Coronavirus (COVID-19): ON Sunday, 19-year-old Parvez Ansari woke up with high fever and acute cough at his rented residence in a migrant colony in Amraiwadi of Ahmedabad, and made a video call to his family back in Ranchi in Jharkhand.
The family was shocked. Between their last photo of Ansari one-and-a-half months ago and Sunday, he appeared to have transformed from a cheerful teenager to a scrawny figure, unable to even speak properly. Ansari had been trying to come home but couldn’t due to the lockdown, they added.
After the family reached out to them, officials took Ansari to hospital. They said he had tuberculosis and had suffered kidney failure. In the Rabari colony where he stays, large parts of it now empty of its migrant labourers, neighbours said they had offered him food several times, but he couldn’t eat due to illness.
On seeing his state, the family told Ansari to make a video seeking help and send it to them. The family then sent the video to Bhor Singh Yadav, the Officer on Special Duty to the Jharkhand Chief Secretary, after which the Ahmedabad Police was notified.
In the video, a half-dressed Ansari is sitting on the threshold of his one-room flat, his hands folded, speaking feebly through long pauses: “Meri haalat bahut kharab hai.Ghar pahuncha dijiye (My condition is extremely bad. Please send me home).”
Yadav told The Indian Express over the phone: “The boy appeared extremely feeble and malnourished and we sought the help of the Ahmedabad Police to rescue him. When a team arrived at his residence, they realised he had been sick for many days. His neighbours had offered him food, but he couldn’t eat. He was taken to a hospital.”
R T Udavat, the in-charge at Amraiwadi Police Station, said: “Ansari was found in a frail condition and we admitted him to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.”
Ansari’s family said he went to Ahmedabad one-and-a-half years ago, and did odd jobs for a living. His last employment was at a packaging company.
Elder brother Tauhid, 25, said Ansari was healthy when he came home. However, on return to Ahmedabad, he wasn’t able to find work. “We asked him to come back, but he insisted he would stay. He had taken a room on rent for Rs 1,200. Then, around March 20, he informed us he was not feeling well and we asked him to return. When he said he had no money, we sent him some using mobile banking. Because of Janata Curfew on March 22 and later the lockdown, he couldn’t leave.”
Tauhid added that while they spoke regularly with him, he didn’t tell them he had taken a turn for the worse or that he had stopped eating.
A test at the Civil Hospital has shown Ansari doesn’t have coronavirus. Medical Superintendent Dr J P Modi said, “He has TB and due to this, his symptoms are anorexia and weight loss.” Acknowledging that Ansari had no one by his side, he said they were taking good care of him.
The family knows this, as it waits to speak to him again.