22nd October 2013, will be ever etched on my mind. Afterall, You don’t meet a person of the stature of Abdul Kalam every day. I distinctly remember, there were butterflies in my stomach, while Aruna and I were waiting in his office for our 8pm appointment. We were there to present my first book KEYS to him. He was my hero and I had painted a particular image of him in my mind. Already anxious, my mind was crowded with thoughts… ‘how will he greet us?, what will he say about my book?, will he really entertain us as we had no real agenda for the meeting?’, ‘what if a cold response from him shatters the image I have so lovingly nurtured.’
My chain of thoughts was interrupted, when his secretary called out our names. He ushered us in APJ’s office.
His office reflected his persona – simple, warm and welcoming. He got up from his chair to greet us.
“So Mr. Santosh Joshi, what brings you here?” He asked with a bright smile, signalling us to sit. Sitting in front of a person who was the people’s president, a recipient of Bharat Ratna, a scientist, a teacher and above all a favourite leader of one and all, did make me nervous.
However, slowly the anxiety I was experiencing, started to dissolve in his sublime presence. His friendly voice and infectious smile drove away all our discomforts.
“Sir, you are a great inspiration in our life and it has been our long cherished dream to meet you in person, hence we are here.” I said trying hard to put the words together. I gave him the book and a sketch I had drawn of him.
“Oh, I am glad to meet you as well” he replied modestly. Then I briefed him about what I was doing and how I wished to present him my first book and seek his blessings. He patiently flipped through the book, asking questions with lot of interest. He said he was pleased with the way the book has come up.
“You have given me the book. What should I give you?”, saying this he got up from the chair, fetched a copy of ‘Ignited Minds’ from his cupboard and wrote a beautiful message, “If God for us, who can be against us”, and with his autograph gifted it to me. He wished me luck and said, “You are doing a good job. Inspire as many people as you can”.
We requested him for a picture, which he readily agreed. The whole experience was so overwhelming, that we got goose bumps and our eyes moistened. We touched his feet and left his office with a heart filled with gratitude and amplified love and respect for this adorable human being. We were bowled over by his humility, simplicity and greatness. It was feeling one gets in the presence of a spiritually evolved soul. No wonder today when he has left his body, every Indian is grieved. Only a divine incarnate can impact and inspire so many lives. In my view, he was truly a modern spiritual guru.
Rest in Peace APJ… We will miss you…