Thursday, August 06, 2015

The man with wings of fire

I had perhaps taken refuge into Higgin Bothams’ cool store to escape from that noon’s heat about fifteen years ago. I came upon this book titled “akkini chiragugal”. This was a translation of “Wings of fire” written by Dr Kalam.

Kalam had been in the background, not of my mind, but of my overall worldscape at that time. Just like Andre Agassi or George Bush was. I had no particular reason to follow him or know more about him. It was a typical teen’s luxury to be ignorant of what doesn’t interest him then.

But it has been life’s way of pointing out things to me. My most significant moments had just shown up accidentally. It was how I discovered Osho, Ilaiyaraja and Him. This book begged to be picked up. The back cover had this written (in Tamil obviously): His hands never forgot to play the Veena even after eighteen hours of focused research. A member of the EU parliament had this to say about Kalam: Statesman, Poet and Scientist. This is absolutely unique! I knew I had to read that book.



I am not against Tamil (au contraire, I love it). But I am of the opinion that a translated voice loses some impact. The fire beating in the heart of the writer doesn’t always get transferred to the translator’s heart. So I wanted to get the English version.

Reading “Wings of Fire” was an enlightening experience. The man isn’t a great orator. He doesn’t pack the power and charisma a skilled orator does. He states things plainly without sugar coating, even blandly. What he lacks in oratory skills, he makes up for it and some more with his sincerity, conviction, vast life experience and above all, humility. This was reflected in the book.

It was also reflected in his passing on. So many little little things that somehow integrated themselves during his passing on.

* He passed on doing what he loved. He was addressing students. The more I think about it, the setting was just an excuse. I think it was pre-decided that he was going to leave then. He had barely spoken a few words before it happened. It was life’s final tribute to the karma yogi! I am reminded of how Paramahansa Yogananda left his body - just after a fiery ode to India.

* The last thing on his mind was to ask the students ideas about how to remove the deadlock surrounding the parliament. What a shame! A man of his mind had to think about how to make happen what ought to be already happening. These are the leaders who block federal work and enjoy life out of taxpayers money!

* He had thanked a security guard personally who had stood for hours on the convoy vehicle guarding him.

* The most gratifying for me - the entire nation rallied together as a tribute for him. As I traveled, all along I was able to see posters and banners exhibiting sorrow or gratitude for him. These weren’t politically sponsored or because of vested interests. My social media pages were filled with Kalam as well. These were a direct demonstration of the impact the man has had on all. I found it very difficult to hold back my tears. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of farewell.



He doesn’t need to come back. He will live on if we keep the inspiration of what he stood for alive. Kalam is an overwhelming positivity of inspiration, humility and hard work.

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