Every person in the journey of his/her life experiences certain glorious and blessed moments that remain etched in the mind forever. One such moment happened in my life in 2004. Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had visited Hyderabad in 2004 and addressed a combined session of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Council during the tenure of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The complete text of Kalam’s speech was published in newspapers the following day. As an ardent admirer of Kalamji, I perused the former President’s speech so inquisitively. Immensely Inspired by Kalamji’s speech, I composed a poem about him and titled it An Angel Dreaming of Glorious India.
I initially wished to get the poem published in a literary journal. As an Indian-English poet published in various literary journals, I knew that the poem should not exceed 30-40 lines. But the one I penned on Kalamji ran on to more than 70 lines and was not of publishable length. Hence I made up my mind to shorten the piece. But all my efforts to trim the poem to a length acceptable to the literary journal editor failed. I gave up hope and left it untrimmed. Brooding over the fate of my poem, that night, I crawled onto my bed and slipped into a rather disturbed sleep.
The following morning, I sprang out of my bed with a strange idea that struck my mind. “How about mailing the poem directly to Rashrapati Bhavan?” I mused. I shuddered at this thought. Would the poem reach Kalamji even if it is mailed to him?, I doubted. With doubts crowding my mind, I resolved to send the poem to Rashrapati Bhavan by post. I got a print-out, neatly inserted it along with a letter addressed to Kalamji into an envelope. I wrote on it ‘Dr.APJ.Abdul Kalam, The President of India, New Delhi’, affixed required stamps and mailed it to its destination on September 25. After this, however, I completely forgot about it and harboured no hopes of obtaining any response from the President as I immersed myself in my daily life.
However, within a fortnight, a postman came hurrying with an envelope to my college and searched for me. At the time, I was taking classes. The post-man found me and handed me a white envelope, saying it was a very important one from New Delhi. Flabbergasted, I took the envelope, gazed at it curiously and saw the words ‘President of the Republic of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi - 1000’ on the left corner.
Amazement and curiosity mounting in my heart, I ripped the envelope open and found a thick, milky sheet of paper with the words ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi 110004, October 7, 2004’ on the right corner and the name ‘A P A J Abdul Kalam’ on the left with a hand-written signature of Kalamji at the bottom. The letter read ‘Thank you for your letter and the nice poem. I liked the poem.... My best wishes to you’. I pinched my hand to confirm whether I was dreaming. ‘Yes, it is a letter from Kalamji ,the President of India,’ I realised. I read the letter many more times, savouring and cherishing each and every word. I shared my overflowing happiness with my colleagues and students. It was the most cherished, memorable day in my life.
In fact, I had dedicated my poem to Kalamji. But Kalamji in his letter advised me, “You need not dedicate the poem to me. You may dedicate it to your parents”. This advice reflects his humility and the utmost importance he gives to parents. I’m fortunate to be blessed with two more letters of appreciation (received on August 23, 2005 & January 9, 2007 respectively) from Kalamji in response to another poem of mine and a critical article on his book ‘Wings of Fire’. These kind gestures he showed for my literary efforts reveal how Kalamji careed so much for the people. It’s true that Kalamji is ‘The People’s President’ and remains so for ever. email@example.com