Payel Bhattacharya is a patient of rare diseases like VHL and trigeminal neuralgia and MDR tuberculosis and cancer survivor with one eyed vision because of multiple brain tumors. She is also an author. Her struggle in life led her to write the novel “Midnight-a thrilling novel”. Her autobiographical fictional account has been published by Sahitya Akademi, but she didn’t stop at that, she wrote her entire autobiography – “A warrior Dies Dancing That’s Who I Am.. a survival story”. She also wrote ‘The Adventures of Mum and Princess” which is a really thrilling book.
Book: A warrior Dies Dancing That’s Who I Am.. a survival story
“It is not how or where we are born that defines you, it is what you do or how you spend your life that defines you. I was born with a flawed gene in a family but when the time came and my disease struck full throttle and I needed those unfeeling relatives the most…the foxy ones conspired against me so that I die. Other relatives turned tail and fled. But I didn’t despair and kept looking for hope and I found hope amongst mankind not tied to me by any blood bond. They were the bringer of light, courage, glee, and understanding. It is their combined effort that pulled me out of death’s grip when I needed a landmark liver transplant to save my life. This is my survival story of how I became a warrior amid circumstances never known before with grim rare diseases like von Hippel-Lindau(VHL) and Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) and fought through extremely poor conditions and financial hardships” – Payel Bhattacharya
We will talk with Payel about her book ‘A warrior Dies Dancing That’s Who I Am.. a survival story’.
What is the story behind your book. Where did you get your idea for the book?
I might mention I was influenced or taken in by Dr Shamsher Dwivedee’s words. While treating my ulnar nerve palsy, looking at my funny bone, he drew his thick brows together and made a funny remark, “why don’t you write about yourself? How you have faced and have overcome so much in life…” I took his words seriously and with a dreamy tilt of my head thought “I have never been a cry-baby. Not only my wired affliction but patrician cunning has squished my future, happiness, and security and I cannot wipe those regrettable events by a blackboard eraser—-I can’t just throw up my life and quit— if I write out my story vehemently, my mind will feel lighter. I am not a literary genius neither am I a celebrity… I do not know how to begin but I started penning down my thoughts and sharing my experience and struggle. The strength of your mind can pull you through darkness and the divine love and kindness are bestowed upon you…God oversees my every act whether I have the strength of mind or I am cowardly….life is worth living for, even in its trials and tribulations, there is no doubt in it. Penning down my story provided me a sense of hope because there is an absence of it these days and telling the truth helps me to stand without the slightest slouch.
When the time came, and my disease struck full throttle and I needed those unfeeling relatives the most…the foxy ones conspired against me so that I don’t get my rightful inheritance in a time of great need and I meet my death. They jointly made secret plans with flair and imagination so that my death will be final but slow. Other relatives… the rabbits turned tail and fled fearing I might ask them to help me or stand by me. But I didn’t despair and kept looking for hope and I found hope amongst mankind not tied to me by any blood bond. They were the bringer of light, courage, glee, and understanding. It is their combined effort that pulled me out of death’s grip when I needed a landmark liver transplant to save my life.
My father stood like a pillar supporting the castle of my life. When after my father’s death my life threatened to collapse, my mother took charge. A surprisingly daring woman she certainly is! Being a housewife throughout her life Mum became firm and in a new and strange city, she went around different chemists requesting discounts for my medicines and seeking help from kind people. She sustained me. My parents taught me to live, not merely exist. My life story consists of my background and events that have made me who I am today.
It is a story of never losing hope. Hope which is like those helium balloons riding which you can get high, very high up. But those balloons can be punctured as well.
After standing on the edge of life several times, facing all those trials and tribulations and dancing with death I realize that,
“We all die, the goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
I wrote out my autobiography—A warrior Dies Dancing That’s Who I Am.. a survival story.
Challenges you faced while writing this book and in your life as an author?
Despite my rare diseases, brain tumours, short-term memory loss, headaches and one-eyed vision, slurred speech I wrote my books.
What is your life mantra?
No matter how much we wish to go back and relive an event or a happy moment or eradicate a sad moment that is never going to happen. So, live in this moment, don’t lose it.
What is your writing process like?
With one-eyed vision and short-term memory loss which means I forget things very easily definitely writing experience is different than others but if you ask why didn’t I choose to sing then? I am also a multi-drug resistant tuberculosis survivor whose lungs aren’t okay. So, I write as ideas pop up in my tumour -riddled brain because it gives me a sense of creation which will last even after I am gone so I write at a point of no return.
Anything special about your book that you want to share?
One might expect someone with never-ending pain & suffering with rare diseases-VHL & trigeminal neuralgia to spiral into a sea of woe, depression, & inactivity but in my case, it makes me a warrior who is fighting and suffering not just suffering. Everyone doesn’t have the money and means, and every rare disease needs that. We need to build awareness and the masses, and the government need to reach out and help all the rare disease patients without distinction, instead of showing just sympathy.
I underwent fourteen surgeries and radiation therapies. I don’t get to recover from any of my rare diseases like you do when you get cold or flu. It’s a daily fight for me where hope and the will to survive saves me always. I could have chosen to sit at home by myself. Every day, day after day, isolated from the world but I took life as a challenge and strove to write detective fiction, paranormal or supernatural and spy thrillers.
According to you, what are the three qualities an author must have to achieve success?
I am not an established author yet, thus I am not the one to judge for the qualities an author must achieve for success. I believe it depends on the reader.
What are your plans for next book?
Apart from my autobiography I have written an anthology of six detective stories known as The Adventures of Mum and Princess and A Supernatural thriller with elements paranormal and spy thrillers in it. Currently I am in the process of writing another book.
What advice do you have for young writers?
There’s a writer lurking in all of us. Whatever ideas you get take down somewhere, maybe a scrap of paper so that you can form it into a story later.
Share a quote or line that has been your inspiration.
“I realized that I can’t win my battle if I writhe in frustration”
‘I still dare to change things I can,
I wage wars with verve,
In a point of no return,
Yes, a Warrior Princess I am…’
—-From A Warrior Dies Dancing That’s Who I Am…