I finished reading ‘Mahashweta’ by Sudha Murty yesterday. Though I feel I like her real-life stories better, I was not at all disappointed by this novel. I liked what I read.
Mahashweta is the story of a girl – Anupama, with whom I could relate to in more ways than one. The setting of the story is highly orthodox. The extremely beautiful Anupama is born into a poor Kannada family in a small village. Brought up by a stepmother, along with her step-sisters, Anupama faces a lot of pain in life. She is brilliant in academics, and very interested in literature, particularly Sanskrit literature. As she knows that her poor father would be unable to support her education, she works hard to keep up her grades, and studies on a scholarship. To sate her passion for Sanskrit literature, she participates in a number of plays, and is an actor par excellence.
She once performs a play called ‘Mahashweta’, playing the part of the heroine Mahashweta. In connection with this play, she meets the handsome Anand, a doctor, who falls in love with her. Anand hails from a very affluent family, and conveys to his widowed mother and sister that Anupama is the girl of his dreams, the girl he wants to settle down with in life. Though not very happy with the alliance, his mother agrees to it for her son’s sake. A lavish marriage is conducted, the groom’s family bearing the expenses.
Anupama and Anand seem to be the perfect couple, who have everything in life they could ask for. Their bubble shatters when Anand goes abroad for further studies, leaving Anupama behind in India with his mother and sister. Anupama is to perform the Lakshmi Pooja held in Anand’s family every year on a grand scale, and then join Anand. However, her life takes a turn for the worse, or perhaps for the better in my eyes, on the day of Lakshmi Pooja.
Anupama discovers a white patch on her foot, which is confirmed by the doctor to be leukoderma. She becomes ‘Mahashweta’ in the real sense – ‘the white one’. What happens to her after that, how she leads her life – that constitutes the rest of the novel – the best part. I’ll not divulge the plot here.
At the end of the novel, Sudha Murty recounts a real-life experience of how this novel of hers changed a couple’s life for the better. Perhaps, that is the best part of being a writer. You never know, but your words might inspire a dead soul to start living again, or bring joy to a weary heart. Your words reach people in the farthest corners of the world, and when you come to know of such incidents, you feel simply out of this world – as if part of your mission of being on earth has been fulfilled.
Orbis terrarum challenge: 8 more to go.