YOUNG WORLD

President comes calling

Unforgettable moments...  

KOCHI

Two days after the President's visit, Al-Ameen Public School still wears a festive look. Tucked away in Edapally, its entrance walls have been freshly white washed, the quadrangle in front of the main school is spruced up even as students go about playing basket ball, and the corridors from where junior school students waved the India flag as the President's motorcade came in are squeaky clean. The school laid out a red carpet and on his part Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India returned the favour. He refused long drawn addresses and felicitations; his only requirement was undisturbed quality time with the students. To the utter delight of the 800 children packed in the auditorium, he broke all security cordons to reach out to each and every one of them. Little wonder then that the students are on a high.

It all began a couple of months ago when the school's manager, T.P.M. Ibrahim Khan approached Rashtrapati Bhavan with a unique programme, COMFY or communal amity through familial harmony. Al-Ameen, a predominantly Muslim school, has gone out of its way to show the path of communal harmony. In a bid to create a feeling of oneness, children are encouraged to call and visit each other's families, thereby sowing the seeds of unity. It envisages periodic family get-togethers at least once every quarter to reinforce the social bonds between families. Would the President be willing to launch this programme, in the school's 25th year? True to his style, the President agreed to come but only to interact with the children.

The students, who had been disciplined to blank out sounds of muffled tones or scraping feet in the hall, were totally impressed by the President's simplicity and patriotism. "He taught us a lesson in humility" says Abdullah, a ninth standard student, who is inspired by the Rashtrapati's vision of India being a developed nation by 2020. "We will get there," pipe in his friends who have the faith that communalism cannot tear our country apart. To Sangeeta's query "how should the youth equip themselves in order to fulfil the dreams of the country", the President responded, "with knowledge and hard work". He also spoke about incorporating spirituality in our daily lives and combining it with a scientific temper. He highlighted the role of parents and teachers in giving the right direction to their wards.

When six-year-old Lakshmi Menon confidently asked, "Who is your best friend?" the President made her day by saying, "You". After some thought he revised it, adding that God was everyone's friend because only God was there when you were sad, happy or simply in need of someone.

S.K.