Mother Is Still Here: An Interview With Sister Nirmala
by: Divya Pathak
It has been a decade since Kolkata's “Saint of
Gutters”, Mother Teresa went home to God. But Missionaries of Charity,
the order established by Mother in 1950, still continues to feel her
divine presence around. The moment one enters the premises of Mother's
House on AJC Bose Road in central Kolkata, one is overwhelmed by a
feeling of warmth, peace and serenity like one has never experienced
Two days before her tenth death anniversary, the spirit of
Mother Teresa rests in peace in a white marble tomb, built in the middle
of Mother's House, and is surrounded by devotees, who sit with their
heads bowed, paying a silent tribute to the lady who gave up everything
to serve the “poorest of the poor”. “Service to the poorest of the poor”
still continues to be the fundamental article of faith in Missionaries
“Jesus is the bread of life” is written in flowers over Mother's tomb,
and a soft fragrance of incense wafts through the air to create an aura
of unmatched divinity. The room adjacent to Mother's tomb holds her
possessions and pictures, and tells a tale of Mother's service to
humankind. The pictures of Mother Teresa, along with her belongings
displayed with care, make one feel a close proximity with the petite
Mother. “She is everywhere in the House”, smiles Sister Nirmala, the
Superior General of Missionaries of Charity, before settling down for an exclusive interview about life during Mother's
time, and beyond.
It has been ten years since Mother passed away. How has life been in
Missionaries of Charity after Mother?
Sister Nirmala: Missionaries of Charity, by the grace of God, and with
the presence, prayers and blessings of Mother, is continuing with its
work and is going on. It continues to be in the same spirit that it was
in when it was founded by Mother.
It has also been ten years of responsibility for you. How does it feel
to be in Mother's place?
Sister Nirmala: I would not say I am in Mother's place. I can never
replace Mother. I have my own place. I cannot be Mother, I cannot live
her life. I have my life, and I am living it the way Mother wanted me
to. I think Mother is irreplaceable. No one can ever take her place.
How far do you think you have lived up to Mother's expectations?
Sister Nirmala: I am just continuing the work that she was doing. I try
my best to live up to her expectations. I feel, may be Mother is happy
with me (laughs).
So, do you hear Mother's voice in your heart, saying she is happy with
you? Do you feel her around you?
Sister Nirmala: Yes, I feel her guiding me in everything I do. I never
felt that she is not happy with me. I know she is there to look after
Apparently you shared a very close bond with Mother. Tell us something
about your relationship with Mother Teresa.
Sister Nirmala: See, we are sisters, but we are really her daughters. I
was like her daughter too...
And what kind of bonding did you share with her?
Sister Nirmala: She was a real mother for my future direction. She
guided me in a lot of things. As I grew up before her eyes, she taught
me how to love, how to care selflessly. She guided me to spirituality,
and she encouraged me in whatever I wanted to do (Mother Teresa had
encouraged Sister Nirmala to study law). So I really shared a very
special bond with her.
With such special bond, do you miss her around?
Sister Nirmala: It is only her physical being that is missing from here.
Her spirit continues to be in every part of the order. We feel here
Coming back to the order, what changes has Missionaries of Charity seen
over the past decade?
Sister Nirmala: The changes have come in the form of expansion. We have
expanded to 14 new countries, and we are striving hard to expand
further. The Missionaries of Charity has set up 166 new homes across the
world. The number of nuns has increased too. Everything else is the same
It is often alleged that Missionaries of Charity follows a static and
rudimentary style of functioning....
Sister Nirmala: It is our rule, you know. We follow our tradition, we
follow our spirit...
Don't you wish to modernise the Missionaries of Charity?
Sister Nirmala: No. We prefer to keep it simple. That is the way
Missionaries of Charity is (laughs).
What about the funds and donations that are sent to Missionaries of
Charity? Has there been any change in the amount of help you received
during Mother's time?
About The Author
Divya Pathak is a reporter working with
an upcoming news portal based out of New Delhi, India.