His confident gait, his soft mannerism, his confident body language, his ever-smiling looks and his defining hair locks all tell you from where President Kalam comes.
I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place, in an underprivileged social setting, may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness. —
APJ Abdul Kalam
FOR A MAN who spent most his life in a 10-feet wide and 12-feet long room filled with books, papers and borrowed furniture, it’s been a long journey to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Which is why President APJ Abdul Kalam’s message of being a role model for the less privileged, cuts so deep and sounds so credible. You trust him as you trust his words. A no-nonsense man, who has risen from the ranks to occupy the country’s highest seat after having empowered the nation through the many projects that he masterminded.
Humility of the man, who has achieved so much, is unmistakably his hallmark. There has never been a hint of arrogance in his 75-long years in which he taught his disciples like a true guru and cracked the atomic code to blunt the enemy’s threat. He remains the same, unchanged, in all his years, taking supreme delight in the micro world
where electrons whiz and atoms float. In the micro world, he discovered the cosmic design and limitless source of energy, the spirituality that others go everywhere to seek but never find it — neither at Mecca or in the Hiamalayas. His life-message is unique and inspiring, in particular for those who are groping to reach somewhere in life and discover a meaning.
Essentially a dreamer, he kept setting for himself newer frontiers to achieve. And, he kept on achieving and entering newer realms which only few in their lifetime are able to transcend. All this, in his isolation, which he turned into a source of his greatest strength. He harnessed his celibacy to propel himself to live his dreams that once fired his imagination.
He comes from the deep, the very depth at which creation hides its secrets and plays out at the macrocosmic plane. And, it’s all very evident — in the poems he writes, the exhortations he gives, and even in his child-like chuckles. You see him and know he has seen it all — the ultimate secret that is hidden in the atom’s core. He has penned his deep thoughts in his autobiography, The Wings of Fire: “In a state of trance, I acquired my double status, as a child of heaven and of earth. The paternal forces of heaven and the maternal and cosmic forces of nature embraced me as parents hug their long-lost child. I scribbled in my diary:
Away! fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more!
Work claimed my wakeful nights, my busy days
Albeit brought memories of Rameswaram shore
Yet haunt my dreaming gaze!"
The child in him helped him unlock the impossible doors and make most meaningful the opportunities that life opened up for him. We get a hint of his sensitivity in The Wings of Fire: “I sat alone for quite some time in silent contemplation. The sand and shells of Rameswaram; the care of Iyadurai Solomon in Ramanathapuram; the guidance of Rev Father Sequeira in Trichi and Prof Pandalai in Madras, the encouragement of Dr Mediratta in Bangalore; the hovercraft ride with Prof Menon, the pre-dawn visit to the Tilpat Range with Prof Sarabhai; the healing touch of Dr Brahm Prakash on the day of the SLV-3 failure; the national jubilation on the SLV-3 launch; Madam Gandhi’s appreciative smile, the post-SLV-3 simmering at VSSC, Dr Ramanna’s faith in inviting me to DRDO; the IGMDP, the creation of RCI, Prithvi, Agni... a gust of memories swept over me. Where were all these men now? My father, Prof Sarabhai, Dr Brahm Prakash? Could I meet them and share my joy with them?”
There is an end for everybody, but he has already left behind much to live forever as the one the greatest Indian scientists and the most humble Rashtrapati.