Mother Teresa to be canonized on September 4, 2016, Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican on that day.
It is time to share the joy ….. from the City of Joy of which Mother is very much a part.
It was 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War was on, as a result a large number of people were taking a refuge in the areas bordering West Bengal and of course Kolkata too was a place which took a large intake of people coming across the border. Relief work was just on and there were relief camps set up in many parts. Those days some of us were involved with a University Student Organisation called SCM and we thought of doing something to support the relief efforts . Our steward Rev. Donald was a very able person and always ready to second any idea, no matter even if it is at times childish ! After a great deal of discussions and several round of tea, served lovingly by Usha Bhabi (Donald’s ever supportive wife), we came out with a ‘brilliant’ idea, of organising a special film show for Fund Raising – a James Bond Movie ! The next part was to invite some one very special to inaugurate this Fund Raising event. We all agreed that Mother Teresa would be invited to do this and Donald was entrusted with this heavy task ! He was visibly nervous with this nomination, but promised that he would go all out to get Mother for the occasion. He said he would approach through Rev. Canon Subir Biswas who was a very sincere social worker and heading a big relief agency in the city.
On the day of the show my friend Babu said “I bet Mother would never come”. I too felt the same way for several reasons :
one, it was a Sunday, that too a morning show…..she must be having some prayer meetings ,
two, it was for a film show…. and
three (the worst one) a James Bond Movie !
It was being held at the Globe Theatre, the best in the city. Three of us took charge of ushering spectators on balcony. Just before the commencement of the show the lights went dim, and we knew this was the very moment of Inauguration of the event. The curtain slowly raised, and, …. lo behold… there was Mother standing in front at the centre stage, with folded hands ! What she said was that she was glad that these young people have thought of doing such a good thing to raise funds for relief work and that young people should do service to the people in need.
It was 1977, Rev.Canon Biswas died at a very young age. Some of us joined the funeral procession, we were all walking, it was a long silent procession, a large number of people joined. Suddenly one of my friends pulled my hands and pointed towards a spot in front of us. Yes, Mother was walking in the procession. We briskly walked and joined her, walked beside her till the burial ground … could not resist the temptation of walking with her ! At the burial ground she sat through out, unnoticed , on a small concrete slab on the ground. That was a lesson for us on humility.
It was 1985. Me and a colleague of mine had to meet the Archbishop of Calcutta. We went quite early in the morning and was sitting at the waiting room adjacent to Archbishop’s office. A few minutes later there was a sound of the door opening and an official of the Archbishop’s House ushered in some one …. Mother Teresa ! Now, me and my friend for a few seconds got perplexed and really did not know what to do ! Mother ….. in person ….. within reach ! When we came to our senses, we did out next best thing, bowed down ….. touched her feet and uttered “pronam”. She then asked about us. We told her our names, that we work as social workers in a voluntary organisation in the city, that we are organising an Ecumenical Rally next week for which we need an endorsement letter from the Archbishop and with the letter we would go around various congregations in and around the city during the day. (We purposely explained at length about us, so that we can feel good that we had a long talk with Mother! We were not sure whether she heard all of our full length speech ! How wrong we were !!) A little later the officer appeared once again and said “Mother, please come and meet the Archbishop”. To this, Mother said “No, let these two young men meet the Archbishop first, these people are social workers, they have many places to cover the whole day ….”.
It was September, 1997. Myself, my wife and two of my colleagues were at the queue. The mortal remains of Mother was kept at the Loretto House. This was Park Street, a very important busy place in the city, but for the past two days it was unusually calm and quiet. People in the queue were all silent … some of them were crying quite visibly. In front of us was a woman with two children …. apparently very poor and she said she came from a neighbouring district and set out very early in the morning …. Behind us was a gentleman wearing suit… apparently a corporate executive. Three hours later we reached to the Mother, saw her for the last time. True, a Mother to all …. rich and the poor, rural and the urban….for whom caste, creed or colour meant nothing but some printed words.. is gone …. gone to become history and a heritage.