Dr. Aroup Chatterjee was born and brought up in Calcutta. He now lives and works (as a physician) in London. He was, if anything, positively inclined towards Mother Teresa while he was living in Calcutta, though he knew little about her. Upon coming to the West he was appalled at the Teresan mythology and at the gruesome image that his home-city had in the world. He has done research on Mother Teresa for over twenty-five years and can be called the world’s foremost authority on the late nun. He works as a doctor in UK and has three kids.
NAW- Tell us about your book on Mother Teresa. How did you get the idea for it? What made you write a book on her?
I arrived in the West in 1985 and although I was born and brought up in Calcutta I had little knowledge about her and no interest in her. Upon coming here, I realised Calcutta had become synonymous with Teresa and more disturbingly, everyone I met was convinced that every Calcuttan had leprosy or some gruesome disease and that their only succour came from Teresa: that she was feeding us, clothing us, sending us to school, and also cremating us when we died. In truth, Teresa had/has a very low profile in Calcutta. I became more and more exercised that such historical and monumental untruth HAD to be challenged.
NAW- Why does the book have so much negativity? Oscar Wilde said famously, “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future,” so why name drop a woman who is long gone?
The book is a forensic analysis of her life, her work, her ideals. I believe stopping raped women from having abortions is not right. I believe pressurising slum women form accessing artificial contraception is not right, I believe using used needles on poor people is wrong, I believe selling children to Catholic couples after falsifying their documents is wrong. Though an atheist, I believe converting unconscious people is wrong – these views of mine would not be considered negative by most if not all neutral people with standard views on human rights.
She died fairly recently in historical terms – in 1997, and she is a historical figure, hence, her monumental humbug and deception ought to be challenged for the rest of history.
NAW- Tell us about the research you did for the book. How did you go about it?
I started in pre Internet days and I spent months in libraries in London. I also travelled the world researching it. I followed slum dwellers, beggars, destitute children with video camera. I interviewed hundreds of people. I stood with video camera outside Teresa’s home for hours.
NAW- The book comes across as a rant against Mother Teresa rather than a well balanced and researched, scholarly critique of her activities. So did you somehow meander during the writing of the book?
Most reviews have said exactly the opposite – though a tough and angry (controlled) book, it is not rant. I have placed facts – almost always without an opinion.
I have film evidence that Teresa sold one child to a Belgian Catholic couple after falsifying his records, and also that she HERSELF converted 29000 secretively – by her OWN admission. These are not rants, but facts.
NAW- A writer usually takes up a pen when he has something significant to say or at least that’s what we’d still like to believe. What is the point of writing all this? What are you trying to achieve with this book?
I would leave it to readers to deduce whatever they will. I wrote it because it HAD to be written. Historical untruths of this proportion should not go unchallenged.
What is the point in addressing any injustice in life? – as life goes on, – I believe we have to tell the truth, then it is up to media how to propagate it. We are just pawns in the hands of mega media houses, some of which have deep ties with Vatican (especially in the USA). I am no conspiracy theorist but am a realist.
NAW- What do you do when you are not writing? Please tell us about your day job.
NAW- Tell us about your other writings. How was your publishing journey?
No other writings. This was published by a brave independent publisher called Bhagbat Chakraborty (Meteor Books) in Calcutta in 2003 – who was warned and cajoled not to publish but he went ahead. Then Kanishka Gupta found me on the internet and introduced me to Fingerprint.
NAW- Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
But I will make every effort to make the truth about Teresa known and I will make every endeavour to disseminate the truth and address the humbug and the myth about the late nun.