Swimming In Our Oceans

Photo Credit: Michael Praveen

Swimming In Our Oceans

“I was a quiet child with a big imagination, born in a family that moved to a new country every three years. Naturally, I was drawn to books, and reading led to writing,” acquaints us Pragya Bhagat of how her journey with words had initially begun. Today, she is widely acclaimed as a spoken word poet and essayist. “Performance as a practice came much later,” she tells us, “because I enjoyed the way words sounded, how breath created rhythm. Performance became a return to poetry as an oral form of storytelling.” The written form of storytelling is also a significant facet of her artistry, which also led to the release of her memoir, Swimming In Our Oceans, this year. Below, Pragya gives us some insight into her deeply personal book.

The Book
I am constantly documenting my experiences of places and people. My three years in Uttarakhand were no different. Life, for a memoirist, births the building blocks for a story. Swimming in our Oceans is a version of what living in a Kumaoni village was like. In this version, I explore the themes of marriage, migration, and mental health. It is truth, but it is not the whole truth. 

The Creation
We avoid sharing the personal because it exposes our personhood. We grow afraid of being judged, or perhaps of being rejected. And yet, we are all the same. We desire stability and community, a bit of excitement, a bit of love. Our actions are often contradictory. My attempt, through poetry and essays and even this book, is to face this fear. Once a book is written, it's out of my system. Of course, I want people to read it, but I believe that a book finds its readers, not the other way around. The genre of memoir is not for everyone. There's a select few of us who find solace and strength in vulnerability. This is my tribe. 

Swimming In Our Oceans

The Challenge
It's hard to write about violence; that took me to a dark place. This book examines the violence of relationships, when those who claim to love each other end up hurting each other the most. I also examine the violence one inflicts upon the self; this leaves the deepest scars. 

The Hope
I hope my readers travel responsibly and take back any plastic they bring to a place that doesn't have its own garbage disposal system. I hope they see value in impermanence and nurture their lives with relationships that enable their growth. I hope they prioritise their mental health and normalise conversations about it. Lastly, I hope my readers are kinder to themselves.

The Future
I'm working on my next book. It examines connections between the body, movement, and pain. I'm searching for the right publisher to help me tell this story.


Text Nidhi Verma
Date 12-12-2022