Harold Jaffe’s Dispatches from India – November 7, 2015

Mother

The girl is 18 when she leaves her village in Yugoslavia for Ireland,
there to attempt to join the order of Loreto, nuns who work among
the poor and dying in India.
She got the idea of India from a series of letters a Yugoslav priest
stationed in Calcutta wrote, excerpts of which were published in
Serbo-Croatian in a Serbian weekly newspaper.
 
What was she feeling when she undertook the arduous trip from
Skoplje to Dublin?
She spoke Albanian and Serbo-Croatian but could not utter a
sentence of English.
It marked the first time she had left her rural village.
She recited her rosary, but what of the cold, the discomfort, the
extraordinary strangeness, the arduous weeks of the voyage,
overland then by sea?
 
She arrived in Dublin, made herself understood sufficiently to
impress, be admitted to the order of Loreto.
The following year, in accord with her wish, she was sent to India to
work among the poor and dying.
 
I’d like, respectfully, to gain entrance to the range of feelings she
was experiencing when she made her arduous journey from Skoplje
to Dublin.
When she was admitted to the order of Loreto.
When she slept that first night among the sisters of Loreto.
 
Named Agnes Bojaxhiu, the Ethnic Albanian girl leaves Yugoslavia
for Dublin, Ireland, to attempt to join the order of Loreto, nuns who
minister to the poor and dying in India.
She is admitted and the next year is sent to India,
though to Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills, rather than to
Calcutta.
 
When she leaves Skoplje for the very long and arduous trip to
Dublin, what does the eighteen-year-old pack in her small suitcase?
How, en route, does she wash and dry her single change of linen?
When under the harsh conditions she manages a few hours of
sleep, does she dream?
 
I’d like–with respect–to inhabit that dream.
 
Agnes Bojaxhiu arrives in India and travels to Darjeeling, the British-
styled hill station, where she takes vows of poverty, chastity,
obedience.
After two years she is transferred to Calcutta.
She learns Bengali rapidly.
She has already learned Hindi.
She tends to the poor and the dying.
 
After seven more years she applies to the Holy See for
permission to live outside the Loreto convent.
Permission is granted and she devotes her entire time to ministering
to the poor and dying.
 
That she later becomes world-famous is an anomaly.
She publicizes her work because she needs rupees.
More resources to minister to the poor and dying.
There are never enough rupees.

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