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To Have a Fighting Spirit: A COVID-19 Story

| This is the 531st story of Our Life Logs |


I was born into a high-class family in 1994 in Islamabad, Pakistan. My family was full of successful business owners. I grew up seeing the dedication that all the members of my family held toward their work. They expected me to be just like them. But I wasn’t. Not at all.

Although I managed to get into one of the top universities in my country, I wasn’t very great in my studies and often produced bad grades. I wasn’t stupid; I was just very immature. School and my future weren’t top priorities for me. I focused more on the gratifying things in life like going to parties and hanging out with friends. Wasting time in useless activities like playing video games was more exciting to me than a job. My father and grandfather scolded me many times over my bad attitude, but as a selfish teenager, I always ignored their distaste.

When my grandfather insisted that I join the business, I agreed to, but only because I felt I didn’t have a choice. I definitely wasn’t ready for a “serious” job, and I was really bad at it because I didn’t try when I was on the job. My brother tried to motivate me, but I simply didn’t care. I didn’t take the job seriously which resulted in the company experiencing heavy losses.

My immaturity got me into trouble in my personal life too. I started getting into fights over little things, letting my temper get the best of me. At 25, I should have been building myself up, but instead, I was leading myself to my downfall. After years of immaturity and anger both at work and at home, my family was fed up and they kicked me out of the family. With a really small share of the property, I was cast out, my heart shattered. I might have deserved it, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.

I had always taken the luxuries of my life for granted, so being out on my own ruined me. I knew then that I needed to pick myself up and finally grow up. Without my parents to baby me, I was on my own. And I knew it was only me who could get myself out of it.

After a few months, I started my own small business. It was nothing compared to my family’s business, but it was enough to cover monthly expenses and bring back some luxury in my life. Meanwhile, news of an outbreak spread throughout the country: a virus called COVID-19. Every time the word was heard, it was associated with China, which made people from Pakistan think that it was something for China to worry about and not us.

Cases started popping up in our country, but still, there was no fear. People freely roamed the streets, and I was busy focusing on my business. It was expanding day by day, and I felt like I wasn’t such a lazy failure after all.

Just when I thought things were going smoothly, I received the news that my brother had met an accident and he was in critical condition. I immediately rushed to the hospital. There, I saw my entire family anxiously waiting to hear news about my brother. I could feel my stomach drop at the sight of them. Approaching them took a lot of courage, but I knew I needed to. I had disappointed them and wanted to apologize. It would be a picture-perfect reunion in my mind.

What I didn’t realize was that offering an apology doesn’t always mean one receives forgiveness. My family refused to hear me and ordered me to leave. It hurt, but who could blame them? I had been awful to them for years. There was no space left for me in their hearts. But I could see the tears running down from my parents’ faces. They wanted to forgive me, but I had hurt them too much. Still, I stayed, waiting to hear news of my brother.

After some time, the doctors finally came with the great news. My brother’s condition was stable! I wanted to go in and see him right away, but my grandfather stepped in and told me to go home.

“I won’t leave without seeing my brother,” I said firmly.

“You can only meet him on one condition,” He replied. “You never show your face around us ever again.” My heart stopped. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I didn’t want to leave my family for good, but I also couldn’t not visit with my injured brother. So, I went to see my brother then silently left out the back door, not even looking back at the family I was being forced to leave behind.

To make matters worse, while I was dealing with the major falling out with my family, I started to feel sick. At first, I thought it was a small fever, but as I began experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath in the middle of the night, I decided to get tested. The results showed that I had contracted COVID-19.

I immediately took action and self-quarantined. Then, I quickly called the few employees whom I had met with in the past week and advised them to self-quarantine themselves, even if they didn’t feel symptoms. Though the doctors told me that my case wasn’t that serious and that I would recover very soon, my symptoms worsened. It felt like I had 200-pound weight on my chest and I would wake up gasping for air in the middle of the night. However, the worst symptoms were my loss of taste and smell. That was when I realized that I’d even taken simple pleasures for granted. I had disappointed so many people in my life, but at least when my family kicked me out, I was healthy and had promise. Now, experiencing such awful symptoms, I feared for my life.

I didn’t want my business to suffer just as it was finding success, so I started running my business through online meetings when the lockdown began. Even when I got sick, I held these meetings. But as my health worsened, I had to spend days in bed. I had no energy. My head felt as if it was being slammed by a hammer.

At my wit’s end, I knew I had to go to the hospital for help. I didn’t want to infect a taxi driver, so I decided to drive myself. It felt like a 1000-mile journey because I was so out of it. I have no idea how I managed to safely drive there. My head was spinning, and the road felt like a high-speed treadmill.

It turned out that half of my left lung was heavily infected, and my condition was worsening every second. My oxygen levels were so low that I was being given oxygen therapy. After so much hard work to keep my business running despite the lockdowns, I was forced to shut it down.

Without money coming in, my bank balance was dwindling, and my COVID-19 treatment was not cheap. I was on the verge of going broke. The doctors said the only thing that could help me would be to receive plasma from someone who has recovered from COVID-19. After I told my coworkers this, one of them told me that they found someone who could donate plasma.

There was just one catch: the price. I didn’t even have a quarter of the amount. I quickly contacted all my acquaintances and friends, but no one was willing or could help. I felt hopeless with no idea of what to do next. Life can be so fickle. One day you’re soaring through the sky, the next you’re knocked down with a broken wing.

I knew I was going to die. Without the plasma, my life was destined to end. People infected were dying all around me at the hospital. It was only a matter of time until I joined them. I started experiencing a decline in my mental health and I began to wonder if I should just kill myself and get it over with. But then, a light came into my vision, and for the first time in weeks, I felt hope.

I was informed that an anonymous donor had arranged the money for the plasma and paid off my medical debt. I couldn’t believe it. I had been saved. And so, I was treated and was able to finally recover. I tried asking who the donor was, but no one would say. They said it was a surprise.

Finally, after being on the verge of death, I was discharged from the hospital. When I took that first step out, I gasped. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Waiting for me outside was my entire family. My grandfather came forward and hugged me. I once again apologized for all the mistakes and he said, “No need to apologize, Son. We forgive you, and we are glad that you have learned your lesson. Your manager told me about the hard work you did you bring up your business despite the lockdown. When I heard that, I was the happiest person on Earth.”

Joy ran through my body. These words were all that I needed after going through such a difficult time. As it turned out, my coworker informed my family of my critical condition and that was enough to melt their hearts and come to forgive me. It was an emotional day. As I went home, I knew that this experience would leave me forever changed.

I have realized just how much we take small things for granted, how we must not be selfish in our darkest moments, we will barely have anyone. I also discovered just how valuable hard work is. You will find many ups and downs in your journey and you have to fight every difficulty that comes in your way because after darkness there always comes light, but we must wait to see it.

This is the story of Muhammad Saad Asif

Muhammad was born to a rich family in Pakistan, which he took for granted. He had a very rude attitude towards everyone and didn’t use to take anything seriously which led to him being alone when he fell sick with COVID-19. The experience turned him into a better person by giving him countless numbers of hardship and challenges and to see how important is to cherish what you have in life. He spends his quarantine days enjoying reading books and learning new skills. His go-to quarantine snack is pizza, and one thing he will miss when things go back to “normal” is having so much time to read his favorite books.

This story first touched our hearts on July 20, 2020.

| Writer: Muhammad Saad Asjf | Editor: Colleen Walker |

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