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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 before.

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 of Charity.

“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 everything.

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 presence everywhere.

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 (laughs)...

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 http://www.headlinesindia.com  an upcoming news portal based out of New Delhi, India.

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