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Sudha Murty's Mahashweta: A Book That Teaches Valuable Lessons About Life, Love, and Humanity



Outline of the article ----------------------- H1: Mahashweta by Sudha Murthy: A Book Review H2: Introduction H3: Who is Sudha Murthy? H3: What is Mahashweta about? H3: Why is Mahashweta relevant today? H2: Main Body H3: The plot of Mahashweta H4: Anupama's fairytale marriage H4: Anupama's diagnosis of leukoderma H4: Anupama's abandonment and struggle H4: Anupama's friendship with Mahashweta H4: Anupama's transformation and success H3: The themes of Mahashweta H4: The social stigma of skin diseases H4: The power of human relationships H4: The courage and resilience of women H2: Conclusion H3: Summary of the main points H3: Recommendations for further reading --- # Mahashweta by Sudha Murthy: A Book Review ## Introduction Have you ever heard of Sudha Murthy? She is one of the most popular and prolific writers in India, who has written novels, short stories, travelogues, technical books, and children's books in both English and Kannada. She is also the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports various social causes. She has received many awards and honors for her literary and humanitarian work, such as the R.K. Narayan Award, the Padma Shri, and the Attimabbe Award . One of her most acclaimed novels is Mahashweta, which was published in 2007 by Penguin Books India. It is a story of a young woman named Anupama, who suffers from leukoderma, a skin condition that causes white patches on the skin. She faces rejection and discrimination from her husband, her in-laws, and society at large because of her appearance. However, she does not give up on her dreams and aspirations. She moves to Bombay, where she meets a famous actress named Mahashweta, who becomes her friend and mentor. She also pursues a career as a lecturer and a writer, and earns respect and recognition for her talents. Mahashweta is not just a novel about a woman with a skin disease. It is also a novel about the prejudices and injustices that exist in our society, especially against women. It is a novel about the importance of human relationships and compassion in overcoming hardships and challenges. It is a novel about the strength and courage of women who refuse to be defined by their circumstances. In this book review, I will summarize the plot of Mahashweta, analyze its main themes, and give my personal opinion on why it is worth reading. ## Main Body ### The plot of Mahashweta #### Anupama's fairytale marriage The novel begins with Anupama, a beautiful and intelligent girl from a poor family in a village in Karnataka. She has a passion for literature and drama, and participates in various cultural events at her college. She catches the eye of Anand, a handsome and wealthy doctor from Bombay, who falls in love with her at first sight. He proposes to her after watching her perform in a play based on Kalidasa's Shakuntala. Anupama accepts his proposal, despite the objections of her stepmother Sabakka, who thinks that she is not worthy of such a rich groom. She also faces opposition from Anand's family, who are snobbish and elitist. They look down upon Anupama's humble background and simple lifestyle. However, Anand stands by his choice and marries Anupama in a lavish ceremony. Anupama feels like she has entered a fairytale world with Anand. He showers her with love and affection, and fulfills all her wishes. He takes her to Bombay, where they live in a luxurious apartment. He also introduces her to his friends and colleagues, who admire her beauty and intelligence. #### Anupama's diagnosis of leukoderma Anupama's happiness is short-lived, however. One day, she notices a small white patch on her foot. She ignores it at first, thinking that it is a minor infection. However, the patch grows bigger and spreads to other parts of her body. She consults a doctor, who diagnoses her with leukoderma, a chronic and incurable skin condition that causes depigmentation of the skin. Anupama is shocked and devastated by the news. She fears that her husband and his family will reject her because of her appearance. She tries to hide her condition from them, but they soon find out. Anand's mother, who never liked Anupama, accuses her of being a bad omen and a curse for their family. She demands that Anand divorce Anupama and marry someone else. Anand, who was once madly in love with Anupama, also changes his attitude towards her. He becomes cold and distant, and avoids spending time with her. He tells her that he still loves her, but he cannot accept her as his wife anymore. He suggests that they separate for some time, until he finds a cure for her disease. Anupama feels betrayed and hurt by Anand's behavior. She realizes that he only loved her for her beauty, and not for her personality or character. She also feels lonely and isolated in Bombay, where she has no friends or relatives to support her. #### Anupama's abandonment and struggle Anupama decides to leave Bombay and return to her father's home in the village. She hopes that her father, who is a kind and loving man, will welcome her and comfort her. However, she faces more difficulties there. Her stepmother Sabakka treats her with contempt and cruelty. She blames Anupama for bringing shame and misfortune to their family. She also insults and abuses her every day. Anupama also faces ostracism from the villagers, who consider leukoderma as a contagious and cursed disease. They avoid talking to her or touching her. They mock and ridicule her for being a married woman living with her parents. They also spread rumors about her character and morals. Anupama feels depressed and hopeless in the village. She thinks that she has no future or purpose in life. She contemplates suicide several times, but stops herself for the sake of her father, who still loves her unconditionally. #### Anupama's friendship with Mahashweta One day, Anupama receives a letter from Dr Desai, a friend of Anand's who works in Bombay. He informs her that he has found a new treatment for leukoderma, which involves applying a herbal paste on the affected areas of the skin. He invites Anupama to come to Bombay and try the treatment. Anupama decides to give it a chance, hoping that it will cure her disease and restore her marriage. She borrows some money from her father and travels to Bombay alone. She meets Dr Desai at his clinic, where he applies the paste on her skin and asks her to come back after a week. Anupama has nowhere to stay in Bombay, so she looks for a cheap lodge near the clinic. She finds one run by an old woman named Lakshmi, who rents out rooms to poor women. Lakshmi is kind and sympathetic to Anupama, and offers her a room for a low price. In the lodge, Anupama meets another woman named Mahashweta, who lives in the next room. Mahashweta is a famous actress in Marathi theatre, who is known for playing strong and powerful roles. She is also beautiful and glamorous, and has many fans and admirers. Mahashweta takes an interest in Anupama, and befriends her. She learns about Anupama's condition and story, and empathizes with her pain and suffering. She tells Anupama that she too has faced many hardships in life, such as poverty, abuse, and betrayal. She reveals that she was once married to a man who cheated on her with another woman. She also confesses that she has cancer, which is slowly killing her. Mahashweta becomes a source of inspiration and support for Anupama. She encourages Anupama to pursue her passion for literature and drama, and helps her enroll in a college as a lecturer of Sanskrit. She also introduces Anupama to the world of theatre, where she meets many talented and creative people. Mahashweta teaches Anupama to be confident and independent, and not to depend on anyone else for happiness or validation. She tells Anupama that beauty is not skin-deep, but lies in one's character and actions. She advises Anupama to forget about Anand, who does not deserve her love or loyalty. #### Anupama's transformation and success Anupama follows Mahashweta's advice, and starts living a new life in Bombay. She works hard as a lecturer, and earns respect from her students and earns respect from her colleagues. She also writes articles and reviews for various magazines and newspapers, and becomes a well-known critic and writer. She also participates in several plays and dramas, and showcases her talent and passion for the stage. Anupama's skin condition improves gradually with the treatment, but she does not care much about it anymore. She has learned to accept herself as she is, and not to be bothered by what others think of her. She has found happiness and fulfillment in her work and hobbies, and has made many friends who appreciate her for who she is. ### The themes of Mahashweta #### The social stigma of skin diseases One of the main themes of Mahashweta is the social stigma attached to skin diseases, especially leukoderma. Leukoderma is a harmless condition that does not affect the health or functioning of the person, but it causes a lot of psychological and emotional distress due to the negative reactions of others. The novel shows how Anupama is discriminated against and ostracized by her husband, her in-laws, and society at large because of her appearance. She is treated as an outcast, a curse, and a burden by those who are supposed to love and support her. She is denied her rights and dignity as a human being and a woman. She is also subjected to ignorance and superstition, as some people believe that leukoderma is a contagious or cursed disease. The novel exposes the hypocrisy and cruelty of a society that judges people by their looks, and not by their character or abilities. It also highlights the need for awareness and education about skin diseases, and the importance of empathy and compassion for those who suffer from them. #### The power of human relationships Another theme of Mahashweta is the power of human relationships in overcoming difficulties and challenges. The novel shows how Anupama finds solace and strength in the friendship and support of Mahashweta, Lakshmi, Dr Desai, and other people who help her in her journey. Mahashweta is more than a friend to Anupama; she is a role model, a mentor, and a guardian angel. She teaches Anupama how to cope with her condition, how to pursue her dreams, how to be confident and independent, and how to be happy. She also shares her own struggles and sorrows with Anupama, and shows her that life is worth living despite the pain and suffering. Lakshmi is a mother figure to Anupama; she provides her with shelter, food, comfort, and care. She also protects her from harm and danger, and treats her like her own daughter. Dr Desai is a benefactor to Anupama; he offers her a chance to improve her condition with his treatment. He also encourages her to study and work as a lecturer, and helps her with his contacts and resources. These people show Anupama that she is not alone in this world, that there are people who care for her and value her for who she is. They also show her that there are people who are worse off than her, who have bigger problems than leukoderma. They inspire her to be grateful for what she has, and to help others in need. #### The courage and resilience of women A third theme of Mahashweta is the courage and resilience of women who face adversity and injustice in their lives. The novel portrays the lives of several women who have been oppressed, exploited, abused, or betrayed by men or society. Anupama is one such woman; she is abandoned by her husband who loved her only for her beauty. She is also humiliated by her in-laws who treat her as an inferior being. She is also shunned by society who considers her as a freak or a misfit. Mahashweta is another such woman; she is cheated by her husband who had an affair with another woman. She is also diagnosed with cancer which threatens to end her life. She shows Anupama how to face death with dignity and grace. Lakshmi is another such woman; she is widowed at a young age and has to raise her children alone. She is also exploited by her landlord, who tries to evict her from the lodge. She fights for her rights and her livelihood, and also helps other women in need. These women show Anupama that women are not weak or helpless, but strong and resilient. They show Anupama that women can overcome any obstacle or challenge, and achieve their goals and dreams. They show Anupama that women can support and empower each other, and create a better world for themselves and others. ## Conclusion In conclusion, Mahashweta by Sudha Murthy is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves reading. It is a book that touches the heart and the mind, and makes one think and feel deeply. It is a book that teaches valuable lessons about life, love, and humanity. Some of the main points that I learned from this book are: - Beauty is not skin-deep, but lies in one's character and actions. - Happiness is not dependent on others, but on oneself. - Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it. - Resilience is not giving up, but bouncing back. - Friendship is not a matter of convenience, but of choice. - Compassion is not a weakness, but a strength. If you enjoyed reading this book review, you might also like to read some of the other books by Sudha Murthy. Some of her popular books are: - Wise and Otherwise: A collection of 50 real-life stories that reflect the various facets of human nature and behavior. - How I Taught My Grandmother to Read: And Other Stories: A collection of 25 semi-autobiographical stories that capture the essence of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. - The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk: A collection of 23 stories that reveal the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. - Three Thousand Stitches: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: A collection of 11 stories that showcase the work of the Infosys Foundation in various fields such as education, healthcare, social justice, and art. - The Magic of the Lost Temple: A children's book that narrates the adventures of a city girl who visits her grandparents' village and discovers a hidden temple. I hope you found this book review helpful and interesting. Thank you for reading! ## FAQs Q1. Who is the author of Mahashweta? A1. Sudha Murthy is the author of Mahashweta. She is one of the most popular and prolific writers in India, who has written novels, technical books, travelogues, collections of short stories and non-fictional pieces, and books for children. Q2. What is leukoderma? A2. Leukoderma is a skin condition that causes white patches on the skin due to total loss of epidermal melanin. It is also known as vitiligo or achromoderma. Q3. What are some of the causes of leukoderma? A3. Some of the causes of leukoderma are: - Autoimmune diseases: The immune system attacks the melanocytes (pigment cells) by mistake. - Genetic factors: Leukoderma may run in families or be associated with certain genes. - Environmental factors: Exposure to chemicals, sun rays, or stress may trigger or worsen leukoderma. - Unknown factors: The exact cause of leukoderma is not known in many cases. Q4. What are some of the treatments for leukoderma? A4. Some of the treatments for leukoderma are: - Medications: Creams or pills that control inflammation, stimulate melanin production, or improve immunity may be prescribed. - Light therapy: Exposure to ultraviolet rays or lasers may help repigment the skin. - Surgery: Transplanting healthy skin or melanocytes to the affected areas may restore color. - Camouflage: Applying makeup or tattoos may cover up the white patches. - Depigmentation: Removing the remaining pigment from the skin may create a uniform appearance. Q5. What are some of the themes of Mahashweta? A5. Some of the themes of Mahashweta are: - The social stigma of skin diseases - The power of human relationships - The courage and resilience of women




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