Dream, dream, dream
Dreams transform into thoughts
And thoughts result in action
Those were the lines with which I started the essay on “The Accomplishments of Dr. Abdul Kalam”. It was over 13 years ago, but I distinctly remember the day. It was during a contest organized by our block’s Residents Welfare Association. There were about ten of us in 15A, the house whose living room doubled as the venue for numerous such events, and whose front yard did for our summer card games. I was writing about Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam; a rags to riches story of a boy who was born in the fishing village of Danushkodi and went on to become a top scientist, the pioneer of India’s missile program in DRDO and later the director of India’s first SLV in ISRO.
A few years later, after Dr. Abdul Kalam became the President of India, I was graduating from tenth standard. I received one of his books, “India 2020: A Vision for the New Millenium” as a proficiency award, along with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. (Yes, that was Harry Potter. My school Principal, Mr. T.K. Ramanujam was an eclectic individual who was another big inspiration, but that’s really a different post.) I was fascinated by the book, at least the parts that I could comprehend, and went on to read “Wings of Fire” and “Ignited Minds”. Those were the days when everybody I knew was reading “Wings of Fire”, and was getting inspired by the President.
A few more years went by and Dr. Kalam stepped down as the President and resumed his role in the academia. On what was one of the two occasions when I was proud of my college, he visited us for a talk. (The other was when Jimmy Wales came!). I and my friends were late and couldn’t get seats at the Quadrangle. We were standing on the Y-Block corridor when Dr. Kalam requested us to take an oath, and we solemnly obliged. It went like this:
1. I will pursue my education or the work with dedication and I will excel in it.
2. From now onwards, I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write those who cannot read and write.
3. I will plant at least 10 saplings and shall ensure their growth through constant care.
4. I will visit rural and urban areas and permanently wean away at least 5 persons from addiction and gambling.
5. I will constantly endeavour to remove the pain of my suffering brethren.
6. I will not support any religious, caste or language differentiation.
7. I will be honest and endeavour to make a corruption free society.
8. I will work for becoming an enlightened citizen and make my family righteous.
9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and will work hard to make them feel normal, like the rest of us.
10. I will proudly celebrate the success of my country and my people.
It’s now 2015 and I wake up to the news of Dr. Abdul Kalam’s unfortunate demise. I think about the oath; something that hasn’t crossed my mind in years and realize how badly I’ve fared. I flinch at how little I have been inspired by a man whom I call an inspiration. Would this be the wake up call that will root me out of the lazy cycle of inaction that I’ve grown into and inspire me to act? Would his memory instigate a fire in my bones and lead me on a path to make my country proud and the world a better place?