Hours before Prime Minister landed at the DRDO Bhawan in New Delhi to unveil a bust of former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam amidst military stalwarts and scientific super brains on Thursday, back in Hyderabad, early morning walkers witnessed a silent event.
Twenty-four -year-old Subrato Maity, a supervisor-cum-part-time-cook, decided to pay a small tribute to Dr Kalam, his hero in life, on the occasion of his 84th birth anniversary.
Subrato was seen cleaning the bust of the former President that was installed inside a garden in Research Centre Imarat (RCI) in August this year.
The garden, now known as ‘Kalam Park', is in front of the Facility House, often used by Dr Kalam during his RCI days and frequent visits.
Subrato cleaned the bust a couple of times, placed a garland on it and offered a prayer. When asked whether he was directed by any DRDO official to clean up the area and garland the bust, Subrato said he was always attracted towards Dr Kalam.
"I knew it was his birthday today and I planned last night to clean up the area. Nobody asked me to do so, but I thought it was my duty. I wanted to do it before people woke up, but I think I was a bit late," said Subrato said.
He said he collected flowers from the garden last night and made a garland.
"I made the garland after finishing al my work at the guest house. I kept the garland inside the refrigerator so that it stayed fresh till morning. Kalam Sir is my hero. He is a king who lives in our heart," says Subrato, whose father is a fisherman.
Hailing from Dhamara in Odisha, Subrato is a school dropout and has been working at DRDO's J C Bhattacharya Guest House situated in Vigyana Kancha, that houses India's Missile Complex in Hyderabad.
As reported by OneIndia, the Missile Complex will be renamed after Dr Kalam today evening by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Subrato said he would strive hard to emulate the qualities of the former President. "Kalam Sir never got angry and he always greeted people with a smile. He spoke with lot of love. I served him food once and he wanted to know about my family in detail. I cried all night when he died," he said.
His prized possession is a photograph with Dr Kalam taken in 2011. "I was on duty at the Facility House and we all requested him for a photograph. He readily agreed and even complimented us for making tasty food. I have framed the group photo in my village home. My mother was very happy when I first showed her," says Subrato.
Subrato says he would want to run some business in his village. "I hope I will be able to contribute something in Kalam Sir's memory. That's my dream and I am sure I will do it one day," he says.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia and tweets @writetake.)