Book review: Sudha Murthy’s Three Thousand Stitches isn’t a book you’ll remember
Three Thousand Stitches presents anecdotes from Sudha Murty’s lifebooks Updated: Oct 21, 2017 13:10 IST
I finished the book today. It left a mellow after-taste. I didn’t know what to make of it initially because the best way to judge a story is to gauge its effect. It felt light and uncomplicated, but unresolved, as if the pages ran out but the words shouldn’t have.
Three Thousand Stitches won’t be the book I remember. It isn’t the kind of story that keeps flickering in and out of your consciousness. No random face with a peculiar nose or the lights hanging in the sky will remind me of this story. I knew when I finished reading that it just wasn’t this sort of a book.
It is instead the book I will forgetfully place on my shelf. Its pages will turn yellow and an accidental glance at the title or the author will spark a thought until I stumble on it again. The story won’t exist until the eyes allow it to.
The writer of Three Thousand Stitches is powerful in her tone. She is boastfully confident, and proud. At least her voice is. But don’t get me wrong. It isn’t a repulsive trait. It’s the energy that deserves recognition simply because some are born to be great at what they do. Like Cristiano Ronaldo is for football. He, despite his humble origins, has image after image of his contoured body sprayed with layers of tan. He is bashful, yes, but rightfully so.
The book has anecdotes presented in short stories of her experiences. She recounts the time she was called ‘cattle class’ because of the language she spoke and the way she dressed. The co-founder of one of the most successful IT companies in India tells of her ambition, when she was the only to woman to study engineering in an all-men’s college. She remembers her grandmother and wore silk sari with flowers in her hair. She describes the feeling of contentedness as she soaked herself in the holy waters of Varanasi. She speaks of her daily routine at the foundation she has nurtured so obsessively to help the needy. She detours into her travel diary and rejoices in finding a Bollywood connection everywhere she goes. She, for no logical reason whatsoever, ends the book by reciting her experience of attending an AA meeting to witness the havoc of alcoholism.
Still, despite the assortment of emotions, let this serve as a warning -- there’s no eloquence in her words or even her sentences. It seems they’re written on a whim and a fancy. They are an insight into the author but they don’t give away enough. The fragments of her life are too far apart, like a lucky draw of moments she chose to display and tantalizingly blacked out the rest. The stories are featured like scriptures meant only to inspire and not provoke. They lack intensity and the episodes are penned with a childish naivety quite similar to writing in you, dear diary.
Does it help to know that she is the enigmatic Sudha Murthy, the philanthropist who gave her savings to create Infosys? Does her burdened name heighten your expectations from her? Does the knowledge of her authorship make you wish there were more dimensions to Three Thousand Stitches?
It does for me.