A man, who is 70 years old now, will reunite with his family this week after more than 4 decades of being thought to have died in a flight that crashed on its way from Abu Dhabi to India in 1976.
The man known as Sajjid Thangal worked as an event organizer in the UAE had left his home in Kerala’s Kottayam in 1974 at the age of 22, as reported by Al Arabiya News. At that time, his family in Kottayam consisted of his parents, four sisters and four brothers.
Thangal used to organize dancing and singing events in Abu Dhabi with performers from India. He was though to have died along with a troupe in the Indian Airlines Flight 171 crash of October 12, 1976, which had reported killed 95 people.
However, he had narrowly escaped the plane crash when he did not board the plane. Among the casualties on the flight was famous Malayalam actress and beauty queen of the time Rani Chandra.
But he decided against communicating with his family. Thangal reportedly struggled with shame and grief and remained dead for his family. He neither contacted nor visited his home even when he had returned to India.
He reportedly told international media, “I didn’t get in touch with the family because I felt like a failure I was meant to make my fortune in the Gulf and didn’t. Then I kept thinking I would make something of myself in Bombay and then contact everyone. But that didn’t happen either. In this way, 45 years passed.”
Having suffered from post-traumatic stress after having lost a dear friend in the plane crash, Thangal started odd jobs in Mumbai while dealing with psychological issues. He could never make it.
But fate worked its way a couple of years ago when a friend chanced upon him living on the streets in poverty. The friend took Thangal to a shelter. His family was only made aware of him being alive a few weeks ago.
Thangal was given shelter by Pastor K M Philip, the founder of Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL) Ashram. As per paster Philip, Thangal’s mother Fathima Beevi is still alive at 91 and now awaits to reunite with her son alongside his brothers and sisters.
Thangal’s father Yunus Kunju reportedly died in 2002. At the shelter Thangal said, “I first moved to UAE from my village in 1971. I worked as a storekeeper and did few other jobs. I later started organizing Indian cultural events. After the crash I got a big shock. I was afraid there may be an inquiry against me as I had survived. I did not earn much money in UAE, so I did not want to go back to my family in such a sorry state.”