NaMo to Jagat Janani


After A B Vajpayee’s kavita comes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offerings in verse to the Mother Goddess, penned when he was a party worker. Thirty-four years ago when NaMo was a party worker, he had put in place a daily ritual. He would write a letter every single night before going to bed, addressed to the Mother Goddess, sharing his innermost feelings, thoughts and doubts. “This daily exercise had a strangely calming effect on me. I looked forward to everyone falling asleep, so that I could retire to a quiet corner with my notebook,” writes NaMo in his foreword.

He confesses that expressing himself on paper proved to be cathartic, “even though it was a one-way communication with the Mother Goddess (whom he addresses as Jagat Janani). The discipline of rewinding my daily thoughts healed me in a strange, unique way, like I was being shielded by a bigger force.”

Most of what NaMo wrote, he tore up and burnt in a bonfire. The few poems that remained were eventually published in a slim volume in Gujarati titled Sakshi Bhav in the year 2014 when NaMo was chief minister of Gujarat. Now Bhawana Somaaya has translated that work into English, calling it Letters To Mother.

She says, “With his defences completely down, he reflects on the purpose of life, ponders over the passage of time, deliberates on the merits of technology in our lives and wonders if gadgets can ever replace human contact…. We are privy to his struggles, celebrations, inner turbulence and his heartaches.” A long poem titled ‘Tender Gaze’ with the dateline December 8, 1986, is rumination on human beings becoming increasingly dependent on technology, especially for personal communication:

The world is becoming a small place
Man-created technology has reduced
distances

We watch events across the universe
Sitting in our homes….
The small gadget ushers intimacy
But does it exercise discretion?
Can gadget-created intimacy become
reality?
Or is it an illusion?
The thought suggests togetherness
Or is the thought a mere ploy?
Today letter-writing is on a decline
Words no longer have a chance
To paint feelings on paper
And most essential,
History will hold no record of time
gone by….

He continues in this vein and wonders midway if tech-communication can replace the human aspect, communicating with eyes, with touch….

The child comprehends no language
But responds to tender gaze, touch
Eyes are a powerful medium of
connection…
Will this universe in pursuit of
technology
Lose the treasures gifted by nature?
Can anything be more precious
Than the expression in the eyes?

The poem concludes with grateful acknowledgement of the Mother Goddess’ benevolence that makes it possible for him and others like him to express themselves thus. NaMo seems to have complete confidence in the Mother and her Grace; that she will lead him safely through rough terrain.

In NaMo’s words, “The Mother Goddess does not judge me, does not grade me by my choice of words or phrases — it does not matter to her whether I write prose, poetry, essays or random thoughts. She understands my intent, understands what is expressed and also what is left unsaid. And if I understand all this, why did I destroy all that I created? The only logical explanation I can offer is that probably because it is painful to revisit suffering.”

NaMo says he now seeks strength from memories, because, with a positive mind, there is always hope. And all of us are entitled to self-expression, he adds.

This article was originally published on Speaking Tree

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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