Guwahati: A woman carrying her COVID-19 affected father-in-law on her back to the hospital has gone viral on social media. As people on the internet applauded her selflessness and dedication, 24-year-old Niharika Das from Assam prays that no one ever has to go through what she did.
On June 2, Thuleshwar Das, a 75-year-old betel nut seller in Bhatigaon village started showing symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, his daughter-in-law Niharika Das arranged for an auto-rickshaw to take him to the nearest community health centre in the Raha town 2 km away.
Niharika said that since her father-in-law was too weak to even stand up and her husband was away at work in Siliguri, she had no choice but to carry him on her back and take him to the vehicle parked at a distance. She informed that the road leading up to her house was not accessible for vehicles, and hence the auto-rickshaw could not reach their doorstep.
After Niharika’s father-in-law tested positive at the community health centre, he was asked to be taken to a Covid hospital in Nagaon in lieu of his serious condition.
“Then we had to call for a private vehicle. There was no ambulance, or stretcher available so I had to carry him on my back to the car again”, said Niharika, who was photographed in a pink mekhla carrying her unconscious father-in-law on her back.
She further added that although people stared, they maintained a distance from them and nobody offered to help. It took her a lot of physical and mental strength to actually carry him to the vehicle. Unfortunately, even the Covid hospital in Nagaon was not equipped to deal with Thuleshwar’s condition and they had to be referred to the Nagaon Civil Hospital.
“Even there, I had to carry him on my back up to three flights of stairs. I asked for help but no one was available,” she said The internet’s inspiration who herself later tested positive for Covid-19 added, “I think I must have carried him for a total of 2 km that day.”
Alas, Niharika’s father-in-law could not survive the virus and passed away on Monday at the Guwahati Medical College and hospital, where he was transferred after his conditions worsened. Talking about the viral picture on the internet, she said “I am obviously very happy to see people feel good and inspired by that picture.”
However, the only message she would like to give through the picture is that people should help each other, whether it is their parents, in-laws, or even strangers. She added, “It may not show in the image but I was feeling extremely lonely and broken at that time.”
She also pointed out that the rural health infrastructure needs to improve and at that moment an ambulance would have been of immense help.