I awakened feeling very uneasy and glanced over on the clock – it was 1:30 AM on May 15 in New Delhi, India. Nothing appeared out of the odd – but, why did I really feel so uneasy? I had a drink of water and returned to my mattress. I questioned if there can be some constructive information within the morning.
The prior month, each my mother and father had contracted COVID-19 across the time they bought the second dose of Covishield. While my mom recovered in just a few days, my father didn’t fare as nicely and was ultimately admitted to Fortis. He was quickly placed on the BiPAP machine and on May 9, he was placed on a ventilator attributable to falling SpO2 ranges. Upon listening to the information, I made a decision to move from Los Angeles, the place I dwell, to India regardless of trepidation amongst my well-wishers. I couldn’t let my mom face this attempting time alone and managed to journey to India. My father had examined COVID unfavorable a few days earlier than the docs put him on the ventilator. I’d thus have the ability to go to him throughout visiting hours.
In the morning, my mom and I headed to the hospital, in time to reach throughout visiting hours. Since they might solely permit one customer to enter the ICU at any given time, my mom instructed me to go in first. My mom had instructed me that my father’s mattress was located reverse the doorway to the ICU. I entered the ICU and walked over to the mattress dealing with the doorway door. I regarded over on the affected person within the mattress and it struck me that he was not my father. Had they moved him to a different location? I slowly walked across the ICU, trying out the affected person in every mattress. Where was he? One of the attending nurses observed my confusion and came visiting to assist me. I requested her whether or not my father had been shifted to a different location. She requested his title – after which confirmed that my father was certainly the affected person within the first mattress. I used to be greatly surprised and returned to that mattress. The affected person within the mattress had his eyes lined with a bandage. Two tubes have been operating into his mouth. Over the hum of the ventilator, I regularly realized that it was certainly my father, sedated, being fed the oxygen from the ventilator. I stood there for some time, staring on the machine maintaining him alive, after which slowly walked out.
Over the subsequent three days, we visited my father every day throughout visitation hours. On the fourth day, we made our means from the ready room in the direction of the ICU. As we approached the safety guard to sign-in, one other guard cordoned off the realm, and knowledgeable all guests that there can be a delay in entry as a “procedure” was being carried out on one of many sufferers. For some motive, I simply knew the process was being completed on my father. A couple of minutes later, we have been requested to proceed to the ICU. As we approached the doorway, the physician in cost of my father gave us the information – my father had simply handed away attributable to cardiac arrest.
After what appeared like an eternity, we have been allowed to enter the ICU and see my father for one final time. My mom and I approached the lifeless physique of my father, and for the primary time, it dawned on us that he was actually gone – his eyes open, staring into house, his mouth barely ajar. Without the tubes and bandages, I used to be lastly in a position to acknowledge him. The ventilator that had been buzzing away for the previous few days, now switched off. It simply appeared so silent. So surreal.
After spending a couple of minutes by my father’s facet, I noticed that I needed to make his funeral preparations – crematoriums had a number of hours lengthy ready lists as a result of pandemic, and the resultant staggering variety of COVID-related deaths. My mom’s cousin had discovered a crematorium prepared to cremate my father the identical day, if we might produce the COVID unfavorable certificates for him. Armed with the certificates, we organized for an ambulance to move my father’s physique from the hospital mortuary to the crematorium. We arrived on the crematorium an hour and a half earlier than sundown, and after finishing up the final rites, positioned my father’s physique on the funeral pyre. Just a few extra prayers later, the priest handed me the flaming torch to mild the pyre. We waited for a while till the flames had enveloped the pyre utterly after which headed house.
We returned to my mother and father’ home a bit earlier than sundown. As I entered my mother and father’ room to drop off the keys, I glanced upon the little puja desk that contained all of the idols my father worshipped each morning. I could not assist however marvel – the place are these Gods? The ones that my father prayed to every day. The ones for whom he fasted each Tuesday, for the previous 30 plus years. The ones whose names he would utter a number of occasions a day. How might they permit this to occur to him? But then it additionally dawned on me how lucky we have been – that my father was in a position to get a mattress and a ventilator at a time when there have been individuals dying on the streets attributable to paucity of oxygen; that he was absolutely sedated when he handed and thus hopefully, skilled no ache; that he was COVID unfavorable on the time of his passing, permitting us to cremate him with dignity.
I regarded exterior the kitchen window. In the space, I might see our space’s safety guards speaking to one another. A pair sporting masks and laughing loudly hurried previous our home. That previous white stray canine that my father had fed each single day for therefore a few years regarded up in the direction of our home, yawned, and lay again on the bottom. Life carries on.
(Nikhil Shahi was born and raised in New Delhi, India. He presently lives in Los Angeles, USA, the place he pursues a profession in Finance and Photography.)
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