Facebook has reminded me that I started this blog one year ago today. That’s something to celebrate. Happy birthday, blog!

It’s been a roller coaster year full of ups and downs. I know that I make life look like it’s all sunshine and rainbows, but the truth is that real life is far more complicated than even the “It’s Complicated” relationship status on Facebook would lead us to believe.

Yet, every day, I choose to believe in good outcomes and happy endings—maybe even fairy tale happy endings. I choose to believe that despite my struggles with depression, that this too shall pass, and I will emerge stronger and wiser. I choose to believe that we all have a story to tell, and that mine isn’t over yet;

Editor’s note: The semicolon isn’t a typo. I will explain later in the post; I promise.

What if we break that down? “I choose to believe.” Four little words. Three parts of speech: a subject, a verb, and a direct object. Yes, that’s right. “To believe” acts as a direct object in that sentence. If you don’t believe me, ask an editor. Oh, wait, I am was an editor. Just trust me, OK?

Editor’s note: If you still don’t believe me, then read this article on the 5 uses of infinitives.

I choose to believe.

I choose. Every day, we make choices. Sometimes, the choice is whether to be happy or sad. Sometimes, that choice is hard. Very hard. But, it is a choice, nevertheless. I want to tell you that I choose happiness every day, but I don’t. It’s easy to sit here on my computer and preach “choose happiness” when I so often feel that the choice eludes me. Yet, deep down, I know I have a choice. For that’s what suicide is: a choice. A choice many people make, including Rohith Vemula, when they feel they have no other choice left. But, he had a choice; you have a choice; I have a choice. We all have choices.

What choice do I make? I choose to believe. Because whether “happy” or “sad,” these words are emotions, temporary illusions without permanence. Watch a toddler for a few hours to see just how truly temporary emotions can be. If you don’t have a toddler, I suggest a poodle. Different species; same results.

To believe. Having lived in India, where gods almost outnumber the people, I don’t know what I believe any more. Yes, I believe that there’s a power greater than myself. A God. But, what God looks like, what he or she constitutes, even how God connects to us here on Earth, I honestly can’t tell you. Is that God Catholic or Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist or Sikh? What gender is God? Male or female? What does that God look like? Is he or she white or black or brown or blue? Who speaks for this God? Is it the Pope or Billy Graham or Joel Osteen or Sai Baba or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

Does it really matter? Probably not. But, I bet you’re wondering what all this has to do with my “blogiversary.” Yes, I just made up that word. I am was an editor, remember? I’m allowed to do that.

Editor’s note: Technically, I didn’t make up that word. Evidently, someone has already coined this word and asked HarperCollins to add it to the dictionary.

As I reviewed which blogs to share with you today, a pattern emerged. My favorite blogs are my most personal ones, although the personal stories behind them aren’t always obvious. I’d like to share a few of them with you now.

My Indian imaginings: To India, with love: This blog is one of my earliest ones, when I was still struggling with the grief of leaving India, of leaving not a person, but a place. A grief I had never experienced before despite moving over 20 times. A grief I didn’t understand. A grief that I am only now starting to heal from. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald helped me understand that grief, but this blog was my attempt to harness those emotions in a positive direction. I am grateful to the people of India for everything they taught me.

Confessions of an Indian writer groupie: Child/God edition: This blog is not a book review. It’s a straight up sales pitch for the book Child/God by Ketan Bhagat. This book changed my life; this book made me realize that I was am a writer. If I hadn’t read this book, I would not be writing this blog right now, and that’s the truth. I am grateful to Ketan for allowing me to accompany him on his journey with the book, if only for a little while.

Editor’s note: Read the title as “Child or God,” hence the “/”. If you want to know which character in the story is the child and which one is the god, buy your own book!

Book review: The Bestseller She Wrote: This blog is a book review and reflects my multimedia approach to storytelling. The Bestseller She Wrote by Ravi Subramanian was one of the most talked about books of 2015—mostly because of Aditya Kapoor, the title’s “bestseller.” The praise I received from Subramanian himself on this review gave me the courage to push the boundaries of storytelling—and book reviewing. I will be forever grateful for and humbled by that praise.

The Semicolon: This story is my most deeply personal. It’s inspired by the Semicolon Project and written for a Write India season 1 prompt.

The Semicolon tells the story of Divya, a young woman who attempts to take her own life. When the nurse at Hiranandani Hospital asks Divya, “Is it about a boy?” Divya’s answer surprises her; it will surprise you, too. The story delves into the depths of my own depression and struggle with suicidal thoughts as we left India. It’s also the reason for the semicolon at the end of the second paragraph. My story isn’t over;

Hot Toddy: This story first appeared in Unbound Magazine and introduces Maggie and Ranbir, two characters in the book I am writing. The one that I will eventually finish. Eventually. This story is Ranbir’s backstory and answers the burning question: why would a nice Indian boy become a gigolo? Hot Toddy is a story of love and sacrifice—and of the price one man pays to save his family. This story was the first one I published, so it has a special place in my heart. I’m so grateful to Neil d’Silva and Varun Prabhu at Pen Paper Coffee for publishing it.

6 Responses

  1. All the best with your book and blog journey. It’s difficult for me to be hopeful of better days ahead of depression – I’ve been waiting for more than 14 years, with very little luck 😛

    Destination Infinity

  2. All the very best, Jean.

    I leave one very well-known story from India about the nature of God.

    Four blind men encountered an elephant. One felt its legs and said, ‘It is a pillar’. One felt its body and said, “It is a wall”. One felt its trunk and said, “It is a snake”. One felt its tail and said, “It is a rope”.

    When it comes to God, our perceptions are limited. Can you even imagine infinity? Can you visualize anything in more than three dimensions? Can you imagine how microwave radiation would look, if you could see it? So, each of us thinks of God in his/her own way; each is a reality but none encompass the complete reality. AND we spend time on earth fighting over whose perception is the ‘true’ perception 🙂

    The truth is that none of us KNOW the elephant. We only think of it as a pillar, a wall, a snake or a rope – depending on our perceptions.

  3. It’s my first time on your blog, Jean, and going by what I’ve read, it certainly won’t be the last.
    Many congratulations on the blogiversary and good luck with your book journey too.
    And I agree : We should all choose to believe in good outcomes and happy endings; yes, they may not be possible always but hey, no one can blame us for ‘seeing the glass half full’
    Will check out your individual post links in a bit.

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