This is the story of a family that was put through the wringer in the last few weeks but has emerged unscathed, exemplifying that what does not kill you makes you stronger. They have unitedly fought disease, social stigma and isolation.
Fifty-three-year-old Shalan Devkule returned home on Thursday after successfully being treated for coronavirus. She had been admitted to Bhabha Hospital, Kurla, where she battled the dreaded virus for twenty days straight and came out a winner.
In the last week of March, Devkule had severe fever and headache. Having seen and read enough about the pandemic, she decided there was no point in wasting time and went straight to Cooper Hospital to get admitted. She was tested and was found positive. Later, she was transferred to Bhabha Hospital, Kurla, which was closer home.
"This is the longest time I have spent away from my family. It was tough to live without them, moreso with all the negativity around. But somehow, I made it through this tough period and feel the experience has made me stronger mentally, and a more compassionate human being" said Devkule.
"The doctors kept motivating us, as did the ward boys and nurses, who kept reminding us this is not a disease but a battle where we all need to fight together," she recalled.
Devkule resides in the congested locality of Santoshi Mata Nagar at Sahar, with her 32-year-old son, Vivek and daughter-in-law.
After she was found positive, her family was put under isolation. Many of her neighbours were also home-quarantined by civic authorities. The Devkules had to face flak from neighbours for being 'carriers' of the contagion.
Vivek Devkule attributes this behaviour to the lack of awareness about the disease in their neighbourhood.
"At the beginning, people in our locality blamed us for being carriers of the virus. This was very upsetting and tested our mettle. But we emerged stronger after the ordeal," he said.
Vivek recalls how he and his wife could not visit his mother. So they kept in touch through their mobile phones, often video-calling each other.
"My wife and I were home while my mother was in hospital. We were not permitted to visit her and kept worrying about her plight. We couldn't see her in person and this was especially troubling, given all the negativity around us," he said.
"However, the doctors and ward officers kept us informed. The medical officers of the BMC also assured updated us about her health and we feel really lucky that she was able to make it," recalls Vivek.
A ground staffer at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Vivek and his wife who is a nurse, are remain in quarantine until April 30.
K-East Congress corporator Jagdish Amin has kept the family under close surveillance and frequently checks on them.
"I am personally keeping track of all the families in my ward which have positive cases. We are providing them with essential commodities like food, water and medical kits," said Amin.