Life’s inspiration

Let me tell you a real-life story of a person who came from humble beginnings, struggled and worked hard in life and ultimately was the Director of more than 40+ corporate organizations in India. I had the privilege to see him from very near quarters and his amazing yet simple life has inspired me to the extent that at every moment of my journey, I would like to remember and execute those values.

He was a man of simple yet noble principles. Very often we come to hear the various preachings of great men – preachings that are easy to say but maybe hard to implement in real life. We all know of them – things like lead a simple life, never say lies, etc etc. But again very often we see that we fail to comply to the same – in spite of our best efforts. In such cases, we give excuses of reality, cannot do this without bribing people and so on. But this person lived life to show an exemplary role model to others. I remember many instances of such – when his son was applying for his driving licence, the driver mentioned that if some money is spent, there will be no need to appear for the driving examination. He just refused to comply and said that his son has to pass in the examination – which he did. Then even after passing the examination, the license was not getting issued even after 2/3 months. Obviously our system was expecting some greasing and under-the-table transactions. But again he refused to give any single paise – forget a rupee.

He used to often tell his sons that once they pass their engineering examinations and go into the job world, he can refer them to many companies – as he knew the MD’s / Company Secretaries of many organizations and they would be happy to take his sons in their organizations. But then he used to mention that he will not do so and his son’s needs to compete with all other people in a fair manner. The sons will get their jobs – but that will be only because of their own credits and capabilities and not because they were his sons. And needless to say – he followed these words to the last dots.

He came from a lower middle class family based out of Bangladesh. He hardly had any luxuries to enjoy while he was young as his father did not have the means to cater or even think of those. It was more-or-less a hand-to-mouth family with books, clothes and basic things being handed over from elder son to the next and so on. It is obvious that the education he received was quite ordinary from a typical village school. But what the world could not stop was his great ambition, his great fighting spirit and his attitude to work hard. The value of hard work, the value of hard-earned money was to be seen when he was in his peak as Directors – his requirements in life was simple and basic; though he passed on the luxuries to his sons – he still used the “gamcha” and “lungi” till his last day in his life.

The very hard work and great fighting spirit enabled him to excel in his studies. He used to gain scholarships in higher education just because of his results. He was gold-medallist in his graduation examination from Calcutta University. However, he never used to push his sons to become first in an exam – be it in school or competitive examination. He always used to say that you need to try your best and give your best – then in most cases, you will achieve a very good result. He never ever pushed his sons in life – yet he valued hard work. What he never tolerated was indiscipline – so when it was sports time in afternoon – he used to push his sons to go and play, but again when it was evening and study time, it was expected that people will do their studies and no one will have to follow-up for that.

He came on his own to Calcutta and started studying in City College, Amherst Street. Obviously his father and his family could not arrange for even his minimum tuition fees or some money needed to survive in a big city. Needless to mention – he did not ask money from anyone – he earned his way by taking tuition classes in the night and studying in the day. He again excelled in his studies and had witnessed the dark side of life during riots in Calcutta. He saw the impacts of communal violence, saw bodies lying on tram tracks and was even arrested one evening by the British police as he was walking down a street after the start of curfew hours. Due to lack of money, it happened that he had to stop his studies as he could not fill up the college fees. But what nobody could stop was his will for success, for his eagerness to excel in his studies. If you have these qualities, bad times can “temporarily” stop you in your progress but cannot change your course in life, nor can stop you forever.

He was forever indebted towards a Bengali family, the Bhaduri’s, who actually sponsored him during his bad times. By the way, that family was not related to him by any means – but there are certain relationships that goes much beyond blood-relationships. He was always close to them and even when he was a renowned figure in his sphere in Calcutta and even India, he never forgot his friends in need. It is truly majestic to watch this as very often we forget our roots and hence forget the people who managed to help, however small it might be.

He taught his sons that all people needs to be respected. Even his driver had to be referred to as “kaku” (uncle) by his sons. That showed his respect for human beings. He never ever blamed God for his struggle – actually he believed that God is a weakness of human beings and an easy “target” when things go wrong in life. He believed that all human beings build their own destiny depending upon mainly hard work. And that is why he used to say that there is no replacement of hard work. He believed in doing things with his own hands – starting from mundane household things to things in the professional world. That is why he could design and then stitch full set of clothes (shirts, pants – everything). He taught his sons how to do small things like putting up a hook, repairing the bathroom cistern, etc etc. He loved to do gardening himself. And more over, he was an excellent sitar player. Whenever he used to be stressed, he used to shut off all lights and then played sitar on his own. He did yoga regularly and had a hobby of photography. His photographs of his sons at an early age is seen to be believed – such are the excellent compositions. Each picture tells a big story behind him. He had a great sense of humour and he used to liven environments with his jokes of Bangladeshi Kutti’s and other jokes.

He was a vivid reader of various types of books – ranging from humour stories of Sanjib Chattopadhyay to the works of Swami Vivekananda. He encouraged books in his house and that is why people get amazed even today at the collection of books – which were enhanced by his sons. He used to love Indian classical music and Rabindrasangeet. When he was young, he used to watch classical plays in Kolkata and even took his sons to see those “natak”s at a time when plays were not that popular any more. He did not have time to play many sports – but encouraged his sons to play soccer, hockey, cricket, etc. Whenever his sons used to play in class team matches, in spite of his busy schedule, he very often used to come and watch his sons play.

Actually, I can go on and on describing him, telling so many stories of him ….

Overall – he is a rare person ever seen in mankind and obviously a great role model.

By the way, he was my father who passed away in 2002.

His memories and principles remain with me forever and if I happen to achieve ‘something’ in life and that too by implementing some of his values and principles, I will be deeply honoured. His death still hounds me and the pain lingers in my heart. I want to salute my father in this writing and want to pay homage to a great person … and also want to say a heartfelt Thank You for everything he has ‘taught’ not through his words, but by his actions.

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  1. Ayan,
    I really enjoyed reading this. Very inspriring. Thanks for sharing.
    Soumen

    • Thanks Soumen …

      In my professional work across the organisations I have worked so far, I haven’t seen a senior leader who is very successful in his / her profession, but also has the same depth of humility and zero arrogance – the way my father interacted with his office peon’s, durwan’s were amazing .. I witnessed that on many occasions … And I could gauge their respect when almost all of them actually visited our home when they learnt about my father’s death. It was difficult in controlling a mini-crowd in front of our home – people from various levels in the society (starting from top executives, middle-level managers and ending to drivers, peon’s) came rushing to our home in Saltlake to pay their last respects. I still get tears in my eyes when I realise the amount of respect and love all of these people had for my father …. Majority of that respect was natural and not imposed as a “boss” … Frankly, I haven’t seen such humility from any top leader I have seen so far in my life …

  2. It’s truly an inspirational read Ayan!
    I am going to share this with some….

    -piya

  3. Really inspirational & did reminded me of my mother in the same way who didn’t even had any position in any organization.

  4. Inspiring post !

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