Journalist-turned-writer Sudha Menon speaks about her books Legacy and Leading Ladies
I love writing about people because they fascinate me. I think each of us have a story to tell,” says Sudha Menon, at the release of her latest book Legacy. The book is a compilation of a series of letters written by some of the most iconic figures of today and addressed to their daughters.
These deeply personal and evocative letters tell the stories of people like Narayana Murthy, Chanda Kochhar, Kishore Biyani, Zia Mody, K.V. Kamath, Ajay Piramal, Amit Chandra, Ganesh Natrajan, Renuka Ramnath, P.P. Chhabria, Pradeep Bhargava, Deep Anand, Capt. Gopinath, Mallika Sarabhai, Shaheen Mistri and Sanjeev Kapoor capturing their successes, their struggles and words of wisdom for the children they love. “I have the best minds of the country talking from their hearts,” says Sudha.
Sudha admits that putting the book together was a difficult task because, “It is not easy to meet these people — they have unfathomable schedules and they are fiercely protective of their private life. But I just found a way to make it happen,” she says. What really helped was that, “They trusted me and believed in the project.”
Legacy is the second book of this former journalist turned author who admits that she had, “wanted to write a book for ever and ever. I guess it’s a natural progression from journalism.”
Her two decade long stint in print media saw her working for a number of renowned publications.
“I have always been a news junkie,” she says. Walking away from that proved to be no easy task. “I do have career pangs. I am still a news hound wont to see stories everywhere,” she says. “And it is hard to let that monthly pay check go and be in a financially unstable place when you are on the wrong side of 40.”
“Being a writer doesn’t make you much money and is not easy,” she adds. “But it does have a high satisfaction quotient. I guess we are all born to do a particular thing and we do what we have to do,” she says.
Her first book titled Leading Ladies — is an account of some of India’s most illustrious women happened in 2009. “I wanted to find out how the women on the pages of glossy magazines made things happen. I wanted to find out what their best practices were, what they were doing right, what we could learn from them,” she says.
“I think in a country where so many women are lucky to just finish high school, it is important to tell these inspirational stories,”
Women and their lives is a subject that has always interested Sudha. She admits that though urban centres in India are attempting to celebrate diversity by employing more women, more attempts must be made to retain them,
“The challenge is to make women stay in the talent pool,” she says. “Often due to domestic constraints, women end up leaving their jobs. We need to provide the support they require to keep working.” She also talks glowingly of her inspirational figure — social activist Ela Bhatt whose schemes have offered so many unlettered village women sheer dignity of labour. “For a woman who has scarcely even stepped out of the kitchen, getting a passbook with her name on it is in itself such a big step,” she says.
On future plans she admits that she wants to write more books. “I am by nature a pessimist,” she laughs. “Writing my books transformed me.”