New Delhi : Outgoing President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in his farewell interaction with the staff of Rashtrapati Bhavan, told their children not to stop dreaming and recited a poem to inspire them to work for his cherished ideals.
Speaking in Hindi, Kalam, who relinquishes office July 25 and will be succeeded by Pratibha Patil, told the children that they should not stop in their quest for knowledge and help the country through hard work and farsightedness.
"Main nirantar chadhta raha, chadhta raha,
Shikhar kahan hai, mere ishwar
"Main nirantar khojta raha, khojta raha,
Gyan kahan hai mere ishwar
"Hey ishwar mere desh ko doordrishti aur mehnat se
Anand prapti ka vardan de."
(I continued climbing and climbing, my god where is the peak? I continued searching and searching, my god where is knowledge? O god, please grant the boon to people of my country that they achieve happiness through hard work and farsightedness.)
The 'people's president', as he is endearingly called by the occupants of the President's Estate, after inaugurating a new 300-seat auditorium, recited this Hindi poem at the request of little children sitting on the carpet in the front rows.
For the staff members of Rashtrapati Bhavan this was a real big occasion, with women and children in colourful attires treading down the freshly tarred roads, even as a mild shower threatened to spoil the show.
He addressed them, "Doston, mera speech aapko Hindi speech chahiye ya angrezi mein?" (Friends, do you want my speech in Hindi or English?)
Response from the children: "Hindi mein."
The president proceeded, "Pyare doston, namaskar, mujhe Rashtrapati Bhavan sadasyon ke parivar ke beech aakar bahut khushi ho rahi hai" (I am very happy coming here to be with the family of the staff members of Rashtrapati Bhavan).
Before reciting his poem he said, "Kavita ka naam hai Sahkalpana" (the poem's name is collective imagination).
Switching to English later, he said about his tenure, "It (Rashtrapati Bhavan) has been turned into a people's bhavan. More than one million farmers, teachers, postmen, educators and non-resident Indians coming here have enriched us by their visit."
As a token to the memory of his stay in the presidential palace, he exhorted each one of the 10,000 people living in the President's Estate to plant one sapling each and said: "Each tree will be named after each of you and the garden will be called the family garden."