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“I Grew Up in a Broken Family – and That’s Where It All Began” 24-Year-Old Michelle Rungsung Talks About her Debut Book ‘Garden in a Graveyard’

Writing has proved to be therapy for many like Michelle Rungsung who has found her saving grace through penning down her thoughts. What started as a habitual daily journaling of her memories and secrets, is now her biggest and most trusted method to fight and heal her way through her loneliness and mental illness.

24-year-old Michelle from Manipur is an exceptionally beautiful prose writer who entwines her words with her own emotions and draws you towards a peripheral of vision that is unknown yet so personal. We chat about her debut novel “Garden in a Graveyard” which is a collection of deeply personal short proses and poems exposing her own experiences with hurt, abuse, mental illness, love and journey to self-discovery and healing.

A chat with 24-year-old Michelle Rungsung from Manipur who just released her debut collection of poems and proses, “Garden in a Graveyard.”She talks to us about her book, her struggle with mental health, her healing journey and everything in between.

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

Michelle Rungsung is a writer and a singer from Manipur who has just released her collection of poems called “Garden in a Graveyard”.

  • Congratulations on your book Michelle! Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Michelle Rungsung and I’m 24 years old from Imphal, Manipur. I’m currently in New Delhi pursuing a TEFL certificate course. I recently published my collection of poems called “Garden in a Graveyard” which is my first published book  – a collection of short proses and poetries about (my own experiences with) abuse, loss, mental illness, love and journey to self-discovery and healing. Besides the writing, I also sing with my band during in my free time. 

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Michelle Rungsung, poet and author of “Garden In A Graveyard”

  • Tell us about your latest book, “Garden in a Graveyard” – what it’s about and what went into writing such a personal piece.

‘Garden in a Graveyard’ is my debut collection of short poems and proses, based on the life of a woman with a troubled past. It tells the story of her experiences with love, loss, abuse, mental illness and her journey to self-discovery and healing.

“My readers are aware that most of my work revolves around my childhood memories and my home because it was what I began with in the first place. I grew up in a broken family that scarred me mentally and emotionally but I think it also made me stronger and in the process taught me a lot about life.”

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

rootsandleisure_michellerungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

So if you ask me
what love is,
I will tell you about the men
who took my breath away
with their hands around my neck
and my voice shoved down my throat.
I will tell you about my courage
that was beaten out of my spine
and how the fight in my body
was morphed into fright.
I’ll tell you of how I carried my bruises
like marks of their affection
and mistook the anxiety in my stomach
for butterflies.
If you ask me what love is
I will tell you
subservience,
I will tell you
suffering,
I will tell you
endurance.
Because where I grew up in,
this was love.
My mother never learned the difference
between love and abuse
to teach me any better.”
-M.Rsung/Garden in a graveyard

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

  • Thanks for sharing your story Michelle. So tell us what made you write this book.

I had no plans of publishing a book. It was the product of a spontaneous idea. Around the beginning of this year, I was going through a very hard time – My mental health was at its worse and I had no will to even get out of bed. Then one day, I just decided to make the most of my predicament. It was also a good way to distract myself. So in the month of May, I began writing. It took me a month to complete the manuscript and another to get the book ready for print.

“I had doubts and insecurities all along the way and there were times when I thought it was a bad idea and wanted to call it quits. I am eternally grateful to the people who were there with me through it all, who supported and encouraged me to go on.”

rootsandleisure_michellerungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

“I know there are days like this
when waking up is the hardest thing to do.
When your feet feel heavy as anchors
and your bed’s the sea floor.
I know you’ve missed many sunrises this way…
Only waking up to hasty sunsets,
wishing time would wait for you
but the days keep whizzing past you
like bullets.
I know on days like this,
the haunting question is to be or not to be.

So on days like this,
I want you to know you’re doing enough.
That all that matters is you woke up
and you’re alive.
That despite knowing a million ways to die
and not a single way to live,
you’re still fighting everyday.
And that, my love, is the bravest thing
anyone could ever do.🌻” ~Michelle Rungsung / “Garden in a Graveyard”

  • Also, tell us how did you get started on writing – amidst all that you went through . . .

I started when I was very young and because I had a problem talking to people, I owned a ridiculous number of diaries where I’d write about my day, my thoughts and my secrets.

“In time, what started as a hobby turned into a therapeutic habit and perhaps a necessity. I began writing to cope with my loneliness and my mental illness. It was a healing mechanism and perhaps, the best one.”

Michelle’s workstation, where all the magic happens.

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

Michelle’s workstation, where all the magic happens.

  • Apart from your own experiences, what /who else inspires your writing?

To be honest, I initially had no interest in writing poetry at all. It only came to me when I got into college.

“It was Sylvia Plath who sparked my interest in poems and I remember reading her poem called “Lady Lazarus” in class. By the end of the piece, I was in tears. It struck me on a visceral level… It was almost as if the words were mine. I wanted to write that way too, touch peoples hearts with my stories and give them a sense of relief and let them know that they’re not alone in their struggles.

Soon after, I wrote my first poem titled “Dear Dad” which was quite embarrassing and terrifying because I had to relive some very painful memories and put it out there for the whole world to see. It was a personal story and I was afraid but it was a turning point in my life. I have not looked back since.”

An excerpt from Michelle’s first poem  – a very personal one called “Dear Dad”

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

An excerpt from “Dear Dad” by Michelle Rungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung.

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

  • What do you hope people take away from your writings?

“I hope they find their voice in my writing and I hope they find closure and healing. The book was completed in a hurry and I know I could have done better but it does hold a part of me and my heart. And I’m leaving it in your hands and I hope it gives you company in your dark times.”

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung.

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

 

Why do we try so hard
to get the approval of the world?
Why do we think it validates
our importance?
When did we start measuring our worth
by the opinion of others
when the only one that defines it
is our own? 

~Michelle Rungsung / “Garden in a Graveyard”

rootsandleisure_michellerungsung

An excerpt from “Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

To see more of Michelle’s work, follow her on Instagram Her Book is available online on Amazon.

rootsandleisure_Michelle Rungsung

“Garden in a Graveyard” by Michelle Rungsung

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