Commit Before You’re Ready and Your Life Will Be Bold

Posted On Jul 30, 2021 |

by Charlotte Tarrant


Inside the Taj Mahal, a man with a round face and orange cap asks where my husband and children are. He is Imran, my guide. From sunrise, he has enlightened me about this exquisite mausoleum, Shah Jahan’s promise to Mumtaz Mahal on her deathbed. Imran has revealed the symmetry of this paradise complex, offset only by the emperor’s tomb. He has pointed to shimmering marble and polished stones. And he has spoken with such pride about Mumtaz, a philanthropist who helped widows and orphans, mother to fourteen children, seven of whom died. Such generous storytelling deserves reciprocity. 


‘So, tell me about you, Madam. Are you married?’ This time, I tell Imran about my (fictional) husband Adam (invented in a Malaysian market).

‘Why is Adam not here with you? You cannot come to the Taj Mahal alone.’ 

‘He’s flying to India after a photoshoot. Any day now.’ 

‘And how many children do you have?’ 

‘We don’t have children.’ Imran stops. He turns and wobbles his head. ‘But Madam, you must have a child. You must have a child right now.’ 

‘Here? At the Taj Mahal?’ 

‘Really, Madam. It is most important.’ 

I smile. ‘Okay, Imran, will do.’ A flock of schoolchildren in white clothing pass by. They are little birds with agile limbs and bare feet. Seeing their lightness, my throat contracts. I hold tight until I say goodbye to Imran. The Yamuna river breeze is like welcome water.


Imran is right, of course. Becoming a mother is most important for me. But now I see the catalogue of commitment phobia too. Aged thirty-four, I am four years’ single. I’m travelling solo in Asia, pursuing fun and freedom. Have I cherry-picked life’s easy wins? Academic work, I have aced predictably (when focused). But what of creative writing? I have boxed up untold words. And the desk jobs of my twenties? Those windowless rooms! I couldn’t stay longer than eighteen months. Money, I have made it in waves and splashed it, never saved. Relationships? I have managed two medium-termers but, as my friends are marrying and having babies, I’m selling my possessions and packing a rucksack for Bangkok.


Unexpected feeling: is this the springboard of change? This day, Imran taps an extraordinary love – painful in this moment, yes, but now airborne, undeniable. After the tour, I stay on at the Taj Mahal. I sit on cool marble ground. A gardener in a smart shirt tends star-shaped beds and snips blades on the lawn. Another man scoops cuttings into hessian bags, emptying them into a box on his cycle- rickshaw. The whirr of the mower and the smell of cut grass are restful. An Indian palm squirrel darts up a big leaf mahogany tree, where he squeaks at a mate. And the Taj Mahal transforms across the day: shell pink at sunrise; white glitter at noon; burnt orange at sundown. I anticipate the silhouette dome against the burgundy haze at nightfall. 20,000 workers, 1,000 elephants, 22 years: to create this magnificent proof of commitment’s power.


Ten years on, to my three-year-old rainbow girl, I say this: be the tortoise. Above all, start. Don’t search for certainty – it’s a mirage! Plod; make mistakes; take breaks; then walk on. Arrive first or last. It really doesn’t matter. As long as you choose, dear Natalie, you will experience life in primary colours. 



Charlotte Tarrant lives with her partner Phil and daughter Natalie in Hertfordshire, UK. She’s a freelance writer and the founder of Starlike Books. The company exists to cheer on, gift and create children’s books that inspire courage, hope, love and joy. Charlotte posts letters on a blog to her late father, John, who still encourages her to write with heart and commitment. Charlotte’s mum, Elizabeth, continues to pass on her lifelong love of reading. If you enjoy picture books, strong tea and splashes of universal wonder, please say hello to Charlotte at Starlike Books on Instagram.



Categories: Decisions, Change, Growth, Self-awareness

Commit Before You’re Ready and Your Life Will Be Bold

Posted On Jul 30, 2021 |

by Charlotte Tarrant


Inside the Taj Mahal, a man with a round face and orange cap asks where my husband and children are. He is Imran, my guide. From sunrise, he has enlightened me about this exquisite mausoleum, Shah Jahan’s promise to Mumtaz Mahal on her deathbed. Imran has revealed the symmetry of this paradise complex, offset only by the emperor’s tomb. He has pointed to shimmering marble and polished stones. And he has spoken with such pride about Mumtaz, a philanthropist who helped widows and orphans, mother to fourteen children, seven of whom died. Such generous storytelling deserves reciprocity. 


‘So, tell me about you, Madam. Are you married?’ This time, I tell Imran about my (fictional) husband Adam (invented in a Malaysian market).

‘Why is Adam not here with you? You cannot come to the Taj Mahal alone.’ 

‘He’s flying to India after a photoshoot. Any day now.’ 

‘And how many children do you have?’ 

‘We don’t have children.’ Imran stops. He turns and wobbles his head. ‘But Madam, you must have a child. You must have a child right now.’ 

‘Here? At the Taj Mahal?’ 

‘Really, Madam. It is most important.’ 

I smile. ‘Okay, Imran, will do.’ A flock of schoolchildren in white clothing pass by. They are little birds with agile limbs and bare feet. Seeing their lightness, my throat contracts. I hold tight until I say goodbye to Imran. The Yamuna river breeze is like welcome water.


Imran is right, of course. Becoming a mother is most important for me. But now I see the catalogue of commitment phobia too. Aged thirty-four, I am four years’ single. I’m travelling solo in Asia, pursuing fun and freedom. Have I cherry-picked life’s easy wins? Academic work, I have aced predictably (when focused). But what of creative writing? I have boxed up untold words. And the desk jobs of my twenties? Those windowless rooms! I couldn’t stay longer than eighteen months. Money, I have made it in waves and splashed it, never saved. Relationships? I have managed two medium-termers but, as my friends are marrying and having babies, I’m selling my possessions and packing a rucksack for Bangkok.


Unexpected feeling: is this the springboard of change? This day, Imran taps an extraordinary love – painful in this moment, yes, but now airborne, undeniable. After the tour, I stay on at the Taj Mahal. I sit on cool marble ground. A gardener in a smart shirt tends star-shaped beds and snips blades on the lawn. Another man scoops cuttings into hessian bags, emptying them into a box on his cycle- rickshaw. The whirr of the mower and the smell of cut grass are restful. An Indian palm squirrel darts up a big leaf mahogany tree, where he squeaks at a mate. And the Taj Mahal transforms across the day: shell pink at sunrise; white glitter at noon; burnt orange at sundown. I anticipate the silhouette dome against the burgundy haze at nightfall. 20,000 workers, 1,000 elephants, 22 years: to create this magnificent proof of commitment’s power.


Ten years on, to my three-year-old rainbow girl, I say this: be the tortoise. Above all, start. Don’t search for certainty – it’s a mirage! Plod; make mistakes; take breaks; then walk on. Arrive first or last. It really doesn’t matter. As long as you choose, dear Natalie, you will experience life in primary colours. 



Charlotte Tarrant lives with her partner Phil and daughter Natalie in Hertfordshire, UK. She’s a freelance writer and the founder of Starlike Books. The company exists to cheer on, gift and create children’s books that inspire courage, hope, love and joy. Charlotte posts letters on a blog to her late father, John, who still encourages her to write with heart and commitment. Charlotte’s mum, Elizabeth, continues to pass on her lifelong love of reading. If you enjoy picture books, strong tea and splashes of universal wonder, please say hello to Charlotte at Starlike Books on Instagram.



Categories: Decisions, Change, Growth, Self-awareness

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