While he served patients, a 'coronavirus warrior' waited helplessly as his three-year-old son fought for his life in another hospital, a battle which he eventually lost.
Manish Kumar, 27, a ward boy in Lucknow's Lokbandhu Hospital, could not even perform the last rites of his son due to medical protocols and watched from a distance as his family members completed the rituals.
On Saturday night, he was serving patients at an isolation ward in the Level-2 government COVID-19 hospital, when he got a frantic call that his son, Harshit, was having difficulty in breathing and also had a stomachache.
"When I got the call, I became restless but could not leave the hospital immediately. My family members took my son to the King George's Medical University. They kept sending me his pictures on WhatsApp. At about 2 am he left the world, leaving all of us behind," said Manish as he wept while narrating the episode to PTI.
"I wanted to see my son but decided not to tell my colleagues as I did not want to leave my patients to fend for themselves. But noticing the frequent calls I was getting and seeing my condition, they realised something is wrong and asked me to leave," he said.
Manish, taking all necessary precautions, reached KGMU, where his son's body lay.
He, however, did not enter inside and kept waiting for his son to come out, not alive and kicking, but lifeless and motionless.
"I saw him from a distance as my family members took him home and I followed them on my bike. I wanted to embrace my son and hold him as I could not accept that he is no more," he said.
Even in grief, he chose not to step into his house to protect his family from possible coronavirus infection.
"I did not enter my house and sat on the verandah near the gate. Next day, he was cremated by family members as I could not even touch his body as advised by my seniors to avoid any infection," he said.
As a number of people are involved in a cremation, his touching the body could have created problems for others, he said.
Manish said that now he only has fond memories of his son in the form of some videos and pictures on his mobile.
When asked when he will be joining duty, he said, "Very soon."
"At present I am spending time consoling my wife, that too maintaining a safe distance. I am not entering home and spending time on verandah. I will resume my duties in day or two. Patients are waiting to be attended. I will find solace in serving them," he said.
The state capital has witnessed 242 coronavirus cases till Tuesday of which 161 have been treated and discharged while one died.
]There are 80 active cases undergoing treatment as of now.