“Initially men work for money but soon, money becomes unimportant. It is power. There is nothing like power. Power is like liquor. Once the intoxication of power catches hold of an ambitious person, there is no escape from it.
It is a vicious circle. Like in a whirlpool, it is difficult to come out of it. More work, more involvement and more power. The individual loses the ability to see and enjoy anything outside his work.”
Gently Falls The Bakula is the first book of Sudha Murthy‘s that I’ve read and it won’t be the last. I came across this book while looking for a new read in my university library in Germany. After finishing this book I felt ashamed of myself for never having read any of the author’s books before. The fact that I chose to add American and British authors to my shopping basket, rather than Indian authors, makes me think that I have not given as much importance to our own authors as I should have. If Mrs Sudha Murthy happens to read this blog then Ma’am, you have my sincerest apologies.
The way Sudha Murthy has understood the psyche of a middle class, caste-driven, economically suffering families, with a bit too much of arrogance, is noteworthy. The author not only dissects every emotion going through the people of such families but she also shows us how that each character, no matter how obnoxiously they behave, has a reason for being so. You can enjoy this book irrespective of whether you fit into the typical Indian middle class or not. There is something in this book for everybody.
The book follows the life of the protagonist, Shrimati Deshpande, and her next door neighbour Shrikant Deshpande. Shrikant is a very ambitious while Shrimati is an intelligent yet simple girl. They belong to families who are sworn enemies and who can’t stand each other even though the two families live next to one another. apart from a common wall that separates the two families is a small Bakula tree. This tree, in time, becomes a place where Srimati and Shrikant profess their love for one another. In spite of differences between their families, they both get married and start their life together in a new city. Shrikant joins an IT firm and puts all his time and energy into building his career while Shrimati abandons all her dreams of learning about Indian History and becomes a model homemaker and trophy wife.
Time and again life gives Shrimati an opportunity to pursue her dreams but she gives it all up for the sake of her husband and his accomplishments. She regrets nothing. Not even the sacrifices she makes for her dear husband who she thinks the world of. Because of her constant and unchanging support, Shrikant climbs up to become the vice president of the company in very little time.
But her submissiveness makes Shrikant take her for granted. There comes a time when she realises that all her husband wants is a personal assistant instead of a wife. She goes through depression and illness and finds that her once adorable and caring husband does not give a damn about her today. All he cares about is his growth in the company. At this point of time, she meets an old professor of hers who had once proposed to help her complete her doctorate with a full scholarship. Being the perfect wife she postpones her dreams of studying further just for her husband. But when she looks back, she realises that she has nothing in her life. That her life is now empty. She finally decides to leave Shrikant and she travels to the US to somehow bring meaning into her meaningless life. After she leaves, Shrikant looks up at the sky and regrets his mistakes.