As a new normal now, cops and covid-19 combatants line up as cheerleaders to sendoff Kashmiris from quarantine centres. But when medics recently created one such farewell moment in JLNM hospital, a mother along with her two daughters emerged as a beacon in the virulent war.
Departed tears that recently jetted out of Masrat’s sleep-deprived eyes signified her immense gratitude for the brave-hearts holding the fort during the current catastrophe.
Some of those Covid-19 warriors formed a human wall on April 13, to give a hero’s farewell to the young mother at Srinagar’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) hospital.
Much of that respect came from Masrat’s awe-inspiring motherhood display.
With novel coronavirus creating a new tribe of ‘untouchables’ in the society, this young mother from Srinagar’s Natipora became a shield of her infected daughters.
On March 26, when a team of tearful doctors declared her two daughters, aged 4 and 8, as Covid-19 positive cases, Masrat turned numb with shock, and struggled with her sinking heart.
“I remember there was so much of panic in the hospital then,” recalled Dr Bilquis Shah, nodal officer, JLNM hospital, Srinagar. “It was the initial stage in Covid-19 fight back and the hospital had started getting the viral footfall.”
Masrat’s two daughters—Aleeza and Sehrish—were among the 26 high-risk patients initially admitted in JLNM, declared exclusively for Covid-19 management, on March 25.
And next day, their test came out positive.
“The moment their results came, all of us were in tears,” Dr. Bilquis continued. “It was very hard to tell a mother that her daughters have become the pandemic patients, when there was so much of corona scare in the air.”
What followed was perhaps the traumatic experience for both healthcare specialists and the family in the hospital.
Sensing something wrong, the kids started screaming and craving for their mother’s reassuring embrace.
Even as the doctors supervised these children with utmost care, they were inconsolable, especially the little girl.
In the fight against the invisible enemy, Dr. Bilquis said, the crying children only became the face of a new human tragedy.
At that moment, their Covid-19 ‘negative’ mother threw herself in the imminent peril for her daughters’ sake and calmed them down.
“To ensure her safety, the mother was given PPE gear and a separate room to stay with her daughters,” the leading lady doctor said.
The siblings had come in contact with their grandfather who had arrived from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah and tested positive for Covid-19.
The elderly man had shared the same flight as that of the Kashmir’s first Covid-19 patient – a 67-year-old woman from Srinagar’s Khanyar area.
Meanwhile, inside the separate ward, the two asymptomatic girls were unable to make sense of their sudden hospital stay and their mother’s new appearance.
“My younger daughter would repeatedly ask me, ‘Mamma, why’ve you put those clothes [PPE gear] on? We can’t see you in them. Why can’t we touch you? At least, hug or kiss us, please!’ ”
Battling emotions, the mother would dodge her queries, saying, ‘I’ve an infection. If you touch me, you would also get infected.’ ”
And this way, the young mother not only owned her innocent daughters’ ailment, but also stood behind them like a rock — consoling and comforting them whenever the hospital confinement made them jittery.
But in the process, she was badly hit.
Apart from suffering those long-tormenting nights of anxiety inside that haunting ward where she couldn’t even touch her young ones, the young mother badly bruised her nose and hands with her tight mask and gloves routine.
“Since it was a fight for my daughters’ well-being,” the mother said, “I was ready to go to any length to see them healthy again.”
Eventually, with the third test done on April 11, Masrat finally won her children’s Covid-19 battle.
“But before that test cleared decks for our homecoming, I saw doctors repeatedly breaking down in our ward over my daughters’ condition,” the mother said.
“While praying for their well-being, those doctors would tell me, ‘You’re a very courageous person.’ But I would tell them, ‘I’m a mother. Even if I get this Covid-19, I don’t care. All I want is to make sure that my daughters emerge winners from this health crisis.’ ”
On April 13, the same doctors lined up as cheerleaders and beamed with pride, as the mother indeed lived up to her promise.
And with that, the 18-day anxious quarantine period ended and Masrat finally hugged and kissed her daughters back, as if they had just woken up from a bad dream.
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