June 6, 2023

Paromita Bardoloi on her book The Swan that Flew and Letter From a Stranger

Paromita is a writer, author and recently written a book for children- The Swan That Flew.She is also someone who is very vocal about women’s issues and had also started a listening Circle group, “Let’s Huddle, India,” and letter writing initiative, “Letter from a Stranger.” Talking about it to Mums and Stories, Paromita shares, “I have been mostly raised by women and I was also into a girl’s college. So women’s world, its issues, history and questions had been very pertinent to me. In the journey to find the answers and social justice I started speaking about what mattered to me and may be the world around. 

I moved base to Assam in 2019, due to personal reasons. I just wanted some fresh air. Then 2020 happened. And India went into a complete lockdown on 25th March. There was so much panic around, I started a listening circle and connected online. I named it “Let’s Huddle, India.” It was the first time I was doing it online. I started a page on Facebook and invited my friends. Now that I look back, those were such strange times. Everyone wanted to act normal. People would randomly sing. Or share about the past. But over Dalgona coffee and online videos made, I have also seen how mental health started to take a toll, especially when Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide.

That was when people started sharing the history of their own mental health, suicides in families and breakdowns. I have never seen so many pale faces. We are already in our 68th circle. And the sharing has continued. I never had an empty session, even though now the lockdown is long over and the vaccinations have started. No one is ever interrupted. No one is shamed or hushed. Everyone goes back home feeling heard and seen. Isn’t that what we all want? All healing begins when someone’s story is heard and acknowledged. In such safe places, shame dies a radical death. For us, each story, each word is valid. That is why everyone feels included and healed.

Photograph courtesy- Letter From A Stranger

Letters have always been an integral part of my life. I had pen friends to begin with, and then when post-college, friends moved to a different part of the world, letters kept us closer. The idea of this initiative came into my life when I was going through a deep emotional crisis in 2019. Writing long letters and receiving back from friends truly helped me. That was when I realized that just by writing and receiving written letters can heal us. On March 2019, I asked only 5 friends on social media if they wanted to write letters to strangers. 37 turned up in just 2 hours. Rest as they say is history.

Talking about her book for kids, Paromita shares, “I never really planned to start my book writing journey with a children’s book. I wrote a story for children back in 2015 or so. Just that I wrote it and abandoned it. Anything that I write is almost always published. But this stayed. Life happened. It stayed in some file that I created. In all these years, I guess I never went back to it. Life happened. I forgot about it.

Last year I was doing a creative writing course with author Anita Nair, where she was saying never to throw anything ever written. You never know, you may use it later in life. Even decades later. That’s when I realized that I had this story, and I went back to it and re-wrote it. Later I got an illustrator and the book is here on Kindle.

The Swan That Flew By Paromita Bardoloi

This book is a piece of my heart. About a black swan, rejected and humiliated who finds hope in a new school. This is a book on hope, resilience and belief. For children above 6 years. But adults too can read. It will warm your heart. I promise. Priced at Rs. 49.Available worldwide here.

 At present I run two initiatives, as you know- “Letter From A Stranger, India,” and “Let’s Huddle, India.” I am also the sitting President – Assam:  Mentoring & Soft Skills Council for Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI). So, I always had three lives going together- Personal, Professional and Social. Sometimes the lines do blur. At the end of the day I am one person, but somehow I have successfully managed all parts.”

Paromita has one piece of advice for women. She shares, “I can speak for Indian women, as I have lived in this country only. It’s guilt. No matter how successful or anything a woman is, we always carry that guilt of not being enough. Like, not being beautiful enough, or being a good enough boss, a mother, wife the list goes on. The pressure on women to be everything is so much that we never reach the goal post. No matter what we never feel enough.

We really need to stop running this race. We really need to feel good in our skin and in our roles in life. That truly begins with self-love and acceptance. We self-reject ourselves too much, mostly due to societal conditioning and the pressure to be that perfect woman that the society expects us to be, which is nothing but an never ending illusion. It’s time we put our foot down.”

Lastly I would say to parents thatlet your children be. Accept them as they are. Love them. The way you treat them now, is how they will treat themselves and expect the world to behave with them. You are creating boundaries and lifelong patterns. Children who grow up in love and acceptance grow up to be confident and happy humans later. And make better choices in life.

I repeat again, you are creating lifelong patterns for children. Treat them well. In return they will treat themselves, you and the world well.”

About the book: ( Mums and Stories perspective).

The story is on a black swan among other white swans. The story is for kids aged six onwards and does appeal to children with a simple story and interesting names like Fiss Fiss village, Shine Shine school and so on. From being bullied to how the Black Swan finds its own space, an identity that it is proud of is the story and Mums and Stories gives it 4 on 5.

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