By Shweta Raj Kanwar

“One is blessed if one can die working, standing tall without any long drawn ailing. Goodbyes should be short, really short!”
These were the words uttered by the People’s President, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam to his aide Srijan Pal Singh, on their way to IIM Shillong, just a few hours before he immortalized himself forever in the hearts and minds of the Nation, that fateful day on July 27, 2015.
Its been a year since we lost the legend in our very own land, but it is worthy to note how he lives on into the hearts and minds of the people of the nation, especially the youths of the Northeast. Shweta Raj Kanwar from TNT- The Northeast Today speaks to people all over the region on whom the legend has left an imprint of himself.
Thavaseelan Karunanidhy, an IAS officer serving in Nagaland says, “Dr. Kalam used to teach a course in IIM-A when I was doing my MBA there. The thing that immediately hits me about Dr. Kalam was his unending zeal to make life better for his fellow countrymen and within the subset of his fellow countrymen, his love for children and how he encouraged them to dream. To add on to this, the fact that the entire nation mourned his death clearly defines a man who was loved by one and all”. He adds, “Your birth could be a mere accident, but your death should be history,” – this is my favorite quote from him”.
Sandra Nandeibam, an upcoming transgender model from Manipur fondly remembers Dr. Kalam as an inspirational figure and motivator who had greatly inspired her. She recalls, “Besides his contribution in the field of science, he was also a good human being who influenced humanity in a positive manner. He was an enthusiast of not only science but also spiritual knowledge. He was also very passionate about igniting young minds. He inspired me to be a good human being with positive thoughts, and not forgetting, where my roots are and where I stand”.
Nupur Saigal, Mrs. India 2015 as well as Mrs. India Asia International 2015 from Meghalaya fondly recalls a quote by Dr. Kalam that still motivates her- “This is my belief: God gives us the opportunity to grow. So when your hopes, dreams and goals are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins”.
Zuboni Humtsoe, founder of Preciousmelove (PML), an online fashion brand from Nagaland says, “Dr. Kalam’s humility and honesty always inspired all of us. In college, we would read about his life and stories and deemed him to be one of the best leaders. Undoubtedly, he inspired just not me but also my friends to work hard and practice honesty and integrity”.
Riddhinil Roy from Assam, a 23 yr-old CEO and founder of Connec8ive as well as the brainchild of NE8 start up recalls the time when he was in IIM Shillong and the first thing he told the e-cell representatives of the institution, “you people must be so honoured as our beloved Dr. Kalam spent his last moments here”. He adds, “ Dr. Kalam will be an inspiration for generations to come. He never failed to inspire. I used to take notes even seeing him on television when his interactions with students were broadcast live. He has been the Missile Man unleashing rockets of talent and creativity from generations after generations and undoubtedly a youth icon”.
Yougan Tamang, the Global Youth Award winner from Sikkim considers Dr. Kalam as an inspiration for youth. “His innovations, ideas and thoughts will always remain alive in our mind and soul.
Captain Prateek Sharma, a 25 yr-old defense personnel serving in Sikkim fondly remembers Dr. Kalam as a man who taught people to write their own destiny, irrespective of their background. “ He proved that luck favours only the brave and that a strong will shall always be able to open up paths to fulfill our dreams”, Prateek recounts.
Vedabhyaas Kundu, social worker at Peace Gong and an educationist recalls a quote by the legend- “Look at the sky, we are not alone. The whole universe in friendly to us and conspires only to give the very best to those who dream and work”. He also adds that Dr. Kalam’s ideas and visions are critical for nation building and for India to be a global leader.
Dr. Kalam has touched the lives of many a people due to his humility and simplicity. A true embodiment of the phrase, “Simple Living, High Thinking”, he never failed to acknowledge the efforts of each and every person. One such person is none other than the former President’s aide, Srijan Pal Singh, the man who was with Dr. Kalam till his very last breath.
Speaking to Shweta Raj Kanwar earlier, Srijan Pal Singh recalls some of his everlasting memories with the Legend himself. He says- “My first encounter with him was at IIM-Ahmadabad, little did I know that this meeting would change my life. Something that he said is still etched in my mind. According to him, people who get great education and wisdom work towards the betterment of the Nation.
His simplicity and humility changed my perception towards life. A man of very humble disposition, Dr. Kalam would wait for everybody at the dining table to finish their meals before he got up: this is what has left a deep impact in my life, his humility towards everybody, every single being acknowledging their every single effort.” Being impressed by his wisdom, Knowledge and humility, Srijan Pal Singh quit his job only to dedicate his job to render his services to Dr. Kalam, devoting himself as his student until the Legend breathed his last.
Dr. Kalam was a visionary, and not only did he dream but he gave the people the ability to convert their dreams into reality, as he proved in his lifetime- Actions speak louder than Words.
“He always envisioned a developed India, where youths channelized their energy in the right direction. He wished for a politics that would lead to the development of the nation, an overall developmental politics in the truest sense of the term”.
He has created a generation of vibrant people who now are capable by themselves to spread the light and realize his dreams and turn them into reality”. It is imperative to note that as Mr. Singh was being interviewed over the phone, each and every word he uttered was flawless, each and every memory that he recalled and each and every line that he quoted of the Great Man was as if the legend had engraved himself into his heart and mind forever. Interviewing the man was a truly inspiring experience and the vibes of humility and courtesy was clearly felt in that bare 20 minute conversation with him. This is how a legend impacts the lives of common men! Srijan Pal Singh now lives with a sense of mission to accomplish what Dr. Kalam always envisioned. A dedicated student indeed!
The immortal Legend
Quoting Dr. Kalam’s dream in his own words from his book, The Ignited Minds-
“I saw myself in a desert with miles of sand all around. There was a full moon and the desert was bathed in its light. Five men- Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Emperor Asoka, Abraham Lincoln and Caliph Omar- stood in a circle……… I felt myself dwarfed…….”
What an irony it is to note that the Man who considered himself dwarfed amongst the men of his dreams has now, probably joined these very Great Men in his abode.
Kalam adds, “The five great human beings I saw in my dream lived at different times. In the modern world, there are few examples of human beings who embody the qualities that come from realizing the nature of the mind”.
Now, we know for sure that the sixth Great Human being was Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam himself.’

An ode to the Legend
You came, You saw, You conquered,
An end of a legacy, the ignition of a billion minds,
One moment here, the next moment gone,
Smiling and waving-
With a zillion dreams in your eyes,
You left for the Heavenly abode-
From the abode of clouds;

Where the mind was doomed
And where darkness housed
You were the light,
A flame of hope,
Of dreams and ambitions,
Of energy galore;

As tough as ever,
A Missile Man you were,
Humility was your asset,
And work your worship,
As you led the mission,
Of youth empowerment;

You paved the way
For realization of dreams,
And showed the light
When pitch darkness lurked;

You dreamt of igniting
Your parents’ home,
But ended up igniting
A billion minds;

Though you may have left
For the heavenly abode,
It will be but a shame
To mourn your loss;
For a revolution is underway,
For a leader has been lost,
Yet the disciples stand ignited;
With a mission ahead-

A long journey on board-
It is time to act, to realize your dream,
For a spark has led
To a fire underway;

It’s time to act, not mourn,
For a leader has conceived
A billion other leaders,
The Missile Man has hit
The target right,
Its time to be the target,
To be the change he wanted to see;

Adieu oh Leader!
An igniter of youths,
In your end we see our beginning,
In your loss we find ourselves;

For your mortal self may have been gone,
Imparting us with wings of fire,
An immortal vision, a leader in each one of us,
Paying salute to You,
As we pledge to take up what you wished for
With Wings of Fire and Ignited minds
Taking off on a mission, soon to be realized!

By Shweta Raj Kanwar
shwetarajkanwar@gmail.com

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