Pep talk for every emotion

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After digipreneur Ayesha Chenoy garnered 31k Instagram followers for her poetry and thoughts in a span of seven months, she debuts as an author with To, The Bravest Person I Know. Published by Penguin India, the book is in the form of a letter, to let your loved ones know that everyone makes mistakes, and they are brave for trying to make it through the day. “With mad hectic lives, people struggle for time to read. So, I wanted to create something that they can just pick up again and again and again, and something short but can stir up a lot of emotions and give people strength, through its combination of art and words,” adds Chenoy, a resident of Shanti Niketan in Delhi, whose only dream is to write. In 2001, the 42-year-old founder and CEO of RepIndia was awarded the Adam Smith Prize for Economics, previously awarded to Amartya Sen. Post that, she graduated from the London School of Economics, but moved back to India in 2009 after a long career as an investment banker.

Book cover

Chenoy says her book talks about absolutely every emotion, every truth, from our childhoods, to our identities, to love, heartbreak, betrayal from those we love, loss and hope. “It’s about friendship, marriage, fulfilling your dreams, the mistakes we make and the struggles we overcome. In short, the book is your guide through every difficult situation. I believe that social media often pressurises us into a filtered life, to not show weaknesses,” says Chenoy, who adds that short, yet powerful verses from Gibran and Gulzar left such a mark on her that it took the shape of this book.

The book, in her words, “is a modern therapy delivered to you through a series of poems and a letter in verse”. Each page has its corresponding footnote and illustrations by communication designer Vaibhav Wankhade. “These poems explore the whole construct of ‘normal’. The book tells us that depression is normal, as is fear; feeling insecure is normal, as is hurting people. And bravery is about facing everything that life throws at you. To, the Bravest Person I Know, cuts through rainbows and self-righteous dross to provide a vaccine of truth, liberating and reminding us that we are all in a tunnel,” says Chenoy.

Ayesha Chenoy

Chenoy has own favorite lines in the book: ‘Sometimes the greatest love stories aren’t of lovers’, ‘The only difference between you and me at your funeral was that you were lying down’. Another line in the book says: ‘Sometimes the toughest fight is giving up.” Does she think that giving up is a wise option and people should choose it? “I will say context is important here. It’s what you are giving up on and in the book, it’s giving up on battles you just can’t win, where you have fought so hard for something but there is nothing left but acceptance,” adds Chenoy.

She started writing the book in February 2020, and finished it by July 2020, but only did anything about it after a friend introduced her to Milee, publisher, Penguin India. She is already working on her second book. “This book has touched so many people just in the pre-order. Penguin has already done a reprint even before it has hit the bookshops. I believe that this is a format of the future too, as it’s very easy to read and stays with you forever,” Chenoy signs off.

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