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Jul 23, 2008 02:29 PM 37199 Views
(Updated Jul 23, 2008 07:33 PM)



A marriage is a commitment, for better or worse, till death do us part.

Does every marriage meet with the same fate. Well, not always…Mostly when marriage vows are broken, it’s believed that there were major contentions which could not be resolved. Inspite of uniting in a lifelong bond, the partners separate. But it’s hard to imagine a small white patch leading to the dissolution of a marriage. Yeah, that’s precisely what happens with the main protagonist of MAHASHWETA by Sudha Murty.


When the intelligent & well-bred Dr. Anand first laid eyes on charming Anupama (Anu from now on), time stood still. He was moved beyond words by her simplicity and striking beauty. It was love at first sight for both of them. Anand was tall, fair and good looking. To Anupama, God had been fairly kind with looks as well as talent. She was a superb actress, a classical singer and an excellent student all rolled into one. The only hitch could be that she hailed from a very poor family which included just her father, a haughty stepmother and 2 step sisters. Since Anand was madly in love with her, his mother Radhakka had to agree to the wedding though half-heartedly. She even bore all the wedding expenses befitting their status.

For Anu, it was like a dream come true. They were made for each other. She was happy and content. A few months into the marriage – Anand left for England for further studies leaving Anu to join him after the Deepavali puja. But Anu’s happiness was short-lived. She discovered to her horror that the place on her foot where a live coal had fallen, a white patch was developing. A dermatologist appointment confirmed that she had ‘leukoderma’ which meant that the patch could spread and similar patches might develop at other places too. Thus one revelation turned her life upside down.


One of Bana Bhatta’s earliest Sanskrit novels was Kadambari. It’s the story of Mahashweta – the extremely beautiful Gandhara princess. On a picnic with her friend Kadamabari – she meets the handsome rishi-putra (son) – Pundarika. Here too it’s love at first sight – but one that runs quite deep for Mahashweta. But as luck would have it, Pundarika meets with an untimely death. Mahashweta’s undying love for her beloved brings him back to life and they are reunited.

In this book, Anupama enacted Mahashweta where Anand supposedly gets hooked on to her for life. But perhaps his love was only skin-deep. Anu emerges as the real “Mahashweta” - 'the white one'.

I am sure if you have reached this point, you would be inquisitive to know:-

  1. How Anu’s in-laws react to her condition?

  2. Did Anand stand by her in this ordeal?

  3. What about her own father and step family.

  4. And most importantly how did she herself cope up with the stigma attached to this condition.

  5. Finally did Mahashweta and Pundarika get united in real life?

For all those answers and more, you would need to pick up this 154 page Sudha Murty work.


I have purposely not called it a novel, since her works don’t really fit into my definition of the same. It’s a real page-turner read. This is my second Sudha Murty work and review. For those you are interested in catching my previous review on ‘Dollar Bahu’ please click:

As expected, it was a relatable piece of art expressed in a very simple but quite an impressive manner. It’s a breezy read that really hits our conscience without getting preachy. Her writings are inspiring and contemporary.

Some excerpts to validate my above verdict.

1.Even though the female child is stronger than the male child at birth, as adults it is the man who becomes the oppressor, and the woman who suffers. Why did this happen? She did not know the answer – she only knew that it was a fact of life.  *(Nurse Prabhavathi’s musings after she assisted in delivering a girl.).

2. Both parents play equally significant roles in the birth of a child. But at the moment of birth – the moment of truth –the only reality is the mother.

3. Love is not a commodity that you can buy after putting it to test. It is not something that you can buy after consulting others. It is not sold in the market for money. When you see a man and your pulse starts racing, your blood begins to sing and you yearn to spend the rest of your life with him, sharing his joys and sorrows – that is love. It is irrepressible; it cannot be crushed under any circumstances. *(Anuapama’s dialogues from the play Mahashweta).

4. He was lost in thought about life’s exams, which were far more difficult. Once you fail, it is the end. This is the only life we have – who knows for sure if one is reborn. We can destroy our life. Everything is in our own hands, *(Anand’s musing).


  1. Sudha Murthy wrote this work around 17 years back but it's relevant even with respect to today's time.

  2. It was originally written in Kannada and has been translated into 9 different Indian languages.

  3. According to Wikipedia, **Leukoderma or Vitiligo is a chronic skin disease that causes loss of pigment resulting in irregular pale patches of skin.

*4. Some more googling revealed that leukoderma is neither contagious nor hereditary.

Inspite of all this there is a stigma attached to it and it’s often mistaken for leprosy. As a result the afflicted people are subjected to taunts, jeers, prejudices and are practically shunned by the society.

In the Post Script, the author relives a real-life incident where she’s invited to the wedding of an unknown couple. The husband-to-be’s attitude towards people suffering from this condition in general and his wife in particular changed after reading this book. The marriage-to-be was thus salvaged.

Reading this book has made me more aware. This actually shows how each one of us can make a difference. An author by writing about it and giving the right advice. We - the readers by reading such sensitive works and imbibing even the subtle messages sent out.

So I urge all my friends and well wishers reading this review to be more sensitive towards our brothers or sisters who are already suffering so much. We are all created by God. Let's honour and respect His creations.

So I sign off on this note and would appreciate if you read, rate and comment on this review.


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Mahaswetha - Sudha Murthy