A man is set to be reunited with his family, including his wife, after almost 46 years.
Sajid Thungal, 70, left his hometown of Sasthamkotta, India, in October 1976 aged just 21 to support his family by working in the Persian Gulf.
But disaster struck when one of the engines on his Indian Airlines flight from Bombay to Madras caught fire, killing 95 people on board.
Sajid’s parents, four sisters and three brothers believed he was among the dead but in reality, he travelled to Abu Dhabi where he got a job promoting Indian culture overseas and organising screenings of Malayalam movies.
He returned to India in 1982, moving to Mumbai to set up a business.
But after relying on multiple jobs to keep himself and his business afloat, he was afraid to see his family over the fear of being seen as a failure.
He wanted to wait to be a success before reaching out to them.
“Personally, I want to go home and meet my family members," he told Jam Press.
"Well, if people hadn’t looked after me, I would have died without meeting my family again."
Pastor helps to reunite man with loved ones
His life changed in 2019 when he met pastor KM Philip, who runs the Social and Evangelical Association for Love to reunite families with their loved ones.
After learning of the extended separation of the family, Philip sent a social worker to Sajid’s home to find them.
Although his father died in 2012, Sajid's mother Fatima Bibi, 95, his wife Jamila and brothers Aziz and Mohammed Kunju are all alive and well.
They were stunned to find out that their long-lost loved one was living in Dubai.
“His father died in 2012,” Philip added.
"When I met him [Sajid], he was mentally disturbed and it took him plenty of time to reveal about his family.”
Mohammed will be travelling to Mumbai on Wednesday to see his brother for the first time in almost five decades.
“I had been to pillar to post in search of my brother,” he said.
"I had flown to UAE to know the whereabouts of my brother."
The family plan on making the homecoming into a festival, he added, and they won’t be letting him out of their sight once he is home safe.
By Kate Buck
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