| Monica Besra. Picture by Abhijit Chakroborty
Nakor (South Dinajpur), Oct. 10: She scratches her head, cracks her knuckles and then rolls her eyes. Ask Monica Besra a question and she gets ruffled.
“Don’t ask too many questions or else I will forget everything I have to say,’’ the tribal woman in the eye of a raging controversy over the “miracle’’ cure of her stomach tumour said. In the last one week, she said she had given a couple of interviews to the media after the “sisters had given me the go-ahead’’.
“But please listen to me. If you still have any doubts, ask the sisters,” she said, in a pleading voice. Then, she rattled off the entire saga of her treatment that had ended in the Nabajiban Ashram of the Missionaries of Charity on September 5, 1999, the day she said she was cured of her stomach ailment through a prayer to Mother Teresa.
“What doctors at Balurghat and other hospitals could not do, Mother did. I am so grateful to Mother,’’ she said.
She fell silent when asked about her medical records at Balurghat hospital, which showed she been cured of her “teobo ovarian mass” in May 1999, more than three months before she and the Missionaries of Charity claimed she was cured by prayer.
Balurghat hospital superintendent M. Murshed said an ultrasonography of her stomach on May 29 clearly “established” that the tumour had disappeared. “It is not unusual for such ovarian mass to disappear. Such mass is mainly caused by tuberculosis, a disease she was suffering from.”
Besra said she did not know anything about her medical records with the hospital. “I am an illiterate woman. All I know is I was cured by Mother. If you want to know more, you talk to the sisters.’’
Sister Nirmala, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, in a statement released in Calcutta, stood by the miracle. “I am confident that the study of the alleged miraculous cure of Monica Besra through inter-session of the servant of God, Mother Teresa, that is still underway is being conducted thoroughly. I have full confidence in the eventual decision of the Holy See.”
But eminent physicians and surgeons refuse it buy the statement. “There are abscesses that do appear like tumours and regress with anti-tuberculor drugs like streptomycin, Rifampicin and INH,” Dr Satadal Saha, noted surgeon in Calcutta, said.
Dr Tarun Kumar Biswas, who had treated Besra at Balurghat hospital, said he had given “her Rifampicin, INH, Ethambutol and PZA as she was suffering from a tuberculor disease”.