Do you believe in miracles? Seby Varghese, a 45-year-old politician and social worker, does. Not because he has witnessed them in others’ lives but because he has experienced them in his own. When he was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2010 and told that he had less than three months to live, he went and prayed at the St. Jude’s church in Angamaly, Kerala. A priest there told him that everything would be all right. At that moment, he felt God telling him that His protection was with him. It gave him the courage to go on.
That was miracle number 1.
Miracle number 2? They needed Rs 15 lakh for the operation and didn’t know how to get it. By God’s grace, Kancor, the company in which Seby’s wife Magy, 37, works, agreed to bear the cost of the operation. It was the first time in Kerala that such a large amount had been sanctioned by a company.
But here’s the greatest miracle of all. The doctors told Seby that he would need a liver transplant. In Vellore, where they had gone for a check-up, they were nearly 400th on the waiting list for a liver. One day, when the doctors were discussing his chances of getting a liver, Magy asked: “Can I donate?”
“I felt no fear,” she says. “For me, my life partner is everything. All I wanted was to help him.”
Seby’s doctors were sceptical. They said they needed to do 32 different tests and all the results would have to be positive for Magy to donate part of her liver. They would also have to surgically open him and see if the cancer had spread beyond the liver. If even a drop had spread, the surgery would be useless. They told him that he had only a 10 per cent chance of survival.
“My liver was full of cancer cells but miraculously, not even a small bit had spread to other parts,” says Seby. “I felt that God had stepped down from the heavens and blessed me. My greatest blessing has been my wife and her family. Knowing the risk of the surgery, she could have easily refused to donate. Even her family could have opposed her decision. They could even have thought of a second marriage for her.”
Magy’s decision must surely have been a testament to their love. Magy comes from a well-known family in Mala, Kerala. After she completed her degree in botany, she had to make a choice between marriage and higher studies. She chose marriage. One day, in an arranged set-up, Seby, a budding politician, and his uncle came to see her. When they got a chance to speak alone, he asked her what she had studied. He then told her that he had come some years earlier to speak at a meeting in Mala.
“He was very handsome and came across as a strong personality,” says Magy.
Her parents were initially hesitant to marry their daughter to a politician but once they met him, they were charmed by his charisma. “He’ll go far and might even become an MLA one day,” her father said.
In the three months before their wedding, he romanced her, taking her to beaches and other romantic spots. When she decided to go to Coimbatore to buy her wedding finery from a well-known shop there, he sent his car and was adamant that she get only the best. His first gift to her was a gold watch. She cherished it and wore it for 10 years before she lost it at a cinema theatre.
A few years after marriage, they had a son whom they named Kevin. Life was good. But then, it took a sharp and painful turn in the form of Seby’s cancer.
The day before his operation, family and friends, among whom there were many well-known politicians, gathered in his room. “They kissed my hand and cried, acting as though I was already a goner,” says Seby. Magy and he were taken to different rooms and operated upon. Magy remembers an injection to her spine and Seby remembers being bathed in water mixed with medicines. After that, it was a blank for both. The operation lasted 16 hours. One of the first things Seby asked afterwards was to see his wife.
Today, both feel that they have been given a new lease on life, a second shot at happiness. They are eagerly clutching it, savouring each moment, reliving each miracle. Every February 17, the day of the operation almost seven years ago, they celebrate. They cut a cake and go to church to thank God. They have learned to enjoy life. Earlier, Seby never used to go to watch films. Today, he goes along with his wife and son. Once, when he saw a Malayalam film about the life of cancer patients, he started crying. He wanted to leave before the ending. Now, they mostly go for those with happy endings. They believe that life, if not about happy endings, is all about new beginnings.