“Dream is not that which you see while sleeping it is something that does not let you sleep.” These are the words of one of the humblest, most intelligent and intellectual human beings I’ve ever met. Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the man who gave us the vision 2020, is not with us anymore, and to me, this news was a bigger shock than one can imagine.
It was around 10 PM yesterday (July 27th) when I switched on the television only to know that we lost one of the most amazing scientists our country has seen. For a moment, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was hard for me to accept the fact that someone I, in fact the whole world, admired so much is no more. Later that night, I was afraid to even look at my social media feeds, I was sure that they’ll be filled with people saying RIP and telling how much they’re going to miss him, and while some of them will be genuine, most will just be following this never ending social media fad of posting anything and everything that’s in the news. But more than my intolerance for things like these, it was the child in me who was afraid of even hearing these words again, that Dr. Kalam is no more.
I remember my first encounter with him, it was his book ‘Wings of Fire’, I was in class 10, and it was the first autobiography I ever read. As I was just 10 pages into the book, I could actually imagine all those things happening and Dr. Kalam actually narrating that to me. And why not, I had been a big admirer of him since I was 6 (but my knowledge about him was confined to the fact that he was a Bharat Ratna awardee who was able to make everyone understand what science is and give India an all new scientific outlook). Now that I was getting to know so many new things about him, I never wanted that book to end. But it did, and left an ever lasting impression in my mind. I used to keep the book with me whenever I traveled, it was always on the top of my favorites’ list, not to mention that I always mentioned it any of the conversations about books I had with anyone.
Him, A.R. Rahman, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar, these five people, in my opinion, are above likes and dislikes, good or bad, religious or any other communal boundaries. And I so badly wished that I get to meet them at any point in my life. Thanks to my Alma-mater, a part of that wish was almost realized when Dr. Kalam visited MNIT Jaipur. I couldn’t talk to him, but I got to see him from a few yards’ distance, and I still remember how ecstatic I had felt that day. His speech that primarily concentrated on how we can transform the world around us by transforming ourselves, is something that changed a part of me that day.
I personally haven’t seen anyone who’d say that he doesn’t like Dr. Kalam, or doesn’t respect him for what he did. And there’s a reason for that, in the 84 years that he spent with us mortals, he actually lived a life that was worth a thousand years. Apart from his unending achievements and an unprecedented scientific aptitude, he was a man with a superhuman endurance. He is probably the only person for whom being an ex-president of a country is just another small point in the bio, for many of the other things he did, including the conceptualization of mission 2020 and the Agni missile, were no less than miracles.
I had no intention of telling the world how much I’ll miss Him, or to add another RIP to a billion that are already there, but he was one of those people whom I can never forget in my life, whom I admired almost religiously, and probably that’s why it was important for me let it out.
I’m sure the heaven needed some good science teachers, and I’m sure Dr. Kalam will be happy getting to meet Dr. Sarabhai there. All I can say is, there are some things in life that we can’t change, but if we could learn and apply what he taught, even half of it, in our lives, and ignore all this politics and communal hatred that’s eating us away, we’ll be living in a much better world.
I’d end it with the words of Mary Elizabeth Frye, for nothing could fit this situation better.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.