Book Reviews

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words!

Journey through Mosaic of Life by N. Meera Raghavendra Rao

Meera Raghavendra Rao is a freelance journalist, blogger and author of 11 books, which include fiction, nonfiction, and free verses. Beginning her writing journey with “Madras Mosaic” which received rave reviews and second publication, Meera was motivated and went on to publish “Slice of Life,” “Feature Writing,” “3Es of Writing-a coffee table book,” “Journalism-Think Out of the Box,” “Madhwas of Madras,” “Pinging Pangs” and more. She particularly enjoys writing features revolving around life’s experiences and writing in a lighter vein about the brighter side of life which makes us laugh at our own little foibles.

Her travels within and outside the country has made her a keen observer of people and places; her coffee table book with about 120 pictures from her non-digital camera is the proof of the pudding! Accordingly, it comes as no surprise when a prolific writer with over 2000 literary contributions to her credit - that include interviews, humorous essays, travelogues, children’s stories, book reviews and letters to the editor in mainstream newspapers and magazines like The Hindu, Indian Express, Femina, Eve’s Weekly Woman’s Era, Alive, Ability Foundation among others, chooses to come up with her biographical work titled ‘Journey through Mosaic of Life.’

As Meera states in the preface of this twenty chapter memoir- ‘I wish to retain the title of my debut work, Madras Mosaic, albeit with a difference. My first book is Madras-centric, whereas this one as the title suggests, covers episodes of my life from the time I remember since my childhood days spanning to the present.’

In these days when the joint family system is on the decline into oblivion, Meera Raghavendra’s Rao’s nostalgic accounts create deep and everlasting impressions in the minds of readers, even while giving insightful glimpses into the value of relationships, primarily the MIL-DIL equation about which the author writes: ‘Still waiting.’ In the early years of her marriage, a relative had asked her jocularly ‘Have you started quarrelling with your MIL or not?’ The author in her memoir recounts: ‘I lived with my MIL for 30-plus years and we had a very cordial relationship.

Surprisingly, No Tu -Tu-Main- Main story here!

Talking about ‘Aunty’ as Meera addressed her, she recounts: born into an aristocratic family, my mother-in-law studied in a convent school. She had a pampered childhood. Yet when at the young age of 15 she was married, she soon settled well into her new, large family. Despite having a handicapped first born, she was never one to moan her fate or make others in the family miserable.

A wonderful take away from the lives of two empowered women.

As one of her friends recall about Meera- ‘her pleasing smile, her ease as a homemaker, her spontaneous affection, her joy at whatever she accomplished…’ Truly, these endearing qualities of Meera would have held her in good stead in her social and professional contexts. Talking about her choice to be an ‘independent journalist,’ Meera elucidates: ‘you are your own master, can work at your own pace, without having to meet deadlines, free to choose to work on topics close to your heart and finally and more important, take care of your family as well.’ With much precision, this has been highlighted by Shri. K R A Narasiah, historian-author in his foreword: Meera ‘brings out the bond between members of the family in its entirety that unfortunately is lacking in society today.’

Without much ado, in her own lucid style, Meera has brought out the importance of work-life balance, the quintessence of life in this fast-paced gadget-afflicted world. Bryan Dyson, former CEO of Coco-Cola in a powerful speech illustrated the now famed ‘Five Balls of Life.’ Dyson referred to work as ‘ a rubber ball’ and ‘family, friends, health and spirit as glass balls.’ The rubber ball, as everyone knows ‘will bounce back’ the other four balls are definite to ‘shatter.’

With child-like simplicity and glee in ‘Visiting the house where I grew up,’ Meera takes the reader along into the ‘bungalow’ of the ‘pre-Independence days ‘its high-roofed sheds, outhouses, trellis…’ and the ‘gold-fish pond’ in the garden adorned with mango trees, custard apple trees guava trees, a wood apple tree, and a big pipal tree. The naming of the mango trees according to the ‘physical build’ of her siblings and herself is amusing, while her accidental fall into the pond is not. In this episode, Meera has faultlessly recounted a societal evil. Malligadu, the sweeper ‘was watching the entire episode transfixed, broom in hand’; when her anxious mother questioned him about his not rushing to save her –‘Amma, I thought I was not supposed to touch Papa!’

Yet another example of her forthright views is observed in ‘Medical Melange,’ reproduced from her own piece in the Open Page of The Hindu – ‘I feel that one size does not fit all. This applies not only to readymade clothes but also to patients……this conclusion after my experience with specialists and surgeons who don’t think twice before treading on the beaten path.’ Again, after a prolonged stay at the hospital after a surgery caused by infection, Meera blurts: I had made up my mind never to marry a doctor who spent more time in the hospital than with his family’. The same episode and the following one entitled ‘Doctors – our saviours’ has affirmative statements about ‘conscientious medical practitioners’ who ‘give the patient a patient hearing’ and ‘care more for their patients’ health.’

A picture speaks a thousand words! The author has meticulously amalgamated her writing with photographs of her family, friends, and events, all of which not only validate her stories, they come to life with greater energy and excitement.

The author’s note at the end of the book –‘looking forward to my journey through Mosaic of Life to continue.’ Having read the book with engrossed enthusiasm, I can reveal that Meera Raghavendra Rao, with her uncanny ability to look at the ‘bright’ side of things will continue to empower the young and the not so young through the power of her pen. Echoing Shri Narasiah’s words: ‘bringing out ordinary moments of life with feeling’ makes it ‘a pleasant experience for the reader.’


More by :  Hema Ravi

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Views: 3609      Comments: 2

Comment An excellent retrospective flashback of various vicissitudes of her life expressed in an inimitable style characteristic of her literary works. An unsung journalist like unsung heroes in our contemporary world of journalism.

Srinivasa Rao
18-Mar-2023 02:38 AM

Comment Very nicely written book review and sure to make the reader go in search of the book to read and enjoy!

G Swaminathan
27-Feb-2023 04:42 AM

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