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"Dream, dream, dream... Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action."
-Ignited Minds, Late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Late on the evening of 27th July 2015 came the news that devastated not just an entire country, but the entire world and plunged it into sadness and despair. India’s missile man, past President, scholar, speaker, teacher, scientist- Her True Son had passed away, doing what he loved doing the most-addressing a hall full of young, inquisitive minds at the IIM-Shillong.
I’ve had the great privilege of meeting him in person on one of his trips to Dubai, when he interacted with dignitaries and educationists during a seminar for teachers of CBSE schools.
I was then a schoolgirl dazzled by the sheer eloquence of his words and the simplicity with which he put his views about the education system forward to an auditorium full of ardent attendees hanging onto his every word like it was a message from God.
And indeed it was. The beauty of his speech on that day lay in its utter effortlessness of praising the Indian education system and how each teacher of the system should work in tandem with a student’s family to bring out the best of a child who could then go on and serve the country selflessly, much like he did.
It was there, in that auditorium that he said “Behind the parents stands the school, and behind the teacher the home” to reiterate that it is everyone’s responsibility to raise children today so that they become better citizens serving humankind with love and magnanimous attitude.
These words were no surprise from a man who has repeatedly reinforced that he would always like to be remembered as a Teacher, one who was responsible for igniting countless minds with his thoughts and actions rather than rest on any of his other laurels.
It is truly befitting that then, this great personality took his final breaths and entered the autumn of his life doing the one thing he always wanted to be remembered doing- Teaching!
For the world, he will have many facets as President, Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna award winner, Scientist, etc. but for me, will always remain the memory of seeing him in person, teaching us, teaching parents, teaching teachers, teaching administrators-standing tall, leaving the world with nothing but lots of love, going as he wanted to-standing proud, working till the end, teaching till his last breath!
He once famously quoted the infallible Khalil Gibran and said that he believed in the thought that “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts.” I hope I can inculcate this solid advice into parenting my children and teach them, like he would have wished to, to be their own person, strong and steadfast in their life and loving and caring of others around them.
R.I.P. Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, I hope we always remain inspired by you to have the courage to think different and be unique.