July 30, 2015
Young and old were drawn by the charisma of late President Abdul Kalam. 97-year old C. Visalakshi was an example of this.
Tamil Nadu’s first woman Chief Education Officer (CEO) tried many a time to meet Kalam since 2008. But her request was turned down for security reasons.
Not a one to lost heart, she forced her great grand daughter Architha Srinivasan, who was then pursuing her final year medicine to e-mail Kalam seeking his permission to meet him during his visit to Coimbatore in 2014.
In her mail, Ms. Visalakshmi had stated: “It gives me great pride to know that in my lifetime, I was a citizen of a country whose President was as great a personality as you, especially since you reached great heights from humble beginnings”
Further she wrote in: “I was privileged to have worked with some of the greatest minds including Kamaraj and Periyar. During your Presidency, I observed a period of revolution. You have taken the time to reach out to young minds and provide the spark that lit the fire that we see in the youth today. To me, it would be a great privilege if I could meet you during your visit to Coimbatore this month”.
Moved by her words, Kalam replied to her that he would meet her at the Circuit House during his visit in July 2014. Joy knew no bounds for the nonagenarian former CEO on getting a positive reply from Kalam.
Visalakshi’s granddaughter Dr. Anu Valentina said: “Dr. Kalam, came out of his room at the Circuit House met her near the lift as she could not walk any further even with the walker. She was struggling to breathe when Dr. Kalam shook hands with her.”
The elated Visalakshi said that she felt honoured to have met such a great man. She blessed the late President.
“My grandma was very fond of Dr. Kalam for his down-to- earth nature in meeting and interacting with school and college students across the country, ” Dr. Anu said.
She recollected how her grandmother would say that she had not witnessed any President taking time to meet students. “Kalam is definitely a cut above the rest.”
Pointing out that his death was a great loss to the youth, Ms. Visalakshi said that true to his words – Our birth may be an incident, but our death must be a history – Kalam’s life is a history.