Today is Vijayadashami, also known as Dusshera (or Dasara if you prefer) – The day of victory after the nine nights of Navratri.
Two years ago, on this day, I formally launched my first full-length book, Rewriting My Happily Ever After – a memoir of divorce and discovery.
I began this writing project in early 2021, when the world was coming to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic lingering beyond one year as originally estimated. There was a collective holding of breath as promises of a way out through mass vaccination campaigns began to be offered across the globe.
2020 had been a year of conflicting emotions and priorities. 2021 offered hope.
On the personal front, being stuck on the tiny island (albeit a safe one with very few cases of Covid-19) didn’t feel reassuring. Professionally my contribution as a part of a multi-party collaboration working on a possible treatment for the infection offered a small measure of satisfaction amidst the pervasive isolation and fear.
In early 2021, while keeping my fingers crossed for a return to normalcy, I felt a need to expand, to venture into new territory, almost as a rebellion to being held back, physically and mentally for a whole year. But breakthrough is never easy and it can come on many fronts. I wasn’t exactly sure about what I wanted to do.
Lockdowns are not always on the outside
In 2020 the lockdowns and restrictions on movement outside the home had been tough but I had managed. With some introspection, I understood that the frontier I wanted to cross in 2021 was not a tangible marker on land but a block in the mind and heart that I needed to overcome.
As a writer of personal essays, I had written about many topics related to my life – work, home, motherhood, migration, family etc but the one thing I had shied away from exploring was the figurative elephant in the room – my divorce.
Divorce – the unexpected turning point that had changed not just the course of my life but also how I thought about it was a topic I had actively avoided writing about.
I finally felt ready to shed light on that challenging and painful but definitive period of my life!
I began with small steps, a few hundred words each day focusing on one tiny aspect of the long years of separation that ultimately led to divorce.
The big things in life happen once. It is the everyday stuff that trips us up.
I chose to write about living alone, worrying about neighbors, money, health, housing, work life balance and getting through each day with grit and grace. And before long 52 chapters came to life. Some described struggles. Others spoke about books and music, travel and friendship, gratitude and forgiveness. Somehow it all fit together cohesively.
And then it was time
When it came to set a date for the book release. I chose VIjayadashami Day 2021 (15th Oct 2021) , the victorious day that is considered auspicious for new beginnings.
I had been divorced for over ten years, but this book was a new beginning. I was embarking on a new path – one that involved baring my innermost thoughts during the most difficult phase of my life. I didn’t really need to do it. But I wanted to.
Because I had desperately wanted such a book when I was struggling alone as a single parent. Perhaps sharing my story would offer some solace and comfort, and also a measure of courage to others in a similar situation – torn amidst the decision to stay or leave an unhappy marriage.
And that’s why each Vijayadashami Day I celebrate an anniversary. Of new beginnings. Of honest storytelling. Of opening my heart.
The two years since the book launch have been unbelievably fulfilling. I am beyond humbled by the response to my book which is not an Amazon bestseller, has not won any awards or chosen for any honors.
Yet, I celebrate each anniversary of Rewriting My Happily Ever After.
Because every so often, I receive a message from a reader who writes a heartfelt note about how my book impacted them. These notes come as emails, DMs on social media and also as comments to posts in reader groups such as this one, where some kind reader has left a review or recommended my book.
And more often than not, these readers who reached out have gone on to become friends. Friends who tell me their stories on phone calls, guests who willingly describe their journey on my podcast, and readers who go on to recommend, gift or share their copy of my book to those who they feel will benefit from it.
Not so long ago, a divorced reader mentioned that her father read my book and admitted that he now understood a lot more about her story. A few weeks ago, I received a message from someone who started reading my book and suddenly realised that they used to love reading but had slowly dropped the habit. Now they have resumed their reading habit. Such interactions make me happy.
As a writer and also as a reader. Because books matter. Our stories matter.
Navratri is my favorite festival and now the tenth day of this festival that celebrates the divine feminine marks my own fearless venture into unknown territory – a move that has helped others find their feet, their voice, their strength.
Join me in celebrating this festival by sharing my book with whoever needs to read it.
Credit: Cake by Stephanie Blanchard