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My Childhood

04 My Childhood

The story ‘My Childhood’, is an extract from the novel ‘Wings of Fire’ written by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. The book covers his early life and his work in Indian space research and missile development programs. His life is an illustration of the fact that one can achieve anything one desires, as long as one works hard for it.

This story revolves around the early life of Dr. Abdul Kalam. Dr. Kalam talks about his childhood days in this autobiographical account. In particular, he talks about some incidents that left an indelible impression on his young mind. He describes his family, his house, his childhood experiences and his childhood friends.

The story is an account of a young boy who tries to achieve his dreams by beating all odds. He belonged to an orthodox society where most people were not open to secularism. In spite of that, he remained true to his friends, of course with the help of a supportive family. The story emphasizes the importance of family, relatives and friends in helping achieve each other’s goals and turning dreams to reality. In the story, we also come across a few open minded people, like Dr. Kalam’s father, his teacher Sivasubramania Iyer, and the head priest Lakshmana Sastry. These people have played a crucial role in Kalam’s life by keeping away the barriers of religion, caste and creed. All of these factors contributed profoundly in the making of Dr. Kalam, who may not be with us physically anymore, but he continues to inspire us all the same with the legacy that he has left behind.

Meanings of words and phrases

  • erstwhile: former or earlier
  • innate: inborn or natural
  • ideal: a person or thing regarded as perfect
  • undistinguished: something ordinary
  • ancestral: inherited from an ancestor
  • austere: not fond of comforts or luxuries
  • erupted: break out suddenly
  • princely sum: a large amount of money
  • trace: to find or discover
  • casualty: (here) an unfortunate event
  • suspension: the act of stopping something from happening, operating, etc. for a period of time
  • surge: a sudden, strong increase or burst of emotions
  • inherited: derive a quality or characteristic genetically from one’s parents or ancestors
  • orthodox: following or conforming to the traditional or generally accepted rules or beliefs of a religion, philosophy, or practice
  • could not stomach: not to be able to tolerate or endure someone or something
  • in accordance: in a way that agrees with or follows something
  • utterly: completely and extremely
  • downcast: low in spirit and dejected
  • a lasting impression: have an effect for a long time
  • summoned: to call someone
  • Communal intolerance: an unwillingness to accept the beliefs or behaviour of someone different from you
  • conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion
  • reformed: make changes in order to improve something
  • rigid: not be able to be changed or adapted
  • segregation: discrimination
  • conservative: opposed to change and holds traditional values
  • rebel: a person who rises in opposition
  • mingle: to mix
  • ritually: a way that is done as a religious or solemn rite
  • perturbed: unsettled or upset
  • hesitation: a delay due to uncertainty of mind or fear
  • confronted: to face up to and deal with a problem or difficulty
  • imminent: likely to happen very soon
  • optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something
  • unprecedented: something that never happened or existed in the past

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