KOCHI: Once in a while, at 7 am, P E Thomas, managing director of Merchem Limited, will sit on a chair and pray. He asks God for guidance to do the right thing. “I don’t want to hurt others through any action of mine,” he says. “This is very important for me.” Interestingly, this is all that he asks for.
He never sets aside any time to pray for his family. “I believe each of them has a destiny,” says Thomas. “It does not make any difference whether I pray for them or not. They can pray for themselves, like I do.” These prayers for himself have saved his life. A few years ago, Thomas was travel l ing through Koothatukulam in an Ambassador car with his nephew. On the dashboard he had placed a magnetic image of Jesus Christ. As they were chatting, a truck suddenly braked in front of them. It was too late. The car hit the truck with force.
The mud guard was damaged, while the steering wheel was twisted to one side. The windshield had shattered and Thomas had numerous cuts on his face and hands, while his nephew lost a part of a tooth. “The image of Jesus probably prevented it from being a worse accident,” he says. Thomas feels that life veers between happiness and sorrow. “If you are sad for some time, you will be delighted later,” he says. “This is the equilibrium of life. As a result I am afraid of enjoying myself too much, because I know that grief is inevitable.” To counter the distress, Thomas does a stint of meditation. It is then that he sees an unusual image in his mind: that of a bearded man, with a long jaw. “The face looks serene and kind,” he says. “This could be based on the many pictures of God that I saw in my childhood.” But Thomas is reluctant to identify it as an image of Jesus Christ.
“It is the portrait of a typical Jew,” he says. “But when I see it I feel happy and blessed.” But there were many occasions in his life when Thomas did not feel blessed at all. In the late nineties, there were violent protests by local people over environmental concerns, outside his rubber chemical factory at Eloor. His employees were beaten up. The trucks were prevented from moving out. Thomas himself was unable to enter the factory.
Things seemed hopeless. Despite this precarious situation, Thomas refused to take the help of any political party or union, because he did not want a third-party mediation.
“As a result, I had to face the problems all alone,” he says.
But he fought back through the legal system and was able to re-start the factory. “Looking back, I feel that God gave me the necessary courage and will power to beat the odds,” he says. Thomas says that even though Christianity has principles like the Ten Commandments he believes in only one. “That is the law of karma,” he says.
“If you do bad, harmful events will happen to you. Similarly, when you do positive things you will enjoy good fortune.”