Juggling many roles

Recasting feminism Meera Godbole Krishnamurthy

Recasting feminism Meera Godbole Krishnamurthy   | Photo Credit: Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Balancing Act is an emphatic take on the modern day women

Can being a mother be a work of a lifetime? Does the society have the choice to judge people? Meera Godbole Krishnamurthy’s debut novel “Balancing Act” (Penguin and Zubaan, Rs. 250) attempts to find answers. “What I am saying is judge me, but with a certain amount of respect. ” smiles the author.

“Society thinks ‘she’s just at home with children’ and not a part of it. Just because you are a mother, you are no longer considered a feminist. Where have we gone in feminism?” she asks.

The book is a personal account while also being a work of fiction. Her protagonist Tara Mistri is an architect who is many things to many people — a mother of two, wife, daughter and an architect. “She is a thoughtful, smart, educated woman who feels strongly about the need to give up her career to give her 100 per cent as a mother,” the author adds. After a nine-year break, she wants to make a comeback. She gets a job offer, but is caught in a dilemma to say yes or no. “Tara is her harshest critic. And, there is yakshi, her apparition chipping away her self-confidence and of course the society,” says the author.

Tara gets to research about the Salk Institute. And, reading about the life and work of Louis. I. Kahn, the designer of the Institute, she comes to peace with her own choices. “His buildings are timeless , an embodiment of everything and it fills you. And, no flimsy modernisation,” she tells us.

Meera says many find the Institute as drab, uninteresting and boring. “It’s a weird looking space, and the windows and balconies face the Pacific Ocean. No landscaping, details and ornamentation, you have large concrete walls. It serves the function for which it was built, as the lab for scientists. There is a sense of serenity to it,” she explains. The book is a result of fours years of consistent writing and re-writing. “In fiction, you create an entire world and inhabit it. I had some trouble with the plot, it was haphazard. New characters came in, Yakhsi took form and the Salk Institute anchored it for me.” The story also takes a sympathetic view of the father. “Feminism need not be anti-men. Tara’s husband is portrayed in a sympathetic light. Men too miss out on the family because of work.” The author has lived in the Philippines, France and many parts of the U.S, has a Master’s degree in architecture (her thesis was on Louis Kahn) from the University of Virginia and is also an artist. “I got into architecture reading fiction. My first love is books, I am the kind of person who touches the papers and smell it,” says the architect-turned-author “It’s a fun read, amusing at times and written with lot of empathy,” is how she sums up.

Her next novel is on architecture and one of the characters from the first book will recur. “I would like to do a series on architecture related fiction,” she signs off.


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