In 2007, my grandmother passed away. I was in 7th standard, around 12 years old. While I have faint memories of it, some things really stood out — I remember I was giving an exam when the invigilator asked my class supervisor to let me end the exam early. I didn’t get what was happening. I was rushed to the hospital where I saw more than 100 people gathered around an ambulance. My grandmother didn’t even live at my place, so these were just the ones who knew her through my parents. Those people accompanied the ambulance to Surat, where another 100-200 people joined, and many of them came to Tapi river, where she was cremated.
Among those hundreds of people were my grandfather and father. They both were there right next to her when she breathed her last. My mother was there too, holding her hand. She went to the heavens holding hands of the people she spent her life with, right beside her.
But that was 14 years ago. And in April 2021, when my grandfather’s turn came, things were very different.
You see, we all know how deadly COVID-19 is. It spreads very quickly, for almost a year there was no vaccine for it, it affected the elderly in a much more lethal way, no country was sparred from its fangs, etc. However, the one thing that made it unforgiving was how unforgiving it was to its patients.
When my grandfather contracted it, my father couldn’t even come and help him — because he himself had it. They lived in the same house and yet couldn’t even touch or see each other. That did give me the chance to serve my grandfather and knowing what was happening around the country, maybe my last chance to serve him.
And that was not the end of it all — when we hospitalized him, we couldn’t even see him or the bed he was on, because it was in the COVID ward. He just lied there, alone, with people dying around him.
Every afternoon, my father used to go to the hospital to see his condition(now that he himself tested negative), but there was no improvement.5-6 days later, my grandfather was admitted to ICU. 3 more days later, instead of the usual afternoons, my father decided to go and see him in the morning. He went inside the ICU to try and talk to him. But my grandfather didn’t respond. He didn’t even acknowledge that his son was there. That afternoon, he passed away.
And that is the unforgiving thing about COVID-19. That during death, it forced its victims to be away from the ones they loved and spent their entire time with. My grandfather was a Marketing man, he spent his life in LIC selling policies, talking and chatting with people. And when the time came to go, he spent his last 10 days alone, not even uttering a word. He went not even being able to recognize his son and lying alone on a hospital bed in a hospital where there were people just dying everywhere.