Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about his childhood and humble beginnings to Humans of Bombay – a widely known blogging page on Facebook and Instagram that chronicles the stories of Mumbaikars and those who are associated with the city of dreams in some way or the other.
“My family of 8 lived in a 40x12 feet house – it was small, but enough for us. Our days began early, around 5 AM when my mother would provide traditional forms of curing and healing to newborns and small children. Through the night my brother and I would take turns to keep the ‘chula’ going for her to use. She didn’t have the fortune of getting an education, but God was kind and she had a special way of curing ailments. Mothers would line up outside our house every morning because she was known for her healing touch.
Then, I would open my father’s tea stall at the railway station, clean up and head off to school. As soon as school ended, I would rush back to help him, but what I really looked forward to was meeting people from all over the country. I would serve them tea and listen to their stories – that’s how I learnt to speak Hindi. I would hear some traders speak about ‘Bambai’ and wonder, ‘Will I ever get to see the city of dreams?’
I was always curious – I would go to the library and read everything I could get my hands on. I was 8 when I attended my first RSS meeting, and 9 when I was a part of an effort for the betterment of the lives of others – I set up a food stall with my friends to help the victims of the floods in parts of Gujarat. I wanted to do more, but I was aware that we had little means.
Still, even at that age, I strongly believed that God has made us all alike. It didn’t matter what circumstances I was born into, I could be something more. So when you ask me, what my struggles were, I’ll tell you that I had none. I came from nothing, I knew no luxury and hadn’t seen a ‘better’ life, so in my small world...I was happy.
If the way was ever difficult, I made my own way. I had a great need to look sharp and groomed. So, even though we couldn’t afford an iron, I would heat some coal, use an old ‘lota’, wrap a cloth around it and press my clothes – the effect was the same, then why complain?
This was the beginning of everything that I am today and I didn’t even know it at the time. So if you ask the 8 year old Narendra Modi, running around serving chai and cleaning his father’s tea stall, whether he even dared to dream about becoming the Prime Minister of India, his answer would be no. Never. It was too far to even think about.”