BHOPAL: The lockdown in the city that lasted almost two months during the second wave of the corona pandemic provided working peopleóespecially fathersóa rare opportunity to spend time with their children and families. With offices and businesses shut and movement restricted, most fathers could afford to spend quality time with their children.
But some of them followed their inner voice and immersed themselves in helping Covid patients and their kin by arranging for oxygen cylinders, beds, medicines and injections, which were in short supply. They were neither doctors, nor health workers. They were neither cops, nor NGO workers. They were ordinary people.
On the eve of Fatherís Day, Free Press spoke to some of them. They say they missed their children badly and had to maintain physical distance from them for all of these two months. Excerpts:
Supplied food to needy
"During the first lockdown, I supplied cooked and uncooked food to the needy. But, during the second, the problems were of a different nature. There was a shortage of oxygen, medicines and beds and so on. Arranging for these things was much more difficult than food. I left my home around 8 am and was back only by midnight. I have an eight-year-old daughter, Mariya. Sheís very close to me. But I had to keep a distance from her for more than two months. I couldnít even hug her. While serving the people, I also caught the infection and my condition turned critical. My oxygen saturation level fell to 42% and my lungs were 80% infected. Three hospitals refused to admit me. Ultimately, I could get admitted to a hospital and, by God's grace, I survived. When I was in the hospital, my daughter used to make ëduaí for me. 'Mere Papa ko lauta do,' she used to pray to God. She didn't have dinner till I'd spoken to her on video call or sent my video to her. We're told: Ibadat se Jannat milti hai, aur khidmat se Khuda milta hai." -Inam Naved Hussain, engineer
Lucky to serve people
"My son, Ibrahim, is four years old. As an artiste, my circle is wide and, so, during the lockdown, I received many calls from people who needed help. They had pinned their hopes on me. I couldnít let them down. We arranged for seven beds with oxygen support at Hamid Manzil, where we kept patients who couldnít get admission in hospitals. Most of my waking hours were spent there. I used to leave my home at 9 am. At that time, he was sleeping. When I came back at midnight, heíd already fallen asleep. My son used to phone me many times during the day and night. ëPapa ghar aa jao,í he used to plead. Heís very fond of flying kites and he loves chocolates. I made sure that both were in ample supply for him. I consider myself lucky that I got an opportunity to serve the people." -Shawez Sikandar, theatre artiste
Painful telling him No!
"Fawaz, my four-year-old son, enjoys my company a lot. He played cricket with me. He used to mount a mock attack on me where I was supposed to fall down. Every day, I used to take him on outingsósometimes to a park, sometimes to other places. Of course, a treat of burgers or sandwiches was mandatory. All that stopped during the lockdown as I got busy with attending to patients. I left home at 5 am and when Iíd come back was uncertain. He was asleep when I left and had fallen asleep when I came back. Sometimes, when I came home during the day, as soon as I opened the main gate of the compound, he would rush towards me. I had to tell him to keep away. It was painful, but I couldnít have risked my family catching the infection for that would have put a full stop to my social service. I believe that, if I serve the needy, Allah will take care of my needs." -Anwar Khan, businessman