Atanu Dey On India's Development

Saraf: On the forgiving trail

A letter to the editor by one Mr D K Saraf.

Title: On the forgiving trail (Letter)
Author: D. K. Saraf
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: July 4, 1996

Sir,

This refers to Mr Z. Kittler’s letter, Mother not so Saintly, I fully support Mr Kitler’s disapproval of Mother Teresa who, instead of refuting the charges, perpetually prays for those who criticise her.

This reminds me of an incident that occurred two years ago. I had organised the distribution of artificial limbs to 1,000 poor villagers at a function which was attended by Mr Somnath Chatterjee, MP and Ms Kamal Basu, the chief minister’s wife. Mother agreed to preside over the function.

On the day of the function, at 4 pm, she sent a message that she won’t be able to attend the function on account of her illness. The news disappointed me and the villagers who were eagerly looking forward to have a “glimpse” of the saint. But next morning, much to my shock and disbelief. I learnt from a newspaper report that Mother had left for Delhi to receive an award to be presented to her by the government of India. I cold not help writing a letter to Mother in which I stated that since a thousand poor and handicapped villagers came to receive not only artificial limbs but also her blessings, she should not have changed her programme on pretext of illness. I also humbly added that for a lesser mortal like me, a government award meant a lot but she was too great to attach so much importance to it. In fact, I believed that she was above all kinds of material awards.

Mother’s reply was prompt. She said she forgave me and promised to pray for me to the Almighty.

In my letter, I had uttered a simple truth and all I wanted to know was why she preferred receiving an award rather than giving her blessings to the poor, hapless villagers. All I got in return was an assurance of being forgiven. For the last two years I have been asking myself a question: What did Mother forgive me for?

(D.K. Saraf, Secretary, Anandalok Hospital, Salt Lake, Calcutta).