I want to see my son before I die, says mother of Mumbai sailor jailed in Togo

“I want to see my son before I die,” said the weeping 75-year-old Anamma James, whose son Sunil James has been jailed in far-off Togo for months now. Her eager anticipation of her grandson Vivaan’s first birthday turned into inconsolable grief when the infant died in Holy Family Hospital on December 2 (‘Family awaits jailed Mumbai sailor’s return to lay baby to rest’, December 5).

Anamma now has no use of the money she had saved to buy her infant grandson Vivaan a gold chain on his first birthday. Pic/Sameer Markande

Even as court proceedings are on in Togo to decide the fate of James and two of his colleagues, a miasma of grief hangs over the James family, who are trying to cope with the severe blows dealt to them by a cruel fate.

Meanwhile, the fate of Sunil still hands in the balance

Anamma, a former staffer of Bombay Port Trust (BPT), stays in Dombivli (West) with her eldest son. Speaking to MiD DAY, she said, “We were a happy family until Sunil was detained in Togo, and now the demise of my grandson, who had just started to walk, has only shattered us.

MiD DAY report on December 5

I pleaded with the hospital staffers to allow me to see my grandson’s face, but they did not allow it.” Anamma is on medication and her health has deteriorated; she does not sleep and prays till the wee hours. She often bursts into tears and pleads with those around her to get Sunil back to India.

Shiny James, her elder daughter-in-law, added, “Just two weeks before Vivaan’s demise, we had been to their Malad house. Mummy was excited on learning that Vivaan had just started walking and spent a few hours with him. She fell unconscious on seeing the wrapped-up body of Vivaan.”

Sunil is the youngest of three siblings and spent his childhood in BPT Colony, Wadala. His father Joseph James, a retired railway employee, passed away in 2004, after which the family shifted to Dombivli. Sunil has been in the maritime industry for nearly 15 years, but has never experienced trouble of this magnitude, says his sister-in-law Shiny James.

“Sunil would phone home to speak to his mother, even if he was sailing in international waters. The last call that we had received was to inform us about the pirate attack on the ship and his detention along with two crewmembers,” said Shiny.

Anamma had signed up for a monthly deposit scheme, where she was depositing a small saving, so that she could buy a gold chain for Vivaan on his first birthday. She was hoping that Sunil would be released in time for the celebrations, but destiny had stored the cruelest surprise for our family, said Shiny.

Meanwhile, the news of her son’s demise has shattered Aditi James, Sunil’s wife. “Sunil is not able to cope with the news of his son’s death and has been inconsolable since December 2. Aditi fears that having already lost her son, she may even lose her husband, if he is not released soon,” said Rakesh Madappa, Sunil’s brother-in-law. 

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