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My Childhood Summary in English by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
My Childhood by APJ Abdul Kalam About the Author
APJ Abdul Kalam (1931-2015) was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. Kalam was bom and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was intimately involved in India’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts and thereby earned the title of Missile Man of India. He also played a pivotal organisational, technical, and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. After 5 years as President, Kalam returned to teaching, writing and public service. He was honoured with several prestigious awards including India’s highest civilian honour “Bharat Ratna” in 1997. Abdul Kalam’s writings are very inspirational for the young.
||A. P. J. Abdul Kalam|
|Born||15 October 1931, Rameswaram|
|Died||27 July 2015, Shillong|
|Full Name||Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam|
|Awards||Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan|
|Education||Madras Institute Of Technology, Anna University (1955–1960), Bizmen forum (1954)|
My Childhood Introduction to the Chapter
My Childhood is an extract taken from the autobiographical novel, Wings of Fire by APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr Kalam, who was one of the greatest scientists of India and also the 11th President of India gives an account of his childhood days. He talks about the people, the incidents and the experiences that he had during his childhood which shaped his adult life. Although he was bom in a conservative society, his family, his teachers and his friends influenced Dr Kalam in his childhood and he imbibed values of secularism, honesty and discipline. Written in a very modest tone, the extract is very inspirational.
My Childhood Summary in English
Kalam was bom in a middle-class Tamil family in Rameswaram. Although he had three brothers and one sister, they had a secure childhood both materially as well as emotionally. His parents, Jainulabdedn and Ashiamma, despite their limited means, were very generous people and Kalam inherited the values of honesty, self-discipline, goodness and kindness from his parents. Though Kalam came from a large family, but their kitchen fed far more outsiders than all his family members put together.
They lived in their ancestral house, a fairly large pucca house, on the Mosque Street in Rameswaram. Though they did not have any inessential comforts and luxuries but Kalam’s father made sure that all necessities like food, medicine and clothes were provided to the family.
In 1939, Kalam was only 8 years old when the Second World War broke out. There was a sudden demand for tamarind seeds in the market. Kalam collected these seeds and sold them to a provision shop on Mosque Street to earn an anna which was a big amount for a small boy like him. His brother-in-law Jallaluddin would tell him stories about war which Kalam would try to trace in the headlines of Dinamani. Rameswaram was an isolated place and while the war didn’t have a direct impact on life there, the train’s halt at the station was stopped. As a result, the bundles of newspapers were now thrown off running trains. Kalam’s cousin Samsuddin, who used to distribute these newspapers in Rameswaram, sought Kalam’s help to catch the bundles. Thus, Kalam earned his first wages which gave him immense self-confidence and a sense of pride.
Kalam’s three friends—Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan—were very close to him. Though the boys came from different religious backgrounds—Kalam as a Muslim while the other three were from orthodox Hindu Brahmin families—yet their religious differences and upbringing did not stand in the way of their friendship. Later in life, the boys adopted different professions. Ramanadha Sastry took over the priesthood of Rameswaram temple from his father, Aravindan took up the business of arranging transport for visiting pilgrims, and Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern Railways.
Kalam’s family used to arrange boats with a special platform during the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony. The platform was used for carrying idols of Lord Rama from the temple to the wedding site ‘Ram Tirtha’ which was a pond near Kalam’s house. Kalam grew up listening to the stories both from the Ramayana and the life of the Prophet from his mother and grandmother at bedtime.
Certain incidents of his childhood left a deep impression on Kalam’s young mind. When he was in fifth standard, a new teacher did not like Kalam, a Muslim boy, sitting next to Ramanadha Sastry, a Brahmin. He sent Kalam to the back seat simply in accordance with the social ranking of Muslims. Both Kalam and Ramanadha Sastry felt sad at this action of their teacher. Sastry wept and this had a deep impact on Kalam. When Sastry’s father heard of the incident, he summoned the teacher and told him not to spread the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance in young minds. He told the teacher to either apologise or leave the school. The teacher regretted his action and he was reformed by this incident.
Another memorable incident of his childhood was when Sivasubramania Iyer, Kalam’s science teacher, invited him home for a meal. Sivasubramania Iyer was an orthodox Brahmin and his wife was very conservative. She was horrified at the idea of a Muslim boy dining in her ritually pure kitchen. When she refused to serve Kalam, Iyer did not lose his cool and not only served the boy with his own hands but also sat and ate with him. He invited Kalam the next weekend as well. Noticing Kalam’s hesitation in accepting his invitation, Iyer told the child to be prepared to face such situations if he wished to change any system. When Kalam visited Iyer’s house again, his wife took him to her kitchen and served him food with her own hands.
The freedom of India was in the offing when the Second World War ended. Following Gandhiji’s plea, the entire nation was hopeful of building their country themselves. Kalam too sought his father’s permission to go and study further in Ramanathapuram. His father permitted him willingly because he wanted his son to grow. He even convinced Kalam’s mother by telling her that parents should not thrust their ideas upon their children as they have their own way of thinking.
My Childhood Title
In this autobiographical extract My Childhood Abdul Kalam, talks about his childhood. He describes his family, his house, his childhood experiences and his childhood friends. In addition, he highlights those incidents that left an indelible impression on his young mind. That makes the title My Childhood very apt.
My Childhood Setting
The setting of this extract is Rameswaram, especially in the pre-war, during the War and post-war years. On the whole, the small society of Rameswaram was highly stratified and very rigid in terms of the segregation of different social groups. Yet, there was communal harmony and co-operation. People who spread the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance were not well tolerated.
My Childhood Theme
In the given extract from his autobiographical novel Wings of Fire Abdul Kalam reveals how our life is shaped by our experiences and the people around us. Kalam’s secure childhood, inspiring parents, supportive friends and honest teachers instilled great values in him that gave him the strength to travel from his modest beginnings to the President’s House.
My Childhood Message
The message Dr Kalam conveys to his readers in My Childhood is one of communal harmony, tolerance, acceptance, broadmindedness and brotherhood. While our society is infected by prejudices of religion, caste and status, it is essential to confront such discrimination and put an end to it. Despite being orthodox Muslims, Kalam’s family provided boats with a special platform for carrying idols of the Lord from the temple to the marriage site during the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony. His mother and grandmother told him stories from the Ramayana and from the life of the Prophet. Even the orthodox Brahmans fought against barriers of religion and caste as done by Lakshmana Sastry and Sivasubramania Iyer.
My Childhood Characters
A boy of ordinary looks, Abdul Kalam had many sterling qualities right from his childhood. He had immense affection and respect for his parents. He inherited the values of honesty and self-discipline from his father and faith in goodness and deep kindness from his mother.
Kalam was an enterprising and a hard-working child. He collected tamarind seeds, when they were in demand, and sold them to earn small yet significant amounts. Very confident of himself, he did every piece of work assigned to him with full dedication. He helped his cousin to catch bundles from the running trains when the train-halt at Rameswaram was suspended during the Second World War.
Despite being bom in a Muslim family, Kalam was a liberal secular. He imbibed this quality from his father who gave his boats with a special platform for carrying idols of Lord Rama from the temple to the wedding site ‘Ram Tirtha’ during the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony. His mother and grandmother told stories from the Ramayana and the life of the Prophet to the children at bed time. Kalam’s three friends—Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan—were from orthodox Hindu Brahmin families. However, their religious differences and upbringing did not stand in the way of their friendship.
He was a sensitive child and leamt valuable lessons from his experiences. He leamt early in life that caste-based segregation is a poison that must not be allowed to thrive. Kalam was also progressive and took decision at the right time to leave his hometown to study further and grow in life.
Abdul Kalam’s father, Jainulabdeen, was a tall handsome man. He had neither much formal education nor much wealth; despite these disadvantages, he possessed great innate wisdom and a true generosity of spirit.
Jainulabdeen was an austere man who avoided all inessential comforts and luxuries. However, he provided all necessities in terms of food, medicine or clothes for his family. He ensured he provided a very secure childhood, both materially and emotionally to his children.
Despite being a Muslim, Jainulabdeen provided his boats with a special platform for carrying idols of the Lord from the temple to the marriage site during the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony.
Although Jainulabdeen was not very highly educated himself, he was keen his son got a good education. When Abdul Kalam expressed a desire to study at the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram, but was a little hesitant, Jainulabdeen advised his son to go away to grow. He asked, “Does the seagull not fly across the sun, alone and without a nest?” With deep wisdom he advised his wife to let their son go to get a good education. “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts.”
Abdul Kalaam’s mother, Ashiamma, was a tall, good-looking woman, were tall and good looking. Ashiamma was a good, kind person and she passed on these qualities to her children. Though they did not have abundant resources, both she and her husband were very generous and fed a lot of outsiders along with their own family-members.
Ashiamma was a secular person and brought up her children on stories from the Ramayana and from the life of the Prophet. She thus instilled good values and principles in her children.
Sivasubramania Iyer was Kalam’s science teacher in school. Although he was an orthodox Brahmin, he was a very tolerant and broad-minded person. He was a rebel who wished to bring about a transformation in the society and was well prepared to confront hindrances during this process. He faced challenges even from his own family when his wife refused to serve food to Kalam who had been invited by Iyer himself. But, without losing faith in his belief that caste and religion do not segregate people, he served the child himself. Thus, he
reformed his wife not by force but by setting an example.
Iyer was also a dedicated teacher who established a good rapport with his students. He encouraged and inspired them as he taught and spent long hours with them. He encouraged Abdul Kalam to study further and to develop so that he could be “on par with the highly educated people of the big cities.”
My Childhood Summary Questions and Answers
What were the qualities that Abdul Kalam admired in his parents?
Kalam’s parents were noble and generous people. Though his father was an austere man, hd provided his family with all necessities, in terms of food, medicine or clothes. He admired his father’s honesty and self- discipline and his mother’s faith in goodness and kindness. He admired his parents for respecting all religions.
Kalam’s childhood was a secure one both materially and emotionally. Illustrate.
APJ Abdul Kalam called his childhood a secure one because he had loving and caring parents who gave love and guidance to their children and took care of their emotional and physical needs. They provided their children with all necessities, in terms of food, medicine or clothes.
How does Kalam show his father was a simple man?
Kalam’s father was a simple self-disciplined man. He neither had formal education nor much wealth and he avoided all inessential comforts and luxuries.
What kind of a person was Kalam’s father?
Abdul Kalam’s father, Jainulabdeen, was a tall and handsome man. Although he did not have much of a formal education, he was progressive and valued education. He was an austere man and didn’t have much wealth, however, he was a generous man and provided both material and emotional security to his family. He was a very practical man with a vast store of wisdom and never obstructed the progressive ways of his children.
How does Abdul Kalam describe his mother?
Kalam’s mother, Ashiamma, was tall, good looking and very attached to her children. She was an ideal helpmate to her husband. She was a gentle and kind lady with faith in goodness and deep kindness. Like her husband, she was very generous and fed a number of outsiders daily. Kalam inherited the values of kindness and generosity from her. Kalam inherited the values of kindness and generosity from her.
How was Kalam’s appearance different from that of his parents?
Kalam did not take after his tall and handsome parents. He was a rather short boy with average looks. Unlike his parents who had quite striking features, his appearance was undistinguished.
Briefly describe Abdul Kalam’s ancestral house.
Abdul Kalam’s ancestral house was situated on the Mosque Street in Rameswaram. It had been built in the middle of nineteenth century and was a fairly large, pucca house made of limestone and brick.
How did the Second World War give Abdul Kalam the opportunity to earn his first wages?
When stoppage of trains was cancelled at Rameshwaram because of World War II, Kalam’s cousin, Samsuddin, who distributed newspapers in Rameswaram, asked him for help in collecting newspaper bundles which were thrown from the moving train. This helped Abdul Kalam earn his first wages.
What are Kalam’s views about his first jobs?
As a young boy, Kalam earned his first wage by helping his cousin, Samsuddin, collect papers thrown from a moving train for distribution. Half a century later, Kalam would still feel the surge of pride in earning his own money for the first time.
Had Kalam earned any money before that? In what way?
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, there was a sudden demand for tamarind seeds in the market. Kalam collected these seeds and sold them to earn an anna a day which was a big amount for a small boy like him in those days.