Shillong: On Monday evening, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was trudging up the steps of one of the lecture rooms of IIM Shillong to deliver a lecture on his favourite topic: Creating a more liveable planet. An IIM professor who was on his way out crossed him at about 6.10 pm. “Dr Kalam was heaving and seemed to have difficulty climbing the stairs to the classroom where the senior batch of management students (2014-16) was waiting for him to deliver his lecture”, the professor told this writer.
Inside the class, at about 6.40 pm, the former President collapsed, causing a great deal of consternation among students who otherwise have always seen him hale and hearty. He was immediately shifted to Bethany Hospital, which is barely two kilometres away from IIM Shillong. Dr JL Sailo, the CMD of Bethany Hospital said his team of doctors found no pulse when Kalam was brought in at about 7 pm.
Nevertheless the cardiac specialists from the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGHRIMS) and the Military Hospital were immediately called to try and resuscitate Kalam who was admitted to the ICU, but it was a vain effort. He had passed on.
A shocked IIM Shillong held a condolence meeting at 10.32 pm on Monday evening. For the students and faculty the loss is irreparable.
Social media was flooded with heartfelt condolences remembering the People’s President who will now forever be associated with Shillong.
“Henceforth people will not mistake Shillong for Ceylon. Thank You Sir APJ Abdul Kalam. You have redefined the Indian map and lived your best moments here.” – R Marwein
And now India will Google, “Where is Shillong?” #RIP Dr Kalam – Kynjaimon Amse
Nobody believes the President of India would visit an unknown remote village called Bunglon in Manipur and nobody believes a highly celebrated former President would pass away in remote Shillong. Such is the legacy of the People’s President, APJ Abdul Kalam. Unbelievable! – Roel Hangsing .
For us here, Kalam’s death exposed the shallowness of the so-called national media which despite its clout failed to make this their big breaking news. This writer had put up the details regarding Kalam on her Facebook page only to be told by some media persons in Guwahati that she should not spread rumours. The ‘national’ media were in a flap since none of them had a Shillong correspondent of their own and local media persons refused to speak to them without any official confirmation from government sources. Bethany Hospital is a private hospital and had to maintain some protocol.
But Shillong will no longer be mispronounced or misspelt. Thank You Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. May you continue to teach us through your wonderful books and memorable speeches.
The writer is Editor of Shillong Times