In today’s era, when words like marriage and soulmate are losing significance, the inspiring love story of Narayan and Sudha Murthy still makes you believe in true love.
And, it brings out an important point – successful marriages need much more than just ROMANCE.
It is quite amazing how true the cliche – “opposites attract” holds true for Narayan & Sudha Murthy. They met through a mutual friend, Prasaana in Pune. While Narayan was shy and an introvert, Sudha Murthy (Kulkarni), on the other hand, was a bold and ambitious computer scientist.
It was Mr. Narayan, who made the first move. He invited Sudha along with other friends to dinner. Being the only girl in her group, she refused at first. But impressed by Murthy’s persistence, she agreed to meet him the following day at Green Fields hotel on the Main Road, Pune.
The Proposal Day
After some time, they became good friends. The two intellectuals used to bond over intelligent conversations about books and Murthy’s experiences in foreign lands.
Sudha’s friends insisted that Murthy was trying to impress her because he was interested in her. But, she kept denying till one day at dinner, Murthy said something that changed everything.
“Murthy said, I want to tell you something. I knew this was it. It was coming. He said, I am 5’4″ tall. I come from a lower middleclass family. I can never become rich in my life and I can never give you any riches. You are beautiful, bright, intelligent and you can get anyone you want. But will you marry me?”
As Suddha did not want to reply in haste, she asked for some time to revert. When Suddha told her parents about the proposal, there were some natural inhibitions.
Murthy’s first meeting with Sudha’s parents
When Murthy first met Sudha’s parents, they had a troubling start to the crucial meeting.
“My parents agreed to meet Murthy in Pune on a particular day at 10 a.m. sharp. Murthy did not turn up. How can I trust a man to take care of my daughter if he cannot keep an appointment, asked my father.”
And, after two hours, Murthy showed up at Sudha’s place in a bright red shirt. As far as Sudha’s father was concerned, he showed his discomfort with Murthy as his future son-in-law. But what happened next, made things even more complicated:
“My father asked him what he wanted to become in life. Murthy said he wanted to become a politician in the communist party and wanted to open an orphanage. My father gave his verdict. NO. I don’t want my daughter to marry somebody who wants to become a communist and then open an orphanage when he himself didn’t have money to support his family.”
After this incident, their relationship hit a state of limbo – Sudha’s father insisted that Murthy get a steady job but Murthy never did things under pressure from someone.
The beautiful yet challenging three years of courtship
For three years, the relationship remained in limbo. They met each other, went for dinners and movies.
Though things didn’t improve much between Murthy and Sudha’s father, one thing was clear to Sudha by this time – She was in love with Murthy.
“I wanted to marry Murthy because he is an honest man.”
When Murthy was broke
Cracking a joke about how Murthy was once broke, Sudha shared:
“He always owed me money. We used to go for dinner and he would say, I don t have money with me, you pay my share, will return it to you later. For three years, I maintained a book of Murthy’s debts to me. No, he never returned the money and I finally tore it up after our wedding. The amount was a little over Rs 4,000.”
By now, Murthy had quit his job as a research assistant to become an entrepreneur.
When they tied the knot
And, it was the end of 1977 when Murthy joined Patni computers as General Manager. Before leaving for US on a project, Murthy wanted to marry Sudha.
Being happy of Murthy’s steady income, Sudha’s father also gave his consent to their marriage.
Finally, on February 10, 1978, the two tied the knot in Murthy’s house in Bangalore. With just the family of two, the wedding was simple and only cost 800 wherein both pitched an equal amount. What a progressive action!
And, then came the Big dreams, bigger sacrifices!
In 1981, Murthy realized his big dream – Infosys, one of the biggest names in software consulting. Though his passion was strong, he lacked capital.
This is where Sudha came to the rescue.
“We were living a comfortable life in Bombay with a regular pay check and I didn’t want to rock the boat. But Murthy was passionate about creating good quality software. I decided to support him. Typical of Murthy, he just had a dream and no money. So I gave him Rs 10,000 which I had saved for a rainy day, without his knowledge and told him, This is all I have. Take it. I give you three years sabbatical leave. I will take care of the financial needs of our house. You go and chase your dreams without any worry.”
For some time, the two worked shoulder to shoulder to bring Infosys up. However, they realized that family time was being invested in raising the firm.
“Murthy made it very clear that it would either be me or him working at Infosys. Never the two of us together. He said, Sudha if you want to work with Infosys, I will withdraw, happily.”
And then, Sudha happily chose to take a backseat and took the role of a nurturer and a homemaker. And, Murthy has always credited Sudha for his success:
“Even today, Murthy says, Sudha, I stepped on your career to make mine. You are responsible for my success.”
Most of the times, we tend to focus on the success that Sudha & Narayan Murthy have achieved in life. But, we feel that there is a need to speak more of their relationship that is based on the solid foundation of sacrifice, empathy, and honesty.
We wish Narayan & Sudha Murthy many many more years of togetherness and would like to thank them for being an inspiration for a successful marriage to so many young couples!
Excerpts are taken from Sudha Murthy’s book.