"I only had water since I came to the hospital. Hospital staffers provided food, but I could not eat. All I did was stand by Abbu, cleaning him after he defecated, and waiting to see if he needed anything"
My father gave a sample for a coronavirus test on June 15. He was suffering from fever for three or four days with no cold or cough. Then he was diagnosed with typhoid and got hospitalised at Bhairab Upazila Health Complex. While at the hospital, the result of his Covid-19 test came out positive on June 21.
Abbu needed to be transferred to Bhairab Specialised Hospital and Trauma Centre ─ the only hospital dedicated for Covid-19 treatment in the upazila. However, Abbu was not allowing me to enter the ward fearing that I might also get infected. As I am his only child, his worries were perhaps much greater than normal.
But I ignored his protests and took him to the trauma centre. Because he was very weak I had to hold him tightly all the way.
Doctors referred Abbu to Syed Nazrul Islam Hospital located in Kishoreganj for better treatment. When we reached there by ambulance, it was 1:30am. Then I had to take him to the second floor, but no one was ready to help me. The ambulance driver and the staff member said, "How can we touch him, he has contracted coronavirus!"
I found a wheelchair, and I lifted Abbu with quite some effort. I placed him on the chair and took him to the second floor. By this time, Abbu had lost all his strength to stand up. He needed to go to the toilet but had no strength left. Therefore, he had to go on the bed. I cleaned everything myself. He had diarrhoea and defecated 5/6 times on the bed that night.
Meanwhile, he was given supplemental oxygen, and Abbu felt better.
However, by the morning, he had trouble breathing again. A doctor came to see him and referred him to the ICU. They did an ECG and some blood tests. I stood 24 hours by his side lest he needed something. He was restless and frequently wanted to sit up and then lie down again. I helped.
The only rest I got was when I took a blood sample to the lab. For about 30/40 minutes, I could sit on a chair.
I had a number of gloves at the same time, 3 facemasks, a cap, and a protective glass on. In addition, I put on polythene bags on my shoes and held them with elastic bands.
On the second day, I went to the ward to bring some stuff for my father. As I did not have time to eat anything in the previous 24 hours, I was very weak, and eventually fainted. I had been lying on the floor for 30-40 minutes. There were seven Covid-19 patients in that ward. They took off my masks and splashed water on my face. I regained consciousness. The patients offered me some fruits and made me eat them.
Having regained some strength, I ran back to the ICU.
On the third day at the ICU, Abbu was diagnosed with kidney and heart complications. His blood was tested twice, with a six-hour interval, on that day. At night, the doctor told me to take him back home. There was nothing they could do for my father.
I insisted on keeping him at the hospital.
I only had water since I came to the hospital. Hospital staffers provided food, but I could not eat. All I did was stand by Abbu, cleaning him after he defecated, and waiting to see if he needed anything.
That night, a new doctor came after a shift-change. My eyes kept closing from continued sleep deprivation; I almost fell from the standing position. The doctor asked me if I was doing drugs. He even called security guards - one had a stick with him - to have my blood tested for possible drug abuse. I tried to convince him that I was a student and I didn't even smoke.
The ward boy and nurses came and saved me. They told the doctor that I was the only person in the hospital who stayed with the Covid-19 patients and that I skipped meals for days and had not slept for a minute.
The doctor realised his mistake and apologised to me. I said I was not concerned about any insult to me; all that I wanted was that my father came round.
On the fourth day, Abbu wanted to have rice. I was so glad. I pushed a morsel into his mouth. But he could not eat much. And then he defecated again, so I could not eat either. I had to clean him and the bed.
Abbu said he was feeling better. He talked to me a bit, despite his weakness. He was sorry about the fact that he was not leaving me any wealth. He named two local political leaders with whom I should talk to sort out a dispute over a piece of land. He placed his hand on my head and prayed that I would not have to suffer from poverty or any pain. He even talked to Ammu over the phone and asked for forgiveness in case he had misbehaved with her at any time.
Later in the evening, his breathing rate rose significantly for a while. Then he breathed his last. I was right beside him. He died resting on my hands.
Two ward boys brought a body bag. We had to put Abbu in the bag. But nobody stepped forward to help me. I requested them for help but they politely refused.
I placed the body bag on a trolley. Then I lifted Abbu's body and placed it in the bag. I was very weak from starvation and a lack of rest, so it took a great effort to do that.
I brought the trolley to the ground floor. I needed an ambulance but hospital staffers said they had none. I suppose they wanted to get some money out of me. A local journalist pulled some strings and the authorities agreed to provide an ambulance.
Some religious men came from the Islamic Foundation or wherever to arrange a funeral. In the meantime, another ambulance was sent from Bhairab to bring us back.
The Janaza (funeral prayer) and burial took place at midnight. Apart from those men assigned for the job, two or three neighbours and I took part in the process.
The next day, a relative came and said nobody would come to see us as I was back from a Covid-19 hospital. He asked us to cook ourselves and eat something. In our society, neighbours and relatives usually bring food for a couple of days so that the dead man's grieving family would not have to starve.
I stayed at home for a few days. My mother wanted to embrace me, but I always stepped back lest she should get infected.
On June 29, Ammu and I went to the hospital to get tested, separately riding on two rickshaws.
The report came three days later; we both tested negative.
The next morning, for the first time since the burial, I went to visit my father's grave.
It's been a long story. I'm 20 years old. I never thought something like this would happen in my life.