Mother Teresas detractors have accused her of overemphasizing Calcuttans destitution and of coercing conversion from the defenseless. In the context of lost causes, Mother Teresa took on battles she knew she could win. Taken together, it seems to me, the criticisms of her work do not undermine or topple her overall achievement.
In Hindu societies, especially overprotected patriarchal families like mine, daughters are not at all desirable. They are trouble. And a mother who, as mine did, has three daughters, no sons, is supposed to go and hang herself, kill herself, because it is such an unlucky kind of motherhood to have.
I flew into a small airport surrounded by cornfields and pastures, ready to carry out the two commands my father had written out for me the night before I left Calcutta: Spend two years studying creative writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop, then come back home and marry the bridegroom he selected for me from our caste and class.
I have to put down roots where I decide to stay. It wasn't enough for me to be an expatriate Indian in Canada. If I can't feel that I can make social, political and emotional commitments to a place, I have to find another place.
One of the early tip-offs to me about the enormous changes that were going on with being in a Bangalore house, home, where the young woman from a nearby village, who had been hired to baby sit newborn twins, suddenly said after two weeks of work: 'I'm sorry, this is too much work, I'm going to try applying for call center jobs. The pay is better.'
I had a 2-week courtship with a fellow student in the fiction workshop in Iowa and a 5-minute wedding in a lawyer's office above the coffee shop where we'd been having lunch that day. And so I sent a cable to my father saying, 'By the time you get this, Daddy, I'll already be Mrs. Blaise!'
There was no audience for my books. The Indians didn't regard me as an Indian and North Americans couldn't conceive of me of a North American writer, not being white and brought up on wheat germ. My fiction got lost.
I am an American, not an Asian-American. My rejection of hyphenation has been called race treachery, but it is really a demand that America deliver the promises of its dream to all its citizens equally.
You see for me, America is an idea. It is a stage for transformation. I felt when I came to Iowa City from Calcutta that suddenly I could be a new person . . . What America offers me is romanticism and hope . . . Suddenly, I found myself in a country where
The picture of Mother Teresa that I remember from my childhood is of a short, sari-wearing woman scurrying down a red gravel path between manicured lawns. She would have in tow one or two slower-footed, sari-clad young Indian nuns. We thought her a freak. Probably wed picked up on unvoiced opinions of our Loreto nuns.
Last Update: 1 December 2022
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