Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of A P J Abdul Kalam (1999) By Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari
Genre: Autobiography

A lot has been written about Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s humble beginnings and how his childhood in Rameswaram influenced his thoughts and ideas—the pivotal role it played in moulding Dr Kalam into the great man he was.

What sets Wings of Fire apart from all those books is that the narrative flows from the mind of the man himself—his signature touch adds a unique perspective to the narrative.

In this book, Dr Kalam chronicles his childhood, his student days and his eventual journey as the Missile Man of India. The title is inspired from the successful launch of the Agni (Sanskrit for ‘Fire’) Missile.

Dr Kalam’s vibrant recalling of his childhood days in Rameswaram is particularly engrossing. The town was a model of national integration and harmony, as is evident from the close friendship between Kalam’s father, Jainul  Abdeen, an imam at a mosque, and Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry, the head priest of the Rameswaram Temple. Moreover, most of young Kalam’s friends were Hindus and he spent a lot of time with them at the Shiva temple.

Kalam also recalls how hurt he felt when certain people tried to create differences between the communities. He writes about such an incident during his school days:  “Rameswaram Sastry, a new teacher could not stomach a Hindu Priest’s son sitting with a Muslim boy. In accordance with our social ranking as the new teacher saw it, I was asked to go and sit on the back bench. I felt very sad, and so did my parents about the incident. Lakshmana Sastry summoned the teacher, and in our presence, told the teacher that he should not spread the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance in the minds of innocent children”.

Wings of Fire is a must-read inspirational tome and has been translated into multiple Indian and foreign languages. Grab your copy now!