Subhashini Dinesh’s novel ‘My Iron Wings’ talks about a young woman’s struggle to find her own place in a rapidly changing India of the 90s

Maya Srinivasan is a gutsy journalist working to carve a niche for herself in the world of journalism while struggling to cope with a tyrannical father and family pressure to ‘settle down’. Set in Kolkata and Chennai, Maya Srinivasan is a reflection of her creator Subhashini Dinesh. The journalist-turned-author’s debut novel My Iron Wings talks about a young woman’s struggle to find space in the world at a time when it was changing rapidly.

Based on Subhashini’s own experiences and memories of the Kolkata she grew up in, the book is a fictionalised account of life in the 90s. Through her book, Subhashini relives her days as a journalist before she switched to teaching. “It is a novel of the 90s. My book talks about the struggle to find yourself a space in a world that you want to create for yourself despite the pressures. It is based in Calcutta and Madras. It is a story of confusion, struggle and rebellion… and of the two cities that are close to my heart,” she says.

Quiz Subhashini, now a professor at a journalism college in Chennai, on how the novel came about and she says, “A couple of years ago I had some spare time so I began penning my thoughts. Before I knew it, I’d written pages and pages of the wonderful memories I had of growing up and working in Kolkata. I’d been away from the city for nearly a decade and I was just chronicling all the quaint little details in my log. When I re-read whatever I’d written I realised I could weave in a story and turn it into a novel.”

When asked about how similar Subhashini is to Maya, she says, “While I will not completely de-link myself from the character, I must admit that a lot of the story is from my imagination. I worked with The Telegraph in the late 90s and that was a time when there was a lot of confusion. The economy was opening up in a big way and we were looking for more than just jobs… we wanted careers. So there is a little bit of me in the character.” The book also explores changes in the field of journalism, she adds. In the meantime, Subhashini is planning a second book. “I have some ideas for another book. I’m yet to begin crystallising them, but I’d definitely want to write more,” she smiles.