Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a blog dedicated to his mother as she entered the 100th year of her life on Saturday, highlighting her sacrifices and various aspects of her life which ”shaped” his mind, personality, and self-confidence.
”Maa… this isn’t a mere word but it captures a range of emotions. Today, 18th June, is the day my Mother Heeraba enters her 100th year. On this special day, I have penned a few thoughts expressing joy and gratitude,” Modi said on Twitter.
He also met his mother in Gujarat and sought her blessings.
”My mother is as simple as she is extraordinary. Just like all mothers,” he said in his blog post, which is available in several regional languages besides Hindi and English.
Modi said his mother always inspired him to have a strong resolve and focus on ”garib kalyan” (welfare of poor), a theme of his government’s numerous welfare schemes.
When the BJP picked him to be the Gujarat chief minister in 2001, he said, his mother was ecstatic and told him, ”I don’t understand your work in the government but I just want you to never take a bribe.” The prime minister noted there were only two instances when his mother accompanied him publicly.
Once, it was at a public function in Ahmedabad when she applied tilak on his forehead after he had returned from Srinagar where he had hoisted the national flag at the Lal Chowk after completing the Ekta Yatra, he said.
The second instance was when he first took oath as Gujarat’s chief minister in 2001.
Modi said a life lesson his mother taught him was that it was possible to be learned without being formally educated.
He said once he wanted to publicly honour all his teachers, including his biggest teacher — his mother.
However, his mother declined, saying she was an ordinary person. ”I may have given birth to you but you have been taught and brought up by the Almighty,” Modi recalled her as saying.
Modi said though his mother did not attend the event, she made sure that he invited someone from the family of Jethabhai Joshi, his local teacher who taught him the alphabet.
”Her thought process and far-sighted thinking have always surprised me,” he said.
Describing his mother as ”a symbol of resilience”, Modi recalled the hardships she faced during her childhood after losing her mother at a very young age.
She does not even remember her mother’s face or the comfort of her lap as she spent her entire childhood without her, he added.
The prime minister recalled that his family stayed in a small mud house in Vadnagar with clay tiles for a roof. He also mentioned the everyday adversities that his mother encountered and successfully overcame.
”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,” he said.
He said not only did his mother do all the household chores herself but she also worked to supplement the meagre household income. She used to wash utensils at a few houses and take out the time to spin the ‘charkha’ to help meet the household expenses, he added.
Modi said his mother also had deep respect for those engaged in cleaning and sanitation work. Cleanliness was something that his mother was always extremely particular about, he said.
Whenever someone would come to clean the drain adjacent to their house in Vadnagar, he said, his mother wouldn’t let them go without having tea.
Modi said his mother found happiness in other people’s joys and was extremely large-hearted.
He recalled that his father brought home his close friend’s son, Abbas, after his untimely death.
”He stayed with us and completed his studies. Mother was as affectionate and caring towards Abbas just like she did for all of us siblings. Every year on Eid, she used to prepare his favourite dishes. On festivals, it was commonplace for neighbourhood kids to come to our house and enjoy mother’s special preparations (sic),” he said.
”In my mother’s life story, I see the penance, sacrifice, and contribution of India’s matrushakti. Whenever I look at mother and crores of women like her, I find there is nothing that is unachievable for Indian women,” Modi said.
The prime minister also described his mother as a dutiful citizen who has voted in every election, from panchayat to Parliament.
Noting that she leads an extremely simple lifestyle, he said even today, there are no assets in her name.
”I have never seen her wear any gold ornaments and she has no interest either. Like earlier, she continues to lead an extremely simple lifestyle in her small room,” he said.
Modi said his mother remains abreast with current developments and continues to have a sharp memory.
”Recently, I asked her how long she watches TV every day. She replied that most people on TV are busy fighting with each other, and she only watches those who calmly read out the news and explain everything. I was pleasantly surprised that mother keeps track of so much,” he said.
Describing his mother as a ‘Kabirpanthi’, he said she has immense faith in the divine but at the same time has remained afar from superstitions and inculcated the same qualities in her family members.
On his decision to leave home at an early age, the prime minister said while his father, who is no more, was extremely disheartened, his mother understood him and blessed him. Modi said his father later came to terms with his decision and blessed him.
He said since childhood, his mother could feel that he had a different mindset.
”Since childhood, I have noted that mother not only respects others’ choices but also refrains from imposing her preferences. In my own case… she respected my decisions, never created any hurdles, and encouraged me,” he said.
Modi said when he looks back at his parents’ lives, their honesty and self-respect have been their biggest qualities. Despite struggling with poverty and the accompanying challenges, they never left the path of honesty or compromised their self-respect.
He said they had only one mantra to overcome any challenge: hard work, constant hard work.
”In his life, my father never became a burden on anyone. Mother too tries to ensure that she does her own chores as much as possible… I have no doubt that everything good in my life, and all that is good in my character, can be attributed to my parents,” Modi wrote.