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UAE’s Indian expats spend a sombre Eid as COVID-19 rages back home

Dubai: As India reels under the second wave of COVID-19 which has claimed thousands of lives, several Indian expats in the UAE are spending a sombre Eid.

Advocate Sajid Aboobacker, 47, a Dubai-based lawyer who hails from Kochi, Kerala, lost his mother Sabira, 64, on Tuesday, May 11. She succumbed to the virus after battling for life at a hospital in Kochi.

“On May 9, I had to leave for Kerala. My mother was on the ventilator and all I could do was pray for her,” said the lawyer who lives with his wife and four children in Dubai.

In happier times: Sajid Aboobacker with his mother
Image Credit: Supplied

Sajid said Sabira tested positive for the virus on April 27. “Just when the family thought she was on recovery mode, her health began to fail. Soon she needed oxygen support. She was shifted to an ICU. That did no help and she was put on ventilator. Her oxygen levels kept dropping, as did her pressure and she finally died of a cardiac arrest.”

He said, “There is no Eid celebration whatsoever in my house hold. My extended family are mourning and we are all right now trying to complete her death formalities.”

For Sakina Hassan from Bengaluru in India, it is a double tragedy. Her mother and father-in-law both died of COVID-19 in the past one week. “My father-in-law was really old. He was 91 and my mother 81. This has been the worst time for us. Due to flight suspensions, we have not even been able to bid goodbye to them. All the formalities are being taken care by our extended family members. It is so tragic and heart-breaking.”

Sakina said: “Nobody is in the mood to mark the festivities. How can we celebrate under these circumstances?”

Mohammed Arshi Khan, 46, CEO of a private company in Dubai, said his brother and mother both tested positive. “My brother was in a serious condition. I thought I would lose him. But by the grace of God, he recovered. My mother is a two-time cancer survivor. She was at high risk and when she contracted the virus I was worried sick. She thankfully survived. We are definitely not celebrating Eid. What we are doing is observing Eid. There is no Eidiya for our children this year. The morale is low.”

Mohammed Arshi Khan’s mother
Image Credit: Supplied

Mohammed said it’s not just about a personal loss. “Today everyone is at risk of contracting the virus. It is a dire situation in India. We will pray not just for our loved ones, but the entire country and the world. Hopefully, the collective prayers will be heard.”

Another Indian Muslim expat Nasrina Khan from Mumbai sagrees. “The last month has been really horrible. Someone or the other we know, whether it’s a close friend’s family member or an extended relative, has died of COVID-19. You don’t feel like celebrating at all. My husband and I will not be venturing out of our home as well.”

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