Summary of A Lesson My Father Taught Me

“A Lesson My Father Taught Me” is a short essay written by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. In this  essay, Kalam recounts an experience from his youth in Rameswaram when he was ten years old. The incident occurred on the day his father was elected President of the Rameswaram Panchayat board. Kalam was a schoolboy at the time. It was late in the evening, and Kalam was studying beneath rationed kerosene lamps because there was no electricity. Kalam was reading aloud from the curriculum. He was about to go when he heard a knock at the door. A stranger approached him and inquired about his father. Kalam informed him that his father had gone to perform evening Namaz (prayer). The visitor claimed to have brought something for his father. Kalam called his mother to ask her if he should accept it. However, because she was also performing the Namaz, there was no response. As a result, Kalam instructed the individual to leave the item on the cot and continued his studies. When his father returned home, he noticed a tambalam on the cot and inquired about it. Kalam informed him about the stranger who had dropped it. When he opened the tambalam’s cover, he discovered a costly dhoti, angawastram, a few silver cups, some fruits and sweets, and the slip that the person had left behind. He became enraged, and for the first time, Kalam received a thorough pounding from him. He began to cry. His mother attempted to comfort him. His father then instructed him not to accept any gifts without his permission. He cited an Islamic Hadith that says, “When the Almighty appoints a person to a position, He provides for his provision.” Anything taken in excess of that is considered illicit gain. Then he told him that it was a bad habit. According to Kalam, a gift is always accompanied with a purpose, and it is a risky thing to do. As a result, the incident taught Kalam a vital lesson.


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