Chennai : Memories don’t fade easily when it involves a hero of the masses. That explains why octogenarian Sampath Kumar of Coimbatore vividly recalls every moment of his life that he spent with late President A P J Abdul Kalam more than 60 years ago.
Sampath had shared a hostel room with Kalam at Tiruchy’s famous St Joseph’s College where the latter had obtained a graduation degree in Physics before moving on to complete his Aeronautical Engineering course at the reputed Madras Institute of Technology.
“We lived in the same room from 1950 to 1954. Another roommate was Alexander, who later joined the US Army. It was a strange coincidence that a Muslim, Hindu and Christian shared the room,” recalled Sampath.
Kalam himself had recorded this “communal harmony” in the hostel room in Wings of Fire, one of his bestselling books.
Elsewhere in Dindigul district, where the picturesque Kodaikanal hills is located, Kalam’s astrophysics teacher at St Joseph’s College, Father Chinnadurai was in tears. The 91-year-old former teacher, whom Kalam had often recalled as an inspiration during his several interactions with students, said he was shocked that Kalam, who was younger to him, had died.
Kalam had met Chinnadurai only a few days ago and presented him a book. “I was immensely pleased when my student grew up to become an illustrious scientist, President and an icon for the youth and children. He was a strict vegetarian and had an amazing memory,” he said.“I feel proud that he had risen from humble origins and never discriminated against anyone on the basis of caste or creed,” Father Chinnadurai added.
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