Letters to Mother: How a vulnerable and raw Modi transformed into the PM we know

Letters to Mother, published by Harper Collins, is culled from those pages of PM Modi's diary that did not meet its fate in flames.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo | Twitter)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo | Twitter)

Ever since severing ties with his family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a son of the Sangh. So in his adulthood, when he sat down to write letters, he addressed it to Jagat Mata or Mother Goddess.

The man, who enjoys the most powerful position in the country, had an arduous childhood. At the age of 17, Modi walked out of his marriage and took a journey to the Himalayas in search of answers. Modi had once revealed, "I was undecided, unguided and unclear. I didn't know where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it. But all I knew was that I wanted to do something."

The two years in the Himalayas, Modi confessed, left a tremendous impact on him. Even his office, when he took charge in 2014, looked akin to a monk's cave.

The Prime Minister joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1971 and while a young adult, developed a habit of laying down his fears and anxieties on paper to calm his wandering mind.  

The crafted words in the form of letters addressed to the Mother Goddess, gives an insight into the early days of Modi's life.  

Letters to Mother, published by Harper Collins, is culled from those pages of his diary that did not meet its fate in flames.

The letters that survived are from December 1986. Three years later, the Rajiv Gandhi government would be overthrown by a united opposition. This would play its part in paving the way for the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, to gain a historic mandate 25 years on.

Modi writes in the foreword that for years he would jot down his thoughts and feelings every night for years, but periodically burn them to ashes. However, one night, his colleague from the RSS intervened and asked him to save his writings.

Translated from Gujarati, Bhawana Somaaya, makes the words read like poignant verses.

"Mother liberate me from doubts, disappointments
From fears and anxieties
From triumphs and defeats
From possessions, from loss
Free me from all forever"

The book is testimony to the drastic change that Modi has gone through in the three decades of his life while in the BJP.

Vulnerable and raw verses mirror the person that the 36-year-old Modi was - a man who had qualms about the world. Now, before us stands a Prime Minister who only boasts of airstrikes, nationalism and bravado. Oh, the chutzpah!

The young Modi sought to unravel the purpose of his life,  the meanings of his dreams, the futility to dream a dream. Two years later, he was inducted into the Gujarat cadre of the BJP and perhaps there, he found his raison d'etre.

His worlds come laced with a sense of melancholic patriotism, but as Camus said: "such melancholy in no way changes reality". How true!

Although the right-wing despises India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Modi's Letters to Mother surprisingly holds an eerie resemblance to Letters from a Father to His Daughter that Nehru had written in prison. 

The book comes with a declaration from Modi that "this is not an attempt at literary writing.  All of us are entitled to self-expression..."

Indeed, Prime Minister.

Letters to Mother: Translated from the Gujarati
Author: Narendra Modi
Translation: Bhawana Somaaya  
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 95
Price: Rs 299

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The New Indian Express