This Women’s day month we share a conversation between Sid and Somashis. It tells the story of Heena Grover Menon, a woman Sid worked with during his TOI days. From a page 3 journalist to starting her own PR agency, Heena’s journey is a tale of self-dependence and determination.
It was the 8th of March, the month we celebrate women’s day, I woke up to a rather elating message from Sid. It read and I quote ‘Let’s plan something divergent for the women’s day month?’
I sat with a cup of tea after my morning business and it was then I found time to turn my energies to the matter. There remained a considerable residue of topics of interest that I might have written, edited, and published, but the topic of women’s day is such that it is revered by its contemporaries.
“All set for the month?” Sid replied with a sense of excitement on my call.
“Well, your text changed my thoughts, to be honest.” Said I.
“Well, why don’t we tell the story of a woman each week, this month which is special for women’s day, ” he suggested.
“Sounds good to me, we can talk about some of the well-known celebrities,” I suggested.
“No,” he disagreed, “I think no less remarkable are people who are rather unfathomed and their story remains untold to the world”
“You need to be more precise”
“You see most of the information shared in the public domain is related to famous people,” Sid said “however there are many more whose work is less sung of, and I feel we should tell their stories this month for women’s day.”
“Like?” I was confused.
“Well, I recall of a woman where I am myself can speak as an eyewitness.” He said
“I am all ears”
“It is about a charming young lady,” he started, “she was my colleague during my TOI days, and I remember I used to narrate to her stories of Gulzar and Ray, and many others. But today it gives me great happiness to tell you she is a story to tell.”
“Okay, so who is this mysterious lady?”
“It was a wild morning in October,” Sid began, “and I observed, how the last remaining leaves were being whirled from the solitary tree which graces the yard behind our office. I descended for a cup of coffee to the cafeteria where I found Heena in a particularly bright mood.”
“So her name is Heena?” I asked.
“Yes, Heena Grover Menon” Sid confirmed, “and as I found her joyous with that somewhat explicit cheerfulness which was characteristic of her lighter moments I asked her the reason.”
“So what was the reason?” I asked
“It was something,” Sid continued, “which I can say one expresses after months of trivialities and stagnation, the wheels move once more.”
“Might we discuss it?” I was curious.
“I will surely discuss it once you have consumed the porridge your new cook has favored with.” Sid gave a surprising reply.
“What? How do you know that I am …?” I was confused.
“Well, that is trivial,” Sid interrupted my question as if he knew it and continued, “as that is unconnected with the story I am about to share.” He confused me further.
“Bhai jhere kash” emotions are best expressed in Bangla, which is my mother language, so I asked him to speak out clearly.
“See, Heena who was working as a ‘Page 3’ journalist till then, was extremely excited to get an opportunity to join the main desk.”
“So Heena is a journalist?”
“Patience my friend, patience. Let me first tell you a bit more about Heena.” Sid continued, “Heena was born in a mixed culture. Her father was a Punjabi and her mother a Bengali.”
“Since her childhood, Heena was self-dependent, as both her parents were working.” Informed Sid.
“Brave girl I must say” I commented.
“Yes, she was,” Sid agreed “in fact, she used to cook surprise meals for her parents when she was just 7.”
“That is both cute and brave”
“Indeed, so as Heena grew up she found the flavors of Bengali literature from her mother who used to narrate stories of Sarat Chandra, Bankim, and all other contemporary writers.”
“Perhaps that developed the art of storytelling in her, did it?”
“That and the fact that her grandmothers used to narrate folk tales to her helped her to develop the skill of Storytelling”
“So coming back to the later times. It was then Heena found her life partner in Ajit Menon, and soon the two got married.”
“Okay, so who is her husband?”
“He too is an Auto Journalist” Sid informed, “but soon it was a time to make a big decision.”
“Ajit who had been that force and pillar, the one who showed her the light every time she had a doubt, relocated to Pune for work, so Heena was in a dilemma. She had her career on one hand and her family on the other.”
“So what did she do?”
“It was a tough decision for her, ultimately the deciding factor was …guess what…it was GOA.”
“You see the distance to Goa from Pune is just an overnight journey, so Heena decided to relocate to Pune.” Sid fell from the chair laughing.
“So, what did she do with her work?” I asked after we finished the lighter moment.
“Guess what she started her PR handling agency named Karma”
“From Page 3 journalist to mainstream journalism to PR handling? Quite a shift isn’t it.”
“Yes it is, and she with her partner in Karma did a tremendous job and was quite well-known in the industry.”
“Great, so she is now running a PR agency?”
“No, she had a difference of opinion with her partner, and she decided to quit.”
“Ah! That’s sad, I was checking the website of Karma, her work is truly distinguishing and shows her background as a journalist” I commented, “so what is she doing now?”
“When you are good at your work, you get noticed and it is that factor that got her back to work again. She was approached for handling the PR for ‘The Hill Festival- Shillong’.”
“Wait a minute, so it is her? I read about the festival at the national geographic and other newspapers”
“Oh, you did? Good, so you should know her quality and ability.”
“Yes I do”
“But tell me, what do you think is the reason I felt she should be featured in our Women’s day series.”
“Well, ….in fact…well..”
“Let me tell you more and your confusion will go”
“Very recently on the 1st of February she formed her own PR & Branding firm named Samsarra. This shows her zeal and passion to succeed in life. Later on the same month she was recognized for her contribution in the field of her work by Pune TV and today the one who used to listen to my stories has become a topic of our story herself.”
This is how I ended up writing this story. People like Heena has their own story of resilience and determination. We are proud of you, Heena. You’re an inspiration to many and that is why we write about you on this ‘women’s day’ month.
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.