Like you, I firmly believe that fantasy must lie in reality. The weaving of an extraordinary tale in an extraordinary world must take its cue from the everyday lives and trials of the souls that inhabit this one. Even though characters in fantasy are blessed with certain
unusual powers they need their weaknesses in order to make them someone we can identify with.

However, I feel differently about love. Love is the issue, the binder as it were. All the great loves of this world had– and continue to have–their own challenges. I watched a BBC documentary the other day about a Hindu middle class woman Ujjala who fell in love with a Muslim man, Adil, in Delhi. They met each other in university when they were both very young and ‘walked out’ with one another for a while before their love was discovered. Both sets of parents put their feet down. Adil’s parents forbade him from seeing Ujjala ever again, and her parents stopped her from going to university and made her a prisoner in her
own home. For eight months they were unable to communicate. Meanwhile Ujjala’s father arranged her wedding without telling her, and one day when she woke up she was surprised to see new clothes and jewellery in her room. Her parents informed her that she was getting married the next day. She didn’t see the man she married until after they were married.

The marriage was a disaster from the beginning. Ujjala was pining for Adil and her husband turned out to be an abusive drunk. She ran away from him in less than six months and returned to her parents’ home. After trying to force her to return to her husband and failing, Ujjala’s father never spoke a single word to his daughter ever again. She subsequently applied for and gained a divorce. All through this Adil had stayed true. He had heard of her wedding and had been heartbroken, but never gave up hope that she would some day return to him. Ujjala and Adil began meeting in secret once more. This continued for nine years. Finally they got their courage up and spoke to each of
their parents. Adil’s father said they could marry IF Ujjala converted to Islam. Ujjala’s family said they would not attend the wedding.

Ujjala made the heartbreaking decision to convert to Islam and prepared herself to be forever divided from her family and from her religion, and from everything she had ever known in her life. Her father left the house on the eve of her wedding, while her mother helped her to pack. Her brother escorted her to a taxi. They put all of her possessions in the trunk of the car and Ujjala went to Adil’s home by herself. My goodness, no bride should have to go through that! She SOBBED through the ceremony where she converted to Islam and sobbed through her wedding. My heart went out to her and I could not keep the tears of sympathy from springing into my own eyes–as a woman it was impossible to not empathise with Ujjala. I cried for the rough choice she was forced to make and for the thorny path her love story had trodden. R was scornful–she was watching it with me and professed her opinion that Ujjala was weak. But I disagreed. She made a difficult choice for love. Many people make choices for love. I know I have. I know I will.

In every story PEOPLE are the issue. Ordinary people, people who have had enough, idiots mad enough to imagine that they can conquer the world, young people with fresh scrubbed faces and pink visions with ideals that divide the world EXACTLY into right and wrong, jaded older people who know that it’s not so much about black and white as it is about several shades of grey, decent people, fools, people who give more than they can afford, people who would steal from a child or from a blind beggar, people who perform silent crimes or desperate miracles every single day, leaders, followers, hangers on, lovers – PEOPLE.

Look at every great love story. Look at Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Edward Rochester and Jane Eyre, Maria and Captain Von Trap, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, Edward Farrows and Elena Dashwood, Aragorn and Arwen, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, Eugene Wrayburn and Lizzie Hexam! They all triumphed, often over impossible odds. They lived, they loved, and they passed on, but something about their stories never will because it is human and as we all know, something that human will endure and will play itself out again and again as long as the human race endures.

Look at my story. Look at the journey I have already walked. I have endured, and I now continue to endure challenges of a different sort; the point I am trying to make, however, is that I do endure in my story, as you do in yours. We will encounter vexations and misunderstandings, and we will fight with our significant others, and cry, perhaps, but as long as we all love one another and have hope for a future in which we wake up beside the one we love every morning, we WILL endure.

My vision for the book I’m writing is a story of love that triumphed over often impossible odds. I have freely thrown challenges in the paths of my characters. When the story began it was a parallel to the story that is in motion now, the two characters parallel to the souls who have come together in this world. Of course it will have to be about journey, about challenges faced and overcome, and about their relationships with the world they live in; about their own weaknesses and strengths, too, but mostly about themselves and their hope to be with one another, and to be allowed to love each other. It has to be. It is not about what they will do for their love of each other, for they will do anything that they can do in their ability to do it.

The world needs love. Brotherly love, sisterly love, the love between friends, and the love between lovers. The world needs lovers. Without them, without us, it will be a dark and dreary place; life would become a mere hollow shadow and would lose all meaning, and there will be no hope, no future worth striving for.