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September 26, 2019 Thursday 10:14:53 AM IST

When APJ Touched My Heart


Certain people etch an everlasting impression in our minds. APJ Abdul Kalam was one such person who fail to fade away from my memory.

Among the varied number of personalities that I have come across in my professional career as a journalist, the reminiscences of associations with APJ stands out. I have had the feeling of being in the company of a dear relative or friend whenever there was an occasion to interact with him at close quarters. His way of reaching out to people and communicating with them in simple language, loaded with profound wisdom and sans any air of authority, had been marvellous. The remembrances of such an occasion are vivid in my memory.

I was part of a group of journalists deputed to cover his arrival at the Naval airport during one of thePresidential visits to Kochi. It was one of the routine reporting events.

We were a motley group of scribes sitting at a vantage point, a few yards - probably a score – away from the red carpet-laid passage way meant for the President and his entourage, leading from the tarmac to the arrival lounge.

It is not customary for the Presidents to meet the Press during their visits. The journalists, fully aware of the protocol, were neither prepared to converse with him - unlike meetings with top functionaries and political leaders, when scribes jostle their way to get a ‘bite’.

We were comfortably seated at the Press enclosure, watching the President being led from the ramp  where the aircraft was parked. Accompanied by officials, the President started walking up the red-carpet pathway, when he noticed the journalists waiting at a distance. He took a detour in no time and walked towards the Press enclosure and extended greetings even as the journalists were left in awe at the unexpected move. He did not waste time or cause any delay to his scheduled tour programme by making the simple, yet considerate, gesture to the journalists who were on the wait.  The incident, an exchange of pleasantries at close quarters, was an unexpected gift for the scribes who were no less enchanted by his extraordinary concern and friendliness. It was certainly a moment of agony for the securitymen,but a pleasant surprise for the Press.

On another occasion, Mr.Kalam was scheduled to address a group of school students where I had gone to cover the event. Once again, he was seen moving among the students in his typical amiable manner, asking them little questions, more like a teacher of long acquaintance.

Perhaps, more than anything else, it was his simplicity that endeared him to all. On almost every occasion that he addressed public meetings, it was his practice to upload the prepared speech in his website as soon as the function was over. It made the whole process of reporting quick and accurate, thus making the job easier for him as well as the journalists covering the function. It was simplicity all the way.  No wonder he became truly a people’s President.

R .Ramabhadran Pillai

The writer is Editor of Pallikkutam. He can be reached at

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