India's former president Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam has an important lesson to share with us. This is what he says -
While I am with you I would like to share an important message my father Janab Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen gave me a lesson when I was a young boy. What was that lesson? It was just after India got independence. At that time panchayat board elections took place at Rameswaram. My father was elected panchayat board member and on the same day he was also elected the President of Rameswaram Panchayat Board. Rameswaram Island was a beautiful place with 30,000 populations. At that time they elected my father as panchayat Board President not because he belonged to a particular religion or a particular caste or spoke a particular language or for his economic status. He was elected only on the basis of his nobility of mind and for being a good human being. I would like to narrate what took place on the day he was elected President of Panchayat board.
I was at that time studying in School. Those days we did not have electricity and we used to study under ration kerosene lamps. I was reading the lessons loudly and I heard a knock at the door. We never used to lock the door in Rameswaram in those days. Somebody opened the door, came in and asked me where my father was? I told him that father had gone for evening Namaz. Then he said, I have brought something for him, can I keep it here? Since my father had gone for Namaz, I shouted for my mother to get her permission to receive the item. Since she was also on the Namaz there was no response. I asked the person to leave the item on the cot. After that I continued my studies.
I used to learn by reading aloud in my younger days. I was reading loud and fully concentrating on my studies. At that time my father came in and saw a tambalum kept in the cot. He asked me "what is this? Who has given that?" I told him, "somebody came and has kept this for you". He opened the cover of the tambalum and found there was a costly dhoti, angawastram, some fruits and some sweets and he could see the slip that the person had left behind. I was the youngest child of my father, he really loved me and I also loved him a lot. He was upset at the sight of the Tambalum and gifts left by some one.
That was the first time I saw him very angry and also that was the first time I had got a thorough beating from him. I got frightened and started weeping. My mother embraced and consoled me. Then my father came and touched my shoulder lovingly with affection and advised me not to receive any gift without his permission. He quoted an Islamic Hadith, which states that, "When the Almighty appoints a person to a position, He takes care of his provision.
If a person takes anything beyond that, it is an illegal gain." Then he told me that it is not a good habit. Gift is always accompanied by some purpose and they are dangerous that way. It is like touching a snake and getting the poison in turn. This lesson stands out always in my mind even when I am in my seventies. This incident, taught me a very valuable lesson for my life. It is deeply embedded in my mind. Even now, when a person appears before me with a gift - of whatever shape or color - my body and mind shudder.
Even as I am now in the 80th orbit around the sun, this bit of childhood inspiration has a special significance in my life. Often the unique lessons one derives in the early days of life are the governing force that steer the value system in all thoughts and actions.
So, do not be carried away by any gift - especially which comes with a purpose. Through that, one definitely loses personality - greatly.
- APJ Abdul Kalam