Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar regrets missing two South Africa tours in past couple of years where she could have met Nelson Mandela, again.
However, a half an hour interaction with the legend nine years ago still lingers fresh in Meira’s mind.
“Whenever we mentioned his struggle and sufferings, he laughed them off. Every time we told him that he sacrificed so much in life and he replied, ‘I am not the only one to do so. Others too, have done that’.”
Every minute we realized how big he is, Kumar told Hindustan Times.
Being a cricket fan, when he was asked about his favourite cricketer, Madiba replied: “I will not name him as others might feel let down”, Meira Kumar reminisced.
The 2004 Indian delegation was led by then President APJ Abdul Kalam. Nelson Mandela, 86, was dependent on a walking stick and also held APJ Abdul Kalam’s hand while walking.
“But he was still eager to show us around the museum where his photographs and belongings were kept,” Meira Kumar, who was a union minister then recalls.
“I found a certain aura about him which can’t be described in words. His cell in the Robben Island was 5X6 ft. He told us being a tall man he used to sleep at night with legs up against the wall,” she said.
Meira Kumar was amazed to hear how the man pursued education amid intense freedom struggle and feels that Nelson Mandela’s principals, philosophy and fight against discrimination have deep relevance in India’s polity.