Kalam's family wants to convert his Delhi address into a museum

Aug 21, 2015, 07:08 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The late former president A P J Abdul Kalam’s family wants govt to turn his residence in Delhi, at 10 Rajaji Marg, into a museum. The family at Rameshwaram will be writing to the central government shortly

The late former president A P J Abdul Kalam’s family wants the government to turn his residence in Delhi at 10 Rajaji Marg, New Delhi, into a museum. The family at Rameshwaram will be writing to the central government shortly that his home, with thousands of books and musical instruments, needs to be preserved. The place can become a learning hub for youngsters and visitors, because India’s missile man was an inspiration for so many.

Kalam’s family members hope the museum will be an inspiration, especially to the young. File pic
Kalam’s family members hope the museum will be an inspiration, especially to the young. File pic

Confirming the plan, Kalam’s nephew Shaikh Salim (34) told mid-day from Rameshwaram, “Kalam sir was an inspiration for school and college students. The 2,500 books on literature, science and technology, philosophy etc, most of them in English and Hindi, in his personal library, will surely help the future generation know how well read he was. We will request the central government to declare it a museum.”

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Shaikh said that the family members would write the letter to the government after marking the 40th day of Kalam’s demise, which is on September 4.

Interestingly, Shaikh was fortunate to live with Kalam in the very same house at 10 Rajaji Marg for nearly seven years (between 2006 to 2013), when he was appearing for his civil service examinations. Apart from books, Kalam also had a two-in-one transistor, a personal mobile phone, two veenas and a handful of clothes, which are still in Delhi.

Shaikh has a second plan in mind. He says, “If the central government does not agree with the museum idea, then I would bring the clothes, books and veenas to Rameshwaram and keep the personal belongings of Kalam in the museum there.”

Shaikh also recalled how Kalam used to take time out from his busy schedule to help him in his studies and also inspire him when he was feeling low. Shaikh said, “Kalam uncle used to help me in my studies; I would put in my best, but still could not clear the civil service examination, even after five attempts. He (Kalam) would always tell me, during our strolls that ‘If you are not able to serve the public being a civil servant, aim to become a parliamentarian and serve the public.’ I now aim to be a parliamentarian, one day.” Shaikh has an MBA degree and is now assisting his sister in running the memorial of Dr Kalam near their house in Rameshwaram.

Shaikh added, “Since his demise, the family has been offering special prayers daily, which will continue until the 40th day and a special programme has been planned on September 4, where apart from offering special prayers at the burial spot, we will also offer lunch to nearly 500 guests who are expected to visit from all over Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. We also intend to visit some orphanages and old age homes, where special food will be served.”

Shaikh added, Kalam had high regard and respect for his elder brother Muthu Meera Labbai Mari (99), as he provided all assistance for completing his education. Just a few days before his demise, Kalam had already sent R10,000 each for the family members, as a Ramzan Eid gift and was planning a grand celebration to mark the 100th birthday of his eldest brother.

This, according to Shaikh, was because Kalam was not present when his late father Jainaluddin celebrated his 100th birthday. His father expired when he was 104 and mother Ashiamma passed away when she was 95 years old.

The demise of Kalam had put Muthu Mari in a state of shock and for three days he had stopped eating and was mourning. His condition worsened as his blood pressure shot up and a panel of three doctors had to monitor his health around the clock, recalled Shaikh. Muthu Mari now misses the daily phone call he would get from Kalam from Delhi at around 4.30 pm.

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Harry Sheridon (53), who had known Kalam for 24 years and had been working as his personal secretary, told mid-day from Delhi, “As per the procedure, we have to wind up the office by October 30. We are expecting a few relatives to arrive after the 40th day from Rameshwaram and then we will access the belongings that Kalam has left behind.”

Sheridon revealed that Kalam’s only source of income were the two pensions that he was getting, one as ex-secretary of DRDO, from where he retired and second as former President of the country. Sheridon added that one of the favourite books of Kalam was Light from many lamps which Kalam would read often. He also had a few music CDs in his possession, among them being a recording of Bismillah Khan’s shehnai recitals.

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