Debut author Meenu Mehrotra picks a subject some would consider taboo
“Dreams have a power of their own,” smiles Meenu Mehrotra, author of the book “Lilacs Bloom in my Backyard”. “Stories pick you up and compel you to write them, not the other way round.”
This compelling story was released by acclaimed fashion designer Ritu Kumar at the Oxford Bookstore on Thursday. A Rupa publication, the book speaks of love beyond the conventional, of the choices and dilemmas of a modern woman. Meenu, who started her journey as a copywriter with an ad agency and moved on to freelance work, said Ritu Kumar was the ideal choice to launch the book, because “Ritu represents the bold woman who lives by her own convictions, who takes the initiative.” Elaborating on the story, she added, “The book celebrates the spirit of womanhood, the resilience and energy of a woman. It’s about a journey of self-exploration and self-revelation.”
In plain words, it is the story of love shared by two women. Ramona, the protagonist, experiences incompleteness in her heterosexual relationship and finds herself drawn towards Misha, her friend, who is struggling with an abusive marriage. “The author doesn’t exist between the characters and the reader. I let the characters move ahead by their own will, do what they would like to, not what I would want them to,” Meenu told the captivated audience.
Dr. Jayanti Dutta, renowned clinical psychologist of Delhi who was also present at the launch, waxed eloquent about the book and the author. “It is indeed a daring step for a first-time author to choose such a complicated topic.” She added that it reflected the changing expectations of the present-day woman from her relationships. Meenu revealed that the story was based on the experiences of an acquaintance of hers, and the subject intrigued her, inviting her to explore it as an outsider. “I was destined to write it,” she stated.
But does she think that the Indian society is ready for it, considering that same-sex relationships are still a stigma here? “Of course, it is high time we learnt to accept the freedom of choice. Nobody has the right to comment on morality. Love empowers you and liberates you. You cannot define or categorise it.”
Meenu, who took a year-and-a-half to complete the book, says she is inspired by life itself. Supported by an encouraging family, she is now moving towards her next book, which moves around infidelity. “Writing is a religion for me,” she declared with a lot of feeling. “Take it away from me and I’m gone…”ZEHRA NAQVI