Mere 6 days ago, I saw this shocking update on twitter where Haryana Education Minister, at a school function, paid homage to the now Late Former President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. It was shocking and no matter what, it had to be joke. It had to be!

Within the matter of mere seconds, I brought the internet down hunting for any signs of the ‘Missile Man’s’ demise. Turned out, it was a rather ridiculous mistake. I could hardly stand the minister’s folly.

Yesterday, watching the news of his demise on national television, my heart sank. I could feel my insides go numb, with the reporter’s voice piercing my heart with every word he uttered. It was true. Very true. No follies this time. How I wished it was. For once, the minister’s folly didn’t seem as excruciatingly painful as the actual news.

Yes, Dr Kalam passed away last evening while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong. A cardiac arrest and he could not be revived.

A heart stops beating. A nation suffers irreparably. The beacon of inspiration for crores left for heavenly abode.

My memories of Dr Kalam come a long way.

My grandfather who retired few years ago, after many years of service at BARC, Mumbai had worked closely with Dr Kalam on certain nuclear projects. I recollect an occasion from many years ago, when I was 4 or 5. A get-together had Dr Kalam under my grandfather’s roof when I had seen him for the first and only time.

It was my grandfather who introduced me to Dr Kalam’s books since he was himself personally very fond of his senior. As years passed by, I read almost all of the Former President’s books and there!

I grew to build a kind of bond with Dr Kalam. He became my role model, what with his consistent efforts towards the nation’s betterment and inspiring the youth to dream big.

He grew up in adversity and went on to become the ‘Missile man’ of India, more popularly named as ‘People’s President’ after serving his term in NDA’s regime. I guess, it’s when you know what a man has walked through, to lead himself to successful heights, is when you grow to love them. I’ve tried to imbibe his life-transforming way of thinking, secular approach, in my life too. And with time, I’ve changed to a different person. I owe a lot to the man who transformed the nation, made us all feel proud Indians.

Ever felt like you suffered a poignant loss by the passing away of someone you never met? With Dr Kalam gone, that’s exactly how I feel. Tears wouldn’t stop, nor will the heart stop aching. I guess, it’s a very different feeling. The loss is here to stay and the void very large to be ever filled by anyone.

My dream of meeting the man who shaped me to a better individual will remain a dream forever. And it is in no one I see that inspirational figure who could stand as tall as him in my heart and mind.

RIP (Return If Possible) Dr Kalam.

-Asha Seth