Happiness Key: Janya’s Story, Part One


Before we launch into Janya’s story, I have another special link.  Diane Chamberlain, who was interviewed here recently, interviewed me.  You can find that interview this morning right here.  Enjoy.

By now you probably know that Happiness Key, now available in your favorite bookstore, has four major characters.  Last week we heard from Tracy.  This week, Janya has her say. 

Although my parents had longed for a son and naturally felt disappointment when I was born, I was still my family’s pet. My mother was young, and there would be more children. As they waited, my father began to save for my wedding and dowry, so that four years later when my brother was born, there were investments. If the match they made for me also brought new business prospects for my father and the beloved son who would dutifully join him in the family’s accounting firm, then this would be best of all.

My parents lived with my father’s parents in Mulund, a once sleepy suburb of Mumbai that is now exploding with construction and an influx of residents. Our house was three stories, painted pink with balconies looking over a courtyard blooming with bouganvillia and frangapani, and shaded by a gulmohar tree with its flame colored blossoms blazing in the months before the monsoon. A fountain sent a fine mist into the air, even on the hottest of days. My uncle’s family lived there, too. The house never seemed crowded to me.

My family is traditional in many ways. Both my mother and father are educated, and my brother and I were expected to become professionals. A medical or engineering degree was to be my fate, so that I would be most desirable for a good match, but in this, as in the way my marriage came about, I was a sad disappointment.

Even early in my convent school education it was clear to my teachers that art was the subject at which I excelled. When it became disappointingly clear to my parents that a position in an excellent medical school would elude me and that no bridge I designed would ever be safe to cross, they allowed me to attend the lush green campus of the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai ,with it’s Victorian and Gothic inspired architecture and excellent reputation.

I had always had female friends. My closest was my cousin Padmini, the daughter of my mother’s cousin, with whom my mother had always been close. Padmini’s family was far wealthier than my own. Because our homes were far apart, when school was not in session we often spent many days at one home or the other. We were as sisters.

When we were at her home, Padmini and I were given much freedom. By the time I was in art school, though, we were ranging even farther. Padmini was never a particularly clever student, and she had not grown up to be a beautiful woman. But whatever she lacked, she made up for it by the force of her personality. When Padmini was in a room, it was difficult to notice anyone else. That is why it surprised me so when she introduced me to Darshan Tambe at an informal party of her friends, and he only had eyes for me.


  1. DeAnn on July 1, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Escaping into other peoples lives makes me happy! Quilting makes me happy! Your blog makes me happy too! Enjoying it immensely! Thanks.

  2. Cheryl M on July 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I am very, very new to blogging and sadly to say, not really sure how and where to blog. My youngest son (23 years old) introduced me to online sweepstakes. He thought that this hobby would be enjoyable for me. Since becoming disabled 15 years ago due to multiple medical problems, the worse being a rare spinal condition due to complications of 3 spinal surgeries that causes severe and constant pain. It is very difficult for me to do many physical activities including minor household chores.
    I have always been an avid reader and even more so now. I came across one of your books years ago and have enjoyed them ever since. Thank you so very much for the happiness you have brought me.
    I try to complete my most important goals of each day. One being planning and preparing supper for my family which consist of hubby and 2 sons, ages 25 and 23. And the other being that their laundry is done. I know that doesn’t seem like much but some days the pain is so intense that I can’t even do that.
    I have mentioned happiness I have received since I read one of your earlier books. During the summer months I find great happiness, even on the very painful days, of sitting by the pool with an iced coffee and a great book where I can enjoy and escape with my imagination takeing me to different lands, meet new friends and allows the days to seem shorter. Once I start reading, especially a really good book, I will read for hours.

  3. Kay Cherry on July 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    our local quilters all love your books.
    I was so happy to meet you at last year’s Quilt Festival in Houston, TX.

  4. Donna Maine on July 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Can’t wait to read Happiness Key. I went to my local Books a Million to buy my copy today and they hadn’t gotten their shipment yet! I am going away for the weekend and will check Barnes and Noble–hopefully they have gotten their shipment!
    Love your books.

  5. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Nice to see you included someone with a very different background than most American women can even imagine.

  6. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I’m happy I resisted attempts by my family to match me up. They were so afraid I was going to be an old maid. I knew there was someone for me out there and was willing to wait for the right one.

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