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Musings: Those blessed moments in the auspicious company of Mother Teresa — ‘Service with Smile’

The news of Mother Teresa being declared as a saint by the Pope on Sunday pushed me back to 1980s when she had visited our medical college and hospital at BHU (Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi) and inaugurated the Radiology Block. As a young Deputy Medical Superintendent of the new hospital, I was lucky to accompany her during rounds in various sector of the hospital. I have tried to recollect that rare moment with the help of some photographs.

Mother Teresa visiting the university hospital, IMS BHU on March 30, 1980. Medical Superintendent Dr Narasimhan, Vice Chancellor Dr Hari Narain, Deputy Medical Superintendent & Consultant Dr S Dwivedi, IMS Director Prof K N Udupa, Chief Proctor Prof B B Dhar, Dr H S K Agarwal, Dr Vijay Pal Singh then Head of the Hindi Department are also seen.
Mother Teresa visiting the university hospital, IMS BHU on March 30, 1980. Medical Superintendent Dr Narasimhan, Vice Chancellor Dr Hari Narain, Deputy Medical Superintendent & Consultant Dr S Dwivedi, IMS Director Prof K N Udupa, Chief Proctor Prof B B Dhar, Dr H S K Agarwal, Dr Vijay Pal Singh then Head of the Hindi Department are also seen.

It was probably 30th March 1980 when BHU conferred Honorary Doctorate upon Mother Teresa. The entire atmosphere of the university was charged with ecstasy, emotion and solemnity. Those were very eventful days for the Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) and the associated Sir Sunderlal Hospital (S S Hospital) and the upcoming New University Hospital block. The then Director Prof K N Udupa will always bring any one visiting the university who could infuse and ignite young medico minds.

Who else could be better than Mother Teresa to be blessing the IMS fraternity on that fateful day? Sure enough Prof Udupa persuaded Mother Teresa to visit our hospital and inaugurate the newly commissioned Radiology Block and address the IMS fraternity. She very kindly agreed for the same, after all her whole life she had helped the people who had been suffering and were living in agony.

I must confess those were very difficult days for the hospital administration because the hospital was situated in the university campus and any unrest in the university used to coil upon the hospital. IMS as well as the hospital needed the blessings and balm of spiritual people like Mother Teresa. Prof K N Udupa was the one who was very quick and effective Director to bring in such divine figures into the hospital so that our medicos get inspiration and feel blessed to face the real world in days to come.

Mother Teresa came to the university hospital soon after the convocation and opened the Radiology Block in the new building. One can make out the smiling Mother with her Namaste mudra goading everyone to give spontaneous smile. As usual our dynamic Director Prof Udupa leading the group telling Mother how the institute has come up in the last two decades and rendering selfless service to the poor and downtrodden people of the eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) and the western Bihar.

Mother Teresa greeting and blessing the staff near the OBG ward of the S S Hospital. Dr Tanay Chakravarty, Deputy MS & Consultant Dr Shridhar Dwivedi, Dr Anuradha Khanna, MS Dr Narasimhan, Director Prof K N Udupa with his famous infectious smile and Prof Amod Prakash are also seen. (Photo: Dr Tanay Chakravarty)
Mother Teresa greeting and blessing the staff near the OBG ward of the S S Hospital. Dr Tanay Chakravarty, Deputy MS & Consultant Dr Shridhar Dwivedi, Dr Anuradha Khanna, MS Dr Narasimhan, Director Prof K N Udupa with his famous infectious smile and Prof Amod Prakash are also seen. (Photo: Dr Tanay Chakravarty)

Nobody except those who were trained in Dr Udupa’s period during 1960-1980 at IMS BHU can imagine and feel that commitment and fire in the belly to help the poor and sick visiting the teaching hospitals. Soon after the inauguration of the Radiology Block, Mother was taken to the OBG (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) ward where a group of dedicated staff under the leadership of Prof Amod Prakash and others welcomed her. Here again Mother gave her infectious smile to every one.

Mother Teresa offering juice to a sick child in the orthopaedic ward of the S S Hospital. MS Dr Narasimhan, Chief Proctor Prof B B Dhar, Deputy MS & Consultant of Medicine Dr S Dwivedi and a student leader Mr Singh are also seen. (Photo: Prof B B Dhar)
Mother Teresa offering juice to a sick child in the orthopaedic ward of the S S Hospital. MS Dr Narasimhan, Chief Proctor Prof B B Dhar, Deputy MS & Consultant of Medicine Dr S Dwivedi and a student leader Mr Singh are also seen. (Photo: Prof B B Dhar)

Her best moment was perhaps in the Ortho (Orthopaedics) ward where she offered her healing touch and juice to a sick child. It was a moving scene for all of us to witness that rare moment.

At the end of her short visit she addressed the staff in the seminar hall. Although she spoke for a very short time but the gist was all the way ‘service with smile’.

Remembering those times after a lapse of almost 36 years, it is difficult to remember moment to moment history but suffice it to say those were the golden moments of our life because our beloved Director Prof K N Udupa used to bring such people who would enlighten our dark corners very often and charge us with energy. Mother Teresa, Maa Anandamayi and Maharishi Yogi were such saints who came and blessed us. Believe me such was the feeling among all of us during that period.

The author, Dr Shridhar Dwivedi, is Senior Consultant Cardiologist, National Heart Institute, New Delhi; Professor of Eminence, Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DPSR) University, New Delhi; and Adjunct Professor of Medicine / Preventive Cardiology, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (HIMSR), Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi.

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