Iraq: I almost lost faith in god, says nurse's father

Thiruvananthapuram, July 4: The 70-year-old father of one of the Indian nurses seized and freed by Sunni insurgents in Iraq is celebrating. But only a day earlier, he almost lost his faith in god.

That was when he heard his anguished daughter Merena telling him over telephone from Tikrit that they were being forced to board a bus by armed militants.

"Till her call yesterday around noon, believe me, I was cool," the man, who gave his name only as Jose, told IANS over telephone from his home in Kottayam.

"But when she said that they were being taken away by armed men, for the first time I felt my faith in Jesus had waned," said Jose, who leads a retired life here.

"I plunged into deep thoughts. I felt that just like fate is flexible, faith too is flexible."

"But today when I got a call from her saying they were going to be freed, I shed tears and for a moment felt ashamed of putting god to test," said Jose.

Merena has worked in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia earlier. It was around 11 months ago that she flew to Iraq to take up her new assignment.

Merena's husband works in Qatar while their two children, a boy (Class 3) and a girl (Class 5) are looked after by Jose and his wife.

Merena was one of the 46 women nurses from Kerala who worked at a hospital in Tikrit, the hometown of late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein when the Sunni insurgents overran the town.

As the women took refuge in the hospital complex, they were initially asked by the militants to move out. The nurses resisted. On Thursday, the insurgents forced them into a bus to take them to Mosul.

On Friday, the militants decided to free them. They were put on a bus to be taken to Erbil in Kurdistan -- for their return journey to India.

Turning emotional, Jose said that if one does not have financial stability, "you will have to work, and that's what my daughter is doing".

"She wants her children to get a good future. So she is suffering."

Will Merena go abroad again?

"You have to ask her that... if she will still return to a foreign country to work after almost three weeks of emotional suffering. She will have to make that decision," said Jose.

When this correspondent telephoned Merena as she was going by bus from Mosul to Erbil in Iraq, she sent an SMS that she will return the call.


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