"If you don't challenge yourself, you will never realize what you can become," goes a famous quote on the internet.

A Surenrao did just that when he was told by a teacher in secondary school to drop the Tamil subject, and today, he has created a national record in teaching the subject - and he's not stopping anytime soon.

Astro Ulagam spoke to the inspiring 29-year-old who teaches at the SJK (T) Mahatma Gandhi Kalasalai in Sungai Siput, Perak.

According to Surenrao, he did not really "like" Tamil in his younger days, eventhough he attended a Tamil primary school in his hometown in Kedah. He then joined a Chinese secondary school, but took Tamil as an elective, but even then, he was not really fond of the subject.

At one instance, his Tamil teacher even told him to quit taking the subject as he wasn't really good at it.

This triggered a change in Surenrao, who decided to take it as a challenge to excel in Tamil. Excel he did, as he majored in Tamil in the teacher's training college.

In 2019, Surenrao secured a place in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBO), for teaching Tamil to students for 12 hours non-stop.

"I wanted to create a record in the education field, and when I surveyed, I found out that no record had been created pertaining to the Tamil language.

"I sent a proposal to the MBO and it was approved after several amendments/improvements," Surenrao told Ulagam.

The impressive fete was achieved by Surenrao teaching 360 of his students, from Standard 1 right up to Standard 6, from 8am to 8pm on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. The children were taught in a two-hour slot each.

Surenrao, who also holds a Master's degree in Education Management from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), was also among the finalists of the Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonalds 2021 (national level) award - gifted for exemplary educators who have made differences in their students' lives.

According to him, he was nominated for the prize by three of his students, including a girl who had joined his class from a national school and had a hard time coping with the Tamil syllabus.

"The girl used to cry in the classroom, as she could hardly speak, let alone, understand Tamil.

"She's in Standard 5 now and today, she can speak the language fluently, and can even write essays in the language," he recalled.

Receiving this particular award from the student was a "surreal" experience, he added. Surenrao was the sole Indian recipient of the award, gifted to 25 educators from a pool of 4,000 nominees nationwide.

Besides, Surenrao also received another award this year, namely the Outstanding Young Teacher of the Year 2021 (New Delhi) International Level.

He was asked to send in his curriculum vitae for this award, by his principal, and he was the only teacher from Malaysia chosen from the education category. The award also recognizes excellent contributors from other fields, such as medicine, and so on.

After his MBO record, Surenrao had his eyes set on securing a place in the Asia Book of Records (ABR), but that plan has been dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"After I make it to the ABR, I will try for the Guiness Book of Records," he said.

Such an inspiring young man you are, Surenrao. Kudos on your wins thus far, and here's wishing you all the best on your career, and future record attempts!

Photos source: A Surenrao