Wrapped in a Tricolour , the fond son of Rameswaram returned to his hometown for the final time. As thousands waited paptiently for the cortege to enter the island of Rameswaram. APJ Abdul kalam , the missileman , ex President of the Indian democracy and a philanthropist par excellence , also fondly called “Abul Tambi “ by his 96 year old elder brother APJ Maraiyacar.
The former President hardly lived in Rameswaram beyond his schooling days , but the family is closely attached to the most prominent member of the family. The news of his death came as a shock to the family , which had just spoken to him a day before his death in Shillong. Abuddin Zainul , the son in law of APJ Maraiyacar recalled while speaking to TEHELKA,” He called up one day before on the mobile and enquired about his brother’s health and insisted I put the phone on speaker so that his elder brother Maraiayacar could hear the conversation”.
But none in the island town of Rameswaram were ready to hear the shocking news. As the decision on the final resting place for the Ex-President was taken by family , people thronged to see the bulldozers working to level the ‘Poramboke’ ( barren govt land) land at Tangachimadam between Rameswaram and Mandapam. Velayudham a town panchayat leader told TEHELKA,” It’s true that many villagers feel bad that Kalam sir could not do much for the town , but his contribution to India and the world makes all of us proud, Wherever we go and say We are from Rameswaram, people say ohh.. APJ Abdul Kalam’s town”. That by any means is no achievement.
The cortege carrying the mortal remains was expected to arrive at 1 pm on Wednesday but finally arrived at 3.36 pm ,but the hot sun did not deter thousands who had crowded the town from far off places to pay their respects to the legend of Rameswaram. Rachna Bhattarai , a 32 year old researcher from Shillong waited patiently in the crowds. The 32 year old researcher was supposed to meet APJ Abdul Kalam, her guide and mentor in the research project related to blood related diseases diagnosis on 13th August, but the meeting may not happen ,as she old TEHELKA,”It was my dream to have Kalam sir as my guide in the research , but now I will not be able to submit the research papers through him to scientific community. I however will continue the work and dedicate the same to him”
Many others including young and old , scientist colleagues like Madhavan Nair and illiterate villagers bid a tearful farewell and paid their last respects to the man , whose mortal remains will now remain buried forever in this island town.