Monday, July 13, 2009

I forgive Kasab

By Anand Holla
Andreina Varagona has been a successful marathon runner. She started the morning of 26/11 by running six kilometres on a treadmill. But by night, she couldn’t feel her right leg.

The American national was shot by rampaging terrorists while she dined with friends at Tiffin restaurant in Oberoi Trident. Her dinner companions - Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13 - were killed, while Varagona escaped with grievous injuries from the two bullet wounds in her right arm and leg.

“I have pain that reminds me that I am alive,” she said, but stresses that she isn’t angry.

“I forgive Kasab totally because he does not know what he did. It is like Jesus Christ saying this to the misguided souls, after he was nailed on the cross. That is why I pray for Ajmal every day,” the 45-year-old said over the phone.

“If I look closely, all I can imagine is that he was taught something very different from me, and that he must have been made to believe that it was the most important thing to do. Although I don’t agree with it, I wish he understands what he did,” she added.

A special court, in the premises of the Arthur Road Jail, will hear the first day of the trial against Kasab and two others today.

When asked if she would wish capital punishment for the terrorist, like most other victims would, Varagona said: “I leave it to the Indian government to decide Kasab’s fate. Personally, I wouldn’t want him to be sentenced to death. I believe that victims of the attacks would find some solace when a terrorist like Kasab transforms. He needs to find the god within him, as only then can he attain redemption.”

Varagona - a professional meditation teacher - is still recuperating at her Nashville house in Tennessee, where she lives with her husband Santos Lopez, a television producer.

And while the pain of her “saddest night” lingers, she looks at it positively: “The biggest gift of this was that I no longer have the fear of death.”

Though she is yet to receive compensation from the Indian government, Varagona says she couldn’t care less.

“I love India, I love Mumbai, and I was disappointed my trip was cut short due to the tragedy. But I have told Santos that I want to come to Mumbai some time soon,” she said.

And Varagona, who has had to rely on a cane or a walker all these months, had some good news to share: “Thankfully, since a month, I can feel my leg’s quadracep muscles, and I have begun walking a week back.”

“I am happy I am alive,” she said cheerfully.

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