The “Angel of Mercy, Mother Teresa (87) dies of Heart Attack in Calcutta today” – the morning news break on Friday the 5th September 1997 was a shocking avowal not only to me but the whole World. It was unambiguously petulant and emotionally taking me aback as I profoundly venerated her and exceptionally inspired by her spiritual words and magical deeds.
Unprecedentedly, the death of Mother Theresa fetched my memory back to different phases of my life. Then if I was confused of the most cherishing moment that often took me to the flashback, now when I hear the big news of the Century’s Canonization, the same confusion persists.
Mother Theresa was a supernatural soul exceptional with the magical band of His mercy. I love to believe that the magical power of Mother Theresa started to reverberate in my heart when I heard first time about her in my Pre-Degree English class room where one of my favorite lecturers Mr. AC Alexander taught us the chapter on the Living Saint and her City-of-Joy with his piercing language power and overwhelming spiritual enthusiasm. Thereafter she was a source of energy and guiding star for the rest of my life. There could be another reason for the thoughts on Mother Theresa got cemented in the bottom of my heart that my lecturer used to read the Chapter in its all perfection and explained repeatedly until his students assimilate the true essence of the story to his satisfaction.
The Chapter was strongly worded and read like “…Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, a small town in Albania, left home in 1928 at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto. The strong determination and unending spirit to become a Catholic nun was evident in her journey…” In Loreto Convent she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (A French nun popularly known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, whom I zealously love). Sister Mary Theresa took her final Profession on 24 May 1937 to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience only to complete the Roman Catholic religious procedures. Mr. Alexander’s teaching went on in the class room with pungent message, “…the Albanian woman Mother Theresa embraced Calcutta, the City-of-Joy as her home, where she does clean the purulent sores of the lepers and the sick with own hands, picks up the thrown-out and abandoned children from footpaths, streets and courtyard of the famous Kali Temple…”
Undoubtedly the portrayal of the Living Saint at my budding stage did immense change in my true inner self. Many a times I wanted to take it as the striking force that was invisibly guiding me in the rest of my life; but was it alone? I continued exploring about my icon and started reading from one end to the other which ultimately landed me in the magnificent library of my Philosophy Institute in Aluva (a mid-sized town in the Central Kerala) where I grabbed the finest of all biographies of Mother Theresa, written in 1992 by one of the highest ranked Civil Servants of India Mr. Navin Chawla. For me it was just like adding fuel to the fire.
My short stint in Aluva along with yet another likeminded intimate friend Jaimon Vengacheril (he is a Roman Catholic Priest today) started taking shape with the power of the influential lines of her Biography. We started visiting gutters and footpaths, railway platforms and shanties of Aluva and used to pick the abandoned, beggars and the left out old people. We were passionate to give new life to all those souls by giving bath, haircut, fresh dress, gifts from our little savings, and finally sheltering them in the Aluva District Hospital-an attempt to add a small drop in to the largest ocean of the kind of charity by Mother Theresa.
Death of Mother Theresa came just after another global celebrity the Princess of Wales, Diana, who was killed together with her friend Dodi Fayed on 31 August 1997 in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. The entire World was still mourning of the untimely death of Diana. Diana was not a Saint, still I loved her; she was never in to any kind of chastity, celibacy, poverty or obedience. Still the whole world loved here just because of the enormous volume of charity she did for the poor and the downtrodden. The selfless dedication and love to the poor brought Princess Diana so close to Mother Theresa and they started working together and seen perpetually unified.
It was then the news was broadcasted in the God’s of Country as if it was to quench the spiritual thirst of my innate soul evolved for quite some time to see Mother Theresa: “Mother visiting Saint George’s Forane Church Edappally, Kerala”. Edapalli Church was celebrating the 14th Centenary of its establishment on 18 January 1994. I was not ready to wait anymore. Along with few of my friends we went to Edappally. It was an Ocean of people. The Organizers were struggling to control the crowd and had cordoned the pubic area with heavy ropes. There was a long passage for the reception of Mother to the stage with either sides barricaded with ropes. After a staggering effort of push and pull somehow I could reach the forefront of the cordon.
It was the best moment in my lifetime; a short lady wearing white sari having blue borders and rather a big wooden crucifix pinned down near the shoulder walking slowly with mesmerizing smile and blessings to all her fellow beings. I still remember that episode as it was just on the other day. None could touch her palms but we could see her so close to our naked eyes. The Grace of God was showered by Mother Theresa abundantly to all living beings there irrespective of caste, religion and species; the encircling grace of Mother inspired me to the depth of my heart and thus to take the path breaking decision in my life – follow her at least in its tiny form.
It was my fortitude that helped me to move to Mangalore, the coastal town, known for its colonial hang-over, Goan Catholic influence, multitude of high-grade education, and moreover the beauty of nature. Those days Mangalore was the paradise of students from Kerala and every bit of their life seen dynamic and eventful. Sooner than later I got familiar with most of the landmarks in Mangalore such as the Cloistered Carmel, the Milagres Church, Railway Station, a dozen of shores, the Cheshire Homes, Special School for the Challenged, and of course the Convent of Mother Theresa named after Home for the Dying Destitute.
Perhaps He wanted me to have the most closest experience with the Saint of the Gutter for the last time. I got the good news that Mother is coming to Mangalore. I started scanning every newspaper and TV channel for details. She was expected to address the Independence Day celebrations organized by the District Administration. Inopportunely this time destiny was not with me. I couldn’t make it on the 15 August 1995 but I heard her saying “an atmosphere of peace, love and affection in every family will definitely promote world peace and national integration.” What a benevolence..! Mother Theresa’s program in Mangalore included opening her 588th House meant for the poor in a property donated by Miss Agnes at Lower Bendur. “If you don’t want your child, give it to me. Don’t kill him” she pleaded while opening the house.
If the search for truth and love is zealous it will always be rewarded. She lived in the newly opened house of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) with her sisters for six days; an opportunity given specifically for me to get her blessings for the last.
Along with my bosom friend Justine Thomas and few others we went to the convent after the college hours. We could reach only after 5 o’clock in the evening. Always I used to believe that an opportunity lost is an opportunity lost in your life time. I was well prepared with my Yashica, the very first still camera that was bought out of my own little savings. Photography has been always an excitement to me and using this camera I had taken thousands of photographs with college friends, while site seeing trips, with families and the scenic beauty of this universe. And now has come time to capture the glimpse of the world revered lady of love.
We reached the Convent and enquired if Mother is there. The nun whom we met first hurled an affectionate smile and informed in her dainty voice to wait just for a quarter – Mother is in meditation. Our heartbeats went up. Seeing me making my camera ready, that lovely nun informed me not to use flash as Mother can’t bear such flash light. It confused me a bit but thought why flash required when the true light itself is giving its appearance in the dark..!
It didn’t take even ten minutes, but there comes the most humble and merciful living being on the Planet like an Angel from the heaven taking the shape of an ordinary human being..! “Thank God”, the first sigh came out from my intestine!
We got only ten minutes with the Living Saint Mother Theresa, but it was interminable. We kissed the crucifix in her hands, she blessed us one by one by making cross on our forehead. In this sanctified moment we forgot to take photo of us being blessed by the only Living Saint in the history of mankind; but a sudden reflex brought my fingers to the camera for the historic photo of Mother Theresa who were standing behind the railings of the balcony (you can see the same picture below) – attainment of my spiritual ecstasy..!
Mother Theresa is going to be canonized within the next 48 hours in the Vatican City by Pope Francis, the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church who sits on the seat of Saint Peter since 13 March 2013. Let all the abandoned children, lepers and the dying destitute get abundant grace of Saint Mother Theresa, Saint of the Gutter and the Angel of Mercy now and forever. And Let me also feel blessed that I could feel the warmth and healing touch of Saint Mother Theresa.
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