|97-year-old C Visalakshi meets Dr Kalam at the Circuit House in Coimbatore on July 12.|
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: All her life, C Visalakshi was able to fulfil most of her whishes, except one. And at 97, when it seemed as though her long-cherished wish to meet India's Missile Man and former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, would set like the sun, hope dawned on July 12.
The wish of the die hard fan from North Coimbatore, who is Tamil Nadu's first lady Chief Educational Officer, came true when she sent an email to Dr Kalam's office on July 3 with the help of her great-granddaughter Architha Srinivasan. "It gives me great pride to know that in my lifetime, I was a citizen of a country who's President was as great a personality as you, especially since you reached great heights from humble beginnings," she wrote in the email.
She further went on to add her contributions in the field of education and her efforts to make education available to the poorest in Tamil Nadu. "I was privileged to have worked with some of the greatest minds including Kamaraj and Periyar. During your Presidency, I observed a period of revolution. You have taken the time to reach out to young minds and provide the spark that lit the fire that we see in the youth today. To me, it would be a great privilege if I could meet you during your visit to Coimbatore this month," Visalakshi wrote.
Dr Anuvalentina, granddaughter of Visalakshi, said that her grandmother was third time lucky. "In 2008, we took her to an event attended by Dr Kalam, but the security cordon prevented us from reaching anywhere near him. Then in 2011, he came to attend a convocation in Coimbatore but again we were not permitted to meet him. But she never gave up hope," said Dr Anuvalentina, a professor with A J K Institute of Management.
On July 12, Visalakshi was accompanied by Dr Anuvalentina to the Circuit House in Coimbatore and this time Dr Kalam's aides ensured that the security was thoroughly briefed. "But paati was tired and was fighting for her breath as she had a wheezing problem on the day. It was a great gesture from Dr Kalam to come out of his room and meet her near the lift. She couldn't walk any further even with the walker. She was struggling to breath when Dr Kalam shook hands with her," said Dr Anuvalentina.
Architha too is happy for having played the link between Visalakshi and Dr Kalam. "She was so delighted to have had the opportunity. Now, even I want to meet him once," said Architha, pursing her final year medical course at the University of Cambridge.
When this correspondent spoke to Visalakshi over phone, she was unable to engage in a long conversation. She just said: "I feel honoured to have met such a great man. I blessed him."
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