Bengaluru: A self-professed ‘ordinary person’, Sudha Murty’s gift lies in finding the extraordinary in the profoundly simple. An engineer who worked hard for her skills, a philanthropist who set out to make a difference in society and a 67-year old woman with the heart of a child: Sudha Murty dons many caps with ease and has established herself as a prolific storyteller. On Friday evening, Mrs Murty launched her 200th published title, Here, There and Everywhere at Sapna Book House, with the author in conversation with MP Shashi Tharoor.
In an interview to Deccan Chronicle before the event, which was slightly stalled by the rain and the troubles that accompany it, says her only difficulty was choosing the ‘best-loved’ stories. “The stories are a combination from several books, about six of which were on the Infosys Foundation. I have been asked several times to put out a collection of stories so when I got around to it, I picked the most unusual ones. I tried to pick the gems, which describe experiences that are rare, so my readers can enter another world through them,” she explains.
An avid reader from a very age, Murty was raised in a village without the many amenities we take for granted. There was no television and even a transistor was hard to obtain. Going for a movie presented itself only on the rarest occasion. Reading, therefore, was all she had. Writing began as an evening exercise, under the guidance of her mother. It grew on her, resulting in 29 books and 200 titles to her name in the last 40 years. ‘I was forced to sit and write, however, once I began writing, I slowly but surely began to find it fun. I could play with combinations of the fifty-two letters in the Kannada alphabet and create meaningful words to express my feelings. Before long, writing became a fond habit,’ Mrs Murty writes in the book’s opening chapter: A tale of many tales.
Having studied in Kannada schools, it was only natural that Mrs Murty would choose to read and write in the same language. It was only at the age of 50 that she began writing in English and the simplicity of her budding style soon proved to be an asset. “I don’t write with a complex style, I cannot. I write in the same English I’m using right now,” she says. “I don’t write for fame or money, I simply want to share my experiences,” she remarks, breaking into the honest smile that adorns the cover of her book, which she has dedicated to her brother.
Constantly allured by the new, she travelled alone to the U.S., an unusual move at the time. “It led to my first publication, which now appears quite amateurish to me. I did it because I wanted to do something new but I was able to because of
Narayan Murthy. I dedicated that first book to him not just because he is my husband but because he has been a very dear friend.”
Her stories are an amalgamation of her learning, observations and experiences. ‘Often, I sense that there is a lot of myself in my stories, whether it’s my friends or family or the people I meet. However, the experiences that I write about are mine. I cannot disassociate from myself while writing about them’, begins the book.
“It’s a fable with a lesson at the end and dozens of them that make you think, smile and cry. What’s striking is that every story feels true and you can see her sensibilities, her feelings, her opinions and at the same time an understated humanity,” said Tharoor, who was in conversation with Mrs Murty at the launch.
Describing the book, he hinted at it being a step towards Sudha’s autobiography, “She has been discovering writing as if it was an art through doing. Through her writing, you understand the person she is, the life she has led and the spirit that emanates her. It’s very direct, conversational and accessible. What you read is what you get,” added Tharoor whose writings Sudha believes to be very powerful.
“All the stories represent a tremendous respect for hard work, accomplishment through striving and an unerring faith in humanity,” he said. And that sums up Sudha Murty’s simple but extraordinary life; A fine human being who strongly embraces herself and is aware of her being while acknowledging the minute details of the abundant lives of people around her....