Her story, her words

Laxmi Murthy is the daughter of Vimala Murthy, the writer and great grand daughter of Amba Bai, former headmistress of Vani Vilas High school, Laxmi, has been associated with the women’s movements for nearly three decades years now. This 49-year-old, resident of Jayanagar 1st block, has recently co-authored a book – "Our Pictures, Our Words." The book records the history of women’s movement in India through posters.

Pic: Anisha Nair

Citizen Matters chatted with Laxmi Murthy on the women and writing.

What inspired you into making the book "Our Pictures, Our Words"?

I have been associated with the women’s movement since early 80s. Rajashri (co-author) and I were approached by Zubaan (publisher) to write the book with the concept of poster women. The idea was to make these posters more accessible to the newer and younger audience. The idea was to make a book which would attract them visually but also talk about all the movements that have been happening in all its complexity.

How much time went into collecting all the pictures and posters?

Zubaan had been putting together all the pictures and posters for five to six years and when we started writing, a lot of gap needed to be filled up. So it took us a year to fill up those gaps.

You come from a family of women who stood their ground and made a mark. How has it shaped you?

It has shaped me pretty well. I did not really have to fight to do what I wanted. Of course struggle is there, as patriarchy is everywhere. Not that things are so smooth. You do have to struggle. Nothing is handed to you on a platter. It is not only the women were supportive; my father was also supportive in shaping me. He helped me do things that were otherwise reserved for men.

Favourite hangouts in Bangalore

Blossoms bookstore in Church Street is one place where I love to hangout. In fact my daughters too love to go there and read.

What inspires you to write?

For me, writing is something I won’t even think about before doing. I feel uncomfortable if I don’t write. For the past few years, I have been editing more than I am writing. I am a consulting editor with Himal Southasian right now. I love encouraging people to write and shape their articles.

Does the definition of feminism change with region or is it universal?

It definitely changes with region. In the cities, there is a kind of façade of sameness. The notion of feminism depends on how restricted the environment is. I lived in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc and the thoughts about feminism were different in terms of how much access women get in terms of public space and age. And then you start changing your demands according to the region you live in.

How do you think Bangalore treats women? Does it stand out in any way?

The city is becoming more and more unsafe for women. And it is bound to happen if you look at the migration that is happening and the number of women coming to Bangalore in search of work. The whole BPO culture and issue of safety of women comes into picture. It will only increase till the time the police is more sensitive about it.

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