Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his mother Heeraben (Photo Courtesy: ANI)
Extolling the importance of mothers in the lives of people and recalling his own growing up years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a 21 page post on the occasion of his mother turning a centenarian on Saturday.
The post was a rare peep into the Prime Minister’s emotions as he dwells on his decision to leave his family for public life in his early youth. He recounts that while his father was unhappy and greeted his decision with a brief “do as you want” comment, his mother Heeraben understood his calling, realising that her third son would not follow a conventional path.
The Prime Minister wrote that Heeraben lost her mother early and as the eldest was soon taking care of her family’s household chores. Later when she married,, she did the same for her family. Modi recalls that their house in Vadnagar was just a room with no windows or any toilet or bathroom.
A machan served as a kitchen and the family would eat together. The Prime Minister’s father, Damodar “Kaka”, would leave at 4 am every morning to open his tea shop and begin work. Heeraben supplemented the income by washing utensils in a few houses and the children did what they could to assist her. Modi would take clothes to wash them at the local pond where he also enjoyed swimming.
The Prime Minister’s post, which was accompanied by pictures of him washing his mother’s feet, went viral soon after it was released. In the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign his childhood as a “tea seller’s son” struck a major connect with voters despite the opposition’s effort to challenge the narrative.
“During the rains, our roof would leak, and the house would flood. Mother would place buckets and utensils below the leaks to collect the rainwater. Even in this adverse situation, Mother would be a symbol of resilience. You will be surprised to know that she’d use this water for the next few days. What better example than this of water conservation!”, the Prime Minister wrote.
Heeraben imbibed the habit of cleanliness in her children and also a respect for those involved in cleaning work. This habit is still in evidence and she always has a towel or napkin handy. Modi also recalled how Damodardas one day came back with a young boy Abbas who had lost his father. The Prime Minister recalled that Abbas lived with the family for a while and did very well in his studies.
Like the rest of his family, contact with his mother has been infrequent. The Prime Minister writes that his swearing in as Gujarat chief minister was the last time his mother attended a public function associated with Modi. “Mother made me realise that it is possible to be learned without being formally educated. Her thought process and farsighted thinking have always surprised me,” he has written.
“When I decided to leave home, Mother already sensed my decision even before I told her. I would often tell my parents that I wanted to go out and understand the world. I would tell them about Swami Vivekananda and mention that I wished to visit the Ramakrishna Mission Mutt. This went on for days,” Modi wrote.