Tribute to a compassionate leader, passionate scientist and progressive thinker

Tribute to a compassionate leader, passionate scientist and progressive thinker
Highlights

It was indeed a chance of my life time when I was ordered by my officers to perform the VVIP duty for the Late President of India, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam saab. I remember the date precisely as I happen to pen down all the important duties which I performed with important dignitaries.

It was indeed a chance of my life time when I was ordered by my officers to perform the VVIP duty for the Late President of India, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam saab. I remember the date precisely as I happen to pen down all the important duties which I performed with important dignitaries.

I should say I was never the same after the duty was over. It was a life changing moment for me I do not have any words to describe about the humility, selflessness and untiring appetite to work for longer hours interacting with all kinds of people including children.

There were many occasions when the Late President of India Shri Kalm Saab visited the city of Hyderabad. Every time Kalam Saab visited the place I was honoured to perform the duty of protecting him. The visits included the places like DRDO, DRDL, various establishmentsof national prominence,hospitals, research organizations, universities and schools.

It was my luck that I had a chance to visit these places where otherwise it would not have been possible owing to my duties. He had a lot of faith in me and every time I performed my duty with due diligence and I must say it was a learning experience. It was indeed a matter of pride for someone like me who hails from a small town to be in the same breathing space as Shri.APJ Abdul Kalam.

I have to read inspiring stories of all the great leaders. It was in 2000 that I read Shri Kalamsaab’s WINGS OF FIRE. I was really touched by the story of Kalam saab who achieved great heights, facing all the obstacles of his life with a smile on his face. The only best thing I got from the book was that the “youth should not get disheartened by failures”.

Right from my childhood I was enamoured by the aura of the spectacular Republic day Parade held every year on 26th January at New Delhi. It was a dream to watch this spectacle live and it was fulfilled when my request for the pass to the PS & PA (Sri.Shereton and Sri.Ponraj) of Kalam saab was agreed upon on a positive note. And I went on to watch the great display of our military strength on the Republic Day in the year 2011.

From then on attendance at the Republic day has become a norm. This was possible only because of Kalam saab. His PS never declined the request for passes till date. This was possible only because of the faith Kalam saab had in a small person like me.

On one such occasion in 2013 Kalam saab gave his personal time of 20 minutes to meet me personally at his residence in New Delhi. Though it seems like a dream for other people but I was thankful to Almighty for what was happening with me. The interaction extended to my family too. I witnessed the Republic day parade in 2014 and Kalam saab invited me to his residence once again, But this time with my family.

I spent at least thirty minutes with him along with my wife, Kalam saab personally gifted a book to my wife. With a strong belief in treating everyone as equal, APJ Abdul Kalam never cared too much about status or designations. He met us like an ordinary person and offered tea…and said to me, “you are not on duty now…please sit.” I made all efforts to make sure both my sons meet him at least once.

Apart from my family members I alwaysstrived to make some of my friends interact with this great personality for a brief period of two minutes whenever luck favored. Finally, the sad new came on 27th of July 2015 when he collapsed on the dais delivering a speech at IIM Shillong, Meghalaya. I was on duty at Hyderabad but I sought permission from my officers to grant me leave for attending his funeral at Rameswaram.

I am fortunate that I got to interact with this great human being on more than twenty occasions. I am deeply influenced with his vision for India. As I write this I am all tears just recollecting the moments I spent with him. It is sad that he is not with us anymore. But his vision is still alive in our hearts. I have worked with top dignitaries and top political gear around the world. Leaders may come and go, but there can never be another APJ Abdul Kalam.

By Mohammad Abdul Saleem

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