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One Day: A COVID-19 Story

| This is the 525th story of Our Life Logs |


I have hope that one day, my dreams will come true. But until then, I will continue to dream.

Let’s start at the beginning. I was born in the slums of Lahore in the 1980s. My father could hardly provide three meals a day for my elderly mother, three sisters, and me. He was very old, diabetic, and often sick, but in his mind, women couldn’t help in providing for the family. As the eldest and most passionate daughter, I wanted so badly to help my father, but he never let me. Societal standards had him under a spell. It’s not that he didn’t love us. It was just how Pakistani society felt about women. They let him believe that women can never be like men.

To make money, we used to sell milk from the cow we owned in our village of Sargodha. We asked for 15 rupees per litre. Sadly, not many people bought it because nearly everyone was just as poor as us. With my father’s diabetic state, he had a hard time expanding the business, as he couldn’t work much to begin with. Our family couldn’t afford school, but we longed to go. We used to stand outside the school in the mornings and watch the students pile in the front doors. I used to imagine what it must be like for them—what it would never be like for me.

My father was ridden with guilt that his family would have to sleep with rumbling stomachs and being sick often on top of that depressed him. Still, he would spend time with us on Sundays and give us all the love he could. Understanding our situation, we never complained and were as content as we could be in our little world.

I used to stare at my father in wonder. His eyes said so many things—things only a father could feel and say. What it must be like to have a child!

When I turned 18, my parents arranged for me to marry my cousin Usman. It was an arrangement I welcomed because I liked Usman and I wanted to start a family. Secondly, Usman didn’t ask for a dowry. While my husband wasn’t very rich, he had a steady job as a driver, and I knew we would be happy together. I saw how beautiful our life could be.

Often in life, we plan beyond our reality. We set in stone the dreams that only exist in our minds. The plan was to start a family, have a stable life and income, and give our kids as good a life as we could. While we were okay financially, there was one problem. Children never came. Each year, I hoped for a chance to give Usman a child, but I kept letting us both down. I had thought maybe I was having trouble because I was young. Not conceiving was not possible, so I did not give it thought. I told myself that I was destined to have a child at some point. In reality, I suffered three miscarriages, the first happening when I was only 20, and the other two following in the next four years. Eighteen years of our marriage passed, and I had no children. Every time we tried, only disappointment came our way.

I was shattered by what I deemed was my own failure. What pained me the most was the thought of Usman. He so badly wanted children, but I couldn’t give them to him. Still, he never complained or planned on a second marriage. Instead, he said he loved me, whether we had children or not. I couldn’t have been luckier. Despite his understandings, I really wanted to be a mother. And despite the doctors telling me my uterus was too weak to bear a child and survive, I desperately wanted to anyway.

In early 2020, the very year I am telling you this story, I got pregnant again. It was hard to feel excited when there was no promise I wouldn’t miscarry once again. Still, I hoped.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Coming from an area where many are illiterate, we had no idea what the virus truly was or how deadly it was. All we knew was that it was setting fire to our daily life. As a driver, social distancing can be hard to maintain, so Usman was fired from his job. Because Usman was always on the move, we slept wherever he worked. Now that he had no job, we had nowhere to go. On top of me trying to take care of myself because I couldn’t move much with my uterus issues, we had little income due to the pandemic.

We stayed at Usman’s brother’s place while Usman searched for a job, but nobody was ready to give a job because of the lingering threat of the coronavirus. With all the movement and stress, I could tell that my condition was worsening. Deep down, I think I knew that my baby wouldn’t make it this time either, but I didn’t want to admit it. With every miscarriage, my soul and my dreams faded. Still, I tried to gather myself for Usman’s sake. But you cannot ignore what’s destined to come.

One late night in early March, I noticed a blood spot on the bed where I was sitting. I didn’t have to wonder what it was from. I knew well enough by now. I knew that was it. Still, I prayed that if we could just get to the hospital on time, maybe we could save it.

Sadly, because the country was in lockdown, getting to the hospital was no easy feat. The nearest hospital was 30 minutes away, and we were stopped multiple times but only allowed to go after the officials were notified of my condition. Eventually, we made it.

As soon as we stepped inside, deeper pain ran through me and I felt increased blood flow. Still, I was hopeful. I held onto hope like a life preserver to keep from going under. Except it wasn’t clear when I’d get help, as the hospital was complete chaos. Doctors were busy with coronavirus patients and weren’t taking many other cases. It took us a lot of time to find a doctor who could treat me. Even then, they were reluctant, since I wasn’t wearing a mask, but after an hour, a female doctor examined me.

With her examination came the bad news. I had suffered another miscarriage. Who knows if the extra time would have helped? I lay there with tears in my eyes while Usman sat next to me pretending that it was okay. In that moment, I wanted to die; to sink or set the world on fire. But I couldn’t do any of those things. I just had to go home.

Even though I was devastated by the loss of another pregnancy, I couldn’t stop thinking about the hospital and all the people sick with COVID-19. So many lives thrust into danger because of a virus. It was so shocking to me. And it put into perspective how lucky I truly was. Maybe I didn’t have a child yet, but at least I was alive and healthy. Maybe if I had my child, the virus would have killed it anyway. I wonder if maybe I couldn’t have this baby because God wants me to bring a child into this world once coronavirus ends? Even though it was hard to accept, I knew that everything happens for a reason. And I had to keep looking forward and keep that hope, look for the small blessings in my life like my health and my loving husband.

Not long after the incident, Usman found a job in the same area where he worked before. We were given a place to live. And to help make us a little extra money and to keep me busy, I offered my services as the house help. So far, we’re happy. I’m still recovering from my loss, but I am trying to get by. I am happy to be alive. After seeing all those sick in the hospital, I saw just how important it is to stay home and away from others to prevent the spread. Every life is important.

Most of all, I will not lose hope. Because I know one day I will become a mother and it will be worth all this.

This is the story of Samina Usman

Samina, 36, currently resides in Lahore, Pakistan, with her husband where she works as a housemaid. Coming from a poor but loving family, Usman wanted to be the same kind of good parent to children of her own. Sadly, she was never able to have kids and suffered four miscarriages. The most recent happened in the midst of COVID-19 where hospitals were overrun. She wonders if the baby could have been saved under different circumstances, but she believes that everything happens for a reason. She considers herself a happy soul. She thinks she would make an amazing mother and is eagerly waiting for the day she can become one. She wants everyone to stay safe, and this is her humble message. She says that she will adopt a child if, God forbid, she doesn’t conceive one. Still, she will keep trying until she reaches menopause.

This story first touched our hearts on May 18, 2020.

| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: Colleen Walker |

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