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Lalita Iyer speaks about her life, her challenges as a mom, and her writing – something that she loves, and that helps her bond with the invisible reader.
The author of I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot! is back with her latest book chronicling all that makes up the female experience – the good, the bad, the ugly.
Author, blogger, journalist, mother to one human and two feline children, Lalita Iyer wrote her first novel during her pregnancy, following her jobs on editorial boards of leading national newspapers and magazines of the country. The Mumbai-based author has experienced a plethora of changes throughout her life from shifting into a dozen different houses right from childhood to moving from one job to another. Iyer reiterates that change is her constant and is something that the Gemini in her always yearns for. The one change that was the hardest to come to terms with was “motherhood and the irreversibility of it and the factor that I will always have to factor this little person in, no matter what I do, even when the little person is not little anymore”, she says. Despite the intended and unintended alterations, there has been one constant – her passion for writing.
Everyone has their own special ways that reveal the essence of their character to the world. For Lalita Iyer it has always been her writing. Her witty use of words makes the reader find an awesome friend in her and her ability to reflect her own personality in her writings shows just how much she hopes her readers see the woman behind the book, not merely an author penning a novel. When being asked the significance of writing and why she always keeps at it, the author pours her heart out – “the fact that each time, I create a new reader. That I appeal to newer sides of the same reader. That I am able to form an invisible bond with people I have never met, and perhaps will never meet, and yet, imperceptibly, I have caused a shift in the way they think or look at things or even themselves and their lives. That makes me want to bleed, as Hemingway would say.”
Her latest book The Whole Shebang: Sticky Bits of Being a Woman traces her own journey from puberty to menopause, from being the “good girl” to being herself. With details of her relationships, marriage, and whole chapters on undergarments, periods, grooming and whatnot, Iyer creates the perfect blend of complex emotions and funny encounters of an urban Indian woman, finished with a fearless narrative voice. Unlike a story that solves a problem, brings about a transformation or provides a certain guidance, The Whole Shebang reverberates that none of us need anyone but ourselves to live freely and fully. The memoirs in the book are not just relatable instances but are constant reminders that we ought to celebrate our own sticky, flawed and yet perfect selves. The author mentions that she “wanted to call out to the fact that as women we are always aspiring to someone else’s idea of perfection – whether it is what we wear or how we look or what our body type is, whether we get married, have children etc. It takes us a long time to truly love ourselves and that’s what made me write The Whole Shebang.” She only hopes that through this book her readers find the impetus to share their own stories or find some resonance in hers; that they are kinder on themselves, so that they can love themselves a little more.
Apart from Lalita Iyer’s novels, a great many people follow her five-years-old blog Mommygolightly where she writes excerpts from her books, shares her delicious culinary experiences. It is also where we find her travel stories, and her son (referred to as Re in her writings) features in all of them. Her favourite travel memory with Re is from their time in Landour “where he began to clear the litter after a music gig and remarked that humans are such funny people; they come all this way to have a holiday and then they treat it like a garbage dump”.
Her other two children are not exactly travel companions and so they tend to stay at home. Reminiscing about her first encounter with cats, she narrates how it happened long time back: “It was in my late teens. A cat just took shelter in our balcony in the rain. We lived in a ground floor flat but had never had pets. Next thing we knew, she had littered and there were kittens and we were scared to walk in our own house for the fear that we would trample them. So we sat still for a long time when they walked all over us and since then, cats haven’t left our side.”
On being asked about a mantra for time management, she smiles, “I wish I had one. I seem to take on too much and juggle all the time. I need to slow down and enjoy it all.” Yet, her biggest concern is that for her son – “I always wanted him to have a circle of love; to have him feel that he is loved and cared for even if work sometimes takes me away. My mother is my angel in this challenge and I have been more than blessed to always be able to count on her.”
By sharing her raw experiences with her readers, Lalita Iyer has probably made it easier for women to introspect and accept themselves as they are, flawed, yet complete human beings for it. For a detailed review of The Whole Shebang, click here.
Lalita Iyer is one of the speakers at The Orange Flower Digital Summit 2017. Do attend.
Image source: Sejal Goje