Love. The word holds different for everyone. Its meaning changing and expanding, breaking and healing. But what about the unrequited? And what about the love that was and now isn’t? There’s something to be said about the unsaid and Nikita Singh does just that in her book Letters to My Ex. In these powerful yet quiet letters of looking for closure, Nikita explores the what-ifs, whys and what-could-have-beens; words demanding, with grace, dignity and passion, a salve for what only time may heal. SheThePeople.TV converses with the bestselling author about this romantic read with a difference.
Nikita Singh, who has written 11 books, looks back in disbelief. She still doesn’t know how it all happened. All she knew, after having released Every Time It Rains last year, was that she wished to experiment with her next book. She didn’t want to just play around with the story and concept but also wanted to pen words in a different format. Nikita thought of writing a collection of stories, or even a non-fiction book, and eventually landed on a set of letters between two people who were once in love. That is where Letters to My Ex found its beginnings.
In these powerful yet quiet letters of looking for closure, Nikita explores the what-ifs, whys and what-could-have-beens; words demanding, with grace, dignity and passion, a salve for what only time may heal.
Nidhi Sharma, the protagonist of this book of letters, sets apart the narrative from that of a traditional one. As she lays her feelings out on paper, we see the process with a sense of clarity - through the written word rather than a stream of thought. For this, the author immersed herself into the mind of Nidhi and saw the world through her eyes. The only similar book, in terms of format, which Singh read was 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. She tried to not read other epistolary novels as she wanted the words in Letters to My Ex to be as original and raw as possible, stepping away from the deliberate and polished.
Image Credit: HarperCollins Publishers India
On comparing Nidhi - from Letters to My Ex - and Maahi - from Like a Love Song - Nikita notes that these two characters are very different people, especially in the way that they approach and resolve problems in their lives. Maahi is someone who, in a time of crisis, seeks fulfilment and self-worth in outside things - such as her career and people. On the other hand, Nidhi is someone who turns inward. She questions her actions and thoughts - trying to find an answer within.
Even if the outcome is the same, the way to get there is unique to every relationship.
Over the course of writing Letters to My Ex, Singh realised that the manner in which the two main characters - Nidhi Sharma and Abhay Shukla - deal with a specific set of circumstances is unique to them. In the realm of reality too, couples would do things differently, not only because every person is different, but also as we differ in the way in which we interact with different people. Even if the outcome is the same, the way to get there is unique to every relationship. Through Letters to my Ex, Nikita hopes for people to understand the healing, discoveries, understanding and closure, that happens over the period of a full year, following a breakup. That one year is crucial, and one letter every month seemed like the perfect format, to Nikita, to pen the story she wished to tell.
I think we should all realise that at the end of the day, it’s about the two people who are in love and want to build a life together — and that’s the only thing that should matter.
Singh thinks that caste still being an upheld standpoint in marriages is a fact of life in India. About this, she said, “Changing something like this happens only gradually. I think we should all realise that at the end of the day, it’s about the two people who are in love and want to build a life together — and that’s the only thing that should matter.”
Since having released her first book at the age of 19, Nikita says that she has learned to have faith in her work and write for herself - without thinking about outside factors. To writers struggling to put a manuscript together, she says, “There are no shortcuts. No one is going to write your book for you. Keep writing and also, read.”
Nikita compares the process of writing to taking time out for oneself. The author who works full-time as a Digital Marketing Manager for a solar energy company in New York says, “Even after I get back home at 6 pm, there’s still 6 more hours in the day! I think it’s all in the attitude. I make time.”
“There are no shortcuts. No one is going to write your book for you. Keep writing and also, read.”
Letters to My Ex is for people who enjoy the rant narrative, the circular motion of thoughts and the obsessive tendency. It is also a book for people recovering from heart-break. Do music and words go hand in hand? Nikita Singh does think so. Readers could play the songs Happier and Dive by Ed Sheeran while reading Letters to My Ex. Maybe even New Man! Finally, on what love means to her, Nikita says - Conversation.
What does love mean to you?
Letters to My Ex, by Nikita Singh, has been published by HarperCollins Publishers India. It is priced at Rs.199 and is available online and in bookstores.
Feature Image Credit: HarperCollins Publishers India