A free spirit

Ambika Shaligram
Thursday, 28 September 2017

Author Lalita Iyer is on a roll. Here, she talks about her book and how she wished she could have rebelled at the age of 15.

The Whole Shebang: Sticky Bits of Being a Woman by Lalita Iyer is exactly what we thought it would be. It’s honest, straight from the heart and comes with no frills attached. The Bloomsbury publication will have you chuckling about the content — dealing with periods (or their delay), body size, exes, marriage, babies and innerwear too, yeah the one that pinches and leaves us fidgeting.

The germ for this book was in the columns that Iyer wrote for various magazines and national dailies. And, reading them in book form doesn’t dampen the fun. 
Over to Iyer and her writing...

Would you call yourself a courageous woman for doing the things that you wanted to? Most people would call you a rebel. Do you agree with either tag? 
I think it was Swami Chinmayananda who once said, ‘True freedom is doing things that you don’t feel like doing.’ Because that requires more courage — when you know something makes you uncomfortable, puts you in a spot, takes you away from your comfort zone — and you still go ahead and do it. So yes, I would call myself courageous on a few counts. But I think what took the most courage and a very long time, was finding the strength to put myself first.
About rebel, I don’t know, but yes, I have been called that. But if you look at my life closely, I have always been the good girl, doing things that were expected of me; I actually wish I had rebelled enough. It’s only now that I am being the true rebel that I wish I had been when I was 15.

What does it take to be so nonchalant while writing about hymen rupture surgery or going to work without wearing a bra? 
It takes wanting to call a spade a spade, or refusing to be smug about the constant irritants in one’s life. Regarding the hymen and all that hoopla about losing your virginity — I think it’s high time people shifted the discussion to something more pleasurable — like having your first orgasm. Why do women still give their power away to men by placing the focus of sexual liberation on men (who they technically need to lose their virginity). 
I thing going to work without a bra is something every woman must have considered and not acted upon. Sometimes it is just too much of an appendage, too restricting, too suffocating. We feel at home in our homes because we can walk around without a bra. Why shouldn’t we feel so at work from time to time? 

Did you feel you were under pressure, to adhere to some sort of stereotypes and hence resorted to these actions?
What stereotypes? Like saving your virginity for marriage? No such luck. With regards to the bra — I think women are expected to wear one when they are “outside the house” by some unwritten code. There would be too much excitement if all women walk around bra-less, so I am glad they don’t. 

Some of your pieces induce wicked chuckles. Did you write them so because humour is a good agent in getting across your point? 
Humour is a great leveller. It enters your system in an insidious way and the best part is, no one resists a good laugh. I have always used humour to write about serious issues and I believe it has worked well for me.

Related News