"My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my Nation." - Guru Kalam

House of kalam

Centurian Maraikayar to be gifted box of attar preserved by Guru Kalam

By Dr Anantha Krishnan M | NOV 2016

Janab Haji Md Muthu Meera Maraikayar, elder brother of former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, will turn 100 on November 5. The House of Kalam is gifting him with a box of attar (perfume) as a special birthday present. The perfume collection was preserved by the former President who did not let others touch it. He wanted his brother to use it while going for the Friday prayers.

“Celebrating Maraikayar’s birthday in a befitting manner was one of the unfulfilled dreams of Dr Kalam. He had also spoken very passionately about it to his family members last year,” says a family member.

The specially-crafted box containing 15 different bottles of attar was present to Dr Kalam during his visit to Uttar Pradesh while inaugurating a solar power plant in Kannauj village in July 2015. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is said to have gifted the box of attar.

Attar box was out of bounds for everyone

The beautifully-crafted golden-colour attar box was kept as a ‘secured gift’ for his brother at the library in No 10 Rajaji Marg residence.

He often inspected the condition of the box and came out with ideas to celebrate the birthday each time he saw it. He was also particular that none opened the box. “Don’t touch it,” was the final command he gave to his aides.

After his demise, while his belongings were moved out of Delhi, the attar box too travelled to Rameswaram. The family did not disclose its significance to anyone.

“We were silent because Dr Kalam wanted it to be a very private affair. He never spoke to anyone about what he gave others. We wanted to respect his feelings and even thatha (Maraikayar) doesn’t know about it till now. It will be a huge surprise for him, when we gift him on November 5,” says Shaik Saleem from House of Kalam.

Rameswaram’s only Maraikayar, is inspired by life

Family members told Mathrubhumi that Maraikayar was a coconut farmer who also owned fishing boats. Till the age of 75, he was actively involved with his boats. He lost his wife in 1994 and Dr Kalam’s elevation as the President in 2002 was the proudest moment in his life.

House of Kalam sees Maraikayar as a good manager, passionate about every aspect of life. He offers namaaz five times a day, reads Quran regularly and visits the mosque every Friday.

“He reads the newspapers without the help of spectacles even now. He is up by 4.30 am every day and hits the bed before 9 pm. His schedules are fixed for the day and like Dr Kalam, he loves meeting people,” says his daughter Dr Nazeema Maraikayar, who is the Chairperson of A P J Abdul Kalam International Foundation.

For Maraikayar, Dr Kalam was a hero and a man whom he loved and respected. “They shared a deep bond. They shared many ideas,” says Dr Nazeema. She says her father’s needs are simple, eating habits minimal and zero demands. “But, he loves sweets once in a while,” she adds.

His campaign propelled the memorial work

Maraikayar was hurt by the delay in the memorial work at Pei Karumbu for Dr Kalam, which led to the launch of an online campaign, which caught the attention of the people, media and politicians.

In an interview to Mathrubhumi in July this year, while observing the first death anniversary of Dr Kalam, Maraikayar said he was often embarrassed and speechless when people asked him about the delay in building a befitting memorial for his younger brother.

The memorial work has now begun with the Defence Research and Development Organisation promising to complete the first phase by July next year.

“He is happy that the work has begun. With hundreds of people visiting him every day, he was feeling very uncomfortable answering their queries over the delay. Now, he is a satisfied man and often asks us about the progress of the work. He always expects a detailed answer,” says Dr Naneema.

At the House of Kalam, everything revolves around the ‘young and energetic’ Maraikayar. For thousands of people who throng Rameswaram every day seeking blessings of the creator, Lord Shiva at the Ramanathaswamy Temple, their visit is incomplete without visiting the House of Kalam.

(Reproduced with permission from Mathrubhumi English.)

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