BANGALORE: She introduces herself as — An engineer by profession, I work in the aviation field. However, writing has remained my passion. Literature, science and women studies have held my interest for decades. She is Nemichandra.
As an engineer she has made a mark in the aviation field. She has also touched thousands with her writing and has transported several more into the world of science, aviation, adventure and more importantly to a life that women have had no easy access to but continue to dream about. Her interest in writing developed when she realised there were no women scientists who were written about. “In all the text books I read as a child, I never saw any women scientists being mentioned. After entering the aviation field, I discover that women flew the aircraft right in the first decade of 20th century,” she says. Her purpose became — To re-discover the heritage of women scientists, women writers and women aviators.
It was this passion that took her to a remote village, Nasca in Latin America. “That was the place where the German scientist, Maria Rache spent 40 years to study the mysterious Nasca lines, in the Peruvian desert. I went in search of women scientists. I penned all my experiences in travelogues, books and biographies on women scientists and women achievers. While she remains a trail blazer in the field, travel writing by women in lingual languages does not find a prominent literary place in comparison to other genres. A fact that deeply saddens Nemichandra. She reasons, “It has been difficult for women to undertake travel on their own due to various limitations.”
Initially, her works too faced resistance from many quarters. Not so much for her writing as much for her strong sense of identity and for the strands of feminism underlying in the fabric of her writing. “In early days of my writing, I was advised ‘to leave feminism and concentrate on creative
For me feminism was neither a fad nor an ‘ism’, it was my way of life, In fact, feminism is no different from humanism. It rejects the hierarchical system of considering a particular caste superior to another, or men superior to women. Feminism helped me understand the subtle and sensitive issues of gender politics and effortlessly found expression in my stories.” Nemichandra’s first travelogue Ondu Kanasina Payana was about her experiences in Europe.
She is a recipient of many awards including the Karnataka Sahithya Academy award (for ‘Belakinondu kirana’ - a biography of Marie Curie), Gorur award (for ‘Ondu kanasina sanje’ - a collection of short stories) and Ratnamma Hegde award (for ‘Ondu kanasina payana’). She has penned songs on social issues and has laso written the novel ‘Yad Vashem’.
Nemichandra also believes that women’s writing in Kannada is ‘blooming’. “The contemporary women writers are confident and are expressive. They are dealing with a variety of subjects hitherto unexplored,” she says.