And Ajji started her story...
Thus began every story in this book. Stories that are simple, downright
honest, yet those that evoke deep emotions and convey strong
messages. Stories that smell like the earth after the first downpour of the
season. Stories that are the colours of nature - shades of green, blue,
and brown. Stories that sound like a child’s laughter. Stories that remind
you of your grandparents and the fun, carefree times you shared with
them. It’s only fair that a book with such stories deserves a review that’s
simple and straight-from- the-heart, too.
It’s a rare gift to convey complex thoughts and emotions with innate
simplicity and clarity. Sudha Murthy is one such gem who pulls off such
a feat with great élan! I have read her earlier works and those of you
who have also read her other books, would know what I say.
In ‘Grandma’s Bag of Stories’, Sudha Murthy pulls out one magical story
after another – be it folklore, mythology, stories of kings and their
subjects, the common man, or animals. While the stories are rooted to
the Indian culture, they have a universal charm.
Ajji or the Grandma in the stories, enchants her grandchildren, Raghu,
Meenu, Anand, and Krishna, with a wonderful repertoire of stories, when
they visit her house in Shiggaon for their summer holidays. In the late
afternoons, the children would huddle around her to hear what story she
had in store for them each day.
A lesson in kindness from the story of Ravi and the old, thirsty man in
Doctor, Doctor, a lesson in true happiness from the story of King Amrit
and the people of his kingdom in Who was the Happiest of Them All?, a
humorous lesson in math from the story of the English scholar and
advisor to the Prime Minister, George Smith in The Horse Trap, a lesson
in being hardworking from the story of the good-for- nothing, Brij, and his
lazy ways in Fire on the Beard, or a lesson in conserving nature from the
story told by Rehmat chacha in The Island of Statues, all the stories in
this book are crisply woven into modest, warm, and engaging stories,
without being didactic. They remind you of good ol’ summer holidays
spent with grandparents who did everything possible to make them
memorable – hot, yummy, homemade food, gifts, fun outings, and, of
course, stories – just like Ajji and Ajja in this book.
The illustrations by the inimitable Priya Kurian bring the stories to life;
the expressive faces of each character bringing you that much closer to
liking the story.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who can read. The stories also
make perfect bed-time stories to be read aloud to children who are yet to
learn the art of reading.