Wise and more wise!

By Himanshu Nimbhorkar

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“Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown and the question papers are not set. Nor are there model answer papers.” Classic Sudha Murthy at her wisest. The superwoman has given us life lessons for years and decades. Every word, every sentence penned by her has immense amount of warmth, love and wisdom in it.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and a prolific writer, Sudha Murthy was born on 19th August 1950 in Karnataka, India. From enrolling herself to the predominantly male driven engineering course (back in the day women aspiring to be engineers was almost unheard of), to becoming the first female engineer hired at Tata Engineering and Locomotive company, Murthy broke all gender barriers left, right and centre. At such a young age she dreamt big, and more importantly pursued her ambitions fearlessly. She later went on to start Infosys foundation and did immense amount of social service. It can all be learnt in depth through her beautiful and intimate book named ‘Three Thousand Stitches’.

Lady has had a writing career one can just dream of. Characterized with a simple straightforward writing style devoid of any kind of unnecessary sophistication or fancy language, Murthy made her writings accessible to one and all. Her vast body of work includes a lot of children’s books, novels, travelogues, technical books, academic books, non-fiction books and short story collections. Her literary world is usually built through a very simple, intimate lens. The conflicts are all very relatable with many of them being just simple hurdles which become a part and parcel of one’s routine life in some capacity or the other. She places a major emphasis on tiny, little lifelike elements in her stories; and her characters are all highly nuanced making them human in every possible way. Most of her stories feel very local with regular usage of regional terms. There’s a cultural backdrop to her writings. Her stories are brilliantly Indianized retaining all the authenticity along, while yet being universal in appeal. Also most of her characters come from a middle class background. To the point description, recurring local cultural references, an easy to follow narrative and a beautiful universal appeal make her writings one of a kind.

‘How I taught my grandmother to read and stories’ is a collection of short stories. This happens to be one of her earliest and most profound works. The saga continues with the acclaimed and quite personal ‘Wise and Otherwise’, a collection of observation based non-fiction writings. ‘Mahashweta’, ‘Gently falls The Bakula’, ‘Dollar Bahu’, ‘The day I stopped drinking milk’, ‘The mother I never knew’, ‘Three Thousand stitches’; the list doesn’t end. Writings filled with sensibilities exhibit love all round. Her other children’s books include ‘Grandma’s bag of stories’, ‘The magic of the lost temple’, ‘The bird with golden wings : stories of wit and magic’ and the 3 book series ‘Gopi Diaries’.

“When you come across difficulties, you have to grow bigger than the problem. You have that capacity within you, but you are not aware of it. If you become bigger, difficulties will look smaller than you, and you can solve them easily. If you become smaller than the difficulties, they will look like mountains and crush you. This is the theory I have followed in life.” Words uttered by the woman herself. This highly inspirational excerpt from ‘How I Taught My Grandmother to Read and Other Stories’ is filled with a very simple yet an important thought. And Mrs Murthy weaving the magic with her words make it sound a notch more impactful.

Other than the prestigious Padma Shri title, the legend has been bestowed with countless number of awards, recognitions, honorary doctorates and endless amounts of love. Her writings have also resonated with readers abroad, thus helping Indian Literature as a whole grow by leaps and bounds.

Despite reaching newer heights and pulling off achievements one after the other for decades, the woman has stuck to her roots firmly. Other than her invaluable contribution to the Indian Literature, she has been working tirelessly for the underprivileged and marginalized communities. Wearing a simple saree paired with a gajra, donning a beautiful smile throughout, Murthy redefines humility. In her book ‘The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk: Life Lessons from Here and There’ she educates us, “With my experience in life, I want to tell you that having good relationships, compassion and peace of mind is much more important than achievements, awards, degrees or money.”

A lot of love, affection, beauty, joy, celebration and wisdom awaits you as you pick the next Sudha Murthy book. Feel it, inherit it and smile a bit.

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