A Muslim man running a Mother Teresa souvenir shop shows her resonance among people

Nurul Islam started selling the souvenirs shortly after Mother Teresa's death.

Mother Teresa’s canonisation was covered across the world, as people remembered the nun who brought hope to the troubled through years of work on ground, and rose to global fame as well known celebrities and world leaders acknowledge here contribution.

But in the city where the Albanian nun started helping people and where the Missionaries of Charity was born, the memory of the saint is still etched deep in the people’s memories.

While Mother Teresa of Calcutta served people selflessly without any distinction of religion, race or caste, people from all communities have immense respect for her in the city now known as Kolkata.

Among these people is a Muslim man in his late 50s called Nurul Islam, who runs a small souvenir shop dedicated to Mother Teresa’s memory in Kolkata.

Even as Calcutta’s Mother Teresa becomes Saint Teresa almost two decades after her death, Islam still remembers the 90s when his shop used to sell electronics. One day in 1997, a woman walked in looking for a rosary, and he didn’t know what they were.

He was curious and soon found out a retailer who could provide him with rosaries and started selling them at his shop. When the retailer said he couldn’t sell them commercially and denied him more, he bought threads of Rudraksh used by Hindus to make rosaries himself.

Getting into the business by coincidence, Islam also hired some boys in his locality to make rosaries and got in touch with Father Nazareth of St Mary’s Church, who helped him expand his business and find manufacturers and distributors in south India.

Islam remembers Mother Teresa walking down the roads on winter nights, as she looked after the poor and needy, offering blankets and woollens. He also remembers when a van of the congregation crashed into parked vehicles in the locality sparking furore, but people calmed down at the sight of Mother Teresa.

Due to proximity to Mother House, people coming to Islam’s shop asked for keepsakes of Mother Teresa, and he started selling her pictures, which is how the shop gradually became a souvenir shop and Islam became a rosary specialist, something he attributes to God’s grace and the Mother’s blessings.

Once some locals vandalised his shop accusing Islam of siding with the Christians, which made him think and sell items for Muslims and later Hindus as well. The shop is now a brilliant example of unity in diversity with the holy cross, tiny mosques and Ganesha idols on one shelf.

The shop which started off with a coincidence a short time after Mother Teresa’s death, is an example of her resonance among the people and the impact she left.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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