Notes for life
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Eighteen months ago, when Sudha Menon hit upon the idea of a writing a book about the importance of letters, she was inspired by how technology and modern-day living has distanced children from their parents. Seated in the porch of her house, Menon, who has also authored Leading Ladies, says, "Nobody wants to listen to anyone now. I remember growing up with my siblings and how we had family time at the dinner table where we discussed everything under the sun. It is missing in most families now. I wanted to tell the ordinary parenting tales of famous people. Like all of us, they also encounter problems and insecurities but brought up their children with a firm set of values that eventually moulded the characters of their children, who in their own ways have made it big."
Over time, Menon says, every person she interviewed brought a new dimension to the book. "The book tells real life accounts. Every letter or story has a unique set of impressions that I found while interviewing them. There wasn't any fixed pattern and no lectures, only gentle conversations — little incidents that left indelible marks on the children," she says, adding that the crux of the letters was that they ran through the minds of the children, altering the colour of their thoughts in the process.
The book features letters written by the likes of Narayana Murthy, Prakash Padukone, businessman Ajay Piramal, celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor and artist Jatin Das. Picking a letter written by Das to his actor daughter Nandita Das, Menon quotes, "We lived in Nizamuddin in a first-floor flat with terra-red flooring, which I got polished and smoothed so that you were comfortable when you crawled."
"The line portrays the sensitivity of the father-daughter relationship," she says. Menon goes on to say that though it would be unfair to the others, the line stuck out in her mind. "There is also a line that almost borders on being hauntingly sensitive where Nandita says, 'I am glad you continue to be my conscience.' These brilliant moments, lines, sentences or just words took me back to my own childhood and its carefree memories," says Menon.
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