hat I will be remembered for:
My memory of the last day
with the great Kalam sir.
As I write this, it has been
eight hours since we last
talked — sleep eludes me and
memories keep flushing
down, sometimes as tears.
Our day, July 27, began at
noon when we took our seats in the flight to Guhawati. Dr
Kalam was 1A and I was IC. He was wearing a dark-colored
‘Kalam suit,’ and I started off complimenting, ‘Nice color!’
The flight was long, 2.5 hours of flying in the monsoon. I hate
turbulence, and he had mastered it. Whenever he would see
me go cold in the shaking plane, he would just pull down the
window pane and say, “Now you don’t see any fear!”
That was followed by another 2.5 hours of a car drive to
IIM-Shillong. For these five hours we talked, discussed and
debated. These were amongst hundreds of the long flights
and longer drives we have been together over the last six
years. As each of them, this was as special too.
Three incidents/discussions in particular will be lasting
memories of our last trip.
First, Dr Kalam was absolutely worried about the attacks
And he left us as a great teacher, standing tall. Singh remembers Kalam’s journey to Shillong, where
in Punjab. The loss of innocent lives left him filled with sor-
row. The topic of lecture at IIM-Shillong was ‘Creating a
Liveable Planet Earth.’ He related the incident to the topic
and said, “It seems the man-made forces are as big a threat
to the liveability of earth as pollution.” We discussed how, if
this trend of violence, pollution and reckless human action
continues we will be forced to leave earth. “Thirty years, at
this rate, maybe,” he said. “You guys must do something
about it... it is going to be your future world.”
Our second discussion was more national. For the past two
days, Dr Kalam was worried that time and again Parliament,
Third, was an experience from the beauty of his humility.
We were in a convoy of six, seven cars. Dr Kalam and I were
President of India, scientist, writer and missile man, he would want to be remembered as a teacher.
he passed into the ages July 27, and a lifetime of memories and lessons before that.