Francis Siva is the head of the Independent Living and Training Centre (ILTC). He knew K Moorty very well ever since the latter was confined to a wheelchair 7 years ago. In fact it was at ILTC in Rawang when Moorthy fell and hit his head on the cement floor 2 months ago, resulting in serious head injuries and a consequential coma. He didn’t ever recover and died two weeks ago.
Siva gave us an idea of how Moorthy (understandably) was mentally in denial, delusion and chronic depression. He said that Moorthy had psychological rather than religious problems, for he couldn’t cope with his ‘fall’ from national hero to a ‘low level’ disabled person.
He couldn’t accept nor understand his disabilities as he had always been a very active person. For a hero like Moorthy, accepting he was disabled was as good as abandoning all hope. According to Siva this had been the mental state of Moorthy, who was ready to believe and try anything that he thought could cure him of his disabilities.
Initially he pinned his hope on exercise. When he realized that exercise wasn’t the panacea he grew more depressed. Then Moorthy switched to other claims of recovery, including religion-based healing, whether the faith healer was Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or Muslim. Moorthy had to try everything. He just had to!
Siva related how when something got a little better for Moorthy, like when he could sleep with less pain, he would say, "You see, Francis, that treatment worked. You see! You see!”
Siva alleged that it was the influence of one such ‘healer’ that had persuaded Moorthy of how Islam could ‘cure’ him. Siva explained that it was precisely this desperation that explains why Moorthy was just as enthusiastic in performing Hindu prayers or any devotional rites of other religions. Moorthy was then no longer capable of making rational decisions.
KTemoc has a personal family experience with such a situation. A member of my family, my cousin, had incurable cancer. After both western and oriental medical treatments had failed, including a host of other unsuccessful cures and prayers, his last resort was a Christian faith healer, whom he heard so many people acclaimed. My cousin, a Buddhist, in his desperation decided to give it a try. He was in such an extremely vulnerable state of mind when he went to the faith healer, that he confessed he was even quite prepared to consider Christianity.
But as he approached the faith healer for the ‘blessing’, he was shocked by the person’s attitude. That man, instead of bestowing the ‘blessing’ to my very sick cousin, demanded there and then that my cousin renounced his Buddhist faith and embraced Christianity BEFORE he would provide the healing ‘blessing’. According to my cousin, he did so in a very aggressive and threatening manner, sending the clear message that he wasn’t going to ‘bless’ my cousin unless he ‘surrendered’ unconditionally. This was right in front of hundreds of desperate people searching for miracle cures.
The faith healer was obviously exploiting my cousin’s most vulnerable moment to score whatever - a cheap emotional victory? Where was the ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ of Christ that he sermonised?
In that crucial moment my cousin regained his usual commonsense and without a single word of anger, retort or pleading, just turned around and walked away, rejecting the faith healer’s spiritual extortion, even though earlier he had even considered conversion.
There is a stubborn streak among members of my family that refused to accept such threats. That so-called faith healer had struck a raw nerve in my cousin who was then prepared to die rather than to capitulate to such demeaning behaviour. I recall with sadness how he spoke with stoic calm as he discussed with us his shock at the faith healer's meanness and aggression.
Though he didn't mention it, I detected his contempt and disgust at the crude attempt at emotional blackmail, even as he realised that he had burned his last mental/spiritual hope for a cure. My cousin wasn't one to lie to receive the so-called 'blessing'. He died two months later, still a Buddhist.
Back to Moorthy, Francis Siva asked when Moorthy’s physical condition was critical, where were these people who had fought through the courts for religious orthodoxy and Moorthy’s corpse? Indeed, which religious group came to offer him counselling when he was still alive? Which of these religious people had succour him throughout his physical difficulties?
And when these same questions were posed to Brigadier-General Jamil Khir Baharom, the director of the armed forces’ Islamic religious corp (Kagat), the General defiantly replied that he would enquire with Moorthy’s unit to determine his financial and personal situation before commenting on the matter. He added ungraciously: “People can say things, but we have to go back to the unit he was in to find out exactly what was his situation or condition.”
But the General ignored the point that it was not Moorthy’s unit that had looked after him when he was in bad shape and during his most critical physical condition. It was Moorthy’s widow. Why ask his unit? Why not ask the person closest to Moorthy, the one who had nursed him through thick and thin?