Sudha Murty – the name is enough. She needs no introduction. She is a rare combination of traditional Indian values merged with the modern mindset.
The facts about her are well known and whatever I am writing in her regards will be nothing else but repeating the information. So, I simply want to summarize as: I like and admire her persona for being vocal, standing tall for her beliefs by keeping herself grounded, stand by her spouse as a rock pillar when he needed her the most, she is the lady who when found injustice is done to her, had courage to write to Mr. Tata. An epitome of the traditional Indian woman.
Some of Mrs. Murty’s book reflect the real incidents happened in her life (or the lives of people she knows). Sometimes, she may need to change names and places, but for many of her books, she kept the details as is. Penguin publications came up with an idea of making the short stories by Mrs. Murty available individual. They will be cheaper in price and need a very short time to read. This way, the readers can go for it while taking small rides or in the free chunk of time, they get in a break between two tasks.
Here are my thoughts about a short story by Mrs. Murty.
Today, I want to talk a little about her another short story A Woman’s Ritual.
|Book Title||:||A Woman’s Ritual
|Publisher||:||Penguin (19 January 2017)|
|# of Pages||:||874 KB; 14 (Kindle EBook)|
|# of Chapters||:||1-|
Let us take a look at the book cover.
The cover of the original book (the short story collection from which this story is taken to publish as a single) is not repeated, the publishers rather cameup with a simple illustration to be used for the purpose.
As you can see, Mehandi (i.e. Heena) clad open hands are shown in the backdrop of the black background. The hands are also shown as a greyscale image. If they were printed in color it would have been a cheerful cover page. So, is it unthoughtful? No, I don’t think so. The story is about the rituals we do after our dead beloved. To represent the sadness the cover has used greyscale cover.
Overall, a thoughtful cover page that the readers may not find attractive or eye-catcher.
Usually, we keep “The Plot” and our “Views And Reviews” as two separate segments in any book review. This book contains a single story of less than 15 pages. Talking about the plot in detail will definitely give away the entire story, and that will affect your reading experience. So, we’ve decided to merge both the segments in this case.
The story is narrated in the first person where the author herself is the protagonist. It is actually a real incident happened in her life.
The author talks about her late father who is no more. To pay him the respect, as per Indian traditions, on his death day, a shraddha (read as श्राद्ध not श्रद्धा; by the way, the root of श्राद्ध is in श्रद्धा). In this ritual, the close descendants remember the dead person and pay him/her the respect. They do a pooja and other stuff in addition to do some social welfare work (like offering food/clothes to a brahmin or temple priest, offering food to cattle, offering money to a temple, etc.)
So, it was the Shraddha day of Mr. Kulkarni and the author was the sole sibling waiting for the temple-priest. Her cousin who performs the ritual every year was not available. There were two more ladies sitting in the temple premises with same cause and almost a similar situation (of not having a male family member available to perform the ritual!
So, how will these ladies pay respect to their respective relatives? Well, you need to read the book to know it.
Mrs. Murty’s book are a delight to read. As she herself mentioned, her books are written in plain English. In a way that a layman can understand it. Rather than using words, phrases and idioms for which you need to grab a dictionary to known its meaning; she prefers using day-to-day language. And, that is the biggest USP of her books. On one hand, her books explore the traditional tapestry of the society and on the other, she presents a practical solution to the scenario on hand.
While remembering her late father and exploring his character, the author brilliantly introduces us to his qualities. That is how a child thinks their respective parents should be. Gentle, open-minded, supporting, strong and unbiased. The introduction of Mr. Kulkarni is a long and important passage of the story which you should not miss.
The author uses the day to day language and she wrote some witty funny statements by staying within those boundaries. Read the lines where she remembers herself writing a letter to Mr. Tata, and you will see how lightly she represented that incident in a matter-of-fact manner.
The way she explores various scenes is a positive attribute of the book. Her logical conversation about if the gender is not considered in various financial dealings with the temple, then why should they be considered when performing a ritual, is interesting.
Here are some interesting lines from the book that shall convey you the qualities you can expect from the book.
Tradition is different from ritual. A tradition passes down values to the next generation but a ritual or ceremony is what you do by practice and habit.
For example, performing shraddha is a tradition, but the fact that it is done by a man is a ritual.
We shouldn’t break traditions but rituals can be changed depending on the circumstances. Rituals are almost always formed based on geographical, economic and social conditions.
I like the way the characters of the book are developed. This is how we find most of the real people in the middle class behave and live. The characters held their religious beliefs up and yet does the logical things.
The book explores the way gender equality and feminism should be talked about. A wisdom tale, I must say.
Overall, a small yet interesting story that explores a real incident. I loved reading it.
Around 7.5 stars out of 10.
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