Mr. Suresh Nayak has etched his name in the records book for recalling over 500 telephone numbers in little more than an hour.
It seems like numbers dictate Suresh Nayak’s life. His family says he is 40, but he looks much younger. A psychiatrist’s report says he has the mental age of 3.5 years and the social age (which quantifies social interaction when compared to an average child) of 6.5 years. He possesses an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of 22, when compared to the average IQ of about 100.
However, even with these ‘disabilities’ brought on by Down Syndrome, a chromosome disorder affecting growth of the brain, Mr. Suresh Nayak has etched his name in the records book for recalling over 500 telephone numbers in little more than an hour.
Inaugurating a programme on Konkani culture organised by Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy on Saturday in the city, Mr. Suresh Nayak amazed the audience by reciting the telephone numbers of almost any Puttur public utility. His younger brother Umesh Nayak estimates that over the past two decades, Mr. Nayak has mentally accrued over 1,000 telephone numbers.
“In this, there is a peculiarity. If someone gives him a number, he will not remember. But if he asks for a number, he will never forget it,” says Mr. Umesh Nayak.
His attempt for the Limca Book of Records 2013 saw him travel to Vijayawada to be judged. While there was no preparation on Mr. Suresh Nayak’s part, the adjudicator had to be prepared for the record attempt. “We had to show him how to be friends with Suresh. We told the judge what to say, what to do, and even gave him a watch to ‘gift’ to Suresh,” says Mr. Umesh Nayak. And in the following one hour and 12 minutes, Mr. Suresh Nayak memorised 518 numbers to become a record holder.
Mr. Suresh Nayak’s achievement comes with it no arrogance, and his countenance maintains a child-like naiveté. “For him, all are equal, regardless of caste, religion, age, or stature. He’s still innocent like a child,” says his younger brother. He cites an instance when the then Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda came to visit. “He didn’t even know who had come. He continued to sit down, talk to the Chief Minister as if he was a friend, and even amazed him by recalling numbers of Mr. Gowda’s friends from Puttur,” he says.
When asked if the Syndrome, which manifests also an inability to adapt or problem-solving using logic, had made him dependent on the family, Mr. Umesh Nayak shoots back: “It is actually the reverse. He is very helpful in the house, and does all the chores diligently. So, any time he is not there, everything piles up and makes life difficult for us. In fact, when I introduce myself, it is by saying I am Mr. Suresh Nayak’s younger brother.”
Working as a telephone operator in a brokerage firm, Mr. Suresh Nayak earns enough to sustain individually. “He needs very little to make him happy. As long as he has his favourite foods, friends and bhajans, he is very happy,” says Mr. Umesh Nayak.