After one year of his departure from this world, Dr Kalam’s words still inspire many people to live a purposeful life
Dr Elsa Lycias Joel
A month quickly went by, soon after this day last year . That too, before I could gather any picture of what had really happened, an irreparable loss India was reeling through. Dr. Kalam was more than valuable to our countrymen, for he was a man of endless repose and quiet. His photo reminds of the serenity in him that made him an ocean of calm amidst all the hustle and bustle of his busy purposeful life. The unifying force he was, only he could comprehend the rhythm of life and incorporate those elements in his day to day living.
I remember the day June 18, 2002 when this endearing person cleared a lot of suspense with regard to a what kind of a Rashtrapati he would be and the next six years it was his time for living his words and for bearing witness to life as such. He loved life with abandon and wished to speak of it with freedom and purpose. Power, fame and stature of every kind kept Dr. Kalam intact. He gave up nothing of himself, he put no mask. It seemed as though it was enough for him to acquire the difficult knowledge of how to live a life worthy enough, a conquest that demanded his all. Thus, all positions Dr. Kalam held commensurated with his ability.
The outpouring of grief in India and abroad made us all know people had in Dr. Kalam an idol without fault or flaw. Gracious as he was, his manner and bearing never accentuated any idea of inaccessibility. The public claimed Dr.Kalam. Listening to his talks, I had the nice feeling of being swept along in a current, as though the words of wisdom were carrying me to a destination and I slowly let go and went along with them. Occasionally I wondered from what store of wisdom he arrived at his thoughts so profound for societal changes, as the stream of words flowed. Dr. Kalam was all of a piece and damn impressive too. In my knowledge and humble opinion, nothing like Dr. Kalam had ever happened. A noble soul who had been so defiant of worldly failings that he never surrendered to, but chose to rise and shine for India. Living life fully, I would call it. Fortunately for us Indians, we had the words and thoughts of a towering intellect, whose life we witnessed was the kind we wish to perpetuate.
The main virtue of Dr. Kalam was his distinctiveness, his originality and this he maintained till the end. He had in him the influence of ‘Lights from Many Lamps’, of 'Thirukural' in his ways of life and of 'Man the unknown' in how he dealt with other people. Being engrossed in such wonderful works, Dr. Kalam in his most inspired moments made us all incredibly aware of truth, even individual private truths that would break the chains and set people free to rise and shine for India. Given the manner in how he advocated the sacred truths of Thiruvalluvar and Kaniyan Pungundranar across the globe, I believe he was a Tamilian in heart and soul, a Global citizen whose virtues prompted many across the globe to learn and know more about Saint Poet Thiruvalluvar and his truths- Dr. Kalam was much more of a Tamilian than many politicians of TN who proclaim themselves to be guardians of the language- that is Dr.Kalam's most valuable and distinctive characteristic. If there was a Tamilian who could ever help people, even foreigners understand Thirukural as a transcendent truth kindling their curiosity, it could be none other than this son of Rameshwaram. Thiruvalluvar stands tall in Hualien, Taiwan since November 2015, also because Kalamji's intentions were always right, opinions solid and his faith in goodness pure. If it wasn't for Dr. Kalam's prompting or motivation, Poet Yu Hsi wouldn't have been inspired to translate Thirukural into Chinese. And Poet Yu Hsi of Taiwan, also the first Mandarin writer to receive the Franz Kafka Medal for Literature, instituted by the Czech Republic in 2011, will continue to explore and describe the great mind named APJ Abdul Kalam through his mind-blowing poetry.
A scholar, a fighter, an impeccable administrator. When presidency happened Dr. Kalam started right in running his affairs according to his own principles of love, justice and humanity, principles that were universally accepted and sooner people looked on him as a saintly diplomat. From the Rashtrapati Bhavan emanated ideas of optimism and a belief in the good of children for a better tomorrow.
His last ten years were spent in writing his memoirs, compiling his thoughts and ideas for and of the nation. His vision gives us all a jolt, then offers hope. Reading his books not only prompt us to think different and ahead but give us a good picture of the kind of life we are all trying to recreate defying so-called fate.
If there is a message for today from Dr. Kalam's life it is 'Do everything with a purpose and do it well'.
We ought to celebrate his life! Hence I accept the fact as to what all life comes down to in the end, a lifeless body that must be laid to rest. Yet in the small window of time between life and death, Dr. Kalam walked faith, hope , love and grace. And courage too.
(The author is a columnist and author of
the book ‘Perfect Endings’)