Author: Sudha Murthy
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Original Book: Dollar Sose, written in Kannada and later translated in Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malyalam and Gujrathi
About the Author
Little did I know about Sudha Murthy other than she is the wife of Narayan Murthy, the software industrialist and the founder and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies. My first exposure to her literary activities is through this book where I got to know she is a prolific writer in English and Kannada and is the recepient of several awards for her philanthropic and literary activities including the Padma Shri in 2006. Sudha Murthy was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in North Karnataka. She did her M.Tech in Computer Science and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation.
Main Characters in the Story
A Sanskrit teacher and father in the story
A housewife and wife of Shamanna
Eldest son of Shamanna and Gouramma, A Civil Engineer by profession but later honed his computer skills to become the green card holder.
The Dollar son who moved to the
Second son of Shamanna and Gouramma.
Works as a clerk in a bank
The youngest child and daughter of Shamanna and Gouramma
Vinutha fondly called Vini
A school teacher and wife of Girish
The Dollar bahu and wife of Chandru
The story is about a Indian family where Shamanna, the head of the family is a Sanskrit teacher earning modest salary and a sensible and contented man. Gouramma, his wife, worked hard to keep the domestic expenses within the budget, but she was extremely ambitious and always dreamed of gold jewellry, cars, a big house, servants.....But Shamanna's priorities were different from his wife's. He wanted his children, Chandra Shekhar, Girish and Surabhi, to have a good education.
The eldest son, Chandra Shekhar moved to the USA on work and became enamoured of the comforts and charms of the American way of life very soon and decided to stay back in US until he got the green card. The second son, Girish worked as clerk in a bank and was happy and contented with his lot.
Vinutha marries Girish and starts living with his family in Bangalore. She adjusts to her new family well, looking after her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, not taking to heart her mother-in-law's and sister-in-law's constant picking.
The problem starts when Girish's elder brother Chandru, who is in the US, decides to get married. Being an NRI he is flooded with marriage proposals and finally marries Jamuna, who is from a rich family. Vinutha has to listen to the constant comparisons made between her and Chandru's wife, the 'Dollar Bahu', whose husband earns the valuable dollars that has brought the family its recent affluence. Vinutha slowly loses her peace of mind and health.
Then Gouramma decides to visit her US-based son and daugther-in-law for her daugther-in-laws's maternity care. Once there, she sees how liberating life can be and saw the world from a different perspective, but she also begins to understand that mere dollars cannot buy the love and respect that she gets as her due back in India. She also realised that sweet talks can be deceiving and realised her stupidity of falling prey to Jamua's evil mind and wealth and regretted her own rude attitude towards Vinutha.
Gouramma decided to return to India and now America was no longer a fantasy land for her and for the first time in a year she felt at home when the flight landed in Bangalore. When she reached home she realised that Vinutha and Girish had shifted to Dharwad the reason being as Gouramma's arrival to India drew nearer Vinutha was sinking into depression since Vinutha was worried that after a year-long stay in America, she can never be a good daughter-in-law in Gouramma's eyes, her best efforts notwithstanding. Gouramma realised her mistake and was moved to tears.
The invincible Dollar had fallen............
The story reminds me of the phrase" The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". The author has vividly put across the typical story witnessed in many houses with engineers after the software boom where every house wants its son to be an NRI and every house wants its daughter married to an NRI. There has been contrasts and comparisons throughout the story be it with the contrasting nature of the two brothers, or the contrast nature of the two bahus and the contrast of the east meets west which forms the epicentre of the story.The author has maintained the balance very well without upholding or degrading any culture or contrast of the two countries and proves the point that one cannot have the best of both worlds and has left it to the reader to ponder. The plot of the story is very well written and concludes that though 'Money speaks Honey' but at the end it also corrupts the way people look at each other and how it can tear a family apart. The author through this book has conveyed that 'It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, and at the same time its good to ensure that one hasn't lost the things that money can't buy'.