The demise of the former President of India Dr Abdul Kalam left us numb and with a lingering void that lacks love, generosity and dreams. Vision 2020 would be nothing without the dreamer and the children would miss their ever-attentive teacher.
Little was known about the personal life of the great leader until Monday July 29 when we lost him to the afterworld. But before taking off, he left a number of affected.
His advisor, Srijan Pal Singh: Goodbyes should be short, really short", Kalam had once told his secretary/advisor. But little did the latter know that it would come so soon. In his narration of the last encounter with the 'Missile Man', Srijan Pal Singh elaborates how Dr Abdul Kalam changed his life and his thoughts.
Speaking meticulously about his numerous small interactions with the former President, Singh recalled how Kalam wanted to be remembered, he recalled the last few moments with him and the devastation and the hollowness that followed.
The Army sepoy who painted Kalam with a Veena: As Kalam was presented with his painting at the Karnataka Raj Bhawan, he posed some quick but relevant questions: Fatastic, I say! How many days it took? Where are you from? Continue with your work. You are a talented man," he said before autographing it.
The Sepoy Renjith may never forget his lucky encounter with the Missile Man himself. Kalam Sir gave his autograph on the oil painting, a pencil sketch and a book. The permanent marker too is now part of history as I do not want anyone to use it again. I have attached it on to the pencil sketch of his," says Renjith.
The last handshake with the security officer: The STO or the special operation team personnel with whom Kalam had his last interacted before breathing his last will not forget the great man's last words.
To thank him for standing for hours protecting him, Kalam summoned the officer and asked whether he was doing fine and needed food or water. The care in his attitude touched SP M Kharkrang who replied "sir aapke liye main 6 ghante bhi khara rehe sakta hoon."
His subordinate's children at DRDO: During a crucial project at the DRDO, Kalam's subordinate had sought his permission to leave early so that he could take his children to the museum. Though he was granted the leave, the official forgot about it when the time came and continued working. On reaching home, he saw that the children were taken to the museum by Kalam himself.
Apparently, Dr. Kalam had been observing the scientist and noticed that he might never realise he had to go home. Feeling for the kids, he decided to take the kids in his stead.
The restauranteer-Parmeshwaran Nair and the cobbler who were 'Presidential guests' at Kerala Bhavan: Kalam was beyond religion and discrimination. And he proved that in every step of his life. He grew very close to the hotel owner who took care of his meals during his initial days in DRDO and a street cobbler to whom he was a regular customer.
They found themselves in his presidential guest list in Kerala even after several years. Kalam did not forget them.
Staff of the Rashtrapati Bhavan: Recalling the humble President, the staff of the Rashtrapati Bhavan said that he was very caring toward them and never demanded anything in specific. He lead a very simple lifestyle and never complained about the food. Instead, whenever there was a foreign tour, he asked his staff to be careful with their clothings and health. He would enquire whether they had their meals whenever he got the time between his busy schedule.