THRISSUR – Award winning journalist Anto Akkara who reported on Kandhamal Orissa and arranged for the surgery for Junos Naik survivor of 11 bullet wounds writes… The pellets in the hand have not been touched. Yet, the stiff hand is normal now!
The good news is that cheerful Junos left for Orissa on Sunday night after intense treatment here for 17 days. Besides the gun pellets being removed in the leg and a soft long leather shoe fixed to ease the strain. Junos had dinner in my brother’s house [Anto lives in Bangaloe] eating with his fingers. Remember he had come to Thrissur with stiff right hand – shattered bone supported with steel plate, riddled with gun pellets and unmovable fingers. What a miracle!
For me, it is mission accomplished. I could not believe the miracle when he sat with me and ate with his fingers with ease.
As each good story has a sad moment, my parish turned out to be the spoiler but maybe an instrument in God’s plan to testify to the genuineness of Kandhamal faith. Though the parish priest wanted Junos to speak at the feast day celebrations in the evening ahead of a professional drama performance. Though we fixed the program, some of the parish committee members adamantly opposed it at the last minute saying the drama would be ‘late’ if Junos was presented on the stage. So, the young parish priest decided to go with the committee decision.
I told the committee convener Sunday [21 Nov, 2010] morning standing in front of the church that it was a shame to invite a ‘living St. Sebastian’ on the feast of St Sebastian and later decide not to acknowledge his presence while many other parishes wanted me to take him to them. Ironically, on the previous and later during the solemn feast day mass too, the sermon by outside priests was on Junos only – a living saint and [my work in bringing him to Thrissur].
The feast was to end with a third mass in the evening, solemn procession, fireworks followed by the drama by a professional troupe. I kept my word and brought Junos home from the hospital as scheduled Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, I informed the Sisters in the nearby convent about Junos visit and told them that I could take Junos to the convent so that they would meet a living martyr. Instead, the nuns were adamant that they will come to my house (though I did not want to create a conflict in the parish with all the nuns coming to my house). Mysterious are the ways of God – that’s my Kandhamal experience.
Seven nuns spent over an hour with Junos in my house along with my multi-media presentation to explain the Junos’ mystery hand. At 5 pm, the mass was to end and the solemn procession to start. Some of the nuns rushed to distribute communion and the heavens came down pouring… From then on for next five hours it rained, so much so that the solemn procession, fireworks and the drama – all were washed out – without a ball being bowled. Even my 90 year-old neighbour said that there has been never such heavy unseasonal rain on the feast day in her memory [on the feast day].
I have no doubt that this was divine retribution for insulting the incredible faith of Kandhamal people. In the end Junos said, ‘God’s office is open 24×7 and the response is instant.’
Compare this with the incredible moments Junos testimony produced at the sanctuary of Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor with over 6,000 people from across the country standing up and shouting ‘Halleluiah’ when I held up Junos hand with shattered bone and riddled with gun pellets.
When I first brought the X-rays to the doctors during the preparatory visit to Thrissur, doctor told me that the hand had to be amputated (same thing Junos had been repeatedly told by doctors).
So, it was with a heavy heart I told Junos to book the train ticket to Thrissur as my friend and a senior doctor at St John’s Medical College in Bangalore too had cautioned me saying ‘keep your fingers crossed’.
But, remember in the end, Junos went back home with absolutely normal hand without putting the surgical knife on his miracle hand. It was indeed a miracle!
I felt sad for my good parishioners who missed an incredible opportunity to listen to a living saint due to the obstinacy of some senior parishioners. May be, God wanted my parish to be an instrument to manifest his glory.
When the rain started, I checked the status of Junos wait listed train ticket [WL 241]. It had been confirmed as per my request – by railway ministry headquarters in Delhi.
When we reached the station at 10.pm, the rain stopped briefly as Junos had to reach the platform walking from the parking area with the new long leather shoe the hospital provided to him ease the strain on the leg from which pellets had been removed. We could not afford to get it wet and God saw to it that rain did stop.
As soon as Junos got into the train, rain started again. I was worried that he was travelling alone as his travelling companion [nephew] had left after 10 days. Then, I saw him chatting merrily with a young man seated next to him while I stood outside in the rain. Then, he told me that the young man was from his village only.
For those who believe in God, He is there to guard you like a guardian angel! Maybe, it may not be in the way human minds crave for. Indeed, mysterious are the ways of God!
I will never forget the 17 days I spent with Junos – the martyr!
Akkara adds: For me, it is mission accomplished. I could not believe the miracle when he sat with me and ate with his fingers with ease – with the same hand any doctor – if he had a look at the X-ray – would still say that it has to be amputated.
Doctors at the Catholic Medical College Hospital were willing carry out to complicated surgery to remove the imbedded pellets (see the black spots in the attached Xray). But, it would not have done much good except being excellent specimen for medical research by removing the cluster of pellets embedded in shattered bone, remove the clumsily implanted steel. However, even after that there cannot be much change as the muscles have contracted in two years, they added.