It was late night when the mom in me went to check whether my kids were sleeping sound in their room, just like an everyday ritual. As I kissed on my daughter’s cheek, her body was dissipating so much heat. To my shock, thermometer reflected high fever. I started her medication for regular cold and fever. Another day passed and temperature kept shooting up. We rushed her to hospital where doctor in emergency immediately admitted her after negative rapid COVID test. Several tests and CT scan were performed for malaria and dengue as the cases were surging at that time. There was scarcity of hospital rooms, so we were in the ward till next day evening when we finally got a private room. Soon after, there was a knock at the door and I went to attend. Doctor was standing there with serious expressions on his face as he handed over my daughter’s RTPCR report, which to my horror was positive. We were told to immediately leave the premises as it was a non COVID hospital.
Holding back my tears, terrified I called my husband while standing in the corridor so as not to reveal it to my little daughter. Immediately he rushed to the hospital with my younger one. While he finished all discharge formalities, I packed our stuff. Then four of us in the same car with all windows open left for another hospital, designated for COVID patients.
While on the way, in the dark, tears rolled down my eyes as series of thoughts flashed through my mind. How we had strictly followed home isolation for more than an year, doing all household chores by ourselves as we permitted no one inside our premises. We stepped out just to pick up groceries and milk delivered outside our main door. We had cut off from friends, omitted social life to be at home just to keep kids safe. As surging figures flashed on TV everyday of the people dying of COVID, paranoid, we did heaps of research around it, just to discover that after every few days facts were changing as fast as the disease was changing its face. Freaked out of the situation, all we could do was to deprive kids from birthday parties, outdoors, games and play dates with friends. We had spent all this time trying to keep ourselves safe, just like a soldier hidden in a bunker. When the only outdoors for us was balcony time, I was clueless how my baby could get vulnerable to this?
As we were waiting in the parking with double masks on, I tried to convey to my little piece of heart that what had actually happened with her. To keep kids at home all this while, we had scared them so much by talking negative about the problem. Now when it happened to her, I was nervous how would she react. Surprisingly, I got a very mature reaction from her as she just said “Don’t worry mom, but why me of all the people who had been enjoying playing in the park as we watched each evening stuck in our balcony?” And, I had no answer to her.
We reached the next hospital. With great difficulty, she got a twin sharing room and my husband stayed with her as her attendant. With a bold face I held myself together as I said goodbye to my lovely daughter and drove back home with my two year old son. The phone call sessions started from variety of friends and family. Some called to check on us genuinely, while others more curious of the little known disease wanted more information. It was super exhausting, but what kept me on for the days to come was her strong face flashing in front of my eyes. As recommended by doctor, all three of us also got our RTPCR test done which came negative. With hands paining due to constant drip, my daughter was going through the trauma of her life. In the meanwhile several tests were done. But no doctor came physically in the COVID patient area to check. After two days, she finally got discharged with a prescription from doctor that said that it could be mild COVID, but symptoms were more of dengue or normal viral. Hence, after spending a hefty amount of money in the hospital, she came home with a confused diagnosis.
It is hard to say whether the hospital time was more hard for her or the following fourteen day quarantine when she was locked in her room. Though to make her happy, I had set the room with all things she loved — a small library of her favourite books and her favourite toys. But I soon realized that this is not what makes kids happy. She felt deprived of her mother as I had to stay away from her to protect my younger one, being his only caregiver at that time. My husband was sleeping in the same room with my daughter to check on her health regularly. So, in a way both my husband and daughter were isolated. Only through the closed door, I could talk to her. The mother in me desperately wanted to be next to her knowingly that all this while she missed hugging her mother and crying on her shoulder, wanting to narrate the ordeal she had gone through. But I was helpless.
The siblings missed playing with each other. Though just six years old, she acted very maturely, followed all protocols to keep rest of us safe. Both my kids exchanged video calls, where they would see each other, though they were just a wall apart. The little one, just two years old was unable to express the sadness of being separated from his sister and father. But I could feel it as disinterested he would fiddle around with his toys the whole day.
With a lot of emotional support from family and ‘friends like family’ who helped by sending homecooked food for us, the four of us managed to sail through the fourteen days. Finally, the barrier was eliminated as the room door got opened and kids excited to be with each other hugged as if there was no tomorrow. We, as family had finally passed the testing time and got together as one.
As the experience was traumatizing, it was also a learning for each one of us. To mention mine, I would say that it endorsed my belief -
“Whatever has to happen in life just happens. We as humans are very insignificant in this huge cosmos to decide our fate. All we can do is try our best, but also need to remember that control is not in our hands. The more we try to do it, the more disappointed we stay in life. It is God who does everything, for even a leaf that falls from the tree is planned by him. We are mere pawns in his hands.”