AHMEDABAD (TIP): If you didn’t know what Narendra means, a soon-to-belaunched comic book on the early life of possibly the country’s next prime minister explains that it stands for ‘lord of men’. ‘Childhood Stories — Bal Narendra’ illustrates the early signs which Narendra Modi gave in Vadnagar, his birthplace, of the greatness that lay ahead.

These include his playing with baby crocodiles and swimming through a crocodile-infested lake to hoist a flag atop a temple. The 43-page book has been published by Rannade Prakashan and designed by Blue Snail Animation (BSA). BSA director Jignesh Gandhi said the book is based on “real incidents in the early life of Narendra Modi” and was done after eight months of research. Priced Rs 150, it will be available in English, Hindi and Gujarati versions by March end.

The book shows little NaMo, with his unmistakable lips, reading books on Swami Vivekanand and Chhatrapati Shivaji in the village library while his peer group played outside. His giant-killing abilities are illustrated through a kabaddi match where, by studying the style of the star player in the school’s senior side, he inspired the juniors score an unbelievable victory. A popular boy at school, he once sprayed ink on the shirts of four habitual bullies to enable the principal to identify the culprits. Among his various exploits as a student was a fund-raiser theatrical play ‘Jogidas Khumaan’ which helped repair the school building. The cartoons show him serving food to jawans headed for the border during the Indo-China war.

His father, as is widely known now, used to run a tea stall at Mehsana railway station. He is also depicted as an NCC cadet, climbing up a tree with a razor between his teeth, to free a bird entangled in kite-strings. And if you were wondering why he always seems so well groomed, the habit apparently set in quite early despite such humble beginnings. He used to whiten the canvas shoes, which his uncle had gifted him, with pieces of chalk that teachers used to discard.

He used to fold up his school uniform and put it under his pillow before going to sleep and iron them the next morning using a metal tumbler full of hot water. “Wow! Narendra’s shirt is so crisp,” exclaims a schoolmate in one visual. The book ends on a poignant note with scenes from ‘Pilu Ful’, a play he himself wrote as a kid to create awareness about the evil of untouchability.

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