“Books are our never failing friends!”

says Sudha Murty, chairperson of Infosys Foundation and wife of Infosys Technologies founder NR Narayana Murty. As an author, she has written more than 90 books in Kannada and English, and continues to delight readers with her philosophical views on charity, hospitality and self-realization through fictional narratives. Smita Dwivedi of AABP brings a brief account of the life of Sudha Murty as an author.

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Sudha Murty is a multifaceted personality – corporate professional, philanthropist and a bestselling author. Remarkably, she was the first female engineer recruited by TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company), now Tata Motors.

Simply Sudha

Being sincere and honest to your profession is what Sudha believes in to excel in every role. Her cheerful nature enables her to make friends easily. In her professional life, she has been one of the finest managers, who completes every task on time with quality and within budget. Her qualities make her not just a better manager but a better human being too! A modern woman with Indian values, she combines the best of right and left lobes. Having proved how one can relate to the rich and poor, she is indeed a woman of substance.

From being a first ranker in all semesters of her engineering course to winning gold medals in every examination to a fine engineer…Sudha has been brilliant in all aspects of her early life. And when she started her second innings, she has fared even better.

As an author, she loves to tell stories and share her experiences. Her new book, The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home, is the first of a three-part series that focuses on the life of her pet dog. These are simple stories, told from Gopi’s perspective, which focus on basic values such as sharing, caring, and compassion.

Being author

Her journey as an author is interesting too. “I started off in Kannada in school and college time, but did not write for 10 years during my engineering and Infosys Foundation work. Initially, I wrote all my novels in Kannada until I turned 50 in 2000. My first English book Wise and Otherwise came up two years later. Interestingly, my books have been translated into many Indian languages (including Urdu & Sanskrit) and Italian too,” shares Sudha.

Sharing about her real life experiences around her books, she shared an old anecdote, “I went on a solo trip in the US when I was 29 years old. I explored the country for three months on a backpack and had some noteworthy moments from the trip, which I later shared in my books.”

“From the school days, I used to write as I always loved to express my thoughts and observations. Later, when I traveled a lot through my job, especially in Bihar, India and USA, it provided me great exposure and many new experiences, which were there in my first novel in 1979,” she added.

In one of her most famous short stories, How I taught my grandmother to read, she beautifully expressed her initial romance with literature. “When I was a girl of about twelve, I used to stay in a village in north Karnataka with my grandparents. In those days, the transport system was not very good, so we used to get the morning newspaper only by afternoon. The weekly magazine used to come one day late. All of us would wait eagerly for the bus, which brought the newspapers, weekly magazines and the post.”

She feels she is a writer, who loves to follow her heart…“Most of the books that I have written are based on my life experiences and observations. So, I don’t have to create any fictitious situation. And that’s why my writing is by heart. Writing is my hobby and I only write, when I am full with thoughts.”

Reader first

She believes that books are one’s never failing friends. For her, reading is a regular affair. She says, “I read a lot, every day for hours. I have my own library adorned with over 5,000 books. I read every genre, sometimes I even read the paragraphs I write. I pick any book on any subject and after reading 15-20 pages, if I like, I continue reading. For me, it is not necessary to read only the known authors. Though, I like the methodology of English authors.”

On asking about the books that she has read more than once, she gave two examples, though there are many. These include Ten Thousand Miles without a Cloud and Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism, 1839-1939.

Ten Thousand Miles without a Cloud is a beautifully written account of Sun Shuyun’s journey to retrace the steps of one of the most popular figures in Chinese history – the monk Xuanzang, who travelled to India searching for true Buddhism. Whereas Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism, 1839-1939, by Margaret Forster traces the lives of eight women, each of whom pioneered vital changes in the spheres of law, education, the professions, morals or politics; each forcing her own brand of feminism, yet making a lasting difference to women’s lives.

Beyond English

Most of her work is now being translated into other regional languages, which she feels will help her to reach out to a larger audience. According to her, translation plays a vital role in spreading literature. “I think translations are very helpful in promotion of any form of literature. English is not for everyone. There are so many people who are well versed in their native language and appreciate good literature coming to them from any language,” she said.

Memorable message

“Reading is a great habit, keep it up. It gives you someone else’s experiences and adventures. One can have many experiences based on different situations. Book is the best friend, so instead of video games and other mobile games we should always carry a book with us,” concludes Sudha.

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