Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Humble Effort in Familiarizing Bangladeshis with Mother Teresa

Today is the 13th anniversary of Mother Teresa's death. On this occasion, I remember Mother Teresa by recalling my effort in familiarizing my Bangladeshi compatriots with Mother Teresa and her great work.

My Interview of Mother Teresa as a Rookie Journalist

It was early January, 1972. Father Francis Gomes Sima was the acting editor of the then Dhaka archdiocesan weekly Pratibeshi. I was helping him out as a part-time worker. When I was in the second year Masters class of journalism, the University of Dhaka closed down due to the 9-month Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971 (we had to repeat the second year of study all through 1972). It was at that time and later that I was a part-timer for the Pratibeshi.

Father Sima informed me that Missionaries of Charity founder Mother Teresa was in Dhaka with a group of her Sisters to found a children's home in the Amputty area of old Dhaka. My journalism instinct told me that it would be good to interview Mother Teresa and let the people of Bangladesh know of her work. I then went to Amputty and met with Sister Margaret, M.C., the Superior of the Sisters there, to make an appointment for interview with Mother Teresa.

On the prefixed day and time I went to the children's home, called Shishu Bhavan, and one Sister took me to a room and asked me to wait. When Mother Teresa entered the room I greeted her. She then asked me to take a seat. My heart was pounding fast. I felt nervous. I was such a neophyte in front of such a great personality! As we progressed in our interview, Mother Teresa's humble demeanor, soft voice and non-threatening body language gradually helped me gain my full confidence.

Initially, I was asking her questions from my prepared list, later as I felt more reassured, I began to interact and ask questions beyond my list. Finally, when everything was over, I felt that I was successful in overcoming an insurmountable wall.

From this interview I prepared articles on Mother Teresa and her work. The English article got published in The Bangladesh Observer (February 9, 1972) and the Bangla (Bengali) one in the Pratibeshi (February 21, 1972). I also wrote another piece on her and it was published in the Voice of Fatima International fortnightly (March 14, 1972) in Brisbane, Australia.

More Write-ups on Mother Teresa

I was so much enthused with this accomplishment that, later, I wrote more pieces on Mother Teresa. These were published in the Pratibeshi (Dhaka: June 22, 1980 and February 1, 1981), Robbar weekly (Dhaka: February 1, 1981) and Asia Darpan monthly (Dhaka: November, 1988).

My Translations

I also translated two pieces on Mother Teresa into Bangla (Bengali) and got them published in the Pratibeshi. The first one was a lengthy interview of Mother Teresa (titled "The Fruit of Love Is Service" -- Mother Teresa) published in the India Today magazine of May 31, 1983 and it translation published in the Pratibeshi of July 3, 1983. The second one was an open letter of Mother Teresa who personally handed the letter to Prime Minister Morarji Dessai in New Delhi on March 26, 1979. The open letter was on the "Religious Freedom Act 1978" and it's translation was published in the Pratibeshi of April 29, 1979. Mother had vocally supported the religious freedom of the Indians, especially the minorities.

I present below some samples of my write-ups on Mother Teresa:

After interviewing Mother Teresa on her first arrival
in Bangladesh, I wrote this article for
The Bangladesh Observer daily

(Dhaka: February 9, 1972)

After the same interview, I wrote this 2-page article
in Bangla for the Catholic weekly
Pratibeshi(Dhaka: February 21, 1972)

Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
After her arrival in Dhaka, the Christian community
on January 25, 1981 gave her a rousing welcome
at the Archbishop's House compound. I wrote this
column on her in the Pratibeshi weekly (Feb. 1, 1981).

This is the first of the 3-page article on Mother
Teresa published in the Robbar weekly (Dhaka: Feb. 1, 1981).
(As my name "Jerome" is a French word, the editor
published my full name in French pronunciation!)

This 2-page article was published in
the Asia Darpan monthly (Dhaka: November, 1988)

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