True Heroes: A COVID-19 Story

Updated: Aug 12


| This is the 530th story of Our Life Logs |

It’s been almost three months since my soul shattered. I never thought something so terrible could happen. But then again, no one saw the last three months of 2020 coming.

I was born in the 2000s in Lahore, Pakistan. My parents both worked as successful and highly reputable doctors for decades, serving the people of our country and healing the afflicted. My father was a general physician and my mother was a gynecologist. They were medical school sweethearts who fell in love while my father was my mother’s senior. They insisted that my older brother and I continue their legacy and go into medicine.

My brother always wanted to be a doctor and needed no pushing to follow the path my parents wanted for him. But I didn’t want to be a doctor. I wanted to be an artist. Yet, coming from such a science-based family, I had little choice in my career path. I love my parents and wanted to see them happy, so I opted for sciences, considering it my fate. Little did I know my parents would never be able to see their dreams coming true.

As we grew up, my brother began struggling his way through residency and I began preparing for medical school. Everything seemed to be coming together. But that’s when COVID-19 became a virus affecting China to a virus sweeping across the world to every country, leaving few stones unturned.

The first case came in February of 2020. At first, nobody thought that it could be that deadly, but even so, my parents who were always on duty were called to action more than ever. Both my parents worked at a government hospital in Lahore where thousands of patients came in every day. My father was so much in love with his profession that, even after his retirement, he would still report to the hospital every day to treat patients. My mother loved being around my father, so even if she didn’t have to work, she would go too. They always came home together content and smiling after a long day of saving lives. My father used to say that this feeling was like a drug that he was addicted to—the feeling of helping another.

By March 2020 things got really bad. My parents were gone more than ever, sometimes gone for two days. They were that busy serving patients.

I used to call my parents and brother, begging them to come back home and stay in quarantine. Thinking about all the people they were exposed to on a daily basis terrified me, and I wanted nothing more than to have them home safe with me. I insisted that they should stop working until the pandemic was less dangerous. I knew how crazy they were about their job, but I couldn’t take the fear out of my heart. My father scolded my pleas, saying that I was being selfish, that people needed his help. So, I had little choice but to accept their decision.

With my parents and brother in the epicenter of the disease, they asked me to stay at my grandmother’s house for a while for my safety. But their lives were still in danger, and my greatest fears came to light.

In late March, my father became infected with the virus. He began experiencing body aches, breathlessness, and had a fever, but he tried to ignore them and focused on his sick patients. After a few days, his condition worsened and he was sent home. With no treatment to be done since he could still breathe okay, there was nothing he could do but let it pass.

I wanted to go and see my father, but my mother wouldn’t let me for fear that I would catch it too. Not long after Father fell ill, Mother followed. It was no surprise, of course; they were inseparable.

As the days wore on, the virus didn’t pass through my father. He just kept getting worse as my mother was facing the same terrible condition. My brother who was caring for them both admitted our father to the hospital. My mother was soon hospital-bound too. I don’t know how my brother gathered so much courage and strength to look after our sick parents along with his own patients.

My father used to tell us that a person who gets put on a ventilator seldom survives. And that was the miserable fate my father met. On March 23, 2020, my father died from COVID-19. Then, just seven days later, my mother also died from the virus on March 30, 2020. My mother struggled a lot during her last days as there were no ventilators available. She died in so much pain. What was even worse was that I wasn’t there when either of them passed. I was kept away.

I was completely shattered that I couldn’t see them one last time. I would cry and beg to see them, but my brother didn’t let me. The only time I got to said goodbye was at their funeral with a safety suit on. There is little more devastating than not being able to have a proper funeral for someone. My parents deserved a beautiful service with hundreds of people. Sadly, we couldn’t have that. We had to say goodbye in safety suits.

People asked me how I felt or what I was going to do next. How could I answer that? How could someone even ask that, knowing that my world had just faded away? After the funeral, I couldn’t eat or sleep or eat properly. I was devastated that something so vile could come out of nowhere, sweep the world, and kill so many people. My parents were two of the most important people to me. All that was left was their memory.

After weeks of being lost, not knowing how to go on, I realized just how I was to continue. My parents wanted their legacy to live on more than anything. I knew I had to take the torch I once reluctantly held and become a doctor my parents could be proud of.

Heroes are not the ones hiding behind cameras, costumes, graphics, computers, and your television screens. Heroes are the people who save your lives. People who are there when you’re in need of rescue, who ignore their own families and health to heal others. Because it’s the right thing to do. My parents were heroes who died serving humanity. And I decided that I am going to be just like them. I will make them proud and work till my last breath. Just like they did. I will become a hero too so that no other child has to lose their parents like this. I will try to be the savior and walk in my parents’ footsteps. This is the last that I can do for them.

It will take years for my fragile heart to understand that what happened was meant to happen. I know that life has to go on and I have to keep up the legacy forged for me through sacrifice and grace. From this day to the day I breathe my last, my parents shall only be remembered as heroes. I hope one day my children remember me the same way.

This is the story of Naila Niazi

Naila is a brave, brave girl in Pakistan who sadly lost both of her parents to COVID-19. Her parents were both doctors who helped as many infected people as they could before passing away. Naila hopes to be exactly like her parents someday. She is looking forward to medical school as soon as this pandemic is over. She lives with her brother and grandmother in her parents’ house.

This story first touched our hearts on June 10, 2020.

| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: Colleen Walker |

#Pakistan #COVID19 #coronavirus #medicaldoctor #essentialworkers #doctors #healthcare #pandemic #crisis #death #family #career

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