How I Taught My Grandmother to Read Summary by Sudha Murty

This is a tale of desire to learn and the humility required to learn at any age and from anyone. The author was a young girl living with her grandmother Krishtakka and loved her to bits. She was an affectionate lady and took care of her family with devotion and love.

Show also loved to hear stories narrated by her stepdaughter from her favourite magazine. However, she was not literate and depended on the author/narrator to understand the story.

The story was called Kashi Yatre and was about an old woman who wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Kashi and offer her devotion to the divine. However, when she came across an orphan and helpless girl, she decided to cancel her plans and fund for the girl’s care instead.

It was a greater pilgrimage to serve a helpless child in her mind. The story was written in the form of snippets and chapters in a weekly magazine. After the granddaughter recited her the weekly chapter, Krishtakka would narrate it to her friends in the village courtyard. This was her favourite past time.

On one occasion, the author had to visit her cousin’s place for a weeding. There, she was forced into overstaying and only returned to her grandmother after a week. When she entered the house, she saw her grandmother crying. The grandmother explained the reason.

As usual, the weekly magazine had arrived in the author’s absence but grandmother couldn’t even read a letter of it. All her life she took care of her family but never got the opportunity to learn the language.

She was crying at her failed attempts to read the story. The author consoled her and promised to teach her from the next day. They fixed a deadline till the next Saraswati Puja to work according to a plan.

Krishtakka was a devoted and hard working student and learned the language within the fixed time period. On the day of her graduation, she asked the author to accompany her inside the temple. She bent down and touched her feet and gave her cloth.

This was her way of paying respect and honouring her teacher who was his granddaughter as well. The author was embarrassed but accepted the offering as she knew that learning did not have an age, gender or race. In return, she handed her grandmother a book.

When she opened the cover, it turned out to be ‘Kashi Yatre’, her favourite tale. The biggest lessons of the story are about passion and devotion to learning. It takes hard work but also determination and a sense of humility.

If the grandmother thought that her granddaughter was too young or inexperienced to teach her, she would have been able to learn from her. One should lower one’s pride and arrogance to open doors of knowledge and understanding.