Bureaucrat by day, author by night

Mona Mohanty
Mona Mohanty

Mona Mohanty, the author of Betwixt Twists and Turns, a collection of short stories, is a part time senior bureaucrat by profession and a part time author by passion. Her writing takes place at odd hours; in the wee hours of the morning, in the silences of the dark night, at lunch hour while grabbing a bite and, of course, over the weekend, when there are also a host of myriad things to attend to apart from writing. She is from Indian Revenue Service (IRS).

Betwixt Twists And Turns, a collection of short stories was released in May last year. The author presents a series of short stories born from random thoughts that popped out of nowhere, overheard bits of conversations, parables of family lore and anecdotes from friends. These tales come from a variety of viewpoints – an older woman who receives an unexpected telegram, a businessman who encounters what might be a ghost and various animals sharing their impressions of human life.

The stories vividly capture the routine of existence – but with a surprising twist. The collection of short stories set in India features tales with unexpected outcomes from a wide range of perspectives both human and animal. The book is published by Partridge India and is among the best sellers in India in the genre now.

As she ruefully avers, she is not a disciplined writer, not those regular ten pages of writing on a daily basis as encouraged to do so by the ‘how to achieve success’ gurus. But, the mind, of course, weaves stories continuously. So there are always stories in the nascent stage on her plate waiting patiently to see the light of day, biding their time before they are embossed in the writer’s pen.

She is the eldest of three siblings born into a world of books, books and books. For, their parents taught them the magic of words encased in those volumes that we call books. A grandfather who made up stories to keep a seven year old engaged played a major role in leading her into the world of reading and writing.

Ms Mohanty has been writing since childhood, even before she was ten years old. But like all creative people, she was more of a dreamer than a performer. So a lot of writing through the decades still remains encased in bits and scraps of papers, dodgy note pads, even on the blank spaces in newspapers. She has contributed to newspapers and magazines randomly over the years. But, the first systematic foray into letting the world judge her was in the form of the production of her short stories. ‘

On being asked what motivates her to write, she says that it is a release of sorts from the travails of everyday existence. It is a sort of catharsis, helping in releasing the hitherto pent up emotions kept in check for we all live within the boundaries of society and its rules. In a civilized world one has to abide by the agreed norms. But, yes, the outpouring is not a medicinal solution alone. It is a hobby dear to her heart and she loves it.

She draws upon her travel sojourns, interactions with people and memorable incidents, experienced or reported to create her world of fiction. Her much younger siblings, now her greatest critics fondly, remind her of the tales that she used to create and tell them when they were kids. Hopefully, she feels, her readers will keep her motivated by the love and constructive critiques already shown to her after the release of her book. Currently, she is working on a novel which she hopes to complete by the autumn this year. Another collection of short stories is also in the pipeline and may see the light of day this year.

Prakash M Swamy

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