“I can run Infosys, but can he take care of the family?” This was the question Sudha Murty pondered over and came up with a ‘no’, when Narayana Murthy told her, “You run Infosys; I will take care of the family.” Sudha Murty was upset when he told her that only one member of the family would be working in the company he was launching, not being a fan of family-run businesses.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, who has written historic fiction and feminist retellings of the epics, profiles the Murthys in her first book of non-fiction, An Uncommon Love.

She shared her experience and many stories in an engaging conversation with writer, journalist, and podcaster Shunali Shroff at The Hindu Lit Fest 2024 in a session titled The Power Couple: The Life and Times of Sudha and Narayana Murthy.

“This book is a real departure for me,” said Divakaruni, but she felt inspired by their story — the story that ends with the birth of Infosys — and wanted to tell it because “it’s about people who rose from such ordinary backgrounds to become extraordinary people.”

Divakaruni, who went to school with Sudha Murty’s brother, spent time with the Murthys in their Bengaluru home.

An Uncommon Love

At the session, she provided a glimpse about the Murthys pre-Infosys, which is now a $18.55 billion company; when and how they met; their first impressions of each other; how he proposed to her in a rickshaw, and the rickshaw driver paused to hear her reply; their differing backgrounds; the highs and lows.

“Mr. Narayana Murthy had the vision, and Sudha inspired him, but she is as much a creator of whatever he has achieved. He is also instrumental in what she has achieved,” Divakaruni said, talking about Sudha Murty’s prolific journey as a writer.

“They are vastly different people; Sudha is ebullient and optimistic; Mr. Murthy is reserved and disciplined to a fault,” she said, “but the important thing is that though they don’t always agree, they always have each other’s back.”

Sudha Murty, who stuck to the Sanskrit spelling of her surname, is clear about boundaries, said Ms. Divakaruni. “They were not sure [daughter] Akshata was making the right decision [when she decided to marry Rishi Sunak], but they listened to her.”

Sudipta Datta is The Hindu’s correspondent in Kolkata