Pet project: The Gopi Diaries

Pet project: The Gopi Diaries

Hailing from a family of farmers and having grown up surrounded by animals, pets were an integral part of Sudha’s upbringing.

CHENNAI: From little five-year-olds to the adults, everyone was up early on a Sunday morning to catch a glimpse of the famed Gopi, the protagonist of author Sudha Murty’s children’s book series The Gopi Diaries. The energetic Golden Retriever walked in along with Sudha for the release of her new book Gopi’s Day Out (HarperCollins; `399) in Bengaluru, where she was accompanied by her husband, Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy.

In this fourth addition to the series, the story begins with Gopi getting lost, venturing beyond the comfort of his home and experiencing the harsh realities faced by street dogs. “This book is written from Gopi’s perspective as he encounters the life of a street dog. He comes to know so many difficulties of other dogs because he’s always sheltered and pampered and has always been a VIP dog,” says Sudha, while in conversation with Shinie Antony, writer.

Hailing from a family of farmers and having grown up surrounded by animals, pets were an integral part of Sudha’s upbringing. “I grew up with a dog by the name Raja and then we had Julie. But Mr Narayana Murthy was very scared of dogs so we never had one in our family for 40 years.” It was Gopi, originally son Rohan Murty’s dog, who changed everything for her. “I really fell in love with him instantly. He was 5 kg and today he is 48 kg. I can’t even lift him anymore,” chuckles Sudha.

Talking about balancing reality and fiction in her stories, she says that while the first three books in The Gopi’s Diaries series are entirely true, Gopi’s Day Out intertwines factual events with imaginative elements,” she says.

Sudha emphasises the importance of compassion, a recurring theme in her books. “Everybody thinks only about themselves. But this planet belongs to everyone. Birds, trees, and animals,” she says. Through Gopi’s experiences, she aims to instil a sense of empathy her readers.

Her simple storytelling, set against the backdrop of Indian culture, fills a void that she herself felt as a child. “I was a Kannada-medium student and it was very difficult to find good children’s books except Enid Blyton. Her books are beautiful, but they’re set in a different country. She says, “We did not have many stories in English in Indian settings like Diwali, Ganpati, and things like that. So, I probably started writing from that place, where language is simple. Something that connects to the Indian culture and is familiar.”

The New Indian Express