‘’Can you please leave him alone? Show some concern. This boy has lost his father,’’ Mercy Kuttan, the wife of Murali Kuttan, pleaded.
Her plea fell flat on the media, who were desperate like ravenous beasts to catch the sorry image of a son who had returned victorious on field but had to rush straight to the hospital to receive his father’s cold, wrapped body from the mortuary.
On a day when her son Sujith Kuttan lost his father, Mercy showed some real character, holding back her tears and comforting her son and, above all, making sure that her husband Murali’s wish was fulfilled.
Shaken by her husband’s unexpected demise early on Sunday, Mercy pulled herself together to return to the lodge and wake her son up for his event at the athletics meet. ‘’Murali wanted to see Sujith’s victory himself. Hence, Mercy was very insistent that Sujith should run his 100 metres and did not want him to know of his father’s death,’’ said Olympian Suresh Babu, a close friend of Murali.
It was by 1 0’Clock in the wee hours of Sunday that Asian Games medallist Murali Kuttan felt a chest pain and went to Jubilee Memorial Hospital in the city with Mercy. He had walked to the reception and told the doctor about the pain himself.
He was then taken to the ICU and in about five minutes, Mercy heard the worst. But the spirited lady did not let her son know about it. When Sujith asked for Dad in the morning, she just told him that his father was fine.
The result was something Murali would have loved the most. Sujith, one of the most promising talents in the State, sprinted to a sure-fire success in the 100-metre race. For him, the victory was more or less expected. But fate had something most unexpected in store for him. His cheering face soon turned glum and his head drooped after the event as somebody whispered in his ears that he needed to go to the hospital.
He kept muttering something as he walked to the hospital with his brother Suraj Kuttan. Once he saw his mother, the lad broke down. Laying his head on her shoulders, he kept saying, ‘’Come Mum, let's go and see Dad.’’ The boy was inconsolable and so were the students of Mercy Kuttan Athletics Academy, a sports school jointly run by Mercy and Murali in Kochi.
When Murali’s body was taken to University Stadium in the afternoon, his wards broke into sobs, which deeply touched the turnout that had converged to pay homage to the late champion.
The team had come for the meet in a jovial mood in a mini bus which Murali himself had driven. Now they would return without someone they always loved the most.
Murali’s body was later taken to Punnapra, his native place, for last rites.