Mother Teresa

In the early part of the 20th century, there lived a family in the city of Skopaze of Albania. The head of the family Nicholas was a reasonable prosperous building contractor cum grocer of the city. He had built many houses and buildings in the city. A theatre built by him still stands intact there. Nicholas had a business partner.
The family consisted of four members. The husband, wife, son and a daughter.
On 27th August, 1910 a new girl child arrived to join the family to the joy of the family. Now they were five. The newborn was christened ‘Agnes’. But the family rarely called her by that name. For them the baby was ‘Gonxha’ which in the local dialect meant ‘Flower bud’. It described the baby more appropriately as she was tender and pink bundle of joy.
Every time Nicholas peered at his baby lying in swing bed he could not help squealing with joy. The elder children hovered around the baby with childish curiosity making innocent noises.
The mother was the happiest of the lot. She fawned over her Gonxha. The lady believed in values, character and manners. It appeared that she was determined to keep her youngest child untainted like a fresh flower by inculcating in her good habits, noble values and social manners.
As little Gonxha grew up she showed particular fondness to her mother. She took mother’s advice sincerely and always looked up to her unlike her elder brother and sister.
The elder ones were naughty kids. Playing pranks and disobeying the mother was their wont. The brother, Lazar particularly was very mischievous. He believed in helping himself to anything he desired instead of asking parents for it. He had a sweet tooth. Lazar loved sweet things like chocolates, candies, puddings, cakes, jams and pastries. For those temptations he would not mind sneaking into the kitchen and helping himself whenever mother was not around. A bit of stealing posed no moral problems for him.
Gonxha’s elder sister would take lead from the brother and gang up with him. Most of the time she played lackey to her brother especially when Lazar intended to raid the kitchen for sweets.
The two would try to entice their younger sister Gonxha also to join the fun and earn the rewards sweets. But Gonxha would refuse to bite the bait. She would remember her mother’s warning, ‘Do not steal. God watcheth with thousand eyes.’
That would make her hesitate. She remained a passive spectator to her elder siblings stealing from the kitchen and eating the sweet loot. She would refuse to accept any offered share as the price of her silence.
It was a Saturday night. Parents were not at home. Gonxha saw her brother and sister at their old game. They were mooching large pieces of cake greedily. The time was past midnight. Gonxha could not keep quiet.
She announced, “Mother says one should eat nothing after Saturday midnight because Sunday begins after the midnight. If you do you can’t attend the Sunday mass properly.”
The two moochers laughed at her and stuck their tongues out mockingly. They kept eating merrily. Sunday mass was no deterrent for them.
Gonxha kept the incident to herself. She didn’t reveal it to either of her parents or complained against her siblings. Another one of her mother’s advice that always remained in her mind was, ‘Talking ill of others and complaining is a bad.’
Thus, Gonxha’s mind was being shaped by the teachings of her mother. The moral lessons taught by the mother stayed in Gonxha’s mind all her life.
The father passed away when Gonxha was merely seven years old. After his death her life revolved around her mother who forced by the circumstances had to become breadwinner of the family besides being mother of the three kids.
Nicholas had left behind a house and a good business. The business was now being run by the partner of late Nicholas. It didn’t take long for the partner to change colours when the greed got better of him. He misappropriated the entire business through dishonest tricks.
Now the widow of Nicholas and her three kids were left with a house only and no income.
The mother did not lose hope. She was made of a sterner stuff. Even when her husband was doing good she had not stopped doing household chores herself. The disciplined and principled life she had led had kept her in good physical and mental health.
She was good at needle work, embroidery and the lace work plus trimmings. With borrowed money she started a small scale business of the same.
She toiled hard to stay afloat in addition to the bringing up of her kids. Her hard work, sincerely and exemplary honest dealings brought her customers. She was a frank and affable character. These attributes also played a great part in winning dealers and customers.
Soon, she was earning enough to take care of the growing needs of her children reasonably well. Infact, the loving mother never let her children feel the absence of their father.
The industrious lady was very careful about the money. Wastage or unnecessary spending irked her.
The children are children. They are far off yet from the harsh realities of life. Their desires and activities or care-freeness often results in wastage or extra spending to repair the damage caused. To straighten up children most parents use cane or harsh language of rebuke.
But Mrs. Bojaxhiu was not one of those parents. She never caned or reprimanded her kids. She used to think of novel ways to impart lessons to her children. Because of it little Gonxha had grown greater respect for her mother and her teachings.
The following incident proves the point.
It was a holiday eve. The children were in fun mood. Some of their friends had come over to Bonxasue home to party. Those included the friends of little Gonxha. The next day being holiday, the kids had no worry of getting up early and preparing for the school.
First they played carom till late night. Then they talked, played pranks and gossiped. Little Gonxha was in her spirits holding the stage. She was a good mimic. Her animated mimicry of her teachers was sending her friends in peels of laughter. It was creating a lot of noise.
The mother was in the adjoining room busy in her needle work. She was hearing the constant chatter of the children which was going on and on without any end.
Suddenly, the children stopped talking as the light went out. The room was drowned in pitch darkness. The children emerged out of room wondering about the reason.
There was light in the street and in the rooms of the other houses opposite. Everything was normal outside. Then the kids noticed that Mother’s room also had light. The kids were very puzzled and wanted to find out why only their room had no light.
They asked the mother about it naturally.
The mother spoke in a very serious tone, “I cut off the light to your room. I can’t tolerate the electricity being wasted for mimicry of the teachers and for talking ill of others behind their backs. In my view it is wastage and the misuse of electric energy.”
That silenced the children. Gonxha turned red.
The message had been delivered.
There is one more incident that illustrates the nature of the mother.
In the neighbourhood of the Bojaxhiu house, there used to live some undesirable families. The men were idlers and drunkards who beat their wives habitually. The parents remained too busy in their squabbles to spare time for the children. So, their kids loitered around in filthy clothes mouthing foul words.
One day, the mother saw her children playing with those kids with unkempt hair and ill manners. She did not approve of it. But openly rebuking the children was not her wont. So, she again preferred to teach by using an example.
The mother went to the market and bought a bagful of fresh red mouth watering apples. At home, she put them in a basket. The kids saw the yummy apples and squealed in delight. They anticipated their mother to distribute the apples among them for eating.
But the mother made no such move. Then, the children asked for the apples.
Their mother said, “Easy children. You will get them, of course. I bought them for you sure. Don’t worry. We shall eat them tomorrow.”
“Why, mother?” Lazar cried.
“Patience child. You will find out the reason.”
Then, she took out a rotten apple from another bag and put it into the basket among the good apples.
She explained to the kids, “Look, I am putting this bad apple among the good apples. Watch what happens tomorrow.”
The children wondered what she was upto.
The next evening, she called her children for the apples. The children ran to her.
The basket was uncovered. To their dismay the kids saw that all the good apples too had gone bad. They looked at their mother puzzled.
The mother explained, “See, how a rotten apple spoiled all the good apples. Now you can understand why you should not play with bad children. Even one bad child can spoil you all.”
Thus, the mother inculcated the spirit of hard work, simplicity, frugality and politeness in her little Gonxha. Those qualities became a part of Gonxha’s character which got progressively more and more embellished as she grew into a sister, teacher, social worker and then world’s most recognised saviour of sick, abandoned, orphans and the poorest.

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