KOCHI: It’s merry Christmas everywhere. But not for the sisters at the St Francis Mission House, Kuravilangad, who led a series of protests seeking arrest of Franco Mulakkal, the former bishop of Jalandhar.
Standing up for justice and truth has cost them dear as they have been sidelined by their own colleagues from the Christmas celebrations at the convent. Ever since the Franco issue started, the nuns have been sidelined and alienated within the sisterhood.
Preparations for Christmas celebrations at the convent always holds a special place in the nuns’ hearts. Decorating the Xmas tree, worshipfully preparing the crib for infant Jesus, and decking up the stage and hall for the celebrations always held a pride of place in their hearts.
“We used to involve ourselves in all celebrations related to Christmas. The decorations used to get over only by the night before Christmas. Those were the days of real joy and happiness but all that are just memories now,” said Sr Anupama, one of the five sisters at the convent who led the protest against Franco.
However, the remaining four sisters at the convent who had supported Franco Mulakkal are active in making the arrangements for Christmas.
“They have not included us in the arrangements for the festive season. Therefore we have kept away from the group. Even when the carol came last night, we were not informed. These are all small events which bring happiness and memories,” said Sr Anupama.
Gripped in fear and uncertainty about their future, the nuns are having a difficult time at the convent where they are treated like strangers. “Since Franco is capable of influencing the witnesses, we are worried about the fate of the case. But we cannot live in fear. We have equal rights at the convent like the remaining inmates. We will continue with hope till justice is served,” said Sr Alfi, one of the sisters.
Equally painful is the treatment they get when they venture out to hospitals, churches or shops. They get more glares from women than men at these places. It hurts them. But the nuns say they also get support and appreciation from many people outside which helped them move forward with courage.
Though life in the convent is not so warm, the nuns have set up a small farm to find solace and happiness. “We have bought around 30 chicken and started a cultivating vegetables in a small space in the backyard of the convent. Though we had to face the scorn of the other inmates, we went ahead boldly as it would keep us occupied,” said Sr Alfi.