GOPI WHO STOLE SUDHA’S HEART
Sudha Murty is a multifaceted personality – a corporate professional, a philanthropist and a bestselling author who has written more than 90 books in Kannada and English. Her new book titled The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home is the first of a three-part series that focuses on the life of her pet dog Gopi. The book features charming stories told from Gopi’s perspective. -by Smita Dwivedi
Sudha Murty is Chairperson of Infosys Foundation and wife of Infosys Technologies founder NR Narayana Murty. Remarkably, she was the first female engineer recruited by TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company), now Tata Motors. As an author, Sudha loves to tell stories and share her experiences. She delights readers with her philosophical views on charity, hospitality and self-realisation through fictional narratives.
Origin of idea
On asking about the origin of her idea on writing The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home, which characterises her pampered pooch Gopi as main protagonist, she replied, “One day Udayan Mitra, Publisher of HarperCollins came to meet me. He asked me to write a book, to which I replied I couldn’t because I had no new idea. By the time he was about to leave, he saw majestic Gopi – my one-year-old, extremely friendly and handsome Golden Retriever entering the room and wagging his way straight into Udayan’s heart. He immediately asked me to write a book on Gopi. I thought that it would be interesting if I narrate a story in Gopi’s voice, the way he looks at me – like Mom.”
Gushing over Gopi’s Journey
The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home unfolds Gopi’s journey to his new home and tells how he settles down with his loving human family comprising his Appa, Ajja, Ajji, Tachi Ajji, and his cousins. It beautifully narrates how Gopi quickly transcended from being a small bundle of fur to a young pup who understood his world and the people around him faster than they named him Gopi. How he sees the world around him and what he thinks of the people in his life. All these unique tales give the book truly a unique flavour.
The book has been edited by Shrukeerti Khurana (Didi) while the lovely pictures of Gopi’s activities have been well illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat. Explaining more about the main protagonist, Sudha explained, “This is a real life story. I call him Gopi Murty. He is the star of our household and has company of two other stray dogs—Nandi and Hari, adopted from a shelter. Gopi spends his time chasing frogs and butterflies, barking, eating, and drinking water out of the running taps. He enjoys eating cucumbers, carrots and loves buttermilk.”
Her life experiences in books
Sudha’s journey as an author is interesting. “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 and foreign languages including Urdu, Sanskrit and Italian,” she said. Narrating 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.” She added that from her school days, she used to write as she always loved to express her thoughts and observations. Later, when she traveled a lot through her job, especially in Bihar and the US, it provided her great exposure and many new experiences, which were there in her first novel in 1979.
In one of her 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 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,” she said.
Her compassionate for animals
Sudha’s compassion for animals is extraordinary. On asking about when she had her first pet, she said, “When I was six years old, I had a pet named Moti – a pariah. We brought Raja – a Cocker Spaniel, when I was 12 years old and later, we enjoyed the company of Julie – a Pomeranian. And after 40 long years, we brought home this bundle of joy – Gopi, whom I lovingly call Gopi, Gopecha, Gopesh, Gopinath, Gopal Rao, Gopal Swamy Gopu, so on.” She said that the objective of The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home is to inculcate pure love for animals among children. She conclusively mentioned, “Having a pet at home makes kids more human. It teaches them not to be cruel to other animals and they rather learn great values of sharing, caring, and compassion.”
The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home—the first book of the series begins with Gopi coming to his new home with Rohan – Sudha Murty’s son. Gopi shares how he settles down with his loving human family. The book has instances like welcoming Gopi with aarti and blessings, getting introduced to other family members over a video call, and lots of confusion and disagreements while selecting his name are some of the incidents that many readers will relate to.
The book has a wonderful description of not-so-dog-friendly Narayan Murty, who connects with Gopi from a distance, and an instant relation with Shrutee Didi, who is a compassionate animal lover. There is also a chapter about ‘A Trip to the Vet’ which wonderfully explains fears, apprehensions, doubts and anticipations of any dog visiting a vet clinic.
Gopi at home is not alone; he has company in the form of two other stray dogs adopted from the dog shelter. Almost everything written in Sudha Murty’s inimitable style, this is a book that children and adults will treasure alike as the simple stories talk of basic values told from a dog’s perspective. The other two books from the series are set to release in the years 2021 and 2022.