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‘Three Thousand Stitches’ By Sudha Murthy Makes You Laugh, Cry And Think- A Lot!

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I took up the book by Sudha Murthy titled – Three Thousand Stitches: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. I have been fascinated by the calmness and simplicity of this lady for a long time and had read a few of her short story collections and a novel during my summer vacations of junior college. Though I had left reading a lot of popular fiction except for an occasional mystery thriller once in a while, Sudha Murthy’s writings have been a very different experience.

So when I was gifted this book a month back on my birthday, my first thought was that my friend doesn’t know my taste in books, and will I enjoy this piece? Still, you should not judge a book by its cover they say, but the cover is so amazing that I had to pick it up from the pile and give it a read, even if it may fail to grab my interest.

Three Thousand Stitches': Sudha Murty Roots Her Book in Reality
Representative image only. Image Source: The Quint

I was proven wrong by the first story itself. What I had assumed about the book was that they may be stories of other people with some kind of moral lesson or a self-help-kinda feel. But the book was not someone else’s experience, but her own voice, the book is about her own life. As I said, I have always had this respect for this lady and now I got a glimpse of her life through these stories. I cannot express how much I could relate to the narrations of her childhood curious self. This article is not going to be a praising piece for her, but I sure would like to talk about a few things I could relate to like a person raised in this versatile country.

Reading this book felt like your grandma’s story-telling time. I even imagined hearing the whole narration in Sudha Murthy’s voice. Every story had a different feel. A few gave the teen-like exciting, what-will-she-do-now feeling, while others were like that’s-how-you-show-the-world attitude. The stories were not just a depiction of some incident in her life, but it voices the train of thoughts that arises in a person’s mind during such incidences. I could relate to her passion for a field of studies that women were not allowed to pursue, her empathy for people and her hunger for knowing things.

Infosys: Home Ministry cancels registration of Infosys Foundation
Sudha Murty’s journey with Infosys is nothing short of inspiring. Representative image only.

The first story, from which the book got its title, is the most touching story for me. It is about her earliest days of building the Infosys Foundation. The book talks about a lot of social issues and problems like devadasi, addictions and slave trading. But they do not talk about how to sympathize with a victim of such problems, but how to empathize with the situation and the people involved. It also strengthened my belief in the quote “Where there’s a will, there’s away.” If you really feel that you need to do something to find and create your own identity, you will definitely find the guiding light of your life.

There are a few very innocent anecdotes, talking about her grandparents, about her love for food and Bollywood and one story about her dad’s act of kindness, which make you feel warm in the heart and give you deep satisfaction. You may not share the same belief or faith with someone you deeply love or admire, but the fact is that both of you are humans and both have your right to maintain opinions. Something similar happen with the author when she visited Kashi, a place her grandmother wished to visit at least once in her life. Unfortunately, she couldn’t, and how the author lives through her late granny’s memories in the polluted waters of the Ganga.

And my most favourite story is about her interaction with her granddaughters. Sudha Murthy tries to play the classic grandma by telling them the story of Krishna and Pandavas but adds the condition that they need to retell the stories to her the next day. But the kids are Gen Alpha and they modify the story to suit the current situation. Imagine the incidence of Krishna stealing the clothes of gopikas while they are bathing in the river was to happen in the 21st century. The girls narrate a story where Krishna is a young boy living in high-class society and the gopikas are the ladies of the housing society taking a swim in the pool. It makes you think about the stories that you have heard since your childhood and of the impact, they create on the mind of the kids, and what value they imbibe.

I don’t know what she may have thought while writing this book. But what I read is a true depiction of the current scenario of the country, even though she may have tried to be very patriotic throughout the book. When she describes her disappointment at the condition of an important pilgrim place, with the greedy monks and dirty streets, you know that she’ll call a spade a spade. I found Sudha Murthy to be an iron-spined sassy female lead of the book with the best come-backs for the proud money-minded brutes. Thus the book is a light-hearted and interesting read.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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