The making of a legend

It was a cold winter morning on January 31, 2005. All roads leading to the Basavanagudi National high school were jammed with people surging towards the school where the mortal remains of Dr H Narasimhaiah, eminent physicist, educator and rationalist lay for public viewing on the stage of the school quadrangle.

As I joined the slow-moving serpentine queue of mourners with a bagful of roses, my thoughts went back to the year 1950 — when I was appearing for the senior intermediate public exam as a student of the National College. At that time we were fortunate to have HN, who had conquered the hearts of every one of us at the first interaction itself, as our physics lecturer. “Don’t be scared of big technical words; just understand the fundamentals and develop scientific temper,” were his key words all through.

The day to face the physics paper came and with that I found myself fully gripped by exam fever due to the awareness that my performance in the PCM group would decide my dream of getting into engineering course. The more I tried to revise the portions the more confused I got. Mentally unsettled, I decided to meet HN and seek his advice. It was 9 pm when I reached the college hostel where HN stayed. He was at his study table and it didn’t take him long to gauge my mental status. With his characteristic benevolent smile he made me sit on his tape cot.

“Now relax and tell me why you have come here leaving your preparation,” he asked offering me a glass of cool water from the earthen pot kept in the corner of his small bare room. “Sir, I don’t know what has happened to me,” I said tearfully. “I feel totally blank!”
“Be rational! How can you go blank when you have very recently fared so well in the preparatory exams? Look, you are now facing just another exam, certainly not a court trial!” he said with his characteristic humour. “Think this to be an opportunity for you to exhibit your knowledge. Now I shall prove that you have not forgotten anything. You are my lecturer now, OK?  To start with, explain to me the principle of Vernier calipers!”
That just did it! A light within me instantly got switched on dispelling the pitch-dark diffidence that had engulfed me. I went on and on touching important topics, brimming with confidence. It was nearly 11 pm when he declared — “Now, go and have a good sleep. You are fully ready!” I bounced back home feeling light. Those unforgettable hours with HN shaped my future!

By the time my thoughts ended, I was standing at the still feet of HN. Tears of gratitude from my eyes mingled with the roses, which I reverently placed at his feet.

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