Friday, October 30, 2020

Celebration time for quintuplet family

Last week, the quintuplet family of Kerala state was in the news again. But before getting into the details, some background to it.

Back in November 1995, four girls and a boy were born to Rema Devi, a homemaker in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. That's very rare, is it not? It seems the chances of having natural quints is 1 in 55,000,000, according to Baby2See. So, quite understandably, they hit the headlines of the local media there.

Since they were born on the Uthram star of the Malayalam calendar, the daughters were named Uthra, Uthraja, Uthara and Uthama, and the son Uthrajan. (In case you are interested: Wikipedia pages on Malayalam calendar and star)

The quintuplets with their mother.
Courtesy: Mathrubhumi

Raising one child is tough, and this is an ordinary middle-class family with just one earning member. And one can imagine how hard the days must have been for the family.

Tragedy struck when the children were nine. Their father ended life. That made the struggle for the mother, Rama Devi, unimaginably tough. The Kerala government helped by offering her a job in a bank. 

Good Samaritans and community welfare organisations also reached out to them so that the mother's hardship could be reduced somewhat, and the children got access to good and quality education.

Their struggles were amply rewarded as all the children did well in their studies and got placed in good positions.

Three daughters at their wedding.
Image courtesy: Mathrubhumi

Last week, it was another milestone for the family -- wedding bells. Three girls got married. If fact, it should have been four, but one of the girls has to wait since her groom couldn't travel to Kerala from Kuwait because of the travel restrictions on account of the pandemic.

Fortune favours the brave, doesn't it? This family is a testimony to it.


Mathrubhumi, Malayala Manorama

(This post is part of the monthly We Are The World Blogfest that goes out on the last Friday of every month to highlight the positive stories around us. On Facebook and on Twitter.)

Monday, October 12, 2020

We will miss you, papa

A cheerful, energetic and lively personality. A very nice human being ever willing to help anyone anytime. Always fun to be around with. He took hardship and challenges in his stride. A source of encouragement for all of us. He made light of difficult situations with his amazing sense of humour. My father-in-law would have been 82 on Oct 5, but he left us eight days earlier, on Sept 27.

Papa had a long career of nearly three decades in the engineering division of the BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited) in Bhopal. My first memories of him go back over thirty years when I met him and his family over dinner at their home. Ever since that, all these years, he has been, more than anything, a wonderful friend.

After his retirement, he moved back to his home state of Kerala in the late 1990s. He continued to keep himself busy with social activities and work in his small but very resourceful kitchen garden.

Over the past 10 years, he used to regularly visit us as well as his son here in Bengaluru. After going to Kerala in November 2019, they were supposed to be back here in March-April. But because of the lockdown, they stayed on there.

They would have stayed on there, but for the resurgence of symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia from which he had almost fully recovered some one-and-a-half years ago. After reaching here on August 20 for review and resumption of treatment, he made three visits to the hospital. Though his condition didn't get better to the extent it had earlier, there was some improvement.

But unfortunately, that didn't last long, with extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and later on a cough weighing him down. On the night of 24th, Thursday, he looked very tired and weak like never before, and the next day we took him to hospital. 

There was one possibility we had always factored in, considering papa's highly immunocompromised health condition, and we tried our very best to keep him safe. But that Friday, about a couple of hours after he was taken into the Emergency, a doctor came to us with the test result, and we realised we had failed. 

Till then, for so many months, we had only read and listened to stories from places as far away as New York to localities in my neighbourhood of the hard times COVID-19 had brought. Now, the virus had reached our home too. 

But we are thankful for small mercies. Papa didn't have to endure pain; it was discomfort and tiredness that seemed to bother him the most. The doctors were extremely helpful in not just providing excellent medical care but also guiding us through the right way during those difficult days.

Rest in peace and comfort, papa. You will always be in our thoughts. We will miss you.

Since he was with us, all of us at home got ourselves tested, the very next day, on 26th, Saturday, and the results came negative. But since our last day of contact was the 25th, we have to be watchful for any symptoms for 10 to 21 days. So we are in quarantine till the 16th. 

Meanwhile, my wife began to feel fatigued, with a mild fever of 99 and blood oxygen level hovering over 93-95 on Oct 1st. A couple of days later she developed a slight cough as well. We are all already in quarantine and she was isolated within our home itself. We kept our distance and wore a mask when required. 

We consulted a doctor, who said, now with the virus all over the place, any flu-like symptom (especially among vulnerable people) is prima facie considered a possible case of COVID-19 unless proved otherwise. So, he right away prescribed ivermectin, doxycycline, vitamin C, D and zinc, besides steam inhalation three times a day and gargling with salt-and-turmeric-mixed lukewarm water five times a day.

(This line of treatment is referred to by some doctors as 'quadruple therapy', and there is a white paper on the efficacy of ivermectin.)

The fever was gone after four days, and there was a steady improvement in her condition every day. She has now completely recovered and is back to her energetic self.  

We aren't letting the guard down. I don't think we can at any time in the foreseeable future.