So close yet so far: I could not meet my dad in his last moments

Location: Covid-19 Unified Hospital, Balambu

Time: Around 12:30 pm

A man strode towards the C-1 block of the hospital where all the coronavirus-infected (Covid-19) patients were kept. He climbed up the stairs of the three-storey building and reached its roof and started observing the ICU ward in the south.

A team of security personnel were making preparations to take out the body of a man who had died in the ICU. Seeing the scene, the 41-year-old man could not stop his tears. He was continuously wiping his tears and watching the scene unfold. A bystander said, “This is very pitiful.”

The staff lied the body on the ground, they then took out a cloth piece that had covered the body. The body disposal team, then, disinfected the body.

On the roof, the man continued to watch the body being taken into a hearse and towards Pashupati Aryaghat, unable to react.

The deceased was a 67-year-old man from Ombahal, Kathmandu metropolitan city-21 and the man, on the roof, was his son. He said, “I was in the hospital but still could not go near my father in his last moments.”

Still, in isolation at Balambu, he recalls his time from the point he went to the hospital to the point he lost his father:

I run an advertising agency. My father was a heart patient and used to take regular medicine. He was the Nepali Congress president for my ward, KMC-21. After the lockdown was loosened, he was active in political activities, for which he used to go out of home regularly.

Other party leaders and cadres used to come home to meet him as the party was busy in distribution and renewal of membership cards. A room, with all the security measures, was managed on the ground floor of the home for his convenience. From there, he used to distribute and collect the forms for party membership. In between, he had also gone to a bank(s) a few times.

It was a few days later that he started getting a fever and experienced respiratory problems. As the symptoms matched Covid-19’s, he stayed isolated at home. After two days, I also got a fever, and I shifted to a different room. But, my father and I were sharing the bathroom. On August 11, we both went to Star Hospital to give our swab samples.

My report came positive on the same day. And, my father tested positive the next day. Then, other family members also gave their samples, out of which my younger sister also tested positive.

I had gone to Birgunj before the pandemic and before the lockdown was imposed in Nepal. However, some media had reported that the infection [in my family] spread from ‘the son who came from Birgunj’. I am shocked and sad to see such news. The media could have reported the news only after knowing the truth of the matter, but that did not happen. I do not know why.

My sister is at home, in isolation. My father and I came to the APF Hospital in Balambu on August 15. On the day, my father had mild respiratory problems. We were first kept at C-2 block of the Hospital.  But, since my father’s bed did not have an oxygen outlet, we were shifted to the C-1 block. He was put on oxygen as his oxygen levels were fluctuating.

On August 18, he was shifted to the ICU. His condition saw no change even in two days, so doctors prescribed plasma therapy and remdesivir. I made arrangements as prescribed. He was then shifted to a ventilator and the very next day, his treatment started.

I used to get regular updates from the doctors. But, on Tuesday around noon, I got the news about his demise. I tried to save him despite me battling with the virus myself, but even with several efforts, I could not.

When I reached the roof of the building, it was maybe 3 or 4 pm. The body disposal team of Nepal Army took out his body, disinfected, and took him towards Pashupati Aryaghat on the hearse. I could not even go near my father’s body, even though I was in the hospital premises. I consoled myself thinking that I am one among the many families who have had to bear the misfortune of losing their family members during this pandemic situation.

He is still at the hospital mourning his father’s demise and battling Covid-19. He says he is trying to stay strong and consoling himself. Also, he says he will return home after defeating Covid-19 only.

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