New Delhi, July 28: "Funny guy! Are you doing well?" were the last words of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to his adviser Srijan Pal Singh, who was with him on the stage at IIM-Shillong when the former president collapsed and was rushed to hospital on Monday.
Singh, in a touching tribute on Facebook, recounted his last few hours with the former president. [Dr APJ Abdul Kalam passes away: Know who is Srijan Pal Singh?]
He said that as they reached the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong, Kalam was keen not to be late for the lecture.
"Students should never be made to wait," he always said. Singh set up Kalam's microphone, and took position on the computer.
"As I pinned his mike, he smiled and said, 'Funny guy! Are you doing well?' [Complete Text: 'My memory of the last day with the great Kalam sir']
"'Funny guy', when said by Kalam, could mean a variety of things, depending on the tone and your own assessment. It could mean, you have done well, you have messed up something, you should listen to him or just that you have been plain naive or he was just being jovial.
"Over six years, I had learnt to interpret 'Funny Guy' like the back of my palm. This time it was the last case," said Singh.
"'Funny guy! Are you doing well?' he said. I smiled back, 'Yes'. Those were the last words he said. Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down.
"We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible."
"In five minutes, we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes, they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time. Adieu old friend! Grand mentor! See you in my thoughts and meet in the next birth," he posted.
Kalam, known as 'missile man', was the 11th president of India.