DUBAI // Muthu Kannan is in so much pain that he can barely walk, needs his roommates' help to visit the toilet and cannot sleep at night – but he is glad to be alive.
He was among the six Indian fishermen and two Emirati crew aboard a fishing trawler last month when the US Navy fired upon it, 16 kilometres off the Jebel Ali coast.
A Sekar, 29, one of the Indian fishermen who was with Mr Kannan, was killed instantly.
"I saw him fall dead right before my eyes," said Mr Kannan, who was also struck by bullets in his buttocks and leg. "I was sitting next to him. Before I knew, I fell on the floor with bullet wounds. We were in shock as we had not heard any warnings."
The UAE continues to investigate the July 16 incident in which the USNS Rappahannock shot at the fishing boat as it was returning to shore.
Three Indian nationals, including Mr Kannan, were wounded.
Mr Kannan, 35, who has been working in Dubai for the past 16 years, said the injuries, from which he is now recovering at home, had immobilised him.
"I couldn't move my body. I was lying on the floor on my stomach till we reached shore. The paramedics removed the bullets on the boat before shifting me to the ambulance," he said.
At the time, he did not know how many bullets had hit him.
"I was able to begin drinking water or eating only after 11 days in the hospital," he said.
Mr Kannan, who also sustained injuries to his lower lip, was discharged from Rashid Hospital after three surgeries.
Yesterday, he was recovering in his room, which he shares with 15 other fishermen in Jumeirah 3, the heart of Dubai's fishing community.
"It was a miracle I survived," said Mr Kannan. "I am thankful that I am alive."
The other two men who were injured in the incident, Muthu Muniraj, 28 and Pandu Sanadhan, 26, continued to recover at Rashid Hospital.
Mr Kannan said his pain was unbearable, adding that he may have to return to hospital for further treatment, after he was discharged last Tuesday.
"My wounds have not healed," he said.
For the time being, his fellow fishermen, including two others who were on the boat but escaped unharmed, are helping him.
"My roommates share the food they cook. I am completely dependent on them," he said, adding that he was waiting for the UAE's investigation to be completed so that he can return home as soon as possible.
"My family in India wants me to come back. They are very anxious about my health. I want to go back to my two children and wife," he said, adding that police have not yet questioned him.
Earning only Dh1,000 a month, he said he was the family's sole breadwinner, and that he had to look after his parents.
"It might take me two years to resume work," he said. "I cannot lift anything heavy. I am not sure how we will manage."
The injured men's relatives were paid 50,000 Indian rupees (Dh3,274) as compensation by the Tamil Nadu state government. Sekar's family received 500,000 rupees from the Tamil Nadu government. Indian media reported that Sekar had left for Dubai 10 months ago to work on the boat so he could pay off debts from his sister's wedding.
C Murugan, 40, a crewman who escaped the shooting without injuries, said he wanted to return to their fishing hamlet in Tamil Nadu for good.
"Our families are struggling without us. I just want to be back with them now after this. I will continue to work as a fisherman as that is the only profession I know," he said.
The Indian consulate said it was pursuing the matter with local authorities to facilitate the early return of the five Indian fishermen.
Dubai's chief prosecutor was also looking into the matter, according to official sources.