One man's quiet reckoning on Flight 370: Wife's 'goodness counts for something'

Passenger's husband pens emotional note
Passenger's husband pens emotional note


    Passenger's husband pens emotional note


Passenger's husband pens emotional note 02:30

Story highlights

  • Husband of one passenger puts in words what is on his heart
  • He chose to stay home, to block out the news, to practice being in the 'present'
  • His wife's goodness, he writes 'must count for something, somewhere'

Malaysia Airlines offered to fly K.S. Narendran to Kuala Lumpur after Flight 370 vanished almost two weeks ago. His wife, Chandrika Sharma, was one of 239 people aboard the passenger jet.

But Narendran declined. He didn't see any point to leaving India when there was no information. He preferred to stay at home in the south Indian city of Chennai, surrounded by family and friends.

Each one of us has a different way of coping with tragedy. Others who had relatives on Flight 370 have publicly expressed anger and frustration as the days have marched on with few clues about what happened to Flight 370. Two mothers wailed at a press briefing room in Kuala Lumpur; their grief echoed around the world on television sets and on the Internet.

Narendran, a human resources consultant, closed himself off to all that. He didn't watch the news or follow it on his computer. Quietly at home, he put in words some of what was in his heart. The result was a note for friends and family with whom he was unable to stay in touch personally through his ordeal.

I asked him if he'd share what he'd written with CNN. He agreed.

Chandrika Sharma, left, was on Flight 370; her daughter Meghna and husband K.S. Narendran wait patiently, trying to manage their anxiety and longing for her return.
Father: My son was on the missing plane
Father: My son was on the missing plane


    Father: My son was on the missing plane


Father: My son was on the missing plane 01:09

His wife left Chennai on the morning of March 7. The executive secretary of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers was on her way to Mongolia for a United Nations conference. She was to return by the 15th.

Narendran is still waiting for her to come home. He is still waiting, as he says, "for the wheels of invisible diplomacy and intelligence work, and the military might of countries to come together in complementing ways to outwit and overcome sinister minds, if indeed that is what is at work."

In his note, he said:

If one were not directly and personally involved, one could have marveled at evil genius that authored a plot such as this, and the craft and research that supported it. Presently, it only brings to the fore how little we actually know, how vulnerable we are, and the things we take for granted about people, places, and things.

He knew people must be wondering how he deals with each day.

As individuals, we can do very little. We wait patiently. With every passing day and each fragment of information that comes in, we revise the narrative strung together, and articulate the new set of perplexing and urgent questions that inevitably come up. My friends and family mostly do this for me, leaving me to take stock at the day's end in what seems like a 45-minute feature of "Face the Facts."

He wrote that he did watch the press conferences on the missing plane. But those, he said, have been short in detail.

For now, I remain open to news that point to clear, incontrovertible evidence of what happened, and actions taken or afoot that can bring the whole incident to a satisfactory close. What is priority is information that is a step closer to bringing Chandrika back, and for us to plan our next steps to redesign our life from here on.

He said his daughter Meghna is evaluating how she might be able to return to college, how she might rebuild a daily routine and manage her anxiety and longing for her mother.

His wife's mother remains confident of her daughter's return. Narendran's mother is strong and steadfast in her faith. For his part, he said, he is not a believer of miracles.

Miracles, he said, is a way of making sense of what apparently does not make sense; of what is not understood or what seems improbable.

I remain focused on what we have at hand by way of information, and stay with the knowledge that Chandrika is strong and courageous, that her goodness must count for something, somewhere. I carry firmly the faith that the forces of life are eternal, immutable and ever present to keep the drama ever moving. In the ultimate analysis, I am neither favored nor deserted. No one is.

He said he has drawn strength from his recent experience with Vipassana, an ancient technique of meditation in India. Vipassana means to see things as they really are.

The essential message of transience and impermanence has lent perspective, he said. The practice of being in the "present," however difficult, he said, has helped him manage "the menace of an overworked imagination."

As family, we are not given to histrionics/theatrics. We suffer, we agonize, we tether on the edge, but seldom allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. I don't say this with any sense of self-congratulation or offer it as recommendation. I am merely saying this for those who know us from a distance or fleetingly.

Narendran ended his note by saying he felt comforted, energized and renewed by the messages of fondness, solidarity, prayer and hope that he has received from well-wishers around the world.

I told him the families and loved ones of the other passengers would find the same in his words.

It was important, he said to me on the phone, to keep the pressure on authorities to discover the truth about what happened to Flight 370. It was also important, he said, to keep calm.

Many of us know uncertainty can be a wretched foe. Not knowing the littlest things keep us on edge during the day and awake at night. I admired Narendran for his quiet strength in his hour of turmoil. I hoped for him the very best outcome, though with each day, that hope was surely fading.

Follow Moni Basu on Twitter

      Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

    • nr intv moni basu husbands quiet suffering flight 370_00020822.jpg

      An empty space on earth

      His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
    • This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.

      Is this the sound of the crash?

      Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
    •  A crew member of a Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean on April 13, 2014 off the coast of Perth, Australia. S

      Search back to square one

      What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
    • Caption:A Chinese relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 uses a lighter as she prays at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 8, 2014. The hunt for physical evidence that the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago has turned up nothing, despite a massive operation involving seven countries and repeated sightings of suspected debris. AFP PHOTO/WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

      Bring in the lawyers

      Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
    • The painstaking search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 got a vote of confidence Friday that the effort is headed in the right direction, but officials noted that much work remains.
Credit: 	CNN

      Pings likely not from Flight 370

      Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
    • INDIAN OCEAN (April 14, 2014) -- Operators aboard ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy's Bluefin-21 into position for deployment, April 14. Using side scan sonar, the Bluefin will descend to a depth of between 4,000 and 4,500 meters, approximately 35 meters above the ocean floor. It will spend up to 16 hours at this depth collecting data, before potentially moving to other likely search areas. Joint Task Force 658 is currently supporting Operation Southern Indian Ocean, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/RELEASED)

      Underwater search on hold

      The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
    • Movie-makers say they have recruited leading Hollywood technicians to bring their experience to mid-air flight sequences.

      An MH370 movie already?

      Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
    • The story of the search

      The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.