Lockdown inspired Sudha Murty relive her childhood with 'Grandparents' Bag of Stories'
A prolific author and philanthropist, Sudha Murty is quite content at often being addressed as "Mrs Narayana Murthy", as she presides over the Rs 400 crore Infosys Foundation that works among the less privileged sections of society and practices what she preaches -- that "money alone does not bring satisfaction" and that "satisfaction comes from the heart".
And it is from the heart that she has penned close to 40 books in Kannada and English, some of them translations and the bulk of them for children, with her latest offering "Grandparents' Bag of Stories" (Puffin), an ode to keeping your spirits up in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic - a story a day keeps all troubles away - to be released on Children's Day, November 14.
"My journey has taught me so many things, particularly to understand the difficulties of the human being. I enjoy writing for children.... they make me aware and to be sensitive to many, many issues," Murty, the mother-in-law of Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, told IANS in an interview.
Tracing her journey in the world of writing, she said it "started when I was very young. I used to write in Kannada and changed to English only when I was 50 years-old (she is now 71)".
"English translations, or writing in English, both helped me a lot because I could reach out to more people; a lot more people can read (English than Kannada)," Murty added.
Does she write to a pattern?
"I don't plan anything about what is the road ahead for me. When my experiences are full, and I cannot just keep it in my mind then I start writing. I don't plan, that I should write this book or that book but I always look at what I have and whether I will be able to pen down with more honesty and more compassion,"
To that extent, Murty's latest book is an exception in that it is follow up to the iconic and one of her best-loved books, "Grandma's Bag of Stories", that has sold over 300,000 copies. Featuring fascinating tales and endearing characters, especially the grandparents - who exemplify comfort and nostalgia of childhood stories and profusely illustrated by Priya Kurian, the book contains positive and timeless stories that inculcate values of compassion, resilience and sharing. It's an absolute must-have for every young Indian reader's bookshelf.
It's 2020 and children are stuck indoors as the novel coronavirus has found its way to India. A nationwide lockdown is announced, and amidst the growing crisis, Ajja and Ajji welcome their grandchildren and Kamlu Ajji into their house in Shiggaon (Murty's birthplace).
From stitching masks, sharing household chores, preparing food for workers to losing themselves in timeless tales, the lockdown turns into a memorable time for the children as they enter the enchanting world of goddesses, kings, princesses, serpents, magical beanstalks, thieves, kingdoms and palaces, among others. The myriad stories told by their grandparents become the biggest source of joy, making the children compassionate, worldly-wise and more resilient than ever.
"It was wonderful to work on this book during the lockdown period due to Covid-19. It was a joy to create something memorable and positive for the children, especially in this unprecedented time when most of us are restricted to home," Murty said.
"Writing this book was a delight and took me on a trip down memory lane where I once again became a child listening to stories from my grandparents and spending time with my cousins. I hope my young readers enjoy reading this book and find themselves having fun in this new world of simple and enchanting stories," she added.