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|