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Abu Dhabi

Despite 33 years of tragic events, mum keeps her hopes alive in UAE

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi Filed on August 21, 2020 | Last updated on August 21, 2020 at 12.50 am
33 years, tragic events, mum, keeps, hopes, alive in UAE
STRONG RESILIENCE: Sarla's prime concern is Dimple, her 30-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy whose visa and health insurance have expired.- Photo by Ryan Lim

Sarla's husband Kumar was diagnosed with kidney failure and was on dialysis from 2002.

The life of 62-year-old Sarla is a spate of tragedies. The Indian mother from New Delhi lost one of her three daughters following a heart surgery in 2010 and then her husband died of kidney failure in 2016. Another daughter, the eldest of all who was the sole breadwinner of the family, lost her job recently. In addition to all these, her only son had struggled with studies after his father's demise on the day of his final exams.

Sarla's prime concern is Dimple, her 30-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy whose visa and health insurance has expired and there has been no treatment for more than a year. An ailing Sarla has fought many battles and says she is ready for a few more, if her health permits.

"Dimple was born in 1990. The doctor at Al Mafraq Hospital told us she was 'abnormal'. We took her to hospitals in India. But ever since Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) was opened, we are going there."

Dimple is severely disabled. The only word she utters is 'ma' that too when in a good mood. She suffers seizures and has a curve in her spine which makes it difficult to move a few steps.

Husband, daughter pass away

If managing Dimple wasn't enough, Sarla's husband Kumar was diagnosed with kidney failure and was on dialysis from 2002. Four years later, a kidney transplant operation was performed. Things seemed to return to normalcy but then a daughter suffered food poisoning and her condition worsened dramatically. She was admitted to SKMC. The region's first implantation of biventricular assist device was carried out. Another heart surgery followed but after a few days she passed away in 2010.

"She was a bright student of Abu Dhabi Indian School. She was only 18," the mother said, showing old photos and SKMC's booklet featuring the rare operation.

And in 2016, after years of worsening health, Kumar too departed.

"It was morning. I was making tea. I was a bit late. I wondered why he wasn't complaining. When I checked, he was lying there motionless. I rushed him to hospital but in vain," Sarla said and remembered that Dimple knew her father was no more. "Everyone says she has a mental problem. But no. Even while we all had recovered from the shock, she refused to eat food. The death was a setback for my son, too. He was supposed to write his final exam that day, but couldn't."

However, with Kumar's final settlement amount, the 24-year-old son completed his graduation in architecture later. The eldest daughter, an MBA graduate, was offered a position in her father's company but lost it amid the pandemic.

Hope for the future

Sarla hopes her children will find jobs and are able to offer support as financial pressure mounts.

"Dimple's visa isn't renewed since July 2019. Her insurance card expired in December 2018. There are some issues in online renewal and the local health authorities have to approve it. I appeal to them to look into this. We haven't done a follow-up for more than a year."

"I hope my children find good jobs. I pray Dimple gets a good rehabilitation centre. I have spent over 33 years in Abu Dhabi. There is no one waiting for us in India. I long to see all of us as a happy family." 


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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