t earn money. Though I always found the greatest pleasure in writing, I was always told that it is a hobby. A career had to give you money. So many discouraged me, but I think I had reached a point of no return. To cut a long journey short, last year, when I bought my Mercedes, I felt a sense of liberation. The second myth was broken too.
My learning from my journey is this: When you feel happy doing something, you should develop your skills and do it very well. In fact, create such a niche for yourself that people have no option but to pay for your talent.
Q. Apart from being a fabulous, acclaimed author, you’re also the founder of a company called ‘Wonder of Words (WoW).’ Please enlighten us about it.
About ten years ago, many aspiring authors started getting in touch and saying, “You write so well, can’t you teach us too?” This led to my developing online workshops, but I did not realise they would grow into something much deeper and more beautiful. From authors to seekers, students to CEOs, WoWers from across countries are now enrolled, and the results we see are phenomenal. Non-writers have written books. Confused teenagers are placed with top media houses. People have used writing as a catharsis and healed themselves of several physical, mental, and emotional blocks. Some of the highest points of this journey have been attending the book launches of my students (especially my youngest and eldest WoWer at 21 and 65 respectively!).
Another vertical of WoW is the work we do for schools. We created WoW books for LKG to the 12th Standard, and one period is dedicated to this subject where a child grows in love with himself, others, and life, using language as a medium. We have reached over 1,00,000 students through these books over the last five years.
Q. What do you think of spirituality, and how did you get into it? Why is it so important to you?
As I said, I have been trying to find meaning to things for a very long time. Somehow, for me, my search has always ended with spirituality. In fact, I believe the highest science known to mankind is spirituality. There are laws that govern life, and the more we align our lives to them, the smoother our lives will be. Everything becomes a flow. Every moment, I am living as a spirit, energy, having human experiences and not vice versa.
Q. As a spiritual seeker, how has your spiritual journey been till now, and what have you learned along the way?
I am first a seeker and then everything else. Even before being an author, I am a seeker. My writing is just a reflection of my seeking. I view life through the eyes of a seeker and try to remain as aligned as I can in every moment. I just love the journey because when you are a seeker, you are so much more open; you are a constant learner. For me, meditation has nothing to do with the thirty minutes that I sit cross-legged with my eyes closed and everything to do with how I live my day. Today, was I able to remain peaceful, no matter what? Was I able to love, even the one who didn’t deserve it? Did I give my best? The answers to these, define my life, each day. Every day.
Q. Coming from a generation where everyone is mostly very materialistic and indulge in non-spiritual beliefs, how can we create awareness and enlighten everyone, especially the younger generation, with the beauty and power of spirituality for leading a prosperous life?
I think the first step, as I have learned from my beloved Guru Mahatria, is to remove the word ‘or’ and replace it with the word ‘and.’ For many, the choice is between spirituality or materialism. If we could understand that spirituality and prosperity go hand in hand and God is abundance, I feel it would draw a lot more youngsters onto the path. I also believe there is too much dogma, seriousness, and rituals associated with spirituality. If we could let the world know that it is what leads to bliss, love, and holistic living, people would realise that spirituality is the path to truest freedom and greatest fulfilment. To achieve these paradigm shifts, I believe each one of us is playing our part. Who we are gets carried into everything we do. I believe as each seeker deepens their journey and does what feels most natural to them, many more would be drawn in.
Q. Please tell us something about your latest book The Breakthrough and how it has been a personal breakthrough.
The Breakthrough has been one of my most life-defining projects till date. It was a humongous project panning eleven people across cities. It has been a journey of incredible love, laughter, and learning. Together, we have broken several records during the pandemic. For instance, since the book was ready in March 2020 and there was no way we could have a physical launch, we decided to have a digital one. We wanted to aim sky high and decided that 111,111 people from across the globe should attend this. We worked towards it with great zeal and wanted to gift breakthroughs to every reader and viewer. The result was phenomenal: Our digital footprint was close to five million, and we had close to half a million attend it and get inspired by it. In three months since its launch, 11,300 copies have been out in circulation which is another tremendous feat. In fact, it has ceased to remain a book; rather, it has become a movement where educational institutions and corporates are signing up with us to take breakthrough and real-life learnings and inspiration to their world. When you really want to reach out and have the best possible intent at heart, the Universe indeed does conspire to make things happen.
Q. A message for our readers?
At various steps, many told me “You can’t. You shouldn’t.” Because they didn’t. My message to you, dear readers, is this: Don’t let anyone but your heart, mind, and soul tell you what is possible for you. If you have been given the idea, you have been given the power to achieve it. If the soul call is louder than all other noise, you will remain unstoppable. Higher, deeper, and beyond—that is the journey I wish for each one of you. With a lot of sunshine along the way.
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