Dear Anjali . (Letter to my novel’s central character)

Dear Anjali,

What a journey! It’s been three years since I first created you in my head. And it’s been lovely getting to know you better and better with each passing day during the time it has taken me to finish writing your story. Do you know what has been the biggest challenge in putting pen to paper? The fact that you and I are so different and yet so similar in so many ways. There were moments during the making of the book where I had to put my own views and opinions aside and teach myself to think like you. Often, when I reached crossroads on the narrative arc, I would stop, frown and wonder: ‘How would Anjali react to this event?’ or ‘What would Anjali do in this situation?’ Wherever I went, whatever I did in the past three years, you were never far away from my thoughts. In every given situation, I would react first as myself, and then try to figure out how you would have reacted in the same situation. It was the only way I could get inside your head and create your own personality.

There were times when you didn’t listen to me and went ahead and did exactly as you pleased. I guess it’s true what they say about fictional characters. Sometimes they have a mind of their own and do the very opposite of what the author has in mind for them. I didn’t stop you. In fact, I was curious and even eager to find out how you would get yourself out of the many scrapes and difficulties you get into during the narrative. Just as a parent would carefully watch her child, close enough to reach out and protect, and yet far enough to give enough breathing space, I watched you carefully as you transformed from the Anjali you were at the start of the book into the Anjali you became when the story finished. There were moments when my heart ached for you as you stumbled and fell, made mistakes, cried and reached out for support. Yes, an author has the power to rescue her characters whenever they are in trouble and carry them to safety. But your story would have been incomplete and I would have done you a grave injustice if I hadn’t let life bring to you it’s own invaluable lessons. Rest assured, I was always looking out for you and I knew with absolute certainty that you had the reserves of strength within you to survive the trials and tribulations life threw at you.

As I said before, it’s been an interesting journey, Anjali. You are the protagonist of my debut novel, and in that capacity, you will always hold a special place in my heart. I have enjoyed knowing you. I have laughed when you laughed and I have cried when you cried. And there were moments when we became one and the same person, so much so that I would often have to wriggle myself out of being you and go back to being myself.

The editing is done and dusted. The book is finally complete. Three long years. I hope people will read what I have written about you. And love you as much as I have loved you.

Adieu, Anjali. It’s been a wonderful friendship!

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