Narayana Murthy’s Childhood
The following is another email I received from one of my friends.
He was short. He was sharp. He was the brightest boy in his class. His seniors would ask him to solve their difficulties in Science. He could have gone unnoticed in the crowd, but once you asked him a question related to Physics or Maths, there was a spark in his eyes. He could grasp theories of Science faster than the speed of light.
He came from a poor but educated family. His father was a high-school teacher and an avid reader of English literature. He, like all the boys in the class was trying to get admission into some engineering college. The brighter ones wanted to study in the Indian Institutes of Technology or the IITs.
There was an entrance test for IIT. This boy, along with his friends applied to appear for the test. They did not have any special books or coaching. All these IIT aspirants would sit below the shade of a stone mantap close to Chamundi hills in the sleepy town of Mysore. He was a guide for others. While the others struggled to solve problems in the question paper, he would smile shyly and solve them in no time. He sat below a tree and dreamt of studying at IIT. He was then only sixteen years old.
D-Day came. He came to Bangalore, stayed with some relatives and appeared for the entrance test. He did very well but would only say “OK” when asked. It was the opposite when it came to food….”OK” implied bad, “good” implied ok, and “very good” implied good!! His principle was never to hurt anyone….
The IIT entrance results came. He had passed with flying colors and the highest rank. He was thrilled! He went to his father who was reading a newspaper. “ANNA, I have passed the exam”. “Well done, My Boy”. “I want to join IIT“.
His father stopped reading the paper. He lifted his head, looked at the boy and said with a heavy voice “You know our financial position, I cannot afford your expenses at IIT. You can stay in Mysore and learn as much as you want.”
His father was sad that he had to tell the bitter truth, but it could not be helped. The teenager was disappointed. He was so near to fulfilling his fondest dream, yet so far. His heart sank in sorrow. He did not reply. He never shared his unhappiness with anyone.
He was an introvert by nature. His heart was bleeding but he did not get angry with anyone. The day came, his classmates were leaving for Madras (Chennai). They had shared good years at school and he went to wish them good luck for their future. At the station his friends were already there. They were excited and discussing their new hostels, new courses etc.. So he stood there silently.
One of his friends noticed and said, “You should have made it”. He did not reply. He just wished them. He stood there even after he could no longer see the train or the waving hands.
It was June 1962 in the Mysore city. Yet he stood there motionless. He said to himself, without anger or jealousy, “All students from the IITs study well and do big things in life. But it is not the institution, ultimately it is you and you alone who can change your life by hard work“.
This son of a school teacher became a pioneer of India’s software industry. He is none other than Infosys’ founder, Narayana Murthy. His motto being , “Powered by Intellect, Driven by Values“.
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