Thanks for giving us wings of fire

One reporting assignment that made me a student all over again

swati

Swati Chandra | July 28, 2015 | New Delhi


#abdul kalam   #apj abdul kalam   #rip kalam missile man of india   #abdul kalam quotes   #abdul kalam lectures  

It was cold and dry month of January. I was given an assignment to report a school event where former president APJ Abdul Kalam was to launch the east UP chapter of his “What Can I Give Mission” programme.

I was bit annoyed about the early morning reporting assignment, however, I was happy over the thought that I would get to listen to Kalam Sir. Struggling with usual laziness, me and my colleague (photojournalist) reached the venue at 7 in morning. We were told that Dr Kalam’s aircraft was delayed due to bad weather condition. I was chatting, cribbing and sipping tea with fellow journalists when somebody said that the flight has been cancelled. Another reporter came up with a declaration that Kalam will address students via Skype. We waited patiently for few more hours as the school administration kept us busy with snacks and tea.

I and my colleague took a stroll. We found some children practicing the welcome song. Another group was boastfully flaunting their portraits and paintings that formed the welcome paraphernalia. Inside the hall, the scene was somewhat different. Students seemed drained out. Teachers were tired too. We even spotted some of them taking a nap. My senior called me thrice to know if I will be able to file the copy before the deadline. That was upsetting too.

And then there was sudden rustling up in the school premises. It was 2 pm. The security personnel entered the hall first and then we spotted a smiling Kalam. For the first time in my life I saw a crowd of about 1,500 hailing and cheering an 80-year-old man, not your normal celebrity by any standards.

Five quotes that I remember from that lecture till date: 

  “It does not matter who you are, anything that your heart desires would come seeking you. We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire and fill the world with the glow of its goodness”

“What I can take is a national problem in India. We must focus on 'what I can give”

"There are four things that everyone should inhale perfectly before 20 years of age. One is a great aim, second knowledge to help foster the aim, third is hard work and last, perseverance to defeat the problem and succeed”

"If you make you mother smile, the home will smile, if the home will smile, the society will smile, and if the society will smile, the nation will smile”

"Every person should plant a sapling. A single tree can soak up 20 kg of carbon dioxide in one year. Imagine how the environment is going to benefit if planting trees becomes a habit."


At 80 his persona was unmatchable. The event was for kids and I was there to report not to learn. But it turned out to be the best lecture I have ever attended. It made me a student all over again and learning a joyous process that stays with me even today.

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