Monday, December 24, 2007

Sister Attracta

It was a pleasant surprise in the morning to see a mail from my friend Mark Antrobus @ Govinda in Kodaikanal wishing me Merry Christmas with a message, “Here's a picture of Santa in case you thought he does not exist.”

Santa seen in the picture is Mark Celebrating Christmas with his friends in Kodaikanal.

What a way to celebrate!

Thanks Mark!

Then, I happen to read a post by Mystic Rose on the eve of Christmas and was engrossed in the gist of her post. While, I thought of extending her post, I remembered the saintly Sister Attracta of St. Theresa convent, Kodaikanal. Sister Attracta was in in-charge of the dispensary in the convent where my dad did his primary schooling and where I studied for a brief period of 6 months. She had a motherly love for my dad and it flowed through the generation too. After I went to the plains for studies, I made it a point to visit her at least once a year. By then, she was very old, but still was actively dispensing all here duties as the “Hospital Sister”. That’s how we used to call her. The moment I see her, her face will light up with a big smile saying “My dear son, you have come!” followed by a big hug and a kiss on the forehead. Whenever I take leave, she would load me with a pack of First-Aid kits for my use in the hostel. One day after reaching the hospital, I realized it was the prayer hour and was about to leave. Suddenly, I heard her and it was followed by the usual smile, hug and the kiss. I told her, “Sister, it should be your prayer hour. I will wait her as long as you are back from your prayer”. She said, “Who said I attend the prayers? I never go there. God has destined me to serve in the hospital and this is my prayer and in severing the patients that I serve Him. What if a patient waits when I am in the prayers? Will it fulfill my duties? Will God forgive me for being non-attentive? My son, the greatest prayer I offer to God is to imitate him and follow his steps.” I understood some of what she said, but forget all about it for a while. Though she is no more, I still feel the warmth of her embrace and the kiss.

During my stay in Belur Math in 2002, I found that “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A Kempis is one of the books that inspired Swami Vivekananda. I was able to relate the title of the book to the words of Sister Attracta and was desperately searching for the book. Finally, in 2004 that I got hold of the book, at least a century old hardbound one, from Fatima College Library, Madurai and lent it for a while through a friend.

It has become one of the favorite books too and still read a chapter or two when in a state of indecisiveness. The book starts like, “HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,". The essence is to Imitate Jesus Christ and not to just follow some religious practices, dogmas and doctrines. Solitude and meditation, he says, helps you acquire the spirit and quotes that "As often as I have been among men, I have returned less a man."

The book is freely available on-line - The Imitation of Christ

We have lost the essence of every celebration and Christmas is not spared too. Celebrations have become synonymous with fire crackers, wine bottles, chocolates, discotheques, rejoicing in groups and of course the mass prayers.

It is the time to Imitate Christ, Follow his footsteps and beget Him in us!

Merry Christmas to you all!


mystic rose said...


this is a lovely post indeed. Its a reminder to us all about living a higher life.

PS:I read this yesterday as well, but didnt have the time to leave a comment.

Deepa said...

Merry christmas to you too
Btw. it seems you are not aware that Priya's url(s) have changed .. u still link to the old one at ...
Plus the label clould searches the above url and not kodai hills
may be you need to check the script again

Merry christmas and happy new year

Kavi said...

Lovely and deep. As usual. Wishing you a merry xmas !

Meenu said...

:) lovely post .. well . i loved these two lines most “HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,

and "My son, the greatest prayer I offer to God is to imitate him and follow his steps"

Well great write up there .. Merry Christmas to you too

Jeevan said...

It’s warm and pleases to read about Sister Attracta. Thanks for the picture of Mark Antrobus, it seems like he rejoice in Santa clause . great!

Dawn....सेहर said...

WOW....good example dear

Shiva said...

Mystic - Glad that you liked the post. It was initiate by your post

Shiva said...

Deepa - Thanks for pointing this out.

Shiva said...

@ Kavi - Thanks!

@ Meenu - Glad you liked it. Thanks!

@ Jeevan - Yes Jeevan, these some lovely people I have come across

@ Dawn - Thanks!