Mother Teresa and Nirmal Hriday: the miracle of joy in the house of the dying
Kolkata (AsiaNews) - A place for the destitute and dying that produces the joy is something that defies human logic. Yet it is this experience that takes place when you go to visit the Nirmal Hriday, the Home of the Pure Heart, near the famous temple of goddess Kali in Calcutta.
This was the first hospice founded by Mother Teresa in 1952 to welcome, treat, clean the dying abandoned on the streets of the Bengali metropolis.
Once the Mother calculated: "We have collected 54,000 people from the streets of Calcutta, at least 23,000 have died in this Home in Kalighat. When people die in peace, in the love of God, it is a wonderful fact. We see our poor reunited with their families, it is really beautiful. The joy of the poor is so clean and transparent. The poorest know what true joy is”.
That was 1989. But still today, the miracle or the paradox of joy is renewed in the Home for the Dying. Sister Glenda, 57, has been a missionary of Charity for 33 years. For the past five she has been superior of Nirmal Hriday. She also does not seem affected by the smell of death and disease.
"It is a joy to be here – she tells AsiaNews -. Every day we are visited by Jesus, who is in the abandoned body. We welcome them with joy, we serve them with joy, we clean them, we listen with joy and prepare them to return to God with joy in their heart and a smile. This work brings us the blessing of joy. "
"This house - he explains - was the first love of the Mother. The congregation of the Missionaries of Charity started from here. Kalighat is the source of all blessings and graces”.
Currently it is home to 110 dying, suffering from various terminal illnesses like AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis. The house also is also home to many sick people who were abandoned on the streets.
All this work is undertaken by several nuns and volunteers. "Here we are five Missionaries of Charity and we share the work with volunteers and staff. They also live in peace and joy of the House.
"Some of these employees - says Sister Glenda – have been here from the beginning, since the Mother: they help to clean the wounds, bind up and heal the sick, feed them”.
There is a wealthy Hindu couple, Mr. and Ms Agarwalla who have been coming to offer help here since the Mother. Now they are 85 and 77 years old. Mr. Agarwalla assists us, his wife in registration. Patients await them every day with joy. Ms Agarwalla talks to them with tenderness. Since she speaks English, Hindi, Bengali and Rajasthani, she is able to communicate with many of them, many open their hearts to her. "
Nirmal Hriday was part of the Hindu temple dedicated to Kali. Apparently, this new use of the premises of the temple has never created any problems. "On the contrary - says Sister Glenda - our donors are all Hindus and there was never any resistance to our presence here. Mother Teresa was much loved and revered by Hindus. The blessing that comes from Nirmal Hriday is for them. "On the first floor of the House there is still a small room that the Mother used. "It's a tiny room - the sister says - with a cabinet, a table and chair. There are also slippers she wore and her glasses. This room is like a shrine: people come and pray to the Mother. "