Gently Falls the Bakula
- Sudha Murthy
Sudha Murthy is a well-known name in literary circles. Apart from being the wife of N R Narayan Murthy, the legendary software entrepreneur who founded Infosys, Mrs. Murthy has created an identity of her own as a writer. She also chairs the Infosys Foundation.
I have read a few of her books, “Wise & Otherwise” being one of them. Her stories are rooted in Indian soil and she has an uncomplicated narrative style. Gently Falls the Bakula is no exception.
The story is about a bright young man and a girl, who know each other from their school-days, fall in love and get married in spite of a family feud. Shrikant graduates from IIT-Bombay, joins a software firm and is on his way to become its director. Shreemati, though more intelligent than him, gives up her further studies and manages his house. After almost half a decade of marriage, she realizes that her husband has become too focused on his career and has no place for family matters or to think about her. Eventually, she takes a decision that leaves their family life shattered.
The novel was written more than three decades ago, in fact it was Sudha Murthy’s first Kannada novel. Hence it is difficult to surmise whether her views have changed over the years.
Nevertheless, I have some objections with the points raised in the novel.
To begin with, the couple has had a love marriage, they know each other quite well. Shreemati is well aware of the ambitious, hard-working nature of her husband, and in fact before their marriage she is proud of it. How come the same qualities turn against him after the marriage?
On the face of it, no one can deny that it is insensitive, indeed cruel, for any man or woman not to value a relationship and give it due share of time and attention. At the same time, one must take into account the practical realities of today’s work culture.
As a boy, I used to complain about my parents not giving sufficient time at home; in spite of the fact that they worked regular hours 10 AM to 6 PM, and always had Sundays and other holidays off, no matter what.
But in software industry, working 50-60 hours a week is the norm, and weekend offs is a dream that does not come true always. And not just the guys; the girls are nowhere behind when it comes to putting in long hours.
The point is: Would Mrs. Shreemati have held same views about not giving enough time, had she been working too? As per my opinion, there is never anything like giving ‘sufficient time’ at home; you may spend all the weekends at home every month, and yet the family members are more likely to complain that you do not give enough time during week-days!
Lastly, I find it difficult to justify her final decision. To say, “I expected these things from you, but you didn’t deliver, so am calling the whole thing off”, is more suitable for a business deal, but not for a relationship; especially one based on love and trust. Relationship is about giving the other person a chance to make up for the mistake… if he/she doesn’t wisen up even after you have pushed the matter in face, walking out of the door is not only advisable, it is strongly recommended.
I was glad to read this novel; it has definitely given me something to think about. Thanks to my office-colleague who shared the book with me!