Subhasini Sas

Mother Teresa was feeling that she would need help as her work was gaining momentum and she was more determined than before.
She remembered that there used to be a girl in her class when she was a teacher and then principal of St. Mary High School of the Convent who was unusually enthusiastic about social work. She was a stand out. Whenever she was taken to charity works she would display a missionary zeal to serve the suffering. She used to pester Mother Teresa for more assignments of social service. Once she even confided to Mother that she would love to become a Sister to be able to serve the sick and the poorest.
Whenever Mother Teresa as principal of the school sent that girl on Saturday afternoons to the slums as leader of the group to teach the slum kids prayers and letters, she used to return extremely satisfied and happy. On several occasions she would beg for many more such assignments. Deep in her heart there was insatiable desire for becoming help for the suffering poor.
How could Mother Teresa forget such a student? That student was Miss Subhasini Das.
So, Mother Teresa wrote a letter to her that if the fire of serving the poorest was still burning in her heart the Missionaries of Charity could provide her the opportunity.
Some one knocked at the door one day, a week after she had written the letter.
Mother opened the door.
The open door revealed Subhasini Das, Mother’s most favourite ex-student.
Mother’s joy knew no bounds. She hugged the girl and asked, “Child, are you ready for the mission of the service to the needy?”
Subhasini Das replied in glad voice, “I am ready, Mother. Lead me into it.”
But before Subhasini Das could be allowed to join the mission a problem reared its head.
It related to Subhasini’s family. The girl was a daughter of Bengali middle class family bound by the traditions. In such families the girls were married off after the completion of the education to the desired level. High school was the most preferred level.
So, after Subhasini had passed the high school the family had sought alliance proposals for her. There were a lot of proposals as Subhasini was likable and pretty girl. The family had accepted a good proposal. The prospective groom was a Bengali boy of the same social and financial standing as the family of the girl.
The preparations of the marriage were about to be taken up by the family.
Then, out of the blue, Subhasini shocked her family members by declaring her decision, “Please leave me alone. I don’t want to marry. I have decided to renounce the family ties in favour of serving the poor and the sick under the guidance of Mother Teresa, my former teacher.”
The family objected. The elders protested. They were of the view that it was not done.
The parents and the relatives tried to persuade Subhasini to change her mind. The pressures were applied. But determined Subhasini did not yield.
In desperation the family members approached Mother Teresa and pleaded with her to distance from their girl and let the family marry her off. Mother Teresa explained, “Subhasini must have the right to choose the course of her life. She is not an infant. It is her prerogative to choose between the married life or the life of service to others. I will bless her whichever way she opts to go. She must be given more time to think about her future. It should not be hasty decision influenced by emotions. Let it be the call of her conscience.”
The family tried to argue with her in vain.
Then, the family put more pressure on the girl. The elders swore by traditions, family values and orthodox customs. Subhasini would not relent.
Her resolve was firm like rock.
Then, the matter took a turn for the worse. Tempers were frayed. A volume of harsh words and very uncharitable comments were mouthed. The family decided to take recourse to law.
A big lawyer was engaged. The case went to the court. The trial began amid newspaper publicity.
Those were very trying and agonising moments for the founder of the Missionaries of Charity and the girl from the traditional Bengali bhadralok family.
In the courtroom on one side stood the family, friends, kith and kin of Subhasini. On the other side sat Subhasini with the daughter of Mr. Gomez besides Mother Teresa. The court room was packed to capacity to hear the verdict in a case where parents had filed case against their own daughter. The lawyers argued and the defendant was put to cross examination.
It was now the Judge’s turn to announce the verdict.
He cast a glance at Subhasini who was sobbing with her head resting on the shoulder of Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa caressed the head of the girl with one hand and the other held girl’s hand to comfort her. Subhasini was clinging to Mother like a frightened kid who was about to be dragged away by butchers to the slaughter house.
While delivering the verdict the judge pointed towards the defendant and announced, “There is really nothing to be judged. The family and the friends of Miss Subhasini should look at her and accept the truth of situation. The real decision will be that of Subhasini. She is major and she has the right to decide her future. The case is dismissed.”
The parents and their friends slunk off the court room with their heads down in defeat.
Mother Teresa got up holding the hand of relieved Subhasini. The daughter of Mr. Gomez move up to hold the other hand of Subhasini. The three walked thankfully out of the room.
There were no more tears in Subhasini’s eyes. Infact, they sparkled and her face was lit up with satisfaction. The three headed for 14, Creek Lane, the headquarter of the Mother’s mission.
Miss Subhasini Das put her signature on the Enrolment Register of the ‘Missionaries of Charity’ to become the first Sister of the order. It was 19th March, 1949, the day of St. Joseph feast.
For herself, Subhasini opted for ‘Agnes’ name the original name of Mother Teresa.
Sister Agnes stood by Mother Teresa till the latter’s last breath for almost five decades and continued on to carry forward Mother’s missionary work.

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