The present Indian Premier Narender Modi holds the unique distinction of being the most loved and the most loathed contemporary political leader with bouquets and brickbats falling to his share in equal abundance. His political career, policies and ideas are under a constant scathing scanner with both his merits and demerits discussed threadbare but even amidst his admirers and detractors very few people are really familiar with a significant facet of Modi’s personality as a creative writer. He has written not only treatises on subjects of social and spiritual interest but also poetry and stories. Recently published Hindi and English translations of his Gujarati works have made his writing accessible for all.
Though Modi has presented his ideas in his treatises also but it is his creative writing fiction and poetry where his heart and mind are really unravelled and the human and humane aspect of his personality is truly revealed.
His stories assume a special significance as they are the creation of young Modi in his twenties when he was no political bigwig. Moreover ,these pieces were written during a tumultuous period of hibernation and solitude thrust upon him during the Emergency Era. With his characteristic positivity and optimism, Modi turned the curse of his forced ‘underground existence’ into blessing and took to much reading and writing: “I gradually comprehended the great might of pen”. These stories present a youngman Modi’s ‘Man Ki Baat'; his thoughts and emotions, views and vision.
The hallmark of his stories is the sensitivity and tenderness of emotions with which Modi has portrayed human relationships and situations of day-to-day lived life. He has well captured the longings, the aches, the agonies of his characters in a heart-wrenching way. The story ‘Abhilasha’ emphatically brings out the feelings and hurt of a doting stepmother Sunanda and the story ‘Pyari beti Bholu' describes a male character Rajen's overflowing maternal love for the little girl child Bholu. The narrator has also movingly described the tears and travails of a newly widowed woman Radha, a victim of cruel patriarchal mindset. The overpowering emotion of maternal love repeatedly finds intense expression in his stories. So dear is this emotion to the narrator's heart that one of his heroes while feeling very close to a young woman wishes to ‘take birth as her son'.
The stories strongly reveal the dauntless idealism of the narrator . His is an ideal world where people live and die for their ideals .The ideal is commitment to human values ,to service of society and Nation. Modi is a Dreamer: “what is the life without “ and his dream is that of creating a better value based world at micro and macro level. His story ‘Anurag Ka Punarjanam' presents an ideal, dedicated teacher in Anurag who transforms the educational scenario.ln another story ‘ Setu’ the philanthropic Sohan sacrifices his life for helping out the victims of a tragic accident, even his wife and little child continue the tradition of social service.The narrator writes: “he not only lived but died also, not for his desires but for his ideals, not for his comforts but for social service”. In another story Rabhi has ‘whimsical passion for social service' and for her the greatest bliss of life lies in the service of humanity. This commitment to ideals of social service is so much pronounced in other characters like village Sarpanch Jodha also.
A perennial theme close to Modi’s heart is Nation and martyrdom. His story “Smaarak” is a tribute to martyr Mahesh the fighter against corruption and there is also a strong castigation of the self-centred political leadership, inhuman media and insensitive society where no one has the time to even garland the martyr’s statue on his death anniversary: “there was not even a single flower, just two drops of Tears ...these two drops rolling down from Mahesh's eyes, his statue”.
Another very important part of this world is the strong joi-de-vivre and great life-spirit permeating the lives of narrator’s ideal characters.Rajen is a last-stage cancer patient but his throbbing and bubbling lifespirit makes life a celebration for everybody around him even till his last breath. There is Anurag Sir who transforms the entire School compound, the animate and inanimate beings with his energetic liveliness.
The stories bring out the characters' faith in God and Religion. Sarpanch is called not Jodha Sarpanch but Jodha ‘Bhagat’ because sarpanch is only a political designation and' bhakti is God’s blessing’.The narrator also reveals deep love of Nature and his hero Shail in the story ‘Lagaav ka Ankur' is an ardent nature lover with a message of' Back to Nature' philosophy. The writer also interweaves in his narration political and social commentary and also his philosophical insights on life, death, relationships and human world .
In these stories we have the essential Modi; his ideas, beliefs and vision which get further reinforced and expanded in his later written poetry. From viewpoint of literary criticism, the stories may not be artistically or aesthetically very satisfying but nevertheless they are emotionally pretty enriching and moving. In fact, it is a heartspeak heart-to-heart connect and direct transmission of emotions. Morevoer, Modi has some message to convey all throughout. Here is an inspired soul, writing inspiring pieces, rich in idealism and sublimating emotions. As a matter of fact, Modi’s world of creative writing brings out more of his Heart than his Head. As a politician, he comes across as a headstrong leader but as a creative writer, we find here a softhearted person and this really is an enigma that makes him a ‘paradox’ which is beyond comprehension of not only Shashi Tharoor (“The Paradoxical Primeminister”) but so many others too!