Sangeeta Mall in her debut novel Flight of The Flamingo brings to the fore the stories of modern Indian women
Sangeeta Mall changed lanes from being an entrepreneur to being a writer. The stories she tells are inspired from the lives of modern Indian women, who are making a mark in their professional and personal lives.
Her debut novel Flight of The Flamingo , (Westland, Rs. 295) is the first story of the Beyond Pink series that “celebrates stories of modern Indian women,” of which Sangeeta is the curator.
Flight of The Flamingo, which was launched recently at Landmark, tells the story of Preeta Dhingra, an editor at Pradhan Publishers, whose job includes editing superficial romantic fiction. It is when Preeta wishes she gets a more challenging project that a submission lands on her desk; a project that will change her life forever. She fights against all odds to publish the stories of famous women, who break their silence on domestic abuse and infidelity.
“The novel is a reflection of the lives of modern Indian women. The stories being told in entertainment are all about how a woman’s only job is to snatch a man. Television features repressed women from patriarchal families. There are so many stories waiting to be written about real, empowered women in urban India. Women want to go beyond the usual narratives. I want to bring to fore the stories of confident, empowered women, who get to decide and choose,” says Sangeeta, who has done her Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.
The idea of what it means to be a “successful woman” in urban India forms the sub-text of the book. Sonia Vaswani, one of the characters in the book, on whom most of the narrative hinges, Sangeeta says, is dealing with the notion of success.
“She doesn’t want to hide behind her public persona. She says she is a real woman. If you look around, you will see women about whom you don’t know much. Women always feel they need to be more than professional, almost clinical in their image. Even if a whiff of their real image is seen, it will compromise their success.”
Sangeeta’s life is an inspiration too. She always wanted to be a writer despite running a successful business of her own. “I decided to do a creative writing course. In a woman’s life there is no such thing as a sabbatical. Women take time out to raise children, but they don’t get time to pursue a hobby. Most women are stuck in that sort of image. But in my case, I express gratitude to my husband; he supported me in my decision to pursue this course. I didn’t want to look back with regret that I could have been a writer,” says the Mumbai-based author.
Sangeeta speaks of other Indian women achievers. “I have done chat shows with women who are regular professionals, but have done something that makes them stand out. Anita Dongre comes from a family where women don’t work. She lived true to her conviction of wanting to be a designer and she’s been so successful. I also spoke with Gauri Shinde, a successful filmmaker.”