NR Narayan Murthy, the founder of Infosys, recounted three incidents in his life that taught him core human values and left an indelible mark on him. The first was when his senior school Chemistry teacher taught him the difference between community and personal property and how to treat each of them. Second was the quest for global excellence in whatever one chooses to do by his meticulous and obssessed engineering prof and finally the importance of starting any transaction on a zero base by his boss at IIM-A. These are incredible life lessons and as I sat pondering how my tryst with teachers have played out, I found myself reaching for my diary. I am privileged to write that I have learned many things from them – both inside the textbook and outside.
Everybody gets a degree but few people change the world and it is my strong conviction that such influences must originate outside the syllabus. It must originate in sincere and passionate dialogue between two willing individuals, one willing to share their wisdom and another desperate to learn.
I remember two teachers in my 5th and 6th grade respectively who encouraged me and played a seminal role in sparking my imagination. The malleable time when the mind of a child is so supple that it can be moulded by hands. And they encouraged me. I remember I made an elaborate robot out of cardboard inspired by an anime called Little Battlers’ Experience. I remember designing it for hours and sitting on my terrace measuring, cutting, gluing. I don’t even know where she is right now.
Then, I designed an evaporator for separating mixtures and built it in 6th grade. Studies weren’t so oppressing and I had time back then. There weren’t a thousand things to consider, no games to play with people and life was full of possibilities (Don’t get me wrong, they still are. Only that now the possibilities have shifted, they are more practical and nuanced). Thank you, Monisha ma’am.
I believe it was 9th grade Biology class when I asked Taniya ma’am about the behavior of parasites and how I felt it was unfair and she simply said, “Basil, many things in life are unfair”.
In 11th grade Chemistry lab, I learnt that it is important to ask questions, even silly questions, no matter how great I become, no matter my reputation. In fact that is the only way to truly learn and grow, to be ruthlessly humble. And I thank Maity sir for teaching me that.
It is funny how I have teachers who I cannot meet even if I wanted to because they are long dead. They are the authors of innumerable books that have shaped my psyche and conscience and become a part of it. As I have read their words, I have felt more close to them than I have to few acquaintances in real life. I thank you all. I really do.
The greatest of teachers
And why should I just express my formality and thank people? I thank you, life. For teaching me so much and I’m looking forward to learning so much from you. I thank you for making me laugh and making me cry. All those nights of gloom and few bright days. All the opportunities I missed and those I yielded. All friends I made, all friends I lost. All mistakes I committed. I thank you for it all.