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There will be none like Mother Teresa again, say commoners
Published on 24 Aug. 2010 11:23 PM IST
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As Mother Teresa’s birth centenary Thursday draws near, commoners here still get tears in their eyes recalling the deeds and words of the Albania-born nun who took Indian citizenship and became one of the world’s greatest symbols of love and compassion.
From homeless labourers to small-time shopkeepers, those who got to interact with the Mother still recall the Nobel Peace prize winner’s humility and supreme dedication to serve the poor, old, infirm and the dying.
M. Shahdani, 55, who resides close to Mother House - the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity founded by the Mother - recalls her ever smiling face.
“I first met her in 1974 here outside Mother House. She was indeed a noble and a polite lady. Whenever we used to meet we shared pleasantries. What I remember the most about Mother is her ever smiling face,” Shahdani told IANS.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia Aug 26, 1910, Mother Teresa left her parental home at 18, and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.
She arrived in Kolkata in 1929. Years later, she took Indian citizenship and left the convent with the church’s nod to serve the poor and the ailing.
She set up Missionaries of Charity in 1950 at 14, Creek Lane, but shifted to the Mother House in 1953 as her order expanded.
To Shaukat Ali, 50, a homeless labourer living on a pavement near the building, the Mother was god. “There will be no one like Mother again. She was like god to us. We used to sit outside Mother House to catch a glimpse of her.”
The Mother often came to enquire about Shaukat’s health. “She used to give us bread to eat, sometimes cake. I was born on this footpath in front of Mother House and will die here. But the love, the affection we received from her, we will never forget.”
Shaukat’s eyes fill up with tears as he recalls Mother’s caring nature. “It was a winter day. I was sleeping on the footpath and shivering with cold. Mother came to me and gave me a blanket.”
She established her first home - “Nirmal Hriday” - for the dying destitute - near the famous Kali temple of Kalighat.
Bijoy Kumar Samaddar owns a shop along the walls of Nirmal Hriday. He claims Mother herself gave him permission to start the shop.
“Whenever she came to Nirmal Hriday, Mother would exchange pleasantries with me.” As the years passed on, Samaddar developed a “personal bond with the Mother”.
“One day when I was not keeping well, she came to my shop, and sat down on the table where I am sitting now, and enquired after my health,” said 80-year-old Samaddar.
“I once wrote a poem on her and gifted it to her. She smiled and told me it is the best gift she ever had,” he reminisced.
“The last time she visited Nirmal Hriday she was ill. She was about to board the car, she looked at me and smiled and told me to look after Nirmal Hriday. I smiled back and told her ‘we will wait for you, Mother’,” said Samaddar. Mother was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1979 and given India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, in 1980 for her humanitarian work.
The Missionaries of Charity now comprises over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries.
It runs homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also conducts children’s and family counselling programmes and runs orphanages and schools.
Mother Teresa died here Sep 5, 1997, and was buried in the Mother House.

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