By now hundreds of obituaries and anecdotes about people’s President Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam is circulating in social media and newspapers and it makes me feel that people who knew him were very lucky.
This is not an obituary nor it is an introduction (he does not need one) but a personal expression of grief at the passing away of a man who has been my hero since my school days. Kalam would have never wanted us to mourn him as he wanted his coutrymen to smile always, but emotions are often not under our control.
I do not know how personally touched are the fans of Kalam but for me the loss is personal and it has shocked me. He was our hero of course but for me he was a part of my childhood innocence to be good and serve the nation.With the demise of Dr.Kalam I feel that a part of my childhood has died too.
I met him thrice and talked to him once. I had asked him about his project Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) and he had addressed me as ‘madam’ which was deeply touching. The ‘thankyou’ card’ he wrote to me still remains my most precious possession.
He was not known to me personally but form a part of my life and thought during my school days. Those were days when we were taught in our moral science classes to speak the truth always, listen to elders no matter what they say, serve the community and be good to people all the time. I saw in Dr.Kalam, a man who represented all these and above all the motto of my school ‘work is worship’.
As I grew up I realised those ideals are not always easy to follow and the world is twisted but Kalam remained my ideal because he was an exception to this.
In school I was poor in Math and science but was naive enough to think that I can be a rocket scientist, although I went on to study Sociology and loved it. Yet, I am grateful to him that he taught me to dream and make me realise that social class cannot be a hindrance for success.
Everytime I saw him, the man amazed me with his vitality and a desire to do something bigger than ourselves. His sudden death was shocking but it was a consolation too that his death was quick and painless.
Those days of school when I was searching for something to give me direction, I found one and with his death I do not feel directionless but an absence and sadness that I will never meet him again. Along with Dr.Kalam, my days of ‘innocence and school girl joys’ are gone too and I have grown up a little more today.
It will take me a long time to get used to the fact that now everything about the man will be written in past tense, our duty is to tell his story to the next generation and work for his vision.
By Abhinita Mohanty
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