It was relatively easy to meet with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. You only had to say “Mother Theresa” to any taxi driver in Calcutta. We found her at the entrance of her Sisters of Mercy institution. She was being supplicated by many people. She was tiny and bent with a small hump in her back, it was hard to believe so many thousands of people leaned on that small tired-looking nun in white, face so deeply creased. But she was always absolutely alert—the first time I tried to take photo, of her, she immediately saw me and said “no, no photo please.” As for taking photos of the children in the orphanage and the Institute of the Dead and Dying, she said she didn’t like people using the poor to make money. But she finally did scrawl out a permission for me, saying “If it is to increase love and understanding…..” and she agreed to let me photograph her at the orphanage. I followed her as she went from crib to crib, the sisters explaining about each child. Mother Teresa didn’t just hold the children, she laughed and made them laugh. It was clear that she truly loved them all. Suddenly one of the babies fell to the floor. The sisters leapt to it, but Mother had flown to the child first, it was she who took it up, applied a cold cloth, soothed the child. And she said to us then, “The baby was reaching out to be held.”
And then Mother Teresa left, descending the staircase with her white sari floating out like wings around her.
François Le Diascorn
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