Dear Mrs.Naidu by Mathangi Subramaniam

How writing letters to a dead person can make you come alive!

“I’m sorry if that was rude, but I haven’t written to a dead deceased passed on historical person before, so I don’t really know the polite way to say that you are dead it.”

When twelve-year-old Sarojini is asked by her teacher in Ambedkar School(a Government school in Chennai) to write a letter to someone you would like to know better she chooses the poet, feminist and freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. Young Sarojini fumbles to say things to Mrs.Naidu as she is ‘dead’ and definitely a ‘stranger’. But with each letter, the child discovers that besides her name there are many things in common with the great Mrs. Naidu.

Through this journey of letters drenched in innocence and soaked in the optimism of a child, there is a real-life fairy tale that begins to unfold. Where no matter what and how the beginnings are, there is always a Happy Ending. There are moments when you are smiling, your eyes squeeze with laughter, then there are moments when you find yourself shaking your head at the hopelessness and the way we judge each other. What you won’t be able to deny at the end of ‘Dear Mrs. Naidu by Mathangi Subramaniam’ is that your brain and heart have grown a little more.

As in one of the letters junior Sarojini says-

“Annie Miss says she doesn’t think school should be about memorizing things and saying them back. She says memorizing things and saying them back makes you a parrot, not a person. She says she wants us to grow our brains and our hearts.”

Young Sarojini wonders how growing of heart and brain will help her get good marks, a good job and finally freedom from poverty. She soon finds out there is more to education than this and that there is more to life than just survival.

The book may just reduce the gap between the rich and the poor in the heart of your child, if not in the society at large.