Murthy and Sudha insisted on paying for their own wedding ceremony. After some calculations, they figured out that if they were careful and planned well, they would only need to spend a total of Rs 800 on the event. This amount they decided to share equally; the sharing would symbolise their life together, which they envisioned as an equal partnership. Instead of designing a wedding card, they sent a FYI letter to their few friends, announcing the wedding date. This no-nonsense invitation was printed by his friend BM Rao, who had taken care of Murthy’s Softronics letterheads.

Sudha’s and Murthy’s friends joked that they were probably the only couple in India of that era who sent an “information card” for their marriage! Many members of the extended family were offended that there were no proper invitations, along with gifts and formal visits to their homes requesting them to attend, but Murthy and Sudha did not care to follow fussy niceties that they did not consider important.

Knowing that Murthy didn’t have a suit for the reception in Hubli, and that he would need this when he went to Boston, Sudha gifted him one. The two of them spoke ahead of time to the priest and asked him to finish the ceremony in half an hour. Since Sudha knew Sanskrit, she looked over the slokas the priest had planned to recite and removed the ones she did not agree with, such as verses on female passivity and male dominance.

And she refused to have demeaning rituals like the one where the bride’s father had to wash the feet of the bridegroom.

Finally, ever the feminist, Sudha pointed out that since Hindu men did not have to announce their marital status with matrimonial signs like sindoor or particular kinds of jewellery, she would not either. “No mangalsutra for me,” she declared.

Murthy had no issues with this – he was an egalitarian individual – but his mother was upset. A woman with deep traditional beliefs, she worried that skipping the mangalsutra ceremony during the wedding might bring the couple bad luck. As a compromise, Sudha agreed to allow the ceremony to take place. But once she was back in Pune, she put her mangalsutra away. In fact, she went back to dressing in her preferred outfit, jeans and a T-shirt, and continued to wear her hair short. It was only years later, after she started on her project with sex workers as part of her work with Infosys Foundation, that she would wear a mangalsutra again, along with a sari and flowers in her hair, so that the women she was helping would feel comfortable with her.

Before her marriage, Sudha made another decision: she would spell her last name differently from Murthy’s. She told him “Murty” was the correct way to spell the name as that was closer to the original Sanskrit pronunciation. She had always loved Sanskrit, to which she had been introduced by her grandfather, and she wanted its authenticity to shine through her new name. Murthy, who was easy about such issues, did not mind. When, after some years, the children were born, he was agreeable to having their last name match Sudha’s. Sudha appreciated his laid-back attitude in this matter. Most of the men she had come across would not have agreed to any of this.

On February 10, 1978, on a chilly morning amid mist-shrouded Bangalore’s trees, a quiet wedding ceremony took place at Murthy’s mother’s house. It began at 10.15 am and ended – as scheduled – in thirty minutes. The entire event, including lunch, was completed by noon. Murthy, thirty-two, had married Sudha, twenty-eight, from across the river.

There was one final wedding gift that Sudha gave Murthy: she tore up the notebook she had used to keep track of the money he had borrowed from her, which by then had run up to Rs 4,200.

Excerpted with permission from An Uncommon Love: The Early Life of Sudha and Narayana Murthy, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Juggernaut.