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Interview with Subhash Kommuru about his book Chatur

I had reviewed Chatur some time back. I had been quite impressed with Chatur, it not only had an interesting moral but it was also written in Hindi with an English script provided for people who have trouble reading Hindi. The concept interested me as it was a good way to bring back stories in our own languages.

Wanting to understand the concept better and the thought behind Chatur, I planned to do an interview with Subhash Kommuru. Some how though the interview got buried in my email and I forgot about it. My bad, Sorry Subhash. However I remembered it the other day and here it is now. Here are the questions I asked Subhash Kommuru, the author of Chatur and his answers.

Would tell us a little about yourself?
Subhash: Namaste Freyaji! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to connect with your distinctive readers and be able to share my views on this great platform. I am father of a ‘almost’ 5yr old. I am from India and live in US. When I left India and was by myself, life was fun and carefree and even after marriage things changed but the real change came about when we had a son. We started to miss our country more than ever. There is always that emptiness when you live away from home but it surfaces when you look at your kid and want to bring the values you learnt growing up. You take all of that for granted until you have to find your own identity.

What do you do as day job?
Subhash: Just like most of us from India, I am an IT Architect. I love what I do and will continue to serve in IT. I find writing to be appealing; the satisfaction that you get from it is simply incomparable. It nicely complements my day job and gives me that break that all of us overworked people of 21st century badly need.

In a time when all books for kids seem to be in English. Why did you think of writing a book in Hindi?
Subhash: That’s a very good question Freya ji. You can say that is one of my motivations to pick up a pen. Hindi is a very personable language. In fact every Indian language is personable. Every language has a culture embedded in it. If you replace all the world languages and replace it with English you will create a big hole in the way people think and deal with each other. For instance let’s say you want to address your parents, your uncle, your brother and a friend in English the only way you can do that is ‘You’. But if you do the same in Hindi, it will be “Aap”, “Tum” and “Tu”. Before you start a line you have given your intent of respect and designated a place for them. People would still respect others but the richness and warmth of culture will be lost in communication.
Our kids are missing that. With so much of English literature out there right from childhood it’s hard to get them to understand culture. In my childhood days I could never imagine saying “Please” to my mother, because my language was so rich that I didn’t have to decorate with business niceties.

This is your third book. Why did you choose to write children’s books?
Subhash: My motivation is my son. I write stories for him. I want to bring Indian culture to him one story at a time. I don’t want to speak to global concepts but some salient features too like my first book ‘Bargad’ is about Banyan tree, the national tree of India and this story also talks about Vat Savitri a festival known to certain parts of the country.

Where did the story of Chatur come from? What was the inspiration?
Subhash: Chatur is a very fitting story for 21st century. It is still a tiny step closer to my first story of Bargad in the sense that the price we pay in name of progress. Progress is good and great for civilization but every step should be a thoughtful step because cost for misstep is enormous. That was the theme for Bargad with tree as a central character and in this story the same learning is kicked up a notch. When writing this story I added two more objectives one was greed and second usage of MORE POWER which is closer to machismo.

Your story of Chatur has a different spin and twist from the old childhood tale. How did this come about?
Subhash: That’s an insightful observation of the story Freya ji. Advantage we have is that our kids don’t know the story that we grew up in. :) Jokes aside though, times have changed, we have learned those stories and we have embedded them in our life. But just like anything in life once you have mastered a skill you overdo it so the modern stories need to address to modern times and needs. When writing this story I added two more objectives beyond progress one was greed and second usage of MORE POWER which is closer to machismo. These second trait is a true need for the modern age. We are running so fast and so climbing so high that some basics are being ignored.

Why do you have the story written in Hindi and English script?
Subhash: I grew up speaking Hindi and totally love it, it is my preferred way of communication. I connect very well with individuals who can speak with me in Hindi. My son also knows that, and he knows when to pull that astra (weapon) out. :) Kids in USA have the advantage of knowing Hindi but they cannot read because it’s not part of academics. I believe that’s true to a great extent in India also these days. Kids learn hindi but they do so only to get through school never to turn back again. So idea of writing in both scripts is to reach every audience who can appreciate Hindi. It’s an attempt to bring them back home.

Do you intend to make an audio version of the book?
Subhash: I would love to make an audio version too if situation demands for it. For now I am focusing on writing stories and whenever I get a chance I do read them on radio shows so people with needs can certainly take advantage of that as well.

How can parents get a copy of your book? Is it avaiable online? Where?
Subhash: I want all of my books to be available to everyone everywhere and online retailers does that for me. And just with intention to reach people easily I have Kindle version of my book which are FREE for Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited users.

I would also suggest that you request for Chatur in your library, it’s a great book to share with everyone. We need to open ourselves to books relating to our culture and tradition. And share them with everyone; libraries are great way to achieve that goal.

Chatur is available on all the Amazon sites. Here is links – India, US and UK.

Would you like to share a little about your previous stories?
Subhash: My first book is ‘Bargad’.. Here is an excerpt about Bargad:

Bargad is a compelling story told through the words and illustrations of two people who grew up in a culture where customs and family are revered and incorporates the Banyan Tree to teach children how to respect, love and care for many things – including the environment. It takes place in VikasNagar, an ancient progressive village, where one of its oldest residents, the Bargad, is challenged of its existence. While Bargad has withstood all the challenges of time, the question now is will it be able to withstand modernization? Will anyone protect it the way it has protected others?
While Bargad has all the thrills and twists and turns that excite kids of all ages, parents will love that it is imaginative and thought-provoking and encourages kids to take a stand, see beyond the obvious, and make a decision about the outcome they want. Set against a colorful Indian backdrop, each illustration depicts a vivid and real example of what life is like in India – from modern cities to outer villages – and radiates the warmth of the people. Maintaining Indian names and characters lends authenticity to an already rich plot, with easy-to-understand rhyming verse that brings children closer to the core values of humanity in a fun and exciting way, subtlety demonstrating that sometimes it’s the things we take for granted that are there for us in the long run.

Vat Savitri, probably the most important festival in India, is featured in the story. While largely celebrated for Savitri, which refers to a lady who fought to bring life back to her husband and family, Vat (derived from Bargad in the ancient Sanskrit denotion of tree), is symbolic because it represents lasting ties to family and enriching family values.

Are you working on any new stories?
Subhash: I have 2 new books for this month. One is ‘The Magic of Friendship’ and another ‘Mother’s love can conquer any fear!”. They are both fantastic stories with strong Indian theme to them and they are both very funny story teaching a very important lesson.


Thanks for answering all my questions in detail Subhash. All the best for your future books. I hope your trend continues and we have more books in Indian regional languages.
If you’d like to know more about the Kommurus and their books, please visit their website –

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