‘God gave me the strength’
But by early afternoon, about 2 pm, Malkiya, was still missing. He was not in emergency room, the ICU, nor in any of the other wards. From the hospital, Kumaran went back to the church to frantically search for his son. He checked the surrounding areas and nearby houses and even went back to the hospital again at 5.30. Nobody had seen him.
And then a frightening thought: Could Malkiya have been killed in the blast? Could one of the two bodies he saw near the damaged church van when he arrived back at the church be his son?
Later that day, Kumaran received another call. It was the mortuary. His fear was confirmed. As he drove to the mortuary, Kumaran thought about his young son. Scenes flashed in his head. He remembers the many hours he and Malkiya had spent decorating one of the bedrooms in the house as a birthday gift to his mother last October.
He shares about his young son, the middle child in the family: “He was a good son, very talented in music. He played the octopane and violin. He would always make everyone in the family laugh.
”He loved the Lord and cares so much for others.” In the last couple of days before the attack, Kumaran remembers Malkiya repeatedly singing, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus.’
As Kumaran described her son, Saratha, face buried in her hands, heaved heavy sighs. She looked at the photo of her son blankly and said, “It is not bitterness. It’s just the memories.”
Back at the mortuary on Easter Sunday, Kumaran saw the body he was asked to identify. He knew that purple shirt. He knew it well. It was too painful. So painful that Kumaran had to be hospitalized that evening.
“When I think of what happened to my son, there is a pain in my gut,” Pastor Kumaran, Malkiya’s dad, says, in tears. “But it’s not a question of why it’s happened—no, I’m not going to ask that. It’s a question of ‘Lord, how can I pass through this? And ‘How long?’”
Early the next morning, Kumaran took the remains of his son home and six hours later that morning, the family buried him. It wasn’t an easy decision to bury Malikiya so quickly. But he knew what lay ahead.
“I am a pastor. Everyone was looking for me that day,” he explains. “I had a responsibility to fulfill to the others. If I didn’t bury my son first, there would be a delay for the others.
“My wife loves my son very much. I love him very much too. My mind was filled with him, but I had to do it for the sake of other people. “I am a pastor,” he murmurs. “I have to be strong.”
“God. God gave me the strength.”
For Kumaran, persecution for his faith isn’t anything new. Since he came to faith 18 years ago, he knew that he could be killed. “I was born a Hindu. But when I received Jesus Christ, I was working in Saudi Arabia. I worshiped God in the underground church there,” he said.
“One day my friends and I were caught in an ‘illegal’ religious gathering. We were sent to prison. I thought that would be the end of my life.” It was 2002 and Saudi Arabia was in the headlines for beheading Christians.
By God’s grace, he and others were deported instead. All returned home safely.
The experience, he says, shaped his faith and ministry when he started to serve God in Sri Lanka. And when he got married and started a family, he always told his children about what iy meant to be a martyr.
“One day, we found out that Malkiya had been secretly reading a book about martyrs,” he shares. The moment he read what Malkiya wrote in one of his essays struck awe in him too: “Malkiya wrote this: ‘Like St Paul, we also want to dedicate our lives to die for Jesus Christas a martyr.’ And that was what my son did become. Now he rests in peace with Jesus.”