When I received an email from Rupa Publications, asking me to review APJ Abdul Kalam’s My Journey Transforming Dreams into Actions, I was thrilled. It is a collection of his recollections, in the form of short stories, of various events in his life. As is mentioned in the blurb, “He describes those who have been the closest to him- his father with his love of good, his mother and her great kindness, the mentors who helped shaped his thoughts and outlook.
He has written about his father’s four mile walk every morning to the coconut grove, which he felt added something to his personality, an element of calm to his personality that even strangers approached him for help with their problems. He says that he too starts his day with a morning walk. He mentions in another story that watching a boat come to life from pieces of wood was probably his first introduction to the world of engineering. He learnt that we have to acknowledge the power of nature. As an eight year old, during World War II, when sanctions were imposed on India, he would distribute newspapers to supplement the family income. He talks about how the religious leaders of various religions would meet every Friday evening to discuss the events happening in the town and how they managed to manage matters firmly and openly without letting it grow and fester- his first lesson in management.
In another story, he has spoken about his mother who served everyone and God with utmost devotion, selflessness and piety- a lesson that he has carried from her life- commitment. He talks about his sister, Zohra, who used her gold as a guarantee with a moneylender to borrow money required for his admission to a college. Jalalluddin, whom he has mentioned in a lot of stories, was his first mentor. The author mentions that he was the one who introduced him to the world outside, encouraged him, influenced him and instilled in him the power of positive thinking. He even mentions about his disappointment at not being able to join the Indian Air Force, and how he started believing in destiny. He talks about his favourite books and mentions that the religious texts from all religions have influenced him greatly.
He mentions about his brush with death and his realization that a nation is built by the power of sacrifice, toil and virtue. He describes his deeply emotional and intellectual relationship with Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who taught him to look beyond failures and also how the scientific and spiritual leaders can work harmoniously or larger goals. He talks about his life in various scientific institutions of India- his failures and successes in the world of science.
A beautifully written book with a lot of nice stories. My personal favourite is “My mother and my sister”. The stories may be short but the message they carry goes very deep. I would recommend reading one story at a time, slowly to actually understand the deep meaning present there. The charcoal drawings by Priya Sebastian have added a lot of meaning to the chapters.
Book Source: Review copy from Rupa Publications
Publisher: Rupa Publications