`Say no to gifts'

KOCHI SEPT. 26. The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, today recalled a childhood lesson from his father. "don't be carried away by any gift which comes with a purpose.''

Addressing the students of the Al-Ameen Public School here today, he said that as a child, this lesson had left a deep impression on his mind.

His father, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen, had been president of the Rameswaram panchayat board. ``Rameswaram Island was a beautiful place. They elected my father as president of the panchayat board on the basis of his nobility of mind,'' he said.

One evening, when his parents had gone for `namaz', someone came and wanted to leave a gift for his father. Since his parents were not at home, the young Kalam accepted the gift. His father, back home, was upset when he found that the visitor had left a gift of "costly dhoti, angawastram, some fruits and some sweets''.

``That was the first time I saw him very angry. I received a thorough beating from him. I got frightened and started weeping. My mother consoled me. My father then came and touched my shoulder with affection and advised me not to receive any gift without his permission hereafter. `` He quoted a `Hadith', which says, "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.''

He then told me that it is not a good habit. "Gift is always accompanied by some purpose and a gift is a dangerous thing. It is like touching a snake and getting the poison in turn. This lesson is always in my mind even today,'' the President said.

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