A. Narayanan wants to bring sunshine in the lives of people who suffer hardship. By starting an organisation for voluntary work, to get school and college students to spend quality time and take care of the elderly and disabled, to read for them or help them write letters. Narayanan’s wife Nirmala, three years after giving birth to their son Rajkumar in 1969, became totally paralysed, able to only see and speak. Thanks to her husband who looked after her lovingly, even taking her to the movies, she bravely soldiered on for nearly 30 years this way. A maid looked after Nirmala throughout, and Narayanan even took care of the maid’s family. Narayanan’s experience with Nirmala is now his inspiration.
Narayanan has had several decades of work in factories, but his love for the English language prompted him to approach, after Nirmala’s death, the City School of Social & Managerial Sciences, a division of Campus Abroad in Anna Nagar. He requested Dr Paul Chellakumar, president of the Association of Accredited Advisors on Overseas Education, and chairman, Campus Abroad, to give him some space from where he could observe what was happening, and then take things slowly forward. Today, he is director-student affairs. For a person who has spent his entire career in factories, this innings – of being in charge of the IELTS (International English Language Testing) programme and teaching students spoken English – is indeed a major swing.
Narayanan, the eldest of ten children, was born in Thiruvananthapuram; his grandfather was the headmaster of the Model School there. Father K N Ananthakrishnan worked in the audit department of the Railways. After initial education in a small municipal school in Thiruthanthoni, near Tiruchy, Narayanan studied at the Perambur Corporation School for two years and shifted to the Rao Bahadur Kalavalla Kannan Chettiar High School to complete his SSLC. Intermediate study was at the Government Arts College. He would bag the general proficiency and English prizes always. In 1954, he obtained a B. Sc Chemistry degree from Vivekananda College, and joined Sindri Fertiliser & Chemicals as chemical engineering apprentice.
By finding use for coke that didn’t burn in ash, Narayanan instantly made an impression with the plant manager. In 1961, he moved to Bengal Potteries in Calcutta, where he served six years. End-1966, he arrived in Madras to work for WS Industries, a company run with American collaboration, dealing in high-tension porcelain insulators. He achieved his childhood ambition of becoming a GM in 1984, eventually retiring in 1992. Popular in industry circles, Insulator Electricals, Bhopal, offered him the position of Vice President. He quit just before Nirmala’s last days.