" I was introduced to alcohol by my own parents from the age of five. I became a complete alcohol addict before I was 10 years old. "
Aquilla Palani Born to masons in one of the renowned slums in Chennai, I lived to become the kingmaker there. I was introduced to alcohol by my own parents from the age of five. I became a complete alcohol addict before I was 10 years old. My habits made me a slave and I could not sleep until I had enough to make me unconscious.
My parents wanted to get me married to my cousin, But just to be rebellious I pointed to a girl who approached me about an address on our street and asked my dad to arrange my marriage with her within twelve days. Lest they should see me change my mind, they quickly got me married to the girl of my choice. My wife showed me a lot of kindness and love from the day we got married. I began planning robberies and murders to pay for the habit. I got involved with various gangs and was soon a hit man for the local mob. I was arrested under various sections and became a regular resident of the local jails.
One of the gang leaders came home one night and told me that I was being hunted by the police for a murder I had not committed. The police planned to arrest me under a new Goondas Act for which there was no bail. I decided to abandon my wife and children and moved to another part of Chennai.
My wife meanwhile had met an evangelist who had taught her how to pray. She tried to talk to me about this new God that she had found. I threatened to murder her and my children if she brought any dead God into the house. My family came in search of me at my new location. My wife suggested that we go and pray at the local church for my safety. I watched the crowd entering the church and realized there were many well dressed women wearing a lot of jewellery at the church. I decided to make the church my new hunting ground.
I followed my wife into the congregation and found a seat near a woman who wore a thick gold chain. I did not listen to anything that was said, my eyes were on the loot that hung around the lady next to me. I heard the pastor tell the congregation to put their hands up. Wanting to use the opportunity to relieve the lady of her jewellery I lifted my hand and stretched it towards her. I heard a voice call me "Brother", I was stunned, no one had addressed me with so much respect all my life. I turned to see a man beckon me to follow him, my wife was walking in front of me and I followed her, thinking that she was leaving. I realized my mistake quite soon. I saw people being baptized and I walked into the tank with no knowledge of what I had done. I walked out of the church and met my friends at the local bar. I had just sipped my first drink and I felt the most excruciating pain in my abdomen. My friends left me in the bar and I slowly dragged myself to the nearest government hospital
The doctors who examined me said that my intestines and stomach lining were destroyed and they had to operate to save my life. I begged the doctors to postpone the surgery until my family arrived. I stood near the window waiting to see my wife and kids for two days. I was getting frustrated and angry all though I knew my wife was not informed about me being in the hospital. My wife came the next day, she had walked almost 15 kms looking for me and had finally come to the hospital in the hope of finding me there. I beat her up and asked her to get me some food as I was hungry. She tried to tell me that she had no money, but I would not listen to her. She picked up my daughter and son went out of the hospital compound. I watched them leave. They came back after some time with a food packet and made me eat. I asked her how she got the money to get food, she replied with tears in her eyes that she had made my children perform on the street corner and beg. Passersby had given them money. I was too stunned to and ashamed for what I had put my family through. I fell down before her sobbing and begging forgiveness. She also felt extremely bad for forcing and bringing down our children to this state. She did this because she did not have any other way and she loved me. I asked her about how she could still love me and forgive me inspite of all the trouble I have caused to her. She then told me about Jesus who had died to save people like me.
I was so overwhelmed by the love God had given her towards a man like me. She also insisted that many were praying for me and I will be alright. I waited to be taken for surgery the next day. The doctors came and examined me over and over again; they then asked me if I had taken any new medicines, they could not believe because there was not a trace of any problem with my internal organs. I told them that my wife visited me and prayed for my health. They gave me a clean chit of health and sent me home the next day. I hurried home and asked my wife to give me the black book as the Lord had told me to read Isaiah5:11:
Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. I was stunned that God had watched what I did. He then gave me another verse Proverbs23:29
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
I wanted to get into the good books of this God who was alive and speaking to me. I met with the local pastor and he led me into a deeper relationship with God. I started my own church and now I tell people about this living God whose amazing grace can save even a thief like me.
Accessed on 21st April 2011