Okay, here I am again with my all-too-familiar lament: Book deadline looming and not enough hours in the day! (The third and final book of my new Blessings in India trilogy—The Love of Divena—is due on the editor’s desk in one month.) Part of the plot line involves an age old quandary: Do what is expected? Do what is advantageous? Or do what is right, despite the cost?
Were I trapped in a life-or-death moral situation, I would like to say that I know exactly what I would do: the right thing. Problem is, I don’t know. I know what I wish I would do. But who of us can really know unless we are thrust into that position? Which makes this book all the harder to write. How dare I stand in judgment on my characters? They are, after all, only human.
Not long ago I reread the moving account of Miep Gies, who died last January, just short of her 101st birthday. You remember Miep, don’t you? She was one of the women who helped hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis. She tucked them away in a secret annex and faithfully cared for them. After they were betrayed and deported, Miep stored Anne’s writings in a desk drawer. When Anne’s father returned after the war, the only one in his family to survive the concentration camps, she gave all the writings to him. Unread.
But of course, when Miep made her courageous decision, she had no idea what the ending would be. She simply found herself thrust into that life-or-death situation: Do what is expected? Do what is advantageous? Or do what is right?
Miep did what was right. Without hesitation.
As I write out the character of Sundar Varghese, I keep seeing Miep. Sundar, too, has much to lose. For him, too, it would be so easy to look the other way and say, “It’s not my fault. I didn’t know.”
But will he? I had better get back to work!
“Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room.”