Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Dollar Bahu and Gently Falls the Bakula: Sudha Murthy
My mom finished reading this book in a couple of days. That is a phenomenal occurrence because she never reads anything other than magazines. But Sudha Murthy’s “Dollar Bahu” is such a charming and simple read that even people like my mother will be drawn by it. The story is extremely straightforward, predictable even, but it’s the language and the sheer simplicity with which Murthy portrays emotions that keeps you hooked. Dollar Bahu is about the monetary ambitions of a middle class lady named Gouramma. It is also about two women who come as daughter-in-laws to the family. The elder son’s wife is a down-to-earth humble lady but Gouramma treats her shabbily because she is not wealthy. The other son’s wife, both of whom are in the US, is always praised sky-high because she is smart, good looking and comes from a rich family. But Gouramma realizes her folly as the book unwinds and finds that the grass is not always green on the other side.
Dollar Bahu, which has been made into a television serial and also been prescribed as a text in schools, impressed me so much with its conversational style that I picked up another work by Sudha Murthy called “Gently Falls the Bakula.” In the forward she states that the book was written in the 80s so some things might seem irrelevant now. The theme definitely is ageless – about a woman who gets married to her love but after a long time into the marriage she begins to realize that her identity was erased almost to the point of non-existence. This is an issue, which is present in most marriages even in today’s world. The man goes after his career while the woman, however qualified, is forced to be at home at some point in time.
Sudha Murthy’s writing is very simplistic, her stories are taken out of daily lives and her characters could be your neighbors. Women’s issues are the highlight of her books and without sounding like a feminist she manages to put them across by weaving them into the plot and her stories echo her own personal thoughts. At times I felt that her women have too much shading of black and white – either they are extremely compromising like Shrimati or extremely callous like her mother-in-law. Perhaps, there are people out there like that and Murthy might be writing from experience and these are hardly factors to stop me from buying another book of hers.
Verdict: A breezy, interesting and light read