About Mother Teresa

April 4th, 2013 by admin

Through the window of the slow-moving airplane on a runaway, all I could see was just a golden light looking like some eggs being crushed on to the window one after another by heavy rain. It was past midnight. Although I had not been worried about anything until then, I was getting a little concerned about taking a taxi from the airport so late, so I spoke to a refined Indian gentleman next to me.
“Excuse me, Sir. I would like to go to Mother Teresa’s place. Is it possible to take a taxi at this time?” “Don’t go outside. Ask at the airport taxi counter, reserve and prepay. But I wonder if it’s still open.” “Thank you for the advice. I don’t know even her address.”
“By yourself? Are you familiar with Calcutta? Where are you staying?”
“I have been here just once. But now it is midnight. May be I can stay at Mother’s. I am ok.”

After I got off the plane, He spoke to me again. “Get your stuff, and come with me.” Outside the gate, more than ten people assembled to greet him and bowed to him with their hands together. He looked important. He was telling something to one of them and came back.
“I told him to take you to Mother’s place, and also to look for a hotel in case you couldn’t stay there, and to arrange the price, to check-in as well.”

Since car of the man’s associate was an open jeep, under heavy rain and wind, I got drenched to the skin. Finally I arrived at Mother’s House. I rang the bell and a sister came out.
“I came here to see Mother. I can stay for four days. Please let me do as much volunteer work
as possible.” “Mother is coming to the early Morning Mass at 5am. Volunteer works start at 7 in the morning.” “Can I rest here? I don’t mind anywhere, on the floor or ground .”
“It is not allowed. Please come in the early morning.” “Thank you.”
Then the person who took me there from the airport drove me around for a while and finally found a hotel for me. Luckily, it was within walking distance to Mother’s House. The room was simple, with only a cot and an air conditioner, which made noise like a thunder storm. A naked light bulb was dangling from the ceiling in the middle of the room and I thought it would be dangerous if I touched it. I walked around in the tiny room. Then I thanked the man very much and tried to give him a tip. But he would not take it, which is quite rare in the country like India.
“Thank you very much. I deeply appreciate it. By the way, who was that gentleman in the airport?” “He is the Financial Minister.”

I was really surprised! Would I have ridden on the car of a total stranger by myself at midnight in a strange city under normal circumstances? It was strange that I hadn’t hesitated at all. Then I was grateful, believing that Mother had guided me. Until the plane ride to Calcutta, I had been at the Dalai Lama’s place for few days with my younger brother Osamu Tatsumura and about twenty other Japanese people. During my stay at Dharamsala ( the center of the Tibetan government in exile in India), Mother Teresa had appeared in my dream almost every night, waving her hand. I will always remember the strong energy from her rather small, slender hands when she shook my hand firmly when I saw her in New York some years ago. But this time I felt like she called for me in my dream. So I suddenly changed my plan of going to Bombay and decided to fly to Calcutta by myself, without any preparation for a place to stay, or even checking Mother’s address.

It was past 2 am. I lay on the bed for about two hours in fear of being late for the Morning Mass and walked from the hotel back to Mother’s house on a dark road I glimpsed Mother at the Mass but she was gone right after the end of the Mass. They said she had gone to the Vatican to see the Pope John Paul II. I was grateful from the bottom of my heart that I came in time to be with Mother even for a brief moment. I saw a sister in charge of volunteer work at 7 and said, “I will devote my body and soul wholly for the next four days.” She gave me a work schedule. Mother has four different hospices, one for children’s orphanage, one for people of most desperate situation (dying), two are for less desperate people. There are long walking distance between all of them and all volunteers walk to the hospices in the extremely hot weather.

I spent my first day washing clothes and it was an extremely hard work. To begin with, we removed filth from people’s clothes and then we put the clothes into a cauldron filled with an antiseptic solution. The strong smell was stifling. Then we took out the clothes using long poles and boiled them again in another cauldron and cooled them down in a water tank, took them out again, took them to a brook and washed them vigorously with our hand and then wrung them, boiled them again and wrung them once more, and dried the clothes on the rooftop. It was quite a physical challenge in a temperature of over 40C (104F)! I asked a sister, “Why don’t you have washing machines? There are people that I can ask, and in no time people will donate ten or more washing machines for you.” Then a sister answered me with gentle smile. She said, “Mother doesn’t prefer that. The good energy exerted from physical effort of volunteer’s love will be transmitted to the cloth.”
I realized that the cloth is the only thing these people have personally here. This reminded me of what Mother said sometime ago when I met her in New York.
“I have two belongings. One is on my skin, and the other is in the laundry place.”

Early in the morning of the second day, walking a long narrow road, I arrived at an orphanage. There were so many children. Hundreds of children swarmed around my body and legs and asked me to hug them. They want skin contact. I have never carried and hugged so many children in such a short time. Also, I have never carried spoons to so many little mouths. I was exhausted, dragging my legs, late into the night but was very happy. I went back to my room and slept deeply.

On the third day, I went to a hospice where people with the most serious diseases are brought in. This day became one of the most important days of my life. Mother’s car drives everywhere in Calcutta day and night and picks up people dying on the side of the road and brings them here. People in a little better condition are sent to the other hospice and people facing death are brought here. I helped until late into the night. When I just walked by the entrance, the car stopped and a man came out carrying a woman. The man passed the woman into my arms because I happened to be standing there. To my surprise, she was as light as five-year old child. She was so thin with just all skin and bones and her torn cloth as little as left was filthy and muddy. Off course she was bare-foot. And being so for a long time, the skin on her legs was like an elephant’s, just barely attached to her bones of legs. Her face looked scary because of her expression of heavy pain. The woman’s right breast was disproportionately big, distorted and appeared to be bursting. A large, almost a size of the fist, blackish-red tumor protruded from this breast. I saw a live cancer for the first time in my life.

After giving her some water and holding her, I took the dying woman to a shower so that I could wash her. I brought some hot water from the kitchen (there is no hot water in the shower.), washed her body, her hair, and got her dressed in new clothes.

Meanwhile, the sick woman was groaning because of her pain and suffering. Finally, I found a vacant bed (actually, it was just a board covered with a blanket) and gently put her on it. Thinking that she might be able to eat something, I brought some milk porridge typical in India, and was trying to feed her with a spoon, but she shook her head. She drank a little water instead.
I decided to sit next to her through the night. She groaned loud for a while but calmed down when I stroked her back. After a while, she held out her hand and feebly grasped my hand. She was saying something but off course I didn’t understand. But I felt she was saying, “Thank you.” As she said the same word repeatedly, something surprising began to happen. Her face, which had been distorted with terrible pain, became a quiet, peaceful, happy one. This change shocked me, and I started to think about what the real essence of happiness is.

The elements of happiness.
1. Being healthy.
2. Having a family, friends, or pets and the like to love and to be loved.
3. Having enough food, a place to live, and enough money to do whatever you need.
4. Having peace in one’s mind.

And so on. But the dying woman had absolutely none of these things. Then, why did her face become happy and her heart peaceful? One thing that is clear is that she was truly grateful. I was so impressed with the power of gratitude, and in turn, my heart was filled with the gratitude to Mother for teaching me this, and my tears kept running down my face. Then, I realized with my body and soul that the gratitude is the most important element of happiness. We can be happy even without the rest of the ingredients. That is why my Great Master, Masahiro Oki taught us his famous philosophy, “Unconditional Gratitude, Penance, Obeisance, unconditional Service, and unconditional Love,” IN THIS ORDER. “That’s right!” I thought to myself. It was a real eye opener. Both she and I holding our hands together, my tears of gratitude didn’t stop. It might have been the happiest moment for both of us. Later, she fell into a deep sleep and I lay down on the ground next to her.

The next morning, I had to go back to New York. After I said “good bye” to everybody, I went back to my room to gather my things, and then to the air port. The sick woman was still sleeping when I left. This experience was a very precious gift from Mother Teresa.

Later, I received news that Mother passed away after she returned from the Vatican. It was the fall of 1997. Colors of Central Park were brilliant as I took daily walks. I also heard that the woman in the hospice closed her tumultuous life in peace and with dignity. I feel so blessed that I got to know these two extraordinary human beings.

I am very happy to hear the news that the last month Pope John Paul II performed the first ritual toward ordaining Mother Teresa for sainthood. I pray everyday for Mother with deep gratitude. I would like to go back to Mother’s House in Calcutta again soon.