The big city life can be daunting and exciting at the same time. How does a little girl view the big bad city? The panel discussion with a very engaging moderator, Rachna Singh, took many a turn on defining what the panel itself should be about, with writer Milan Vora suggesting that it should be called A Little Kid In A Big City, as all kids feel the same when faced with the prospect of taking on a big city. Andaleeb Wajid rebutted saying little girls face very different problems in the world.

Though the four panelists dealt with vastly different subjects in their writings, a woman’s journey tended to be the centre of the story. Hence, they were perfect to comment upon the topic of the session.

With four women panelists and a women moderator, the panel circled around topics like solo backpacking, heartbreak, motherhood, work-life balance amongst other things. It was a conversational session with the panelists and moderator encouraging each other’s points and adding to them.

Asha Francis’ book Literally Yours shows the journey of girl who evolves her perception of love in her new situations. A love story based in the Jaipur Literature Festival, Asha says that lit fests are perfect grounds for love.

Rupa Gulab was asked about how to deal with a heartbreak and said, “In my day, we had agony aunts who told us to get a hobby, get a goldfish, get a haircut. However, the women in her books didn’t follow this pattern. “My heroines deal with heartbreak very differently. She drinks vast quantities of cough syrup. It helps her feel numb,” she said.

Vora made some interesting points about how when one places “little girl” in any title, it suggests an association with the damsel-in-distress trope. She spoke of her protagonist Nani (meaning small) who is actually a six foot tall girl. A product of broken marriage, she never lets her guard down. To Milan, the big city syndrome is any situation where someone is taken out of their world and plunged into another.

Andaleeb Wajid spoke of her character Zubi, who didn’t want to be defined by a man. A subconscious effort to be aloof was put in as she saw her mother crumble after her father passed away. This gave an important message of needing to have other commitments and interests except for romantic relationships.

Bringing the session to a close, Singh told us what the best thing about being a girl is. “We love being girls, we get to wear nicer clothes and get evacuated first during a fire,” she said.

By Samah Mariam