Mr. Narayana Murthy’s
day begins badly
Mr. Narayana Murthy’s day began badly, as usual. In spite of his meticulous adjustment of the window blinds every evening, somehow, every morning he woke up with a dagger of piercing sunlight shining directly into his eyes. His head ached and his stomach rumbled uncomfortably. And, the very instant that he opened his eyes, his wife’s shrill shriek cut through the hot, heavy morning air, causing him to close his eyes and clutch his head with a moan of agony.
She was engaged in her ritual morning battle with the
milkman, who, it transpired from her yells of fury, had diluted the milk to a
degree he had never dared to before. The milkman, enjoying the monopoly of his
position as sole milk-provider for this neighborhood (he had, with a
combination of threats and guile, chased away all other potential competition)
roared back, his booming voice echoing inside Mr. Narayana Murthy’s skull. And then, a few seconds later, the tremulous,
high-pitched voice of Mr. Narayana Murthy’s mother (who lived with Mr. Narayana
Murthy and his wife) was added to the din. On principle, out of her hatred for
her daughter-in-law which had grown to monstrous proportions over the years,
his mother sided with anybody Mr. Narayana Murthy’s wife fought with. So,
although it was indeed true that the milkman had watered down the milk far
beyond any bounds of commercial or other decency, she echoed the milkman’s
contemptuous comments to Mrs. Narayana Murthy with great gusto and relish. Mr.
Narayana Murthy groaned and hauled himself off the bed.
After choking down his unappetizing breakfast – lumpy upma, followed by watery coffee prepared
with the diluted milk – Mr. Narayana Murthy slipped out of the back door and
walked towards the bus stop as briskly as his pot-belly and short legs would
allow him. In spite of his aching head
and his churning stomach, he permitted himself a broad smile when he reached
the bus stop – he had successfully evaded his wife and his mother who would
have been lying in wait for him by the front door, each ready to unleash a
torrent of complaints about the other.
With a feeling of relief which would last no more than a few minutes, Mr. Narayana Murthy sat down heavily and gratefully on a vacant seat in the bus. A familiar sinking feeling came over him when he spied in the distance, shimmering through the smog-hazy air like a vision of a celestial palace, the pristine white clock tower of the Oxford and Lawn Club. Here Mr. Narayana Murthy worked, as the Head Butler of the Main Garden View Dining Room, where he supervised a large staff of Head Waiters, Waiters, Sub-Waiters, Boys, Dining Room Plant Gardeners and Dining Room Sweepers.