It was in March 2008, when Cartoonist ‘Mathi’ from Dinamani released his cartoon collections books in Mylapore, Music Adademy, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the chief guest. Our college secretary was the first person out of three to receive the first issue of book from Dr. Abdul Kalam.
I read this news in a newspaper around noon at my hostel library & immediately informed my friends. Around 3.30 afternoon, I along with my friends Mahesh anna, Vedathri, Harish and Aniruth started walking out of hostel room and were walking near tennis court, our secretary was about to enter his car & I smiled at him and said, ‘Hello swami ji, we’re walking to the same event where you’re headed’ and asked him you are still here? I read that the function is at 4 o clock?, he said yes, but it’s ok, I was asked to come at 3:45, he said and then he didn’t give a second thought, he had immediately asked me to board his car & I’d boarded and said, not just me some of my friends too 😀 He couldn’t say no & hence we all boarded the car. Humorously he asked, is it all or is anyone else joining? I said only us 😀
It was a proud moment, that we are going to a function where Abdul Kalam is Chief Guest and our Secretary is the first person to receive the book & we are going to that function in his car! As the car headed, being 17 years of Ramakrishna Mutt President of SriLanka & a 70 years old famous and great college Secretary he was little afraid that he is carrying more people in his car and was looking out to see whether any cop is noticing us, I said.. Swami ji! Why are you worried? No police can stop us, forgot whom you are going to meet now? (haha the same ‘gethu’ scene that you see in every movie!)
Our car entered the Music Academy (Mylapore) entrance, as soon as our car entered, our college assistant secretary came running and opened the back door and gestured Namaskaram (Vanakkam) thinking it is our swamiji who was sitting at back side, as soon as I got down he was little embarrassed 😀 and said oh! it’s you and ran to front door and welcomed our Swamiji. We all laughed secretly at him 😀 We entered the Music Academy hall in VIP entrance, our swamiji said sit where you feel comfortable, and said he will go to his chair.
Just when I moved from the entrance to look out for seat, I heard more noise from outside and ‘vaazhga, vaazhga’ within no time after the car had arrived I could realize it was Dr.Abdul Kalam & he entered the hall so fast and was very brisk. He entered the hall like a child entering an exhibition, such an enthusiasm and smile he had in his face.
He walked very fast in the stage and asked his secretary about where he has to sit, he sat and smiled at all. One of the other chief guests was actress Manorama. As soon as Dr. Kalam started his speech, the very first sentence he spoke was, ‘Aachi… enakku ungala romba pidikkum, naan unga padam laam nariya paathuruken andha kaalathula’ (I like you very much, I have seen your movies a lot in my childhood days!) He said it in such a voice that it showed he is completely down to earth, not a single percent of ego or anything, he never showed any sign that he speaks as a former president or a great scientist.
During his speech about the book release, he said ‘Cartoon is a very effective communication tool. They powerfully communicate the message with a sense of humor. He also shared his experience as to how his team felt rejuvenated by cartoons, when they were dejected due to the failure of SLV3 in those days. He also advised the media to use lot of cartoons in the newspapers to create awareness.
His briskness, enthusiasm was such an inspiration for everyone who had attended that function and when I remember the moment I saw him, he still makes me smile 🙂
Today when one of my friends sent a message saying Dr. Kalam had passed away, I didn’t want to believe it and prayed that should just be another hoax just like others that pops every now and then. Don’t know what is the joy behind spreading rumors about ones death.
Last week, Neera Yadav, Jharkhand’s Education Minister had kept garlands and payed homage to Dr. Kalam when he was still alive. People are in so hurry to believe something without even checking the facts and to inform their friends which sometimes ends up as a rumor.
Now, after checking the news that Kalam is really passed away, it is very hard to lose such a enthusiastic person, India’s missile man & our beloved former President of the Nation. He collapsed when he was giving speech to the youth of our nation! He loved doing what he did till his last breath. I don’t know why we call Nehru as chacha and why we celebrate his birthday as children’s day (May be because of… hmm no, let’s not talk about him here!). After Vivekananda, to me Dr. Abdul Kalam is the youth icon & he will always be remembered by all of us. His birthday should be celebrated as Children’s day.
May his soul rest in peace.