Ambika Mathur, a renowned social media influencer who has debuted as an author with her book ‘In Conversation with Light and Darkness’. Born and brought up in Delhi, Ambika moved to Manali a couple of years ago to write her first book.
In her journey, moving to the mountains wasn’t merely a physical move but one that also involved moving to and climbing the mountains within. When all the city hustle faded away in the sleepy Himalayan village of Manali, Ambika started sharing her midnight scribbles with the world online. Soon strangers from all walks of life began to resonate with her words and shared their life stories. Her Instagram page, Dastaan-e-musafir, became a movement of exploration between the inner journey of poetry and the outer journey of the mountains. Her vision as an author is to share words as authentically as she perceives them.
Please tell us more about the concept behind your book Light and Darkness
In Conversation with light and darkness is a collection of hundred poems and ten short stories. It is based on the belief that each of us carry light and darkness within us. Light stands for healing and darkness represents the psychological shadow work that one needs to do. It is popularly also known as “the work” or the “inner work”. If healing could be words, then these are the ones that came to me on my journey. Thus, birthing the title of the book.
Generally people write poetry or stories. Rarely ever both in the same book. Why did you choose to bend genre and go beyond?
It was never a question of genre for me, what mattered was healing. And as long as the words are healing, the format wasn’t restricted to frames or rhymes, or poetry, or verses or short stories either. The verses in the book are symbolic of the nonlinear healing process. Healing isn’t a straight road journey or same genre experience. It is a spectrum of highs as beautiful as dancing solo and as low as one’s inability to leave the bed ever. The book tries to reflect that, going beyond and bending the rules.
What made you choose to write a book?
Moving away from the hustling cities to the mountains is a lifestyle change that can evoke a lot inside a person. Something that happens when we stop running after a long haul. That’s when I started sharing my verses online. And soon my Instagram page became not only about the Himalayan landscapes outside but searing discussions like childhood trauma, unpacking emotions, beginning the healing journey, spirituality, healthy relationships, self-love and more. Strangers, most likely wouldn’t be meeting ever, shared their stories in relation to the captions on the page. This gave me the strength to write a book.
What’s the darkest thing about your life which you’ve written about in the book?
Unpacking my own childhood trauma and how it impacted my life is one of the darkest things being talked about in the book. Childhood is the foundation our lives are built upon. We can’t change it, but we can embrace it. The book puts front and centre stage the themes and references from my childhood and healing process. The book is my journey from a wounded child to a better self-parent.
Mental health is a popular topic of discussion. Please tell us more about how darkness and light focuses on the conversation of mental health?
In our conversation with light and darkness we often look back at our lives. In this process, we hopefully see-through certain patterns, coping mechanisms, illusions and a lot more than one has been forgotten within. The book dwells deeply in this process of truly understanding, accepting and forgiving past versions of ourselves to birth a new one. Thus, beginning to take baby steps on the path of healing and building a better understanding of mental health.
You are also a popular influencer on Instagram. What are the dark sides of the influencer life that nobody talks about?
Absolutely my favorite topic! Social media is an amazing medium. It brings food on the table, and I am grateful for it. However, like any other industry it does have a few red tapes and flags of its own. Constant content production can be tiring. To come up with something new and relatable consistently is a task. A task that seems effortless on screens and the opposite behind the camera. All this while keeping up with the dynamic algorithm. And yet, it’s all worth it. It’s an opportunity cost one must pay like in any other job. Work is work.
There’s some stigma in the writing community associated with self publishing a book. Did you ever face it or feel it? How did you overcome it?
It took me a year to finally make this decision after giving a lot of thoughts. Publishing your first book is a confusing process. There’s a lot of material online but that adds to the confusion. You will talk to many experts and each one will have different opinions. And therefore, by the end of it, I realised that it becomes a priority to make it easy for oneself. To research well and take as much help as needed to wade through the process rather than just waiting. For me, it was more about the book being out there rather than who got it out there.
Do you have plans to write any more books? What will your next book be about?
I do. I am writing a fantasy novel. The working title is “Small before the mountains I stood.” It’s about a girl called Faith who climbs mountains to ask questions and surprisingly gets a life lesson-based answer each time.
What does your Instagram handle – @dastaan_e_musafir mean?
Dastaan in rekhta means a story and Musafir means a traveller. So, the page literally means the story of a traveller. However, the page is not only about the physical travel but also how it changes us as a person