Despite the fact that challenges scare us, a life devoid of them ends up being dry
It was in 1975; I still remember vividly – my parents decided to admit me in an English medium school. It was almost a bewildering experience to join English medium after pursuing studies in Telugu medium till class 6. But, passion was driving me. The fascination for an English medium was overwhelming than the fear of coping with the challenge. That was the time when we had our first encounter with English in class 5. It was a culture shock to begin with.
From the stage of learning very simple words like bat, cat, ball … to remembering difficult spellings like Sri Krishna Devaraya. But as one philosopher said, if an idea grips the mind, it becomes a material force. My father took me for an admission to a missionary school in Mandamarry in Adilabad district. Father Kunnath was the principal. Thank God, he knew my father, who was also a headmaster in a government school. But this acquaintance did not prevent Father Kunnath to be frank.
He asked me, “What is your residence?” Sorry, my father trained me on many questions like – ‘What does your father do? How old are you? How many brothers and sisters do you have?’ and so on. But, he did not tell me about ‘residence’. And so, I didn’t learn it by heart. Till then, I only knew ‘native place’ but certainly not the word ‘residence’.
My father was prompting me with the answer. The Father of the missionary school told him that someone who cannot comprehend such a small word cannot cope with an English medium school. He was perhaps right. But, I wanted to prove him wrong. My father finally requested the school principal to give me six months of time. The condition was simple. If I do not get a rank below 20 in a class of 40, I will be sent out of the school. This was a herculean task. It was a frustrating time.
I knew the answer to every question that was being asked, but, I could not express it in the class room due to language deficiency. Time and tide waits for none. Six months passed. I along with my father went to school to collect the progress report after the halfyearly examination. My father had shivers down his spine. He dreamt of educating me in English medium and that was the only school in my area teaching in English. It was a ‘make or break’ moment for him.
Father Kunnath told my father, “Your son got … first rank”. Since then, I never looked back. Down the line; within ten years, I could write lead articles in top English newspapers. Challenges do scare us. We feel like running away from them. Try to derive the pleasure of facing the challenge. Once you chase the challenge, something invincible also turns malleable and ductile.
Bhagavad Gita says, “The happiness, which comes from long practice, which leads to the end of suffering, which at first is like poison, but at last like nectar. This kind of happiness arises from the serenity of one’s own mind.” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was in Hyderabad recently. Talking to a group of startup entrepreneurs, he demystified the secrets of success.
“Have a concept. Chase it. Constantly improve your capability to chase the concept.” Learn from the first experience itself. An insatiable appetite for success is the secret of success. Life is a challenge. Live up to it. Life devoid of a challenge is dry and lifeless.