The conversation between the two accomplished writers started with a quote from a colleague when Meera was publishing her first novel; the colleague remarked that they do not read novels written by women since they begin in the kitchen, and end in the verandah.
Both authors glided through how their styles differ in writing or portraying women. Picking up from the quote from Meera’s colleague as a metaphor, they examine how women writers are being weighed down heavily with prejudice.
Geetanjali chimes in that women writers have changed the course of writing itself. It is no more the insignificance of stories that flow from the kitchen to the verandah, they’re far more inclusive of the complexities around them. There no more exists a binary of work versus home. Even the “little stories” have had huge reverberations.
Home has become synonymous with, and has its share of heartbreaks; its high emotions and has been a source of inspiration in their books. The emotions do not necessarily have to be familial, but can be political too, says Meera.
While examining their stance as women writers, Meera views it and has portrayed some of the women in her books to be vindictive; she is very involved in the familial sentiments of the woman. Geeta, on the other hand, views these from a distance. Meera’s book ‘Poison of Love’ is one that brings together love, revenge, and disappointment.
Don’t families build a writer? Worse the family, better the writer? Meera’s question brings out the metaphor in the family, Geeta adds. Families break or make a character. The family is a microcosm of so many multiple emotions and definitely adds character.
There also erupts a question in Meera, isn’t family being a factor also difficult for a writer to break free from authority? Would being a successful writer come in the way of being a good mother, a daughter, or wife? Geeta agrees that this is a dilemma; that writing needs a solitary space, while a family needs you to be involved. She quotes an author from the past who called women ‘pressure cooker writers’. Women have also coloured the meaning of that differently; they’ve been able to provide tonality from the experience.
Meera goes back into a memory where once in a fight with the spouse, she remarked that the book she had written was a revelation on why one should not be married, and yet, marriage is the one which elicited her to write one.
Geeta closes the session with an excerpt from her book, ‘Empty space’. It looks into an act of terror at a college café, where young lives were lost; a young boy being rescued and raised by a mother who lost her child. The excerpt shows the side of an omniscient, emotional mother who picks up the ashes of her child, while the father struggles to understand what is going on around him.
Meera KR and Geetanjali Shree are writers who write differently, yet are inspired by families they come from, or see around them. The portrayal of the women characters, and their reason for writing are coloured by the shades they find in real families and their raw emotions.
About the Author: A believer in the subtlety of magic in everyday living, Shobhana seeks the same from the books she reads and the poetry she writes. Immerses herself in music, literature, art, and looking out the window with some coffee. She curates her poetry, and occasional verses in her blog Thinking; inking. She currently writes for Bookstalkist.