We are celebrating Christmas a month early, said a grinning Rochelle Fernandes, sister of MV Stolt Valor cook Isrdore.
She was among a large group of relatives that gathered at the Mumbai airport with garlands, flowers and quiet prayers of thanks as their loved ones returned from over months in captivity.
Omprakash Shukla (47) was welcomed by his parents, four children, uncle and aunt at his close-knit joint family home in Kalyan.
Plates of sweets were passed around, and a fervent aarti done as Shukla stepped over the threshold.
“There was not a single moment when we didn’t believe he would be back,” said uncle Nagendra (47), a human rights activist.
The pirates had allowed the crewmembers to speak to their families for just three minutes once a week. “I lied to Omprakash’s parents, saying he called every day. I didn’t even have the courage to speak to his wife and children,” said Nagendra.