Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The story ends, not the inspiration…

Never did I anticipate that the sad news I heard yesterday would carry a magnitude of this extent that’ll make my mind dwell on the thoughts of this great person even today during the coffee break at office. I didn’t know that the thought would be this powerful to make me sit down and type this out during the relatively small interstice being grabbed. And neither did I even believe that I could gather the energy to override my fears to start writing this when smarter minds around me are working tirelessly on deadlines.
I do not know to consolidate or compile the technical or historical details related to this person.
And I do not now wish to list down his accolades and achievements or pen down with pin point precision, the scientific details of his accomplishments.
As an ordinary, simple person, I just look back to what he and his ideas meant for me.
The earliest memory I have, of Mr.Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (I was asked to memorise his whole name for the GK competitions) was the free-wheeling discussion we had during our English period when I was studying in the VII std. That was the time he was the Indian President. And I remember how we were pointing how different he was from others. And I could recall myself saying to Vishwanathan Sir,
 “Sir…Did you notice that Kalam sir doesn’t even wait for the security guard to open the car door for him? He opens it himself…Such a humble person”…
Yes. Such was the simplicity associated with this great and inspiring personality.
That was also the time when we were hearing ideas of “dreaming small” being a sin; Vision 2020, about dreams not being the things that you see in sleep but those that don’t let you sleep, and many more inspiring ideas…We were using those thoughts more and more as the “thought for the day” during daily assembly programmes (in place of old proverbs) and writing it on notice boards. We were presenting vignettes of his life for speech competitions as well. I also remember one of my classmates sketching out the phrase “If you can dream it; You can do it!” in thick bold letters on a chart paper and pasting it on top of the black board. Our sir pointed to it and asked, “Do you know who said this?” and we screamed in unison “Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam”…
When I was in Xth std, I came across an interview with Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam published in “The Hindu”. One of his responses moved me a lot and I wrote a response letter to it which later got published in ‘Young World’ in December, 2006 (though the editors had removed this first paragraph for some reason I couldn’t find out till today. I had to search through my archive to locate this unedited version!). These were the first lines of that article:

I came across the excerpts of President’s Interview published in The Hindu dated, 25 September,2006.When he was asked the most memorable moment in his journey from Rameswaram to Rashtrapathi Bhavan, he said, “I worked with my team for 10 days to make a caliper that weighed just 300gms.We fitted it to many children who started running.I happened to see a mother in tears. Her son,whom she was carrying to school,was running without any aid.Those tears made me feel what is “anand”,which is the highest degree of happiness”.

His words portrayed the happiness, the true happiness of the highest degree- “Anand”-which can only be experienced when we know that we are the real reason for the tears of happiness in another person’s eyes…
When I passed XIth standard with a relatively higher score, my aunt gifted me “Wings of Fire”, by Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. I told her “I have already read this.”
She told me, “Read it again. Each time you read, you will be left with new insights.”
And believe me, each time I have felt down, I have gone back to that book. Innumerable times. And it has given me the strength that no other self –help or motivational book has given me.
Of those moments, the one I could relate as the closest to my heart-which I could even say was one of the core reasons why I gained the strength to fight back each time I lost;  was when I read this incident of his life. (Excuse me if I don’t reproduce those lines, verbatim. I recollect them from my memory of that page on the right side with a paragraph in the middle underlined using blue ball point pen and a pencil, many times.)
He was deeply disappointed when he was not selected in the Air Force, where the focus was more on "personality" than intelligence. He felt hopeless at this failure. He went on trekking to Rishikesh to come out of the despair. He goes on to write about how he met Swami Sivananda in Ashram and explained the cause for his sorrow. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And the words that Swami Sivananda told, I believe, marked the turning point for a varied series of remarkable events in his life. And I have gone back to these words again and again; especially when I was left in life with the question “Why is this happening to me?”…And each time I have read it, I have lifted my head from the book with immense confidence, strength and peace of mind.
These were the words:
“Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. You are not destined to become an Air Force Pilot. What you are destined to become, is not revealed as of now, but is predetermined. Forget this failure; as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search, instead, for the true purpose of your existence. Become one with yourself; my Son! Surrender yourself to the wish of God.”
What happened after that, is history. History, that is etched in bold golden letters…
I couldn’t help myself from putting down these thoughts today, even if I squeeze my time to do this. It would have been a gross injustice if I didn’t pen this down today; for I humbly and fully agree and owe most of my remarkable epiphanic moments to this great personality and his words. And the strange, incredible coincidence, is this and I swear, this is true…
As I write the last words of this write-up; the bell rings in this international organization to observe two minutes of silence for the departed great soul to rest in peace. And when I stood up and closed my eyes…I chose to believe for myself…That at least one-millionth of that inspiring soul vouches for my words from heaven…
I close with your lines, sir…
My story-the story of the son of Jainulabdeen, who lived for over a hundred years on Mosque Street in Rameshwaram island and died there; the story of a lad who sold newspapers to help his brother; the story of a pupil reared by Sivasubramania Iyer and Iyadurai Solomon; the story of a student taught by teachers like Pandalai; the story of an engineer spotted by MGK Menon and groomed by legendary Prof.Sarabhai; the story of a scientist tested by failures and setbacks; the story of a leader supported by a large team of brilliant and dedicated professionals. This story will end with me, for I have no belongings in the worldly sense. I have acquired nothing; built nothing; possess nothing- no family, sons, daughters.”

The story ends, not the inspiration…


A Simple Message...

A Simple Message...