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Kalam, an admirer of inner beauty
July 24, 2007 15:13 IST
Now that A P J Abdul Kalam is stepping down as President, anecdotes about his tenure at the Rashtrapati Bhavan [Images] will do the rounds for some time.
Opening the account is his Officer on Special Duty Brahma Singh.
Recalling an incident, Singh says how Kalam values inner beauty over what meets the eye.
"I was thrilled to see a special rose bloom in the Mughal Garden [Images] and such was the excitement that I wanted to share it with the President at the first possible opportunity," Singh said.
An equally ardent admirer of flowers, especially roses, Kalam did not waste any time and arrived to have a look. "Even as I was telling him how beautiful the rose looked, Kalam had already bent to take in its fragrance. When he stood up, I could read a negative reaction on his face," he said.
"I regained my composure and mustered courage to ask him about his visible disappointment.
'Its not so beautiful. A rose without fragrance is not beautiful," the 75-year-old Kalam said and continued with his argument, "Look Brahma, we should not go with the outward beauty. Rather we should focus on inner beauty and it is fragrance that reflects that beauty."
The episode left an indelible imprint on Singh's mind, who says that he learnt a moral which even sages cannot impart in such a simple manner.
Immediately, everyone got the message and the dream of having a Fragrant Rosary in a corner of Mughal Garden came true with 59 different species of sweet smelling roses in full bloom, Singh said.
The President was always keen on keeping all special variety of flowers, especially roses, in and around Mughal Garden, where the general public could also enjoy its beauty rather than becoming a private haunt of the President.
When Singh compiled a book on roses, Kalam himself wrote couplets for some of them, including the 'Black Baccara', the blackest rose till date, for which the President wrote "I cheer sad hearts..."
Maintaining 300 acres of flowers, gardens and trees with an army of 200 gardeners was not possible without the guidance and support of the President, says one of the officials working in the President's estate.
There are nearly 160 kinds of trees spread all over the President's estate, including the majestic banyans, which moved the President to an extent that he penned a poem on them in which he expressed wonder that these trees gave solace to humans, animals and birds in the harshest of summer heat without expecting anything at all in return.