Love Story of Narayana Murthy (Infosys Founder) and Sudha (From Sudha's Autobiography)
It was in Pune that I met Narayan Murty through my friend Prasanna who isnow the Wipro chief, who was also training in Telco(TataMotors). Most of the books thatPrasanna lent me had Murty's name on them which meant that I had apreconceived image of the man. Contrary to expectation, Murty wasshy,bespectacled and an introvert. When he invited us for dinner. I wasa bit taken aback as I thought the young man was making a very fast move.I refused since I was the only girl in the group. But Murty wasrelentless and we all decided to meet for dinner the next day at 7.30 p.m . atGreen Fields hotel on the Main Road ,Pune.
The next day I went there at 7' o ! clock since I had to go to the tailornear the hotel. And what do I see? Mr. Murty waiting in front of thehotel and it was only seven. Till today, Murty maintains that I had mentioned(consciously!) that I would be going to the tailor at 7 so that I couldmeet him...And I maintain that I did not say any such thing consciouslyor unconsciously because I did not think of Murty as anything other than afriend at that stage. We have agreed to disagree on this matter.
Soon, we became friends. Our conversations were filled with Murty'sexperiences abroad and the books that he has read. My friends insistedthat Murty as trying to impress me because he was interested in me. I keptdenying it till one fine day, after dinner Murty said, I want to tellyou something. I knew this as it. It was coming. He said, I am 5'4" tall.I come from a lower middle class family. I can never become rich in mylife an! d I can never give you any riches. You are beautiful, bright, andintelligent and you can get anyone you want. But will you marry me? Iasked Murty to give me some time for an answer. My father didn't want me tomarry a wannabe politician, (a communist at that) who didn't have a steadyjob and wanted to build an orphanage...
When I went to Hubli I told my parents about Murty and his proposal. Mymother was positive since Murty was also from Karnataka, seemedintelligent and comes from a good family. But my father asked: What's his job, hissalary, his qualifications etc? Murty was working as a researchassistant and was earning less than me. He was willing to go dutch with me on ouroutings. My parents agreed to meet Murty in Pune on a particular dayat10 a. m sharp. Murty did not turn up. How can I trust a man to take careof my daughter if he cannot keep an appointment, asked my father.
At 12noon Murty turned up in a bright red shirt! He had gone on work toBombay , was stuck in a traffic jam on the ghats, so he hired ataxi(though it was very expensive for him) to meet his would-be father-in-law.Father was unimpressed. My father asked him what he wanted to become in life.Murty said he wanted to become a politician in the communist party andwanted to open an orphanage. My father gave his verdict. NO. I don'twant my daughter to marry somebody who wants to become a communist and thenopen an orphanage when he himself didn't have money to support his family.
Ironically, today, I have opened many orphanages something, whichMurty wanted to do 25 years ago. By this time I realized I had developed aliking towards Murty which could only be termed as love. I wanted to marryMurty because he is an honest man. He proposed to me highlighting thenegatives in his life. I promised my father that I will not marry Murty withouthis blessings though at the same time, I cannot marry anybody else. Myfather said he would agree if Murty promised to take up a steady job. ButMurty refused saying he will not do things in life because somebody wantedhim to. So, I was caught between the two most important people in my life.
The stalemate continued for three years during which our courtship tookus to every restaurant and cinema hall in Pune. In those days, Murty wasalways broke. Moreover, he didn't earn much to manage. Ironicallytoday, he manages Infosys Technologies Ltd., one of the world's most reputedcompanies. He always owed me money. We used to go for dinner and hewould say, I don't have money with me, you pay my share, I will return it toyou later. For three years I maintained a book on Murty's debt to me.. No,he nev ! er returned the money and I finally tore it up after my wedding. Theamount was a little over Rs 4000. During this interim period Murty quithis job as research assistant and started his own software business. Now, Ihad to pay his salary too! Towards the late 70s computers were enteringIndia in a big way.
During the fag end of 1977 Murty decided to take up a job as GeneralManager at Patni Computers in Bombay . But before he joined the companyhe wanted to marry me since he was to go on training to the US afterjoining. My father gave in as he was happy Murty had a decent job, now.WE WERE MARRIED IN MURTY'S HOUSE IN BANGALORE ON FEBRUARY 10, 1978 WITHONLY OUR TWO FAMILIES PRESENT.I GOT MY FIRST SILK SARI. THE WEDDINGEXPENSES CAME TO ONLY RS 800 (US $17) WITH MURTY AND I POOLING IN RS400 EACH.
I went to the US with Murty after marriage. Murty encourage! d me to seeAmerica on my own because I loved travelling. I toured America forthree months on backpack and had interesting experiences which will remainfreshin my mind forever. Like the time when the New York police took meinto custody because they thought I was an Italian trafficking drugs inHarlem . Or the time when I spent the night at the bottom of the GrandCanyon with an old couple. Murty panicked because he couldn't get aresponse from my hotel room even at midnight. He thought I was eitherkilled or kidnapped.
IN 1981 MURTY WANTED TO START INFOSYS. HE HAD A VISION AND ZEROCAPITAL...initially I was very apprehensive about Murty getting intobusiness. We did not have any business background .. Moreover we wereliving a comfortable life in Bombay with a regular pay check and Ididn't want to rock the boat. But Murty was passionate about creating goodquality software. I decided to support him. Typic! al of Murty, he just had adream and no money. So I gave him Rs 10,000 which I had saved for a rainyday, without his knowledge and told him, This is all I have. Take it. I giveyou three years sabbatical leave. I will take care of the financial needsof our house. You go and chase your dreams without any worry. But you haveonly three years!
Murty and his six colleagues started Infosys in 1981,with enormousinterest and hard work. In 1982 I left Telco and moved to Pune with Murty. Webought a small house on loan which also became the Infosys office. I was aclerk-cum-cook-cum-programmer. I also took up a job as Senior SystemsAnalyst with Walchand group of Industries to support the house. In 1983Infosys got their first client, MICO, in Bangalore . Murty moved toBangalore and stayed with his mother while I went to Hubli to delivermy second child, Rohan. Ten days after my son was b! orn, Murty left for theUS on project work. I saw him only after a year, as I was unable to joinMurty in the US because my son had infantile eczema, an allergy tovaccinations. So for more than a year I did not step outside our home for fear of myson contracting an infection. It was only after Rohan got all hisvaccinations that I came to Bangalore where we rented a small house in Jayanagar andrented another house as Infosys headquarters. My father presented Murtya scooter to commute. I once again became a cook, programmer, clerk,secretary, office assistant et al. Nandan Nilekani (MD of Infosys) andhis wife Rohini stayed with us. While Rohini babysat my son, I wroteprograms for Infosys. There was no car, no phone, and just two kids and a bunchof us working hard, juggling our lives and having fun while Infosys wastaking shape. It was not only me but also the wives of other partners too whogave their unstinted support. We all knew that our men were trying to buildsomething good.
It was like a big joint family,taking care and looking out for oneanother. I still remember Sudha Gopalakrishna looking after my daughter Akshatawith all care and love while Kumari Shibulal cooked for all of us. Murtymade it very clear that it would either be me or him working at Infosys. Neverthe two of us together... I was involved with Infosys initially.
Nandan Nilekani suggested I should be on the Board but Murty said hedid not want a husband and wife team at Infosys. I was shocked since I hadthe relevant experience and technical qualifications. He said, Sudha if youwant to work with Infosys, I will withdraw, happily. I was pained toknow that I will not be involved in the company my husband was building andthat I would have to give up a job that I am qualifi! ed to do and love doing.
It took me a couple of days to grasp the reason behind Murty'srequest.. I realized that to make Infosys a success one had to give one's 100percent. One had to be focussed on it alone with no other distractions. If thetwo of us had to give 100 percent to Infosys then what would happen to ourhome and our children? One of us had to take care of our home while theother took care of Infosys.
I opted to be a homemaker, after all Infosys was Murty's dream. It wasa big sacrificebut it was one that had to be made. Even today, Murtysays, Sudha, I stepped on your career to make mine. You are responsible formy success.
Great na.... That's the Power of Love.Every man need a women to motivate him and to give him a reason to live....