Abu Dhabi - Dr Varsha, a general practitioner at the Abu Dhabi Police Clinic in Al Ain, said: "This is a distressing period but we must not lose hope.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Some of us are mourning the loss of a loved one, while others are trying to make ends meet after losing their jobs or taking a pay cut. The UAE is gradually restoring normalcy even as it reminds residents that the threat is far from over. Through this two-week series, Khaleej Times will feature residents who have endured a loss due to the virus, to remind you that the alarming surge in daily cases is more than just a number. #NextStopZero is a rallying call to get the community to adopt safe practices so as to bring down the infection rate.
A family of doctors is appealing to the community to follow all safety rules, and honour the sacrifices of those who died on the front lines of the Covid-19 battle. In June, they lost Dr Sudhir Rambhau Washimkar - a 61-year-old frontline warrior, husband to Dr Varsha, father to two aspiring doctors, and a 'guiding light' of the family.
Dr Varsha, a general practitioner at the Abu Dhabi Police Clinic in Al Ain, said: "This is a distressing period but we must not lose hope.
We must follow the instructions of the health authorities. Try and be safe and ensure safety of others."
The family is still struggling to cope with the loss. Grief lingered as Dr Varsha recalled all the noble plans and dreams her husband had before the virus took his life.
He had always been a man for others, she said, someone who reached out to the poor and the needy without hesitation.
"He would always encourage others to join relief work. After joining Burjeel Royal Hospital in 2018, he requested permission to help health workers tackling the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala," said Dr Varsha.
Back when he was a medical student, he used to volunteer for relief efforts during floods and other disasters in different parts of India.
And when the pandemic struck, he donated money to organisations so he could help those who bore the brunt of the crisis back home.
"He had planned to spend three to four more years here and return to serve people in India. He had pledged to donate his organs to government medical college in India. He had planned his last stages of life in India," said Dr Varsha.
All these big dreams to make a difference in people's lives had fizzled out. Dr Washimkar - an internal medicine specialist who had been treating Covid-19 patients in Al Ain - breathed his last on June 6 after nearly a month of treatment.
'Our children sunk into depression'
Their sons, who are both medical students, have been finding it difficult to keep going without their father, Dr Varsha said. They used to talk to him every single day over the phone.
"After finishing his MBBS, one of my sons had come here. He wanted to spend a few months here with us and then leave for his post-graduation. But he couldn't see much of his father who was busy with Covid-19 duties," she said.
"In May, all of us tested Covid-19 positive. My son had severe pneumonia."
Beyond Covid, their son also developed psychiatric issues after the death of Dr Washimkar. "My children are in severe depression but they are managing," the mother said.
His memories live on
Dr Varsha wishes to continue working and living in Al Ain, where the memories of her husband rest.
"It was our 30th wedding anniversary on April 30 but because of the Covid-19 situation, he postponed the celebrations to my birthday on May 26," she said. Little did they know, the party would never happen.
"He was keen on travelling. He used to write short poems, sing and play drums and guitar. He wanted to write a book and make a movie on underprivileged kids. He was a healthy person. He never thought of a death like this. He had many dreams. I hope to fulfil them. I want to work here. My children also want to follow in their father's footsteps."