Hamid Faisal Siddiqui, 49, still breaks down talking about the death of his father on March 10, becoming India’s first casualty linked to Covid-19, especially because of what followed. “I wish and pray every day that none in this world, not even my enemies, is put through the situation my family had to face. Amidst the grief, we battled blame.”
Muhammad Husain Siddiqui, 76, an Islamic scholar who was the qazi of the biggest mosque in Kalaburagi, had gone for a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, followed by a month-long stay with his younger son, a dentist, in Jeddah. On his return on March 6, Hamid recalls, his father was fine. However, by the next night, he had begun feeling unwell. With his fever and cough worsening, the family took him to a hospital in the town on March 9. After 12 hours of observation, he was referred to a private super-specialty hospital in Hyderabad. He was being taken by road in an ambulance to be tested for the coronavirus when he died.
Still, the joint family never suspected Covid, as the pandemic was till then no more than a curiosity, happening in faraway China. It was after Siddiqui passed away that the doctors told the family he had died of the coronavirus. Later, Siddiqui’s 45-year-old daughter and the family doctor also tested positive, but recovered.
“People were scared to meet us, some turned away on seeing us. Such was the stigma attached to the pandemic. Very few visited us to even offer solace,” Hamid, who has eight siblings, sobs.
While the dark days that followed seemed endless, Hamid says they have started to put them behind. As elder son, he has taken over as qazi of the mosque. What helped was the family’s decision to take on their Covid status head-on. “We encouraged others to wear a mask and follow all social distancing norms, saying this was the best way to survive this turbulent period.”
A few days from now, the Siddiquis hope to finally and firmly put the shadow of 2020 behind. “Inshallah, we will be blessed with a new life by the early half of the new year,” Hamid says, adding, “Our solemn request to the Almighty continues to be that the entire world moves out of this phase to become a happy place for all. People should soon get a chance to be with their loved ones whenever and wherever they wish to be.”
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