“Can I come with you to the hospital? I understand that volunteers are needed to help during this pandemic.” Anita looked at her daughter with anticipation writ large in her eyes, but was disappointed when Disha shook her head.

“No ma, I can’t take you without my dean’s permission. Let me discuss with him.” 

Disha hopped into her car. She felt sorry for having denied her mother’s request and for having spurned a false excuse, but she had done it with a purpose. 

With thirty years of experience as a nurse to her credit, Anita would be the most befitting person to serve as a volunteer at this crucial hour. But given the gravity of the situation, Disha was worried. She was not sure if during her three decades of service, Anita had come across such a rapidly growing infection.  The deadly Virus had struck with stubborn intensity and was categorized as the worst of its kind.

Disha and her panel of doctors had been struggling, attending to patients who had been pouring in; with the number growing exponentially every day.

Each day had a different tale. Some patients broke down on being tested positive for the infection, making a sorry sight.  Last week some patient in the isolation ward had turned violent. If not for the timely intervention of ward boy, Ramu, the patient might have gone on a rampage. Ramu successfully pinned him to the bed.

Demands for ventilators were increasing at an alarming rate. Already five casualties had been reported. The reception desk was a place of perennial pandemonium.  It was getting difficult for the doctors to maintain their sanity in the ensuing chaos.

 As Disha entered the hospital, she was greeted by Dr. Mazumdar. “Good morning, we have seventeen new admissions having directly arrived from affected countries.”

 The number seventeen seemed inconspicuous as against last week’s statistics. Thanks to the total lockdown round the globe, the inflow of patients was tapering.

 “Their samples have been sent to the lab. Reports are expected by 12pm.  Most of them, I think can be discharged by evening or tomorrow. They haven’t shown any positive symptoms, but home quarantine has to be followed.  A few look sick, but only the reports can tell us. Till then I have put them in isolation ward Twenty six.”

“And here,” he said, pointing to the case papers of sixty five year old patient. “There are no authentic symptoms to substantiate a viral infection, except that he is weak and has traveled from an affected area.” 

Dr. Mazumdar moved towards the foyer. His duty time was done with and he was eagerly waiting to return home.

Disha gestured him to carry on and went ahead with her visits to the wards.
“You all look fine, don’t worry,” Disha comforted the newly admitted patients.  Sometimes assuring words seemed a welcome treatment for those who were in despair.

She then moved towards the senior most patient.  An elegant looking gentleman with an alluring personality further accentuated by his well toned biceps, was fast asleep.

“Who has accompanied this patient to the hospital?” Disha asked, examining his pulse. 

 Nurse Tara said that he had informed the staff last night that he was a widower and his only son had blatantly asked him to leave his house in UK and get back to his home in India.  The son had his own speculations about caring for his father, in the wake of a pandemic of this sort. 

“I don’t know what exactly the matter with him is, but he was too restless throughout night. Looks like he is deeply hurt by the fact that his only son kicked him out ruthlessly at this time when the whole world was trying to cope with a viral infection and when elders needed care and affection. It is only in the wee hours of morning that he finally fell asleep.”

Disha checked his parameters. His sugar test was fine though his blood pressure was a little on the higher side.

Disha had no other alternative but to check his handset to look for someone to contact. They needed some near kith or kin in case of emergency.  

 For a few minutes Disha stood still, staring at his phone’s screen saver. The photo on the screen had had a mesmerizing effect on her. It was an old snap of this gentleman which she had seen somewhere before.”

‘Is this what people term as serendipity?’ 

Tears filled Disha’s eyes as she recollected some conversations with her mother.

If ever dad comes back to you, will you pardon and accept him?” 

“There is no question of pardoning him, he had never erred. He was trapped between a conservative Brahmin society and his love for a catholic girl. His parents forced this marriage on him. When I learnt about it, I felt that was unfair. I freed him from this bond, though he was reluctant to go.

 Extracting a promise that our paths would never knowingly cross each others’, I asked him to lead his life as per his desire. Later when I came to know that I was pregnant with his kid, I did not think it right to inform him and saddle him with guilt feelings.”

Wiping her moist eyes, Disha dialed a number.

“Ma, come to the hospital.  A patient has to be given a second chance to survive and only your presence and care can make the inevitable possible in his case.” 

Gently touching his head, she softly whispered into her father’s ears, “Dad, I am your daughter Disha, whom you have never seen before. Mom will come in a while.”

Warm tears fell down her dad’s cheeks. Disha knew the battle was won. 

A ray of hope gleamed in the azure sky. A Pandemic had been instrumental in uniting a scattered family. 


Photo By: Unsplash

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