Here’s how Sudha Murthy influenced with her Grand mother “Ajji”

My grandparent who had the most profound influence on me,’ Sudha told Murthy, ‘was my grandmother Amba, whom I called Ajji. Ajji had become a widow early in her life. She looked like any other traditional widow of that time, with a white sari that covered her shaved head. I will always remember the sadness in her voice when she told me what had happened to her after her husband died. “Nobody asked my permission before cutting off all my beautiful hair.” Till then, I had never thought about the sad plight of widows. Ajji opened my eyes to that and many other things.

Ajji’s soul was dauntless by what fate had dealt him. She decided to become a midwife, taught herself the necessary skills, and delivered over a hundred babies. She helped women of all castes and religions. He never rejected anyone who needed his help; Whether they were rich or poor did not matter to him. Day or night, whoever came knocking at her door, she was ready to answer him.

Blessed with common sense, Azzi developed a series of procedures to ensure the safety and success of his ‘patients’. People were not able to have darshan of the Mother Goddess unless they were healthy and had taken a fresh bath. Everything that came in contact with the mother was cleaned with turmeric. She made the new mother drink water in which iron rods were added and boiled to replace the iron lost due to bleeding.

Ajji considered the entire process of childbirth normal and discussed it openly with her granddaughters. Sudha even once accompanied him for a midnight delivery – an adventure that left a deep impression on him. It was no coincidence that Sudha’s father, Dr. R.H. Both Kulkarni and her elder sister Sunanda decided to become gynecologists.

When Sudha herself opted for engineering, a field of study that was considered unsuitable for women, she remembered what Ajji had shown through her lifestyle and stood strong against all the relatives who opposed her. Tried to change his mind.

Ajji also told Sudha, ‘A woman can do a man’s work. But a man cannot do a woman’s work. This was a statement that Sudha would think of at a crucial moment in her life.

The values that Ajji stood for and her out-of-the-box thinking had a deep impact on Sudha. Her grandmother was a rebel in the guise of a traditionalist – a clever strategy that Sudha found very effective. She herself will plan it at the appropriate time in her life.

Sudha’s upbringing was quite extraordinary for a young Indian woman of that time as when she was eight years old she was given the freedom to pursue her favorite studies, go out of the house like her brother Srinivas, and travel alone in buses. Old. Later, when she decided to cut her hair short and wear pants, no one stopped her.

Her father, when the time was right, openly discussed menstruation – considered an ‘unhygienic condition’ in conservative families – with her and her sisters and explained that it was just a biological condition and nothing to be ashamed of.

As a result, Sudha developed self-confidence, strong will and the ability to think analytically and independently from a young age. She was also very courageous. One foggy morning, when she was going to school alone, a man tried to snatch her gold earrings. Instead of getting scared, Sudha shouted at him scoldingly and hit him hard with her umbrella. The startled thief ran away as fast as he could.

Murthy, thinking of how strictly her own sisters were brought up with the twin ‘virtues’ of obedience and humility and a suitable marriage as their only goal, said to Sudha, ‘Do you realize how fortunate you are? That you come from such a family? A family where you were never stopped because you were a girl? Where were you really encouraged to study and stand up for yourself?’

‘I know,’ Sudha said suddenly becoming serious. ‘It was a true gift. So I should make the most of it.

This excerpt from An Uncommon Love: The Early Life of Sudha and Narayana Murthy by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is published with the permission of Juggernaut Books.