My Journey – The making of a Legend

by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

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. In this series of anecdotes and profiles, Dr Kalam looks back on key moments in his past—some small and some momentous—and tells the reader how each of them inspired him profoundly. With warmth and affection, he talks about the people who left a deep impression on him as he was growing up and as an adult, and the lessons he drew from his interactions with them. He describes those who have been the closest to him—his father with his deep love of God, his mother and her great kindness, his mentors who helped shape his thoughts and outlook. There are heart-warming accounts here of his childhood years spent in a small town by the Bay of Bengal and the many struggles and sacrifices made on the path to becoming a scientist and then the President of India. Dr Kalam also writes about the times when failure and dejection nearly overtook him and how he prevailed over those obstacles by drawing strength from books and spirituality.
Nostalgic, honest, and deeply personal, My Journey is the story of a life as rich as it is unusual—and the beautiful lessons to be learnt from it.

The Author:
Born on 15 October 1931, at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam specialized in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. Dr Kalam is one of the most distinguished scientists of India and has been awarded the Padma Bhushan (1981), the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna (1997).
Dr Kalam became the eleventh President of India on 25 July 2002. His focus and greatest ambition remains finding ways that will transform India into a developed nation.

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My Review

Dreams are not those that we see in our sleep; they should be the ones that never let us sleep.
– Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

The humble and ever so magnanimous Ex-President, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam; who doesn’t know the great scientist and the notable achievements he made in his entire career of science and politics. But believe me when I say this, boy, you are about to be surprised. I was instantly hooked, bowled over, and emotionally moved to read the journey of this extra-ordinary man.

If you are an Indian, a proud-to-be-Indian person like me, one who loves his country and the amazing breath of fresh life we inhale amidst the dust of treachery and corruption, this book is for you. In fact, I’d go on to say, it is a must read for every Indian, every human being, every man aiming for the skies.

I will not boast more about the book, and get straight to the main review. Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is an excellent writer, as good as a scientist he has been, a respected teacher, or a loved figure he is. His words touch your heart and surprise you with his tender language, and the soft literature he uses and suddenly you’ll find yourself standing in his garden, staring at the huge Arjuna tree, looking for bird nests and beehives.

I have always seen people questioning the existence of God. But more than anything, I have seen men of science believing, with utter faith, in Him, the Almighty, never with a shadow of a doubt. Honorable Dr. Kalam is no different; a man of science, a man of faith, a man of God. He has woven all cultures in this little book and created pure magic out of it. I was surprised to see a man from a muslim community who doesn’t falter to express the verses of Gita or Bible.

Dr. Kalam entrancingly draws out his experiences as a child, teenager and an adult. In the twelve superbly written chapters, he shares with the world, how he dealt with various dejections in his life, failures and death, and how he transformed something so dark and disheartening into pure light of creativity. The chapters, ‘My Father’s Morning Walk’, ‘Three Great Hearts Resolve a Problem’, & ‘A Brush with Fire’ are stirring and make you ponder on life, success, failures and more importantly, the role of a mastermind behind us all.

His poems are profound and expressive and they reflect his innermost thoughts in just few verses. The last poem, from the chapter a life in science, addressed to the youth is especially pensive, depicting how deeply he thinks.
The subtle yet grave illustrations by Priya Sebastian add an additional impact, forcing you to travel back to the times with Dr. Kalam and see him come alive in front of you.

Dr. Kalam humbly summarises his life in a single sentence, as,

“Love poured to the child…struggle…more struggle…bitter tears… then sweet tears…and finally a life as beautiful and fulfilling as seeing the birth of the full moon.”

If you ask me to summarise the book in a single sentence, I’d say,
“My Journey … a beautiful book about great people… great minds… and an extraordinary tale of a man born by great people… a book that’d change the way you look at life.”

Final Verdict:
My Rating: ★★★★½

3 thoughts on “My Journey – The making of a Legend

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