Thursday, December 4, 2008

Michael Puhaindran.."Our final words to each other."

This is the 1st interview given by Michael Puhaindran about the final moments and the final words he had exchanged with his wife Lo Hwei Yen on that day of infamy. This online report comes from CNA News.

Husband of hostage killed in Mumbai recalls last few agonising hoursBy Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 03 December 2008 1851 hrs
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Special Report

Mumbai Attacks
SINGAPORE: Their final few weeks of marriage were truly the best time of his life. Breaking his silence for the first time, husband of Singaporean hostage Lo Hwei Yen killed in the Mumbai attacks, Michael Puhaindran gave an insight into the life of the 28-year-old.

Puhaindran proposed to Lo in the Maldives within eight months of meeting her.
He said: "Everything I did, I did for her. My whole life revolved around her and she truly was the meaning of my life." But after a beautiful Bali wedding, things went horribly wrong last Wednesday. The first sign of trouble came when Puhaindran received a call at midnight Singapore time when Lo heard gunshots while having dinner. "About 15 minutes later, she or I called. We spoke. She said she was in a stairwell on the 10th floor and she was with security and some staff, and they were waiting for the police," he said.

After that phone call was a few agonising silent hours of waiting. Then came another call in the early hours of the morning which confirmed Puhaindran's fears. "She was talking in a very steady voice; she was extremely brave. Her voice didn't even waver. (She said) that she was being held hostage by gunmen and she said they were armed with machine guns and grenades," said Puhaindran. He contacted Singapore authorities.

Then came the final call. "She said they said they still see activity, still in a very steady voice and still talking to me. I was trying to remain calm as well. Only in her last sentence, she said 'please tell them to hurry up'. And that's when I couldn't really take it, and said that I love her very much, and she said the same thing. So at least the last words I said to her were those words," Puhaindran continued.

Puhaindran recalled her last final e-mail. "This one came in about 6.36 am Singapore time. She ended off by saying if I don't make it out of here I love you all. Despite everything she was facing, she still had the strength and courage to tell her friends she loved them. I do want you to tell people she was a brave Singaporean," Puhaindran added.

Finally on Friday, he was let into the Oberoi hotel. He said: "They were still detonating grenades. Initially they did not want us go back but MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) got us permission to get to the 19th floor. Everything was pitch black because there was no electricity. The floors were slippery. I think the sprinklers must have gone off. Then (they) showed her to me and I was able to touch her cheek and she still looked very beautiful."

While questions remain unanswered about the siege, for many like Puhaindran who lost loved ones during the terror attacks, picking up the pieces from here will now be hardest. "She would want me to live my life but it's going to be very hard,” said Puhaindran. -CNA/vm

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