Jeddah: The last journey of COVID-19 victims is a terribly lonely affair for NRIs abroad following the travel restrictions imposed by several countries. Families are unable to catch even a last glimpse of their dear ones and are forced to grieve thousands of miles away.
Families of NRIs in India rely mostly on friends and colleagues of their breadwinners during the funeral. The situation in Saudi Arabia where the Indian community is scattered across vast stretches of sand to rugged mountain ranges is heart-wrenchiing.
The last journey of Dr. K. Vijay Emanuel was one such lonely affair in an alien land amid the pandemic. The 61-year-old, a native of Hyderabad, was working as a doctor in the Ministry of Health’s hospital in Maysaan, a hilly resort station nearby Taif. He traveled home for vacation and returned in April.
He tested positive for Covid-19 immediately on return and was in isolation before he was admitted to a hospital in Maysaan. He was later shifted to a specialty hospital in Taif following deterioration of his condition where he succumbed to the virus after weeks of treatment.
His wife Mangala, also a doctor in India, and children couldn’t make it to Saudi Arabia to catch a last glimpse of their loved one as travel has been suspended due to COVID-19 raging in India. In a tiny town of Mayasaan there is handful Indian community, many of them working in the same hospital where deceased was employed.
Dr. Qaiser Basheer, fellow doctor who hails from Srinagar in Kashmir, is a close friend of late Vijay. Vijay’s family in India authorised Dr Basheer to act on their behalf to complete all the formalities including the last rites.
Dr. Basheer, along with noted Indian community worker Mohammed Salih Sahib, took the body to 300 km away from their place for burial. “It is all about humanity and friendship and not region or religion,” says Dr. Basheer.
He told that death ends a life, not a relationship. “It is immense pain at the loss of dear one as brother”, he added.
“It is difficult to console the family members of a deceased when they are not being able to see the departed one last time,” Dr. Basheer said.
There are several such cases that speaks volume of humanity and friendship above all barriers in lonely death cases where Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge (sholay) prevails.
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