Zeeshan Ahmed (14) (all names changed to protect privacy of children) of Adakathavayyil in Kasaragod, Kerala, was at the hospital with his uncle when his mother Shamsad died battling COVID-19 last month. It took some time for the teenager to realise that his mother was no more.
She was his world and role model, says Shanvaz, Zeeshan’s uncle. “He was disturbed after losing her, but has accepted it now and is returning to his usual self.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic tears through Kerala, it has left many families devastated. The mounting body count has had the most impact on children, depriving them of a kiss, a cuddle, a guiding hand, and often, the only parent they have ever known.
Zeeshan’s father had left the family 13 years ago, and no one has a clue about his whereabouts. “I have been looking after my sister and her son for years. I will continue to take care of Zeeshan,” says Shanvaz.
If COVID-19 has claimed the life of the lone parent in some instances, it has snatched both of them, at times in quick succession, in the case of others.
Ten-year-old Aron was left alone in his small house near the Ayyappankavu temple at Manalur in Thrissur district after both his father and mother died, two weeks apart. Aron’s mother, Jiji, was the first to go. She died at the Thrissur district hospital after testing positive for the virus. Two weeks later, his father, Subhash, too succumbed to the disease. Aron’s twin brother had died two years ago.
In Neyyattinkara in Thiruvananthapuram, sisters Malini and Mrinalini, aged 16 and 11, have been left bereft by the deaths of their parents and their grandmother in a matter of days.
The triple blow at the end of May has upended their life. It was their father who first tested positive for COVID-19. He later contracted pneumonia, and died. The same day, their mother Bindu tested positive. She too developed pneumonia and succumbed to a week later. Three days later, their maternal grandmother also breathed her last.fast-fortune-free-slots-casino-similar-games
Death of parents deprives children not only of their presence, but also leave them dependent on relatives. Malini and Mrinalini are now living with their mother’s niece. Malini, the elder, tries to sound strong, but the pain is palpable from her reluctance to say much.
Many families find themselves at a crossroads, unsure of what lies ahead. Aron’s maternal grandparents have agreed to look after him.
In Kasaragod, Shanvaz’s visa has been cancelled and he has lost his job. He was employed at a supermarket in Dubai but had returned home to attend to his ailing father. “My father’s treatment expenses have left us in deep debt. Now, Zeeshan is staying in a rented accommodation with my family at Adakathavayyil,” he says.demo-poker-online
In the midst of personal tragedies, children have been trying to surmount sorrow and prepare for school, examinations and admissions.
Two siblings, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, in Ernakulam lost both their parents in a span of two months. They lost their mother to cancer in March, three weeks after she got her diagnosis. In April, their father, a building contractor, tested positive for COVID, and succumbed to it after a week in the hospital. The siblings are now staying with their grandparents.
"When I appeared for my class 12 exams this year, my father was still around. Two days after I finished my exams, he passed away," says Anoop. He hopes to pursue Hotel Management, while his sister aspires to become a doctor and wants to prepare for entrance examinations.
Officials say that reports on the children orphaned by the pandemic have been sent to the government, and they expect the benefits to be made available once the modalities of the rehabilitation package are announced.
However, it is not clear if the monthly assistance of ₹2,000 announced by the government is in addition to the existing foster care or sponsorship scheme. The details of assistance to children who have lost one parent to COVID-19 are also not clear as yet.
(Inputs from R.K. Roshni, Mini Muringatheri, C.P. Sajit, and Abhinaya Harigovind)