Kalam wanted a year-long celebration after Mr. Maraikayar turned 100 years
Centenarian A.P.J. Mohamed Muthu Meera Maraikayar, elder brother of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, looks at the elegantly-designed wooden casket staked with perfume bottles with a tinge of disappointment.
It was a special gift for him left behind by his younger brother.
Tears welled in his eyes as he takes a look at the wooden box of perfumes, bought by Kalam during his trip to Uttar Pradesh a couple of months before he died on July 27, 2015, as a special gift to be presented to his brother on the occasion of his 100th birthday on November 5.
Kalam never accepted gifts when he attended functions and when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav offered the perfumes, he accepted saying his brother was fond of perfumes and he would gift the box on his 100th birthday. Kalam paid a token sum before accepting the gift from Mr. Yadav, says Nazeema Maraikayar, daughter of the centenarian.
“We are celebrating the birthday without joy and with a sense of disappointment. It would have been joyous had my brother Abdul Kalam was around,” Mr. Maraikayar says in an interaction with the The Hindu at the ‘House of Kalam’ here on Thursday, recalling his close and affectionate association with the late president.
Kalam wanted a year-long celebration after Mr. Maraikayar turned 100 years but destiny had it that he could not celebrate the birthday at all. “God has given me the strength to overcome the absence of my brother,” he says.
Assisted by Ms. Nazeema, the centenarian recalls the grand family reunion they had in June 2014, when Kalam visited the family and celebrated his brother’s 98th birthday, five months ahead. It was a memorable event as more than 100 family members gathered and Kalam interacted with Mr. Maraikayar and other family members for more than three hours before flying back to Delhi.
Mr. Maraikayar, active, hale and healthy, is abreast with latest developments and enquires whether Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is still undergoing treatment at Apollo and whether DMK leader M. Karunanidhi has recovered from his illness. He flips through dailies and watches select programmes on television, says Ms. Nazeema.
The Chennai floods and the tsunami devastation brought him back the terrifying memories of 1964 cyclonic storm that wiped out Danushkodi, he says, recalling the devastation.
He was not awed by the latest development in science and technology. Discoveries bound to happen as long as mankind looked for changes. “I live my life as it comes and accept whatever happens,” Mr Maraikayar says, turning philosophical.