Tuesday, December 27, 2016

For a Friend

Tom, the Catholic priest who is pleading for his life in this video, was captured by Islamic terrorists in March. I still remember the hug I received from him a little more than a year before the tragedy befell him.

We had met during an alumni gathering in Kochi. When the meeting was over and I was on my way home along with my wife, the latter made two remarks about Tom. "He looks like a saint," said my wife. I replied that he was different from most people. The saintliness that his face reflected was genuine.

 My wife's second remark was that the hug he gave me was genuine too. The hug was not a mere formality. "We were good friends," I said.

 Tom and I studied together for six years. In the first half of that period we were close to each other. Eventually his saintliness and my vanity couldn't go together. But we still remained good friends. At a distance. We respected each other. We loved each other too in spite of the individual differences. That ability to love and respect the other in spite of differences made Tom a great person.

 He became a Catholic priest while I was teaching in a school in Shillong. Later his missionary zeal took him to Yemen. His capture there by the terrorists shook me not a little. I may not agree with his philosophy of life and his missionary activities. But he has every right to follow his heart and serve the poor people in Yemen or wherever he likes. As a friend, I would like to see him return to normal and healthy life.

Tom - before his capture
The present government of India is not likely to take interest in the life of a Catholic priest. But I wonder why the Catholic Church, powerful as it is in its global reach, has not taken sufficient interest in the safety of one of its missionaries. The Catholic Church in Kerala, the state which Tom hails from, recently organised a massive movement against a Malayalam publication merely for publishing a work of art which allegedly hurt religious sentiments. I wonder why these religious sentiments get so easily hurt by a painting but remains untouched by real sufferings of real people. I wish religion was more humane. Including the religion of Tom's captors.


  1. "I wonder why these religious sentiments get so easily hurt by a painting but remains untouched by real sufferings of real people." A lot of food for thought & introspection in this post.

    1. Religion looks very absurd to me most of the time.

  2. The religion of Tom's captors are not going to be humane. But, yes why is our Govt. silent. And the powerful international catholic bodies.

    1. When it comes to religion, there seem to be no valid answers.


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