1. Life has taught me that circumstances that appear to adversely affect us can mysteriously work to our advantage. I had polio as a child. Since this illness affects the nerves, my parents were advised not to put pressure on me by sending me to school. This made for a childhood of extreme loneliness. I assuaged this by an inordinate amount of reading and daydreaming. I realise now that this time I had to myself and the resources my imagination fashioned to entertain my mind turned me into a writer. The hours spent reading taught me how to create characters and suspense, and also to structure my novels. Who would have thought what my parents considered an affliction would turn into a source of pride for them? And a source of immense satisfaction in my life.
2. There are sorrows in our lives we cannot talk or write about, but these hard lessons develop one as a person and give us an understanding of human nature. They help us realise the enormous reserves the mind has if we tap into it.
3. Each of us, at some point in our lives, comes across a special guide or mentor. One such person, a Parsee priest who was so poor that he slept on a bench in a temple in Bombay, visited Lahore at the invitation of my mother. He bequeathed me a fleeting glimpse of the eternal state of bliss out of which we are born and in which we dwell in the afterlife; or at least that’s what I’ve come to believe.
4. Be a fatalist. I feel much of our life is preordained, although we may think it is chance or luck or some sorrow we have brought upon ourselves that governs our lives.
5. We are deeply linked to the spirituality that sustains all life and matter. There are noble people on earth – one could call them saints – who help us to recognize this.