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The poet in Narendra Modi emerges in ‘Letters to Mother’


New Delhi:  “This is not an attempt at literary writing; the passages featured in this book are reflections of my observations and sometimes unprocessed thoughts; expressed without filter,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi writes in the foreword to his collection of poems, published as “Letters to Mother” by HarperCollins which will be released in June and is available for pre-order on e-commerce websites.

“I am not a writer, most of us are not; but everybody seeks expression, and when the urge to unload becomes overpowering there is no option but to take pen and paper, not necessarily to write but to introspect and unravel what is happening within the heart and the head and why,” Modi adds in the book, translated from Gujarati by award winning author Bhawana Somaaya.

Sample this excerpt from “Time Travels”:

Time tiptoes out of the room
It spreads like a rock
On my chest
Weighs me down with its burden
I wasn’t aware
That time has thorns
It pokes and pierces
Bruises and bleeds this heart
Time is fragrant too
And gently, smoothly passes by
Exits without remnants of aroma
Without touch, without signs!
Man has forever trapped time
Within the hands of the clock
Assembled it in small
Structures and machines
And yet sometimes, somewhere
Time must feel restricted……

As a young man, Narendra Modi had got into the habit of writing a letter to the ‘Mother Goddess’, whom he addressed as ‘Jagat Janani’, every night before going to bed. The topics were varied: There were seething sorrows, fleeting joys and lingering memories.

But every few months, Modi would tear up the pages and consign them to a bonfire. However, the pages of one diary, dating back to 1986, survived, and are now available in English for the very first time.

“In my opinion Narendra Modi’s strength as a writer is his emotional quotient. There is a raw intensity, a simmering restlessness which he does not disguise and that is his attraction,” said Bhawana Somaaya, who has been a film critic for almost 40 years and has contributed columns to various publications.

An author of several books on cinema, Somaaya was awarded the Padma Shri in 2017. “Letters to Mother” is her 17th book.

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