APJ Abdul Kalam – childhood

Lata Jain

From a small boy growing up in Rameswaram, to becoming the country’s eleventh President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s life has been a tale of extraordinary determination, courage, perseverance and the desire to excel. Kalam had a tough childhood. Poverty and difficulties did not deter APJ to fight back in life. We get to read about his difficult childhood in “My journey”.

lata jain

Lata Jain

APJ Abdul Kalam mentions in his biography that to support his studies, he started his career as a newspaper vendor. This was also told in the book, A Boy and His Dream: Three Stories from the Childhood of Abdul Kalam by Vinita Krishna. But he never excuses his study for his poor background.

His father was a boatman, who took passengers from Rameswaram to the holy island of Danushkodi. Once, a terrible cyclone hit the coast and the sea took their boat away. But his father stayed calm, and went about building another boat. In 1964, another cyclone struck and broke a part of Danushkodi. His father lost his boat again, but built another one. Later, while working on building SLV rockets, and when it rained during the rocket launch, Kalam recalled what his father had said: “The only way to survive is to face your troubles and rebuild your life.”

When he was eight, Kalam decided to support the family. He would take tuition for 2 hours.  Then he would run to the railway station to collect the bundles of newspaper that came in the train and distribute them in the town. He would head home to get ready for school. In the evening, he collected the money for the paper distribution and did his homework. His work taught him to calculate distances, amounts and the importance of being on time.

Kalam wanted to be an Air Force pilot, but decided to become a scientist when he wasn’t selected. He put his heart and soul into it.

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