A P J Abdul Kalam had planned a “big surprise party” for his elder brother who would turn 100 this November by gathering all the family members at his native place Rameswaram, putting up banners saying ‘100’ and playing Tamil songs but destiny had other ideas.
Sixteen years older, A P J Maracayer was like a father figure to Kalam and counselled him on several important decisions and was also his spiritual guide.
But as fate would have it, seven weeks after this planning session Kalam passed away on July 27 last year.
Kalam’s aide Srijan Pal Singh presents a tribute to the late President on his first death anniversary in the form of a book “What Can I Give?: Life Lessons from My Teacher, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.”
The book, published by Penguin Random House, brings alive rare personal and unheard-of anecdotes as well as unseen pictures from Kalam’s life.
Taking Kalam’s vision ahead, Singh has decided to donate all the royalties from the book to the charitable cause of providing free education to underprivileged children through an initiative called The Kalam Library Project.
On the grand plans made by Kalam for his brother’s 100th birthday celebrations, Singh writes, “In 2015, in the month of May, Kalam’s brother dropped by for a visit. It was a special moment as Janaab A P J Maracayer was about to turn 99 in a few months. His birthday was on the 5th of November. The day his brother was leaving for Rameswaram, Kalam met him over dinner. He said to me later, ‘You fellow, listen. My brother will turn 99 years old in November. Tell me, now by the end of this
year, how many orbits will he have completed around the sun?
“This was the question he always asked on people’s birthdays. A true rocket engineer, he loved equating years to the number of orbits the earth had made around the sun and the number of orbits the moon had made around the earth. I was familiar with this question by now.”
“Hundredth orbit!” Singh replied.