Yesterday was the Remembrance Day of Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (APJ) Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India (born on15th October 1931; Died on 27th July 2015). I had shared an anecdote, “Celebrating Relationship” about him.
Unfettered by the trappings of his Presidential protocols and the distinction of being an aerospace scientist, nicknamed as the “Missile Man of India” for designing ballistic missiles and launch vehicle technology, he mingled with the masses. He was therefore, referred to as the “People’s President.”
He was noted for his integrity, humility, humanity and simple lifestyle. He returned to his civilian life of education, literature and public service after his term as President of India and became an inspiration and motivational figure for millions across the globe.
He suffered a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture in IIM, Shillong. When he died, his total accumulated wealth was a laptop, a CD player, a Veena, 6 pants, 4 shirts, 3 suits, 1 Padma Bhushan, 1 Padma Vibhushan, 1 Bharat Ratna, several doctorate degrees and awards and around 2500 books including Bhagwadgita, Ramayan and The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo.
APJ had a difficult childhood. He had written about his struggles, inspirational quotes and poems in his books. He used to get up at 4 in the morning to take tuition, come back at 5.30 for Namaz and Koran Sharif learning in Arabic school. He would then collect the paper from station and run around to distribute the newspapers to add to his family income. After coming back and taking breakfast, he would go to regular school.
As he was studying and working simultaneously, and being the youngest in the family, he was given a special quota by his mother even at the cost of starving herself. One day one of his elder brothers scolded him for this and advised him to be a responsible son. He could not control his emotions and rushed to his mother to hug her.
He had given a beautiful tribute to her mother, Ashiamma, an embodiment of love, in his book “Wings of Fire”:
I still remember the day when I was ten,
Sleeping on your lap to the envy of my elder brothers and sisters.
It was full moon night, my world only you knew Mother!, My Mother!
When at midnight, I woke with tears falling on my knee
You knew the pain of your child, My Mother.
Your caring hands, tenderly removing the pain
Your love, your care, your faith gave me strength,
To face the world without fear and with His strength.
We will meet again on the great Judgment Day. My Mother!
APJ continues to live in the hearts of Indians.
Humble tributes to this great soul, a true son of India 🙏🙏🙏
I conclude with a collection of his select quotes: